Dale Carnegie’s bestselling self-help book How To Win Friends and Influence People could have been written with blogging in mind. A well-designed blog can be an effective way to reach out to the world, strike up friendships and sway opinion.
Getting started with WordPress
Browse to wordpress.com to use the software online, or to wordpress.org to download a script-based application that you run from your PC and that offers more flexibility. The web-based version gives you templates and most of the creation and editing tools you are likely to need, and that's what we've used here.
First, you need to sign up by entering a username, password and valid email address. If you wish, you can choose a username with no associated blog. Don't forget to check through the terms and conditions of use.
Next, enter a blog name or accept your username as the blog title. Note that you can change the blog title but the domain (its online location) is fixed, so choose this part with care.
Verify the default language and choose whether you want your blog to be publicly listed, then click Signup. You'll get a verification email with a link to click on to activate your blog account. You need to perform this verification within two days of signup or restart the process.
We've given our blog the name ‘Rosie Writes Here'. As you'll see from the screenshot, the username is listed at the top right and the name of the blog is given in large letters at the top left.
The ‘dashboard' page gives a summary of activity on your blog, from comments and traffic to number of pages and posts and their status. You can preview a post before making it live and sharing it with the world.
Before you start publishing any content, however, you'll probably want to experiment with the look and layout of your blog. Click the Change Theme lozenge beneath the Right Now pane and you'll be taken to a screen full of design options.
You can filter the available theme layouts by colour and, by scrolling further down the drop-down filter list, by number of columns, the type of widgets supported and, at the bottom, the type of blog it is. This includes a simple ‘holiday' (aka Christmas) template and one for photoblogging. You can preview as many themes as you wish before making your final decision and pressing the Activate button below its thumbnail.
Adjust your template using the Screen Options box at the top right to change the number of columns and the Tools, Appearance options from the vertical toolbox to the left of the dashboard.
If you already use other web tools such as Facebook, Flickr or Twitter, you can easily add these as automatic feeds to your blog. Just drag the appropriate widget to the top of the Sidebar menu on the right. To deactivate any widgets, go back to this menu and drag the item out of the sidebar.
Before activating a widget, consider how personal the information that appears will be - for example, do you really want the whole world to see your entire collection of photos? It may be better to post images to your blog individually, depending on the stated purpose of the blog itself.
It makes sense to keep more personal information, such as your holiday snaps and Facebook quiz results, on those sites where you can more carefully control access to them, either by email invitations or by designating groups of friends. Remember that your blog is very much a public space.