Step by step guide to launching a blog a creating your first blog post with WordPress
Before we start I would like to make a key distinction. The one between WordPress the software and WordPress.com.
The software WordPress is a Content Management System (CSM) that makes it easy to manage important aspects of your website – like content – without needing to know anything about programming.
WordPress.com is a hosting platform that lets you create and launch your website in a matter of minutes.
The main difference is that the software WordPress is a bit more difficult to install even though it gives you more creative freedom and it’s cheaper.
Step 1: Buy a hosting service
Today we are going to learn how to create a blog and install WordPress so that we can start creating.
In order to start a blog we need to buy a hosting service, which is like renting a digital space where all the files and folders of your websites will be stored.
There are many hosting platforms available but for this webinar I have chosen Bluehost which is one of the most popular.
Keep in mind that the process I am about to show is pretty much the same as with other platforms so you don’t have to choose this one.
- When you go to the home page just select WordPress hosting and choose a plan. (For now we just need the cheapest one as we are only launching one site and we don’t need all the extra services).
- Click on buy and choose a name for your blog like my educationalblog.com.
- Now it prompts you to fill in all your information which I am not going to do because I have already done it.
- Once you finish and the payment is processed you will receive an email with the information to log into your site cPanel.
This is like the administrative headquarters of your site where you can access your files, set up your website email and install WordPress.
Step 2: Install and access WordPress
To install WordPress just find the WordPress logo in your cPanel and click on it.
You will be redirected to a registration page where you’ll need to type your website name and choose your username and password.
Once installed you can access WordPress by adding wp-admin at the end of your site url, then type the email and password you chose during the installation process and you’ll be in WordPress.
Step 3: The WordPress admin panel
The admin panel is the administrative center of your WordPress site.
This is where you create, edit, publish, manage content, add plugins and themes, configure the appearance of your site and make sure everything is up-to-date and working correctly.
From here you can also toggle between the admin panel and the front page by clicking on the site title up in the WordPress toolbar. When you’re on the front end just click the site title and you’ll go back to the admin panel.
Now, the admin panel is divided into three main sections.
The WordPress toolbar at the top, the admin navigation menu on the left and the admin panels on the right.
The types of content in WordPress
WordPress has 3 main content types you’re likely to work with and manage regularly.
They are posts, pages, and media elements.
Post and pages are collections of various types of content like text, images and videos while media elements are standalone files you may upload to a post or page.
Posts are typically presented in an index in reverse chronological order, meaning the first post you see is the latest one published.
Each post is organised by different elements like date and time, author, category or tag.
This way if you want to search the posts of a blog that belong to a certain year or category you can easily sort them out.
Pages are a little different, they are typically found by clicking on a link in the main menu or a footer or a sidebar.
They are static content, meaning they display information that doesn’t need to updated often like the about page or the contact page.
That also means that pages do not have categories or tags or post formats. They are not sorted based on publishing date or author.
Pages can be organised in a parent-child relationship so under the about page in the menu, for example, you could find the mission page, the privacy page or the contact page.
In general, think of posts as a news feed that shows up-to-date content that reflects what you are currently doing at the moment.
While pages contain evergreen content that is always relevant and useful regardless of when you access it.
Media elements are typically uploaded during the creation of posts or pages, but as soon as they get uploaded onto the media library they become accessible from any other post or page so they can be reused as many times as we want.
Depending on what file it is you might need to add certain information to it so that the browser can better identify what they are displaying.
Images, the most common media, usually have a title, a caption, a description and alternative text for when the image is not displayed or the page is accessed using a text-to-speech browser.
The Block Editor
Now that we understand the difference between the types of content in WordPress let’s take a look at the Block Editor which is the main reason why creating content in WordPress is so easy.
In the admin navigation sidebar go to posts, click on add new, and you’ll be in the Block Editor.
The core idea behind it is that every piece of content within the post or page is a block with its own properties, features, and abilities.
In the block editor, we can work in the block context, dealing with individual blocks, or the document context, dealing with the features that relate to all the blocks and how they are presented.
The block context gives you the ability to move blocks up and down without having to cut and paste.
It lets you change block type, for example, a heading to a paragraph or a quote, and it allows you to add block-specific properties, like a drop cap, text-formatting like bold or italics, background colours, numbered lists or bullet lists, images, embedded videos and so on.
To choose what type of block you want to add just type the forward slash and the name of the block, or click on the plus button and browse the block you need.
The document context gives you an overview of the entire post or page. You can see when it was created, change its visibility status, select a category or add a tag, add a feature image.
Creating a blog post in WordPress
Finally, let’s look at how we can use WordPress to creare an actual educational blog post.
Blogs are especially suited for “How to” articles, like How to prepare for your Maths exam or “What is” articles like What is HTML and why you’ll need it in the future.
Questions like these arouse curiosity in the reader and make them want to know the answer to the question posed in the title.
So the first thing to do before writing a blog post is defining who we are writing for and what specific needs or questions we are attending to.
For example, are we writing a post for to help our own students to understand an aspect of the course we are teaching? Or do we want to talk to the general internet public about a topic we are particularly familiar with?
Answering questions like these can help us set the tone of our writing and give us essential insight on what to write.
Organisation and readability
Two major factors to keep in mind, other than “what to write” and “who to write for”, are the organisation of the content and the readability.
To make a piece of text easy to read on the internet we have to write with short sentences and proper text formatting.
It is advisable not to have super long paragraphs and to brake the text with subtitles and other types of blocks like lists or pictures.
The content has to have some sort of hierarchical structure, with the main message at the beginning and the more in depth concepts afterwards.
A practical example
Let’s say that we want to write a post on How to write an essay, for example.
The title has to clearly state the intent of what we are trying to do in less than 12/15 words. So we could name the article “How to write an essay in 3 simple steps” or “a simple guide to writing an essay”.
After the title let’s use the first few blocks of our post to answer some essential questions like “what is an essay” “what are the main characteristics of a good essay” or “what are the most common types of essays”.
After this really important premise, let’s get straight to the point and add a section named “the three stages to writing an essay”.
The reason to do this is that whenever we make lists or divide things in steps we make it easier for us to keep the content organised and for the reader to better follow our line of thinking.
Now let’s add sublists to explain each stage.
To do this we can use the table block and assign each step to a column.
A few last tips
Remember, the more various is your text the easier it is to follow, as we are giving the reader extra visual aids to retain our message other than just plain text.
A great tool for stimulating visual memory is the Gallery block, which you could use to show different essay introductions or the Slideshare embed block which allow you to embed Slideshare presentation via url.
Another super useful block is the Video embed block, which you could use to include a webinar that gives important tips on how to write essays, which could be useful to those users that prefer to learn by listening rather reading.
Finally remember that the internet’s main feature is the ability to go from one page to another using hyperlinks so don’t be afraid to reference other blogs or give extra reading material.
Keep reading: Why educational webinars are a great tool for teaching