Who was the first blogger?

Scott Rosenberg the co-founder of Salon.com and author of Say Everything: how blogging began, what it’s becoming and why it matters, asks who was the first blogger and why it matters.


Adding images and video

Learn.wordpress.com is an excellent series of tutorials for new wordpress users

All posts should have an image unless they are very short bookmark posts that link to another article with a brief quote. Even bookmark posts can be improved with an image.

The best introductory series of posts for wordpress newbies is at learn.wordpress.com and they have a very good tutorial on working with images and video which will teach you the basics of the latest wordpress system.

This video runs through the same process although they are using a slightly older version of wordpress so they don’t have the new drag and drop technology. But it shows the basics of uploading an image and other media.


Once you master that have a look at the video below which shows you how to add a slideshow to wordpress. Slideshows are a good way to tell a simple story with five or six key images. The video below uses an older wordpress system but the basics are the same in wordpress 3.0. You can also add captions to each of your images once they are uploaded. Click on “show” in the image lists and then you will see a place to add in a caption. Keep captions at about 20 words and they will display nicely in a single line in the slideshow layout. As with all other parts of the system remember that when you add captions or complete a change or series of changes of any kind you must click on the save changes button in the dialogue box to activate your additions or changes.

Using categories in blog posts

Categories help keep your blog posts focused and are a key part of the way the wordpress system works. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are an annoying add-on. They not only help you stay on track but you can use them to organise the menu system and to change your blog from a regular set of posts to a magazine style publication with key sections. The following video is a good short intro to categories and tags.

We will look at some of the more advanced ways of using categories as part of the menu and theme structure in a future post.

Build blog content first then craft appearance

A good way of staying in touch with new wordpress themes is to check out the wordpress.com blog regularly. (Click on the image to go there now)

One of the great advantages of WordPress is that they have so many beautiful themes that can change your blog’s look at the click of a mouse. New bloggers spend hours trying out different themes and polishing the look of their blog. This is part of the fun. But themes will act differently depending on what type of content you have on your blog. So spend some time creating some good content for your blog before deciding on your theme. To start with the custom theme is fine. Once you have done four or five posts and have created a number of different categories for those posts and added different content types like images, video, quotes and links you will be able to really see how your theme works.

Get your first blog post right

There are over 70 million wordpress blogs...make your's stand out

There are over 70 million wordpress blogs...make your's stand out

Make your first post count. Jump right into your topic, don’t wast time with wordy preliminaries like: “This is my first post”.

Choose a topic that is central to your project and something that can both set the tone and style for your blog.

Also demonstrate the. full suite of blogging tools:

  • Include an image or video,
  • make sure you have some links,
  • include an indented quote and
  • categorise your post.

Mindy McAdams recently blogged some useful tips for student bloggers. Ultimately it’s a question of practice:

Too many students write blog posts just to get the assignment out of the way — the poor quality of the blog post reveals that plainly. No future employer is going to be impressed by that kind of writing.

McAdams links to five pointers drawn up by George Daniels that are well worth reading. McAdam’s and Daniels agree that a good blog post is short (350-500 words) has a punchy opener, is written with an audience in mind, includes images or other elements apart from text and links to other resources that add value for your readers.

Blog set-up basics

Wordpress will automatically create a header with your blog title and a test post "Hello World"

There are some simple things that you need to do once you have created your blog. Word press automatically creates a header with the blog title you registered but it also adds a “tagline” below the blog title : “Just another WordPress.com weblog”. WordPress will also automatically create a sample post called “Hello World” and an “About” page with some sample text. The first thing you need to do is change these elements.

1. Change the blog tagline.

Change the tagline to something that sums up your theme in a short slogan.  I’ve changed this blog tagline to: “basic blogging for journalism students”. You can access the controls for doing this in the Dashboard menu (right hand column) under Settings – “General”. remember to click on “Save changes” after you have entered your new text.

Changing the tagline is easy but remember to click "save changes"


While you have the general settings open change the time zone with the pulldown menu to “Sydney” and set your preferences fro date and time style.  Remember to apply your changes you have to click on “Save changes”.

2. Delete the sample post.

Once you have added your own first post delete the “Hello world” sample post. To do this go to “Posts” in the right hand column menu then with your cursor hover over the post title “Hello World” and you will see four options “Edit|Quick edit|Trash|View” – to delete a post click “Trash”

3. Add an About page

Write a short introduction to your blog and its purpose and a short bio of yourself. Click on “Pages” in the right hand menu and then on “About” in the list of pages. You will get a standard post/page entry window. The page will already have a title and some sample text:

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

Delete the sample text and write your own short description and bio. The blog description should be around 100-200 words and your bio should be around 100 words. Keep a short, snappy and interesting. Include a picture of yourself.

Now you have a basic blog set up.