When I began offering a WordPress tutorial two months ago, I had no idea that teaching people how to blog would be so satisfying. Every week I work with artists, writers or business people who, for one reason or another need to learn WordPress and have no idea how to blog.
All I need is 60-90 minutes with a new blogger to infodump the basic concepts and techniques. The new blogger stumbles in confused and walks out confident.
Sometimes, learning how to blog requires a human touch.
Learn WordPress and Blog
Here are the first WordPress topics I cover:
The WordPress Dashboard is the entryway to your site. In the main block of the Dashboard page there are boxes showing your Content, Discussion, and Quickpress for fast posting, among other things. But the real action takes place on the Main Navigation Menu to the left. Under the Dashboard heading are headings for administrative functions such as Posts, Media, Links, Pages, Comments, Appearance, Plugins, Users, Tools, and Settings. Below that appear titles of more Plugins that aren’t stored in Settings. Explaining all the administrative functions and their contents can take a whole hour, depending on the blogger’s Theme.
Posts and Pages
On the Dashboard screen, Posts and Pages tend to look the same, with the big Edit box in the middle and Publish, Page Attributes, Categories and Tag boxes on the right side. But the fundemental difference I emphasize to new bloggers in my WordPress tutorial is that the Page is static and the Post recurring. In most cases, Posts are the Home page and the Page titles form the navigation bar. To create a more traditional looking site, the Home page can be made Static, with a Blog page accessible through the navigation bar.
Uploading to the Media Library
You place the cursor in the Edit box, click on the Upload/Insert icons, upload to Media Library, fill out the Edit Media page with Alt Text and Descriptions, hit Insert into Post, and boom! Your image/video/song appears on the Post or Page. Enter a link to the image’s in Link URL, or leave the default URL to point to your site’s Uploads file. Steps to add Header images often depends on the Theme.
Once new bloggers learn WordPress concepts and techniques, we move on to Plugins, the little apps that make the site functional. Most people are a little queasy about uploading Plugins, fearing a complicated process or possible infection, but when they see how quickly and easily the Plugin downloads, unpacks and installs, their hesitation diminishes. My strongest advice is to first read the details of each Plugin to check for warnings that it hasn’t been tested with their version of WordPress.
Using Measurement Tools
Before worrying about the front end design and content, I tell new bloggers to concern themselves first with the back-end tools needed for tracking the site’s progress, particulary through Google, the god of search engines. Analytics, Sitemaps, Verification, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are all things you want to establish at the outset in order to get an accurate picture of how the site is being seen by search engines. Once again, there’s a Plugin for almost every tracking need.
To get an overhead view of WordPress, check out Anatomy of a WordPress Blog from Youst
Learning the basics of how to blog with WordPress usually takes one or two sessions in my private WordPress tutorial, or two or three sessions in my weekly workshop with up to three bloggers. After that, you will know how to blog with confidence and skill using WordPress.
Who in the Vancouver area is ready to learn WordPress? Check out the details and email me to reserve a space in January 2012.
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