Register with WordPress.com
So, you want to create a blog or website with WordPress.com? Signup just takes a minute. Here are the step-by-step instructions for getting started. If you already have an account, skip to the next section.
For those inclined, here’s a 90-second video walkthrough:
Get Signed Up!
1. Head to WordPress.com and click Get started here.
2. Choose a blog address. This is the unique URL that people will visit to check out your blog.
3. If that blog address is available, you’ll see a green check mark. You’ll also see the option to purchase a custom domain name (like yourblog.com), or you can use yourblog.wordpress.com for free.
4. Next, choose a unique username that will identify you in the WordPress.com community. You’ll use this to log into your blog.
5. Now it’s time to think up a password. You’ll need to enter the same password twice, and the little strength bar will tell you if you’ve chosen a strong password or not.
6. Next up, enter your email address. Be sure to use your primary email — if you ever forget your WordPress.com account password, you won’t be able to reset it if you can’t access the email account listed here.
7. Now select the language that you’ll be blogging in.
8. To create a free blog, click Create Blog. To purchase the awesome WordPress Value Bundle, click Upgrade and you’ll be directed to domain registration and payment next.
9. You’re almost done! Next, head to your email inbox, find the signup confirmation from WordPress.com, and click Activate Blog.
10. After you click the activation link, the fun part begins — customizing your site. Select Show More Themes to browse through more choices. To learn more about a theme, click the image.
11. Click Choose This Theme when you find one you like. (Keep in mind that you can always change your theme later on.)
12. That’s it! Next you’ll be taken to the Welcome screen, where you’ll learn about how to navigate around WordPress.com.
Explore the Dashboard
Once you’ve signed up with WordPress.com, you’re ready to start customizing the way your site looks and functions. Here are some tips on finding your way around.
The WordPress.com home page
When you’re logged in, you’ll see the following tabs on the home page, which provide handy links to the things you’ll need to access most:
- New Post: Publish a new post.
- Reader: Read new posts across all the blogs you follow.
- Notifications: View latest blog activity, like new comments and followers.
- Stats: See how many people have visited your site.
- My Blogs: Visit your blog’s dashboard, where you can access all its settings. Click the name of your blog to see how it appears to the world.
- Freshly Pressed: Browse the best of WordPress.com.
- *: Update your account settings and public profile.
- ?: Review WordPress.com homepage navigation.
Each blog has a dashboard, a behind-the-scenes control panel where all the settings are managed. You can access your dashboard from the My Blogs tab on the WordPress.com home page. It looks like this:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the menus here, don’t worry – you only need to know your way around a few key parts of the dashboard to start publishing content and personalizing your blog’s appearance.
As you get more familiar with WordPress.com and want to extend your blog in new ways, we have support documents that explain each of the dashboard menus, so you can learn at your own pace, and get answers whenever you need them.
The toolbar that appears at the top of your screen (while you’re logged in) also provides a few handy shortcuts.
Clicking New Post from the toolbar allows you to create and publish a post without leaving the page you’re currently viewing. The orange notifications icon will update you of new activity on your blog.
To access your dashboard from the toolbar, click your name, then hover over your blog’s name:
Choose Your Topic
Now that you’re familiar with the dashboard, it’s time to start thinking about the type of content you want to create. Even if you’ve been blogging regularly for years, this is a good opportunity to revisit and refine your site’s focus.
There are many different types of blogs on WordPress.com, but you’ll notice that many of the most successful blogs, like the ones featured on Freshly Pressed, have a clearly defined theme, and are written for a specific audience. If you’re interested in attracting other readers to your site, it’s a good idea to do the same.
So what’s your focus going to be?
Here are four questions to help you narrow it down:
1. What’s your goal?
To document your travels? To share your passion? To inform? To entertain?
2. What topics are you most interested in?
Travel? Technology? Pop culture? Politics?
3. What’s your perspective?
Are you a movie critic? A clothing designer? A pastry chef?
