SEARCH

How-To Geek

How To Start Your Own Professional Blog with WordPress

Would you like to start your own blog or website?  With a free WordPress  account, it’s free and easy to get started creating your own professional quality blog site.

This is the first part in a series on how to create your own professional quality blog site. No, we’re not talking about some cheapo looking blog from Blogger or something on Facebook, but creating a quality blog you can be proud of and present to millions of readers online.

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms, powering hundreds of high-profile websites and blogs around the world.  It’s both powerful and easy to use, which makes it great whether you’re just starting out or are a blogging pro.  To start out with your blogging project WordPress is completely free, and you can use the online interface or install the WordPress software on your own server and blog from there.

Getting Started

You can start a blog in just a few minutes.  Head over to WordPress.com and click Sign up now on the right-hand side of the main page.

sshot-2010-04-25-[02-09-18]

Enter a username and password, check that you agree with the legal terms, select the “Gimme a blog” bullet, and click Next.

sshot-1

WordPress may inform you that your username is already taken, simply choose a new one and try again.

sshot-3

Next, choose a domain for your blog.  This will be the address for your site, and cannot be changed, so be sure to choose exactly what you want.  If you’d prefer your address to be yourname.com instead of yourname.wordpress.com, you can add your own domain for a fee after your blog is setup…but we’ll cover that later.

sshot-4

Once you click signup, you will be sent a confirmation email.  While you wait for the email to arrive you can go ahead and enter in your name and a short bio about yourself.

sshot-5

When you receive your confirmation email, click the link.  Congratulations; you now have your own blog!

sshot-6

You can view your new blog immediately, though the default theme isn’t very interesting without your content and pictures.

image

Back on the page you opened from the email, click Login to access your blog’s administration page and to start adding stuff to your blog.  You can also access your blog’s admin page anytime by from yourname.wordpress.com/admin, substituting your own blog name for yourname.

Enter your username and password, then click Log in to get started.

sshot-311

Adding Content to your WordPress.com Blog

When you sign in to your WordPress blog, you’ll first see the WordPress Admin page.  Here you can see recent posts and comments, and you can see stats of how many people have visited your site.  You can also access all of your blog tools and settings right from this page.

sshot-312

To add a new post to your blog, click the Posts link on the left, then click “Add New” either on the left menu or on the top of the Edit Posts page.  Or, if you want to edit the default first post, hover over it and select Edit.

image

Or click the New Posts button on the top of the page.  This menu bar is always visible whenever you’re logged in, so it’s an easy way to add a post.

sshot-313

The editor lets you easily write anything you want in a Microsoft Word-style editor.  You can format your text, add lists, links, quotes, and more.  When you’re ready to share your content with the world, click Publish on the right side.

image

To add pictures or other files, click the picture icon beside “Upload/Insert”.  Your free blog account can store up to 3Gb of pictures and documents which will definitely give you a good start.

image

Click Select Files, and then choose the pictures or documents you want to add to your post.

image

When the pictures have uploaded, you can add a caption and choose how to position the picture.  When you’re finished, select “Insert into Post”.

image

Or, if you want to add a video, click the video button.  You have to add a paid upgrade to upload videos directly, but you can add YouTube and other online videos for free.

sshot-265

Click the “From URL” tab, and then paste the link to the YouTube video and click Insert into post.

image

If you’re a code geek, click the HTML tab in the editor and edit the HTML of your blog post the geeky way.

image

Once you’ve added all your content and edited it the way you want, click the Publish button on the right of the editor.  Or, you can click Preview to make sure it looks right, and then click Publish.

image

Here’s our blog with the new blog post containing a picture and video.  While you’re getting to know you’re way around the controls in WordPress, the Preview feature will be your best friend while you try to organize the content to your liking.

image

Conclusion

It only takes a couple minutes to get started blogging at WordPress.com. Whether you want to write about your daily life, share pictures of your children, or review the latest books and gadgets, WordPress.com is a great place to get started for free.  But we’ve only covered a small portion of the WordPress features…but this should get you started. Check back for more WordPress and blogging coverage coming up soon!

