By the end of this section, you’ll know how to:
- Figure out whether you should create a post or a page.
- Publish a post with text and images.
- Use different post formats depending on what you want to publish.
- Publish a page with text and images.
- Create a menu to help visitors navigate your pages and posts.
So, you’ve picked a theme to make your site beautiful, enabled widgets, and added personal touches to your blog to make it look just the way you want. It’s time to publish something!
Posts vs. pages — what’s the difference?
You can create and publish both posts and pages on your blog. Posts are the meat of your site — the content you write and share with your visitors, and the awesome stuff that people come to your blog to read. Some people prefer to publish quick posts, like an update about their day or a single photo posted on the go from their mobile phone; others craft longer essays or publish photo collections with galleries and slideshows. It all depends on how you want to use your blog — you can create all kinds of content.
Your posts make up what you think of when you think of a blog. They’re dated, and they appear in reverse chronological order; as you publish new posts, older posts get pushed down the page. Posts can also be tagged — you assign the tags based on subject matter. Readers can then use the tags to sort through your blog and find the stuff they’re most interested in, and to find your posts in the Reader.
Pages are a little different — they’re kind of like the salt and pepper shakers of your site. (If you’re wondering about other food analogies, your header is like the amuse-bouche of your site, and your widgets are like a side of mashed potatoes.) Once you publish them, they stay put. They’re handy for timeless content, like an About or Contact Me section. This stuff probably isn’t going to change very often, and you want your visitors to be able to access it easily no matter where they are on your site. Your pages are displayed in a menu somewhere on your blog that’s always visible (usually up near your header or in a sidebar), so people can explore your site with ease.
Publish a post
Ready to create a post? On WordPress.com you can publish a post in a few different ways. The speediest way is in your Reader, which we’ll talk about first.
Publish a new post in the Reader
When you’re logged in to your account, click on the New Post button on the top right of the toolbar. On the next screen, you’re asked: “What would you like to post?”
It’s not that we’re just nosy (although that’s also true) — we ask because you can choose the post format you want to publish: Text, Photo, Video, Quote, or Link. In the Text format, you can create text, but also add multiple images. If you want to share a single photo instantly, use the Photo format. The other formats are also great for quick posts — you can publish quotes that inspire you, or paste the URLs of videos and links you want to share.
(Note: as we discussed, not all themes support all post formats, so this screen might look a little different depending on your theme.)
Let’s publish a post with a basic image — go ahead and click on the Text option to pull up the box where you’ll write your masterpiece:
In the top field, insert a title. It’s optional, but we recommend it. Think of your post title like a news headline: succinct and focused on what your post is about, and intriguing enough to make people want to read it. If your title doesn’t make someone want to click on it, your post isn’t going to get read.
Action Time! In the bigger box underneath your title, write the text for your post. For your inaugural post, try a welcome message for your readers. You can browse the daily prompts and writing challenges in the Daily Post, or get started with one of these:
- What inspired you to start your blog?
- Describe the intended focus of your site and what your readers can expect.
- Introduce yourself: What do you do? What are your interests?
- Tell readers what your blog’s title means and why you chose it.
This is your first chance to pitch your baby blog to a great big blogosphere, so don’t hold back!
Feel free to play around with the various formatting buttons, which you may recognize from using a word processor: highlight some of your text and select the bold or italicized tools to change the look, create bullet points, add quoted material, and more. Click the kitchen sink button — the icon on the far right — to see more text formatting options.
Now, let’s throw in a picture. To add an image, place your cursor in the text where you’d like it to show up and click Insert Photo to upload a picture from your computer. After the image appears, you can edit it further: just click on it and select the picture icon on the top left to access more options:
You can align the image, add a title or caption, and access advanced settings. Not happy with the image at all? Delete it by clicking on the red crossed-out circle icon. (Don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging — Get Flashy will help take your photojournalism skills to the next level.)
You’re almost at the finish line: in the bottom field, add words to “tag” your post. While tags are optional, they group related posts together on your blog and in the WordPress.com Reader, which makes it easier for people to find them and tells your readers what they’re about. If your post is about a book you’ve read, add general tags like “books,” “literature,” and “fiction,” as well as more specific tags like the author’s name (“George Orwell”) and the book title (“1984″). (We’ll talk more about tags later, in Get Connected.)