4. Who’s your target audience?
Film buffs? Fashionistas? Foodies?
If you like, use your answers to the above questions to write up a mission statement to help guide you as you plan for future posts.
Still not quite sure about what your blog’s focus should be? Try the exercises below to get your creative juices flowing:
First up, grab a pen and paper and set a timer for sixty seconds. Draw a stick figure in the center. That’s you. Now prepare to start the countdown and scribble down anything (really, anything) that comes to mind when you think of reasons why you’d like to have a blog. Ready? Go!
How did it go? Chances are you’ve unearthed a few broad ideas about what you might like to do with your blog. So now we’re going to drill down a little.
Next up, on a fresh page, draw a new mini-me in the center. Reset the timer to 60 seconds, and prepare to jot down the things that you’re passionate about. Consider your obsessions, the things that get you out of bed in the morning, the things that keep you awake at night, and the websites, TV shows, magazines, or blogs you find yourself gravitating to time and time again. Start the timer and off you go!
Now you’re on fire. Hopefully it was hard for you to stop after the sixty seconds was up. That’s a good thing.
On a third page, draw another mini-me. This time you get 120 seconds. Treasure them, because this will be much harder.
The aim of the game is to take the words from your first page or napkin (you can cross them off as you transfer them if you like), and move them over to the new page or napkin. Then you’ll take the words from your second napkin and place them strategically around the first set. So you might have “family news bulletin” as a reason to blog, and “photography,” “eating out” and “travel” surrounding that word. Ditto for all of the remaining words, until they’re all gone.
If all of that sounds confusing, here’s an example, fusing the results from the two pages above:
Make sense? OK, your 120 seconds starts…now!
Excellent. Now you have the blueprint for several blogs. All you need to do now is decide which one you’d most like to work on. It’s quite possible that you’ll be able to combine several of these together, but don’t feel pressured to do so – you can have as many blogs as you’d like.
If you’re struggling to choose a blog topic, ask yourself a few questions about the information you have in front of you:
- Of all of the blog ideas I came up with, which one am I most likely to be able to create content about for a week, a month, or a year?
- Which group of words feels closest to my original reason for checking out WordPress.com in the first place?
- Do I already have a reputation among friends, family or colleagues for expertise in one of these broad areas? Do people often praise my knowledge, passion, or skill in (insert topic)?
- What would my first three posts be about? Am I passionate enough about the topic to want to start writing right now?
Don’t worry if you’re still a bit unsure about your blog’s specific focus — there’ll be plenty of time to figure it out as you go along.
Personalize Your Site
Now that you’ve given some thought to your blog’s focus, it’s time to continue customizing your site to help you stand out and command attention in the blogosphere.
Spice up your sidebar with widgets
Your site’s sidebar is a great place to show off important links and make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
See how the site below has a bunch of helpful links in the sidebar? Each of those three sections is an example of a widget, which you can easily activate on your own site with just a few clicks.
Some widgets make it easier for visitors to find specific content on your site, while others can help your visitors connect with you on sites like Facebook and Twitter:
To start activating widgets on your site, go to Appearance > Widgets in your dashboard. Drag the desired widget over to the Sidebar module on the right. Be sure to hit save and close when you’re done editing a widget’s settings.
A Gravatar is an image that appears by your name when you interact in the community by leaving comments on other blogs, or posting to the forums, for example.
Gravatars also appear in the Hovercard that pops up when people mouse over your image:
Change your theme
If you decide that you’d like to change your theme, you can do so from the Appearance > Themes area of your dashboard:
Select Live Preview to adjust a theme’s settings before activating it on your site:
You can also activate themes directly from the Theme Showcase by selecting a theme and clicking the activate button on the top right corner of the page:
Want to make your site 100% unique to you?
Please note that custom themes are only for privately-hosted sites using the WordPress.org software. They cannot be uploaded to WordPress.com.