Links

Signup for a free WordPress.com account

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 04/26/10

Comments (28)

  1. Alek Davis

    I have blogs at both Blogger and (free) WordPress, and I found the WordPress version quite limiting. It does not let you use JavaScript, the choice of templates is poor, CSS editing is not supported, etc. For those who do not understand the implications of these limitations, WordPress could be okay, but for users with more advanced technical (HTML) skills, Blogger offers a much better platform.

  2. Jake

    Blogger IMO doesn’t offer anything more than wordpress, in fact I think the UI looks awful and needs updating. Blogger doesn’t offer the same status tools as blogger and the themes look much more impressive than blogger. I have accounts at both sites and yes wordpress limits editing for security reasons blogger doesn’t have anywhere nearly as many templates to choose from than blogger.

  3. Dave

    I have blogs on both WordPress.com and Blogger/BlogSpot – main drawback to WordPress.com is not being able to monetize, which you can do at Blogger.

  4. sam

    From what I’ve seen and heard, Using any third party hosting like blogger or wordpress.com (not the build-it-yourself version) is too limiting and therefore very unprofessional. I’d suggest removing the word “professional” from the title of the post, as nothing leads me to believe this is professional.

  5. Jake

    @Dave

    You’re correct, that Blogger has more monetize options than WordPress.com.

    @Sam

    Yes, diy is much more customizable. But with this particular article, we are discussing the difference between these two online hosting w/blogging services.

    Cheers,
    Jake

  6. Guest

    I started using WP and have three blogs running. However, I was a little disappointed with working with images. One of the blogs is a photography blog and uses a specialized theme tagged for photography. However, it won’t let you post two pictures (side-by-side or over-and-under). My guess is the theme is set for only one. The other is a general purpose family blog. The problem I have there is trying to get text/picture alignment correct, especially with multiple pictures, and with spacing of multiple pictures. One would think, for instance, that if you had three pictures and pic1 is leftaligned, pic2 is centeraligned, and pic3 is rightaligned you’d get a display with three pictures in basically three columns with the two out most pictures pushed to the respective borders. Hardly.

    I thought I had found a solution after researching some basic HTML only to find out that it looked great in the editor/preview but was a complete scramble when viewed on a different size video.

    When I contacted customer support their “solution” was to purchase the CSS editing option and learn CSS. But, that defeats the whole purpose of catering to the novice with cut/paste editors and templates. If I wanted to get that deep into web page design and development I’d stand up my own site.

  7. Matthew Guay

    @all – Here’s a couple reasons I find WordPress.com a more professional solution. First, the WordPress core software powers many sites, so the skills you learn with using WordPress.com will be helpful in running many sites that use the stand-alone software. Additionally, if you start out with WordPress.com, it’s easy to move your site to a self-hosted WordPress install; we’ll cover this in an upcoming article.

    Some other things that make WordPress more professional are:
    - page support. You can actually make a full website with all static pages in WordPress, or make a static front page and then a news page for blog posts. This is very nice for companies.
    - Themes. Yes, Blogger does give you more editing options right out-of-the-box, but WordPress has many more default themes, they’re adding more all the time, and (with an upgrade) you can even edit the CSS. Blogger themes can be much more difficult to edit, and any blogger theme you make can only be used on Blogger, whereas an edited WordPress.com theme could be used on your own site.

    As already mentioned, WordPress.com doesn’t allow adding your own Javascript and has limited monetization options. These may be considered downsides for some, but depending on your business (e.g. if you’re using your blog to promote your business, instead of your blog *being* your business) then this may be fine. Additionally, WordPress.com is adding some monetization options. Currently you are allowed to use a limited amount of relevant affiliate links, and they are working on a way to let users add AdSense to their blogs as well.

    Hope this helps. At least these are some of the reasons why I feel that WordPress.com is a great place to start out blogging.

  8. Matt

    “@Sam

    Yes, diy is much more customizable. But with this particular article, we are discussing the difference between these two online hosting w/blogging services.”

    The article is simply discussing how to set up a blog. That’s it. In what capacity is this article discussing anything remotely related to a “professional” blog? I don’t understand how anybody could refer to themselves as a “professional” when they are taking the freely hosted version of WordPress over the DIY self-hosted solution because of its ease.

  9. Jake

    @Matt

    The definition of professional is “participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs” from what I see it. So letting novice users write their own blogs on a cloud based solution that is free and easy to use is the key. blogger offers an extremely easy way but doesn’t offer as many tools IMO for a first time user.