When you’re ready to flip the switch, click Publish Post. You’ll see a confirmation screen — hooray! — and can view this new post on your blog. You’re officially a blogger. How does it feel?
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, experiment with the other post formats to publish instantly to your site.
Publish a new post in your dashboard
Another way to publish posts is in your dashboard by going to Posts >> Add New. This will pull up the Post Screen, which is where the magic will happen! This is the place to go when you want to publish something longer or more complex. This dashboard editor is similar to the editor in your Reader — it works a lot like your favorite word processing software, and you can insert a title and tags — but it allows you to do much more.
It looks a little something like this (don’t worry, we’ll walk you through each piece — baby steps!):
You’ll notice two tabs at the top of the Post Screen: Visual and Text.
You can toggle between these two modes as you create and edit your posts. In the visual editor, you’ll see your content as it’ll appear when published, and in the handy and powerful text editor, you can write and edit your post in HTML. When you need to add a shortcode, add some font styles, or paste in code from an outside source, you’ll use the text editor. (We’ll talk about shortcodes and other nifty things in the next section, Get Flashy.)
If “HTML” and “shortcodes” make you lightheaded, don’t worry — you can do most things without ever leaving the visual editor, and have a perfectly wonderful blog without knowing any HTML. (We bet you’ll eventually start exploring it, though, because it’s easy, fun, and opens new possibilities for your blog.)
There are two rows of icons in the visual editor. You can find out what any one of them does by hovering over it with your mouse; a pop-up will appear telling you what it is. Many of them will look familiar; you’ve probably seen them before in your word processing program of choice — bold and italic text, justification options, bullets, and more. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, you can take a comprehensive tour of all the options here.
Again, if you’re looking for inspiration for your first post, browse the daily prompts and writing challenges at the Daily Post, answer one of the prompts above, or whip something else up from your imagination. Whatever you feel like writing, plop it into the visual editor.
Got your text in place? Sweet. Let’s dive into the Media Manager to upload a few images (bonus internet points if they’re pictures of a cat).
Upload and insert images in your dashboard
As we reviewed, you can publish images instantly from your Reader. Here in the dashboard, you’ve got a powerful Media Manager to upload, edit, and manage your images. You can also upload audio and video files and create image galleries and slideshows, which we’ll discuss in Get Flashy.
Let’s make that cat famous. In the Post Screen, click on the Add Media button just above the box where you wrote your post:
Once you’ve opened your Media Manager, you can select the files you want to upload from your computer (hint: click Select Files) or drag and drop the files right from your computer’s desktop to the Insert Media screen. You can also add an image from the web using the Insert from URL option on the left, which is handy if you already have photo living online, say at Flickr. (If you use this option, remember that if an image file is hosted elsewhere and it’s removed from that location, the image will no longer appear on your blog — if you delete a photo from Flickr, you also delete it from your site. If you don’t want to worry about that happening, upload the file rather than using the URL.)
At the top of the Media Manager, you’ll see two options: Upload Files, which is where your new images will appear as they upload, and Media Library, which is where you can access your entire library of images. (Since this is your first time uploading images it’ll be empty, but that won’t last long.)
Once the upload process is complete, you can click on an individual photo to edit its settings on the right, under Attachment Details, before inserting it into your post. (We can’t turn this dog into a cat, but at least we’re still in the realm of adorable animals.) We can add an image title, caption, and description; and set the alignment, size, and image link options:
These are all optional settings, but they can be really useful: Caption will insert the caption under the image in your post, and Alt Text is the text that appears when you hover your cursor over an image (it’s also what screen reader users will hear if they’re using a screen reader to browse the web). Alignment controls whether the image is positioned left, right, or center on the page and whether you text wraps around it, and Link To lets you make the image clickable. Play around with these options to get the image formatting just the way you like.
Once you’ve edited these options, click the blue Insert into post button on the bottom right to plunk the image into your post. If you’re not happy with it, you can still make changes — just like the edit image tool in the Reader, you can click on an image in the visual editor to edit it. Look for the picture and red crossed-out circle icons to edit further, or to get rid of it and start from scratch.