Create Your First Post
You now have your Big Idea and a nice design to boot, and you’re ready to show the world what you’re made of. Ready to start adding posts and pages to your site?
Posts versus pages: What’s the difference?
While publishing posts is the primary way to share content on your site, you can also add additional pages to make it look and feel more like a traditional website. So what’s the difference between posts and pages?
Posts are what make your blog a blog — they’re servings of content, similar to journal entries, listed in reverse chronological order. Posts can be as short or as long as you like; some are as brief as Twitter updates, while others are the length of essays.
Pages, on the other hand, are best suited for more timeless content that you want your visitors to be able to easily access, like your About Me or Contact sections.
Publish your first post
Click the New Post button on the right side of the toolbar (it appears on the top of your screen while you’re logged in to WordPress.com) and the post editor will slide open:
First, select the type of content you want to share (text, photo, video, quote, or link).
Use the Write a Post tab if you want to include multiple images in your post (or if you want to write a text-only post). If you just want to quickly share a single photo, select the Post a Photo tab.
Then write a title for the post in the space at the top. Think of your post title as a headline for a news article — the more detailed and captivating it is, the more readers it’s going to attract.
Click the kitchen sink icon if you’d like to enable additional text formatting options:
When the post is ready, choose the blog you want to post to (if you have more than one) using the drop-down menu below the post editor:
When you’re done, hit Publish Post. That’s it! Next you’ll have the option to view the post you just published.
Going back to edit posts
If you decide that you’d like to go back and edit or delete a post, go to Posts > All Posts in your dashboard.
Here you’ll see a list of all of your posts. Clicking Edit under the name of a post will take you to the dashboard editor, where you can make changes. To delete a post, click Trash. Learn more about the edit posts screen here.
The dashboard editor
The dashboard editor is pretty much the same as the editor that appears after clicking New Post in the top toolbar, but it also allows you to preview posts before publishing them, and schedule posts to publish at a later time, among other things.
To try it out, go to Posts -> Add New in the dashboard:
Enhancing posts with hyperlinks
One of the most commonly used features of the editor is the link button, which you can use to transform text into links to other webpages, without displaying any long, ugly URLs.
So instead of posting
“I found all the answers to my blogging questions at http://en.support.wordpress.com!“
you can post something like:
“I found all the answers to my blogging questions in the awesome WordPress.com Support documentation!”
Need ideas for your first post?
If you already know what you want to say in your first post, feel free to skip this section and publish away. If not, we’ll help you brainstorm some ideas right now. Keep in mind that this is your first post of many more to come. If you don’t like how it turns out, you can always edit or delete it later.
So you’ve had a look at the ideas you scribbled down earlier, and now you’re ready to get a little more focused. Grab another scrap of paper, napkin, or whatever you’re using, and put a single word in the center – the one word or short sentence that defines what your blog is all about. Here’s mine:
Now, reset your timer for 2 minutes. Write down as many random post ideas as you can think of that relate to your key idea. They don’t need to make sense and you don’t ever need to use them, this is just an exercise in letting your hand do the thinking. Here’s mine:
If any of those look promising, give yourself another minute to make a decision about which one you’ll write about first.
“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.“
If that didn’t work out as well as you had hoped, you can try the exercise again, or:
- Take five minutes to write about who you are, and why you’ve decided to write a blog about X. This will be the basis for your introductory post.
- Set yourself a strict five minute limit to scan through as many of your favorite blog, news, or niche-focused websites as possible and scribble down as many posts or news items that really interest or call out to you. Then, take a second minute to select one of those posts that you’d like to tell your readers about with a line or more of your personal commentary.
- If none of those take your fancy, head over to Plinky.com, our site dedicated to giving you ideas for things to write about.
Add Images and Video
By now you’re set up, published, and have branded your blog to be unique to you. To take things to the next level, you can start adding images and video to your text-based content to make your site more flashy and eye-catching.