    On another note:

    Found out blogger has many more widgets than wordpress.com, but wordpress.com has more themes that look much better and they have more options and look much better.

    blogger is IMO too simple in not using code but hard for non-coders while wordpress.com is for non-coders and wordpress.org is for hard core coders.

    No hard feelings,
    Jake

  10. Simon

    My review of wordpress – FANTASTIC.
    I have used it to create two “websites” which are for volunteer organisations. Its great because if I ever leave or take leave of absence, then someone can fill in or take it over easily! Just a password, no real knowledge of website design needed.

    I recommend http://www.artisteer.com/ for creating your own themes!

  11. Bikram Agarwal

    What made me leave the cozy feed-reader and come here at the site to comment is this line –
    “cheapo looking blog from Blogger”…. Blogger blogs are in no way cheaper looking than wordpress. As already mentioned by others – Blogger gives you total freedom on customization and end result is – Blogger can give you a totally PRO looking blog, which free wordpress can never give. Just head over to by blog – http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ – to see what I mean. This can never be achieved on free version of WordPress.

    Yea, you can remove the word ‘Professional’ from the post title.

  12. Bikram Agarwal

    Huh. Another realization dawned on me right now. WordPress doesn’t allow you to embed any flash content on the site. :-O That means, no YouTube videos, no flash MP3 players, no embedded games – nothing. #FAIL.

  13. Matthew Guay

    @Bikram Agarwal – You can actually add some flash content if it has an embed code. For example, as we showed in this tutorial, you can embed YouTube videos by simply inserting their link. You can also add Slideshare presentations, Scribd documents, Vimeo videos, and more. Check out this link for a list of all of the shortcodes you can use to embed content:
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/shortcodes/

  14. Matt Warren

    This is a good primer. For those of you wanting to take it to the next level, but not end up dealing with the accompanying (and tedious) technical issues, there is another option.

    I have been using http://page.ly/ for the past few months. Anything you can’t do on WordPress.com is something you can do on pagely. I migrated from WP.com to the pagely service with no hassles.

    It’s $14.98/month + a free domain. If you are actually serious about honing your blogging skills, I think it’s a worthy outlay. :)

  15. Website Design

    Wow, just amazing work. This is the most detailed description showing the entire signup process for WP up to the implementation and embedding of the blog. Thanks so much for this effort.

  16. Dayne

    I like WordPress a lot but when it comes to quickly and easily building a free website, I like to use WebStarts.

  17. Kathleen Cercone

    Blogger is as good as the free WordPress. Both are missing things- but why did you put professional in the title- neither of these are good for a “Professional” Blog. The title is misleading- and if you are a ‘professional’, you should not need these step by step directions.

    What makes something professional is the author and the writing. If the writing is poor, if the topic is not developed appropriately, you will not have a professional blog- even with a platform that costs thousands of dollars. Someone who can’t write and has no topic, will never have a “professional” blog.

  18. larissa

    any information is allways usefull

  19. Toronto Website Design

    This blog really helped me build my WP blog and learn the entire tutorial on how to do it, thanks.

  20. Dick

    Thanks helped me out a lot. You guys rock !!!!

  21. The Swede

    Hi
    I saw this thread and couldn’t help diving in!
    Nice one
    Thanks

  22. gatgets

    Incredible. Only the word that deserves to be spoken

  23. Pamela Scott

    Well.. at least this tutorial help me. Since I’m knew in this blogging stuff. Anyway, I’m still using Blogger.

  24. rrcole

    Thanks so much! Just set up my WP blog and this article was my saving grace.

  25. vin

    I am agreed with Katleen, what makes blog more professional based on its content, writing skill. and idea from the bloger..something that people want to read, give imformation, good advice..

  26. oem store

    I am totally delighte with incredibly blog greatly that save me! Thank you

  27. MaizeCeat

    Remarquablement! Merci!

  28. Nicholas Scott@Government Press Release

    Many bloggers think that all it takes is a written paragraph here and there, but there is so much more to blogging than just the written word. The life of a professional blogger is steeped in much more that just putting words on a page.

Get Free Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 134,000 newsletter readers

Email:

Go check your email!