If you’re blogging about photography, or sharing recipes, for instance, adding a visual dimension to your blog is all but essential. Even if your blog is more personal, or about something abstract like accounting or metaphysics, illustrating your ideas can really help bring them to life.
While your blog isn’t an advertisement, the average person browsing the web will only give you a few seconds to capture their interest before moving on. Therefore, it’s essential to catch visitors’ attention quickly with the use of engaging visuals.
Add your own images
To add your own images to posts or pages, click the media icon in the visual editor:
Simply drag and drop your files into the box that appears, or click Select Files to choose a picture from your computer to upload. Or, click the Media Library tab to choose an image that you’ve already uploaded to your site.
Once the image is uploaded, you’ll see a screen like this:
You’ll have the option to edit settings like the image’s size and caption if you like.
Click the Edit Image button beneath the image preview to rotate, flip, scale, or crop the image.
When you’re ready, click Insert into Post.
Adjusting image placement and size
You can move images around by dragging and dropping them in different parts of your post.
To align an image so that the text of your post wraps around it, click the image, then click the blue image icon that appears:
Then select either left, center, or right alignment. You can also adjust the image’s size on this screen, using the Size options on the left. When you’re done, click Update.
It’ll look something like this:
Learn more in our Support document on Images.
Embed videos in seconds
If you’d like to add YouTube videos to your posts and pages, it’s as easy as copying the video’s URL from your web browser’s address bar:
And pasting it on a line by itself in your post/page editor:
We take care of the rest! The video will look something like this:
If you’d like to customize the video’s size and settings, here’s how to create a shortcode.
If you’re interested in uploading videos from your own computer, the optional VideoPress upgrade makes uploading videos from your computer as easy as uploading photos or audio, and displays your videos in beautiful high definition.
Meet Others in the Community
WordPress.com is made up of a huge community of passionate bloggers, and there’s no shortage of ways to get connected to like-minded people.
Find friends who use WordPress
Curious to see how your friends are using WordPress? Give the Friend Finder a whirl!
After authorizing WordPress.com to use your Twitter, Facebook, or Google account to find your friends (don’t worry — none of this account information is saved!) you’ll see a list of people you know who have WordPress sites.
Click Follow and each time your friend publishes a new post it will show up in your Reader under Blogs I Follow.
Explore the best of WordPress.com
Discover what some of the most talented WordPressers are creating by browsing Freshly Pressed, the section of the WordPress.com homepage where we feature about 10 hand-picked posts each weekday.
You can also discover new blogs by browsing our Recommended Blogs:
Start following blogs you like
Click in the toolbar at the top of any WordPress.com site (you must be logged in to see it) to add new blogs to your reader (you’ll also receive email notifications of new posts). You can even follow blogs that aren’t on WordPress.com.
See what bloggers are saying about your favorite topics
If you want to see what people are saying about your hometown, favorite sports team, or a concert you attended last night, add any topic to your reader using the box in the bottom left corner:
You can add as many topic streams to your reader as you like. You’ll notice frequent updates being published under general topics like “art” and “books,” but you can also add more specific topics like “Picasso” or “J. K. Rowling.”
Make your content easy for others to discover
So how do you get your content to appear on topic streams in the reader?
The first step is to add tags (or categories) to your posts. For example, if you’re posting a recipe for apple pie, you could tag it under “pie,” “baking,” “apple,” and “recipe.” A tag like “sweet” is too vague, and super specific tags like “pan” and “Granny Smiths” aren’t useful. If you’re having trouble choosing tags, try thinking about what tags you would search for if you wanted to find a similar post.
You can add tags before or after you publish a post using the Post Tags module to the right of the editor:
In most cases, there’s no need to assign more than a handful of tags per post. In fact, the more tags you use, the less likely it is that your post will be included in topic streams (because you don’t want irrelevant content showing up there, and neither do we), so don’t get too carried away.
Secondly, be sure to post high quality content that doesn’t violate our advertising policy. Check the support document for more information about using tags appropriately. Also, keep in mind that if your blog is new, it may take a few days for your content to start appearing in topic streams.
Need help? We’ve got your back
If you’re looking for answers to technical questions, the Support section covers just about everything under the WordPress.com sun. This should be your first destination.
If you’re still stuck after checking the Support documents, you can post your question to the Forums. The community here is insanely active, and you’ll often find that someone answers your question really quickly.
Finally, if none of that has helped you, we have a 24/7 support team that will do their best to reply to any questions you have about WordPress.com as fast as they can. Bear in mind that this might take a little longer than the other methods above, since the WordPress community spans millions of people worldwide.
WordPress.com’s Blog (yes, we have our own!)
Boost Your Readership
Now that you’ve tapped into the WordPress.com community, it’s time to start pulling in readers by interacting with other bloggers and publicizing your content far and wide.
You may have found your Stats page by now, and if you’re feeling a bit lonely, don’t worry! It’s totally normal for new blogs to get few visitors and comments. As you continue to publish new content regularly and learn how to use all the social features available on WordPress.com, you’ll begin to draw a larger audience and increase user engagement. Patience, dear blogger: With hard work and time, your traffic will increase. (And even if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re not an awesome blogger — as long as you’re enjoying your blog, you’re successful.)
One of the best ways to attract new visitors to your blog is to write high-quality content frequently, but there are also a multitude of ways to spread the word about your site. Here are a few of our top suggestions:
Seek to build relationships
Your site is an expression of what you’re most passionate about, so it can be tempting to announce “Check out my blog!” every chance you get. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your creation with the world, it’s important not to get stuck in an “it’s all about me” mindset.
You wouldn’t hand your business card to someone you just met, and then walk off, so take care not to do the virtual equivalent of that when you interact with other bloggers online.
Leaving comments on other posts is a great way to establish relationships and attract readers to your site, but there are a few basic rules of comment etiquette that you should keep in mind. For example, be specific. Personalized comments show authors that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say, and that you actually took the time to read what they wrote.
If you don’t have time to leave a comment on a post, or you’re not sure what to say, you can also show your support by liking the post or reblogging it on your own site, using the buttons in the toolbar that appear at the top of your screen while you’re logged in to WordPress.com:
Encouraging comments on your own blog is also a great way to engage your audience and build relationships with readers. If you were writing about how you spent your summer vacation, for example, you might close with “Have you ever visited South America? What was your experience like?” Or, you might even conduct a quick poll to initiate a discussion with your readers.
Remember that you have complete control of the comments left on your blog. If you’re uncomfortable with comments, you can turn them off. You can also turn comments off for specific posts.
Get the word out with social media
If you use services like Facebook and Twitter, you can enable Publicize to automatically share your content with all your friends and followers every time you publish a post.
Once you’ve activated it, you’ll see the Publicize options appear just above the publish button by the post editor:
Here you can customize the message for the update you’ll send out to other services, or even opt out of Publicizing a particular post.
To make it easy for your visitors to share your content on their favorite social sites, you can enable sharing buttons on your posts and pages. You have the option to display any combination of the ten buttons that are available. Sharing buttons look like this:
Share link love
Sending your audience away can be a great way to bring them back. It sounds counterintuitive at first, but sharing links to other sites can help you to forge relationships with other content creators in the blogosphere.
When you link to someone else’s blog, they’ll often receive a notification of this, either in the form of a pingback or via the incoming links section of their stats. They’ll likely be curious about who you are, and what you had to say about their post, and they’ll head over to your blog to find out. They might even thank you for the shout out, comment on your post, or subscribe to your blog.
Link to the type of content you enjoy yourself, and chances are that someone else will find it useful. In turn, over time, you might find that other blogs recommend your content to their readers, and win you some new readers.
Make it easy for visitors to stay updated
Readers who are logged in to WordPress.com can easily follow your blog using the Follow button in the top admin bar. You can also enable readers to sign up for email notifications of new posts with the Follow Blog Widget:
To invite specific friends, family members, or coworkers to check out your blog, send them a follow invitation from Users → Invite New in the dashboard.
Monitor your growth
While creating content is rewarding in and of itself, it can be exciting to see that other people are checking out your site and sharing feedback.
If you’re interested in boosting your readership, your stats can provide useful information about what type of content attracts and engages your readers the most, and help guide you in planning material for future posts.
To get the lowdown on your stats, visit the Stats tab on the WordPress.com home page.
The graph at the top displays your blog’s total views for the day, week, or month, depending on which filter is selected.
Here you can also find out what your most popular posts and pages are, discover if anyone is referring you, see which search engine terms are bringing you the most traffic, and find out if any external links are bringing visitors to your blog.
Blog on the Go
Whether you’re at the store or away on vacation, you never know when you’ll see, hear, or experience things that you want to add to your blog. We make it easy to capture and share the moment by offering you a bunch of different ways to blog on the go.
WordPress.com mobile apps
If you have one of the following mobile devices, you can download an app that lets you write posts, upload photos, edit pages, and manage comments on your blog directly from your device.
- WordPress for iOS (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) – FAQ, Forums
- WordPress for Blackberry – FAQ, Forums
- WordPress for Android – FAQ, Forums
- WordPress for Windows Phone7, Forums
- WordPress for Nokia
- WordPress for webOS
Check out our apps page to see the most current applications for your phone and desktop.
If your phone is not one of the above, don’t worry – you can still use m.wordpress.com – a mobile version of your dashboard that lets you easily publish new blog posts, view stats and add new links to your blogroll. Simply point your mobile browser to http://m.wordpress.com to get started!
Post by email and text
Prefer to post by email? You can quickly publish a post from anywhere by sending your content to a secret email address that you can generate with a single click.
How does my blog appear on mobile devices?
Most readers who view your blog on a mobile device will see a minimal, easy-to-read theme that loads at lightning speed.
If you’d like iPad users to see your blog with the Onswipe theme, which creates a beautiful, app-like experience, you can activate it from Appearance -> iPad in your dashboard. You can customize the theme’s font and color, and even add a custom cover and cover logo if you like.
10 Super Awesome Insider Tips
Now that you’ve mastered all the basics, you might want to take your blogging game to the next level. Here are ten insider tips that the pros put to good use:
- To expand the text editor and hide the modules on the publishing screen, enable Distraction Free Writing.
- The kitchen sink icon in the post/page editor reveals additional formatting options, enabling you to create headings and indent text, for example.
- Press This provides a lightning-fast way to grab content (including text, images, and video) from any website and post it to your blog without ever visiting WordPress.com. Just click the Press This bookmarklet while you’re viewing the webpage, and a pop-up publishing window will appear.
- Images displaying funky? Adjust an image’s settings to change size and alignment, or to add padding between images and text.
- To add YouTube videos to your posts and pages, simply copy the video’s URL from your browser’s address bar and paste it on a line by itself in the post/page editor.
- The more tag allows you to display excerpts of your posts on your main posts page, instead of revealing the entire post.
- You can customize your post and page slugs, which can be handy when you want to create a URL that’s easier to remember (it’s also a good way to make posts search-friendly). Note that if you change a post slug, the old link will still work.
- To customize the tiny image that people see in their address bar when they visit your blog, upload a blavatar.
- The Post Revisions module allows you to look back at recent changes you’ve made, compare post versions, and revert to an earlier version if you need to.
- Reproduce fully-functioning tweets — not just static screenshots of tweets — in posts, pages, and even comments with Twitter Embeds.
Bring Tweets To Your Content: http://wp.me/pf2B5-1r4
Now you have the information you need to make the most of your WordPress.com site. Happy blogging!
So how did you like Learn WordPress.com? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your feedback.