One thing to remember is that you don’t have to re-upload an image you’ve deleted from a post — it’s still there, in your Media Library. You haven’t removed it from your library, just from that particular post. If you want to use it somewhere else (or re-insert it), you can access your already uploaded files by clicking the Media Library tab. You can also access your library from your dashboard by going to Media >> Library. Scroll through your library to find the image, and click it to edit and insert.
Action Time! You’ve probably got a whole bunch of photos stored on your computer — you may as well put them to work. Sift through your images and drag some of your favorites into your Media Library for possible future posts, like an “All About Me” or “Welcome” post, or a “Where I’m From” post with shots of your city. Once you upload them, give them a little more love in the Media Manager:
- Input a title, caption, and alt text for each image.
- Get a feel for the drag-and-drop tool and move thumbnails around.
- Test out the “Search” feature and insert titles in the box to pull up the images you’ve just uploaded.
More cool publishing tools
Other key tasks you can do in the dashboard editor are located on the right, in the Publish module:
Here, you can preview a post before publishing it by clicking Preview at the top right of the box (not to be confused with the blue Publish button below!), schedule a post to publish at a later time, or make a post private or password-protected. Think of this Publish module as your mini command center, where you control who sees a post and when it goes live. If you’re using Publicize to share your posts with social networks — which you’re probably not, because we haven’t gotten to that yet — you’ll see those settings here, too.
Below the Publish module, you can add tags, as well as categories. Categories are similar to, but broader than, tags. You can create categories based on your interests and the focus of your blog. For example, if you have a site about food, you could create categories for “recipes, “dessert,” or types of cuisine, or if you write about travel, you could have categories for particular countries or cities. Depending on your theme and widgets you’ve enabled, categories can be displayed in different places, like at the top or bottom of a post, or in your sidebar.
Once you’ve got your text, images, and settings just so, it’s time to hit the big blue button: Publish. Good job! Time to start planning the next one now.
Two general afterthoughts on composing and editing posts: we know how important your content is, and how hard you work on crafting your posts! First, keep in mind there’s a handy Autosave feature that takes advantage of your web browser’s storage to ensure you won’t lose your work, despite a wonky internet connection.
This module shows links to backup copies of each post — up to 25 revisions. Each time you click Save Draft or Update, a revision is stored. Revisions allow you to look back at the recent changes you’ve made and revert to an earlier version, if you so choose. It’s a great tool to keep you focused on your content — no need to worry about losing it!
An introduction to post formats
As you poke around in the dashboard editor, you’ll also notice the Format module on the right, which lists the post formats your current theme supports. The types of post formats from which you can choose depends on your theme, and some have more options than others.
If you’re curious, check this list of themes and the post formats they support. You’ll see similar options here to the ones in the quick post editor in the Reader, as well as formats for Audio (to highlight audio attachments), Asides (or snippets of text for quick thoughts), Chats (bits of memorable conversations with others), and more. Many themes that support post format also have nifty little icons that go with each format, like quotation marks or a director’s clipboard, just to make you look extra-cool.
See some post formats in action to get an idea of what different formats look like.
Action Time! The look-and-feel of post formats depends on your theme — let’s experiment with these different formats and see what they look like, shall we? (Yes, let’s!)
- In your dashboard, create a new post (or, if you don’t have content for a new post, just create a test post and paste any text or images you want).
- In the Format module, confirm “Standard” is selected. Then, click Preview to preview the post.
- Now, go back into your dashboard and test out some of the other formats — Aside, Quote, and Link. After you switch to each format, click Preview to see how the format has changed the design of the post.
Tip: Check this list of themes and the post formats they support, then browse the Theme Showcase for the ones you’re interested in. Each theme in our showcase has a demo blog on which you can view it in action, including its different post formats.
Publish a page
Now that you’re a whiz at posts, let’s create pages for your timeless content. Think about what kinds of information you want your readers to know and access easily:
- Your biography or life story?
- Your contact information?
- Your résumé or CV?
- Links to resources or favorite sites?
Once you’ve got more content on your blog, you might also add a page highlighting your favorite or most popular posts, to further woo new readers. If you’re an artist, you can create a page for your exhibitions. If you’re a writer, you can compile your publications in one place. If you can think it, you can get it on a page.
As mentioned earlier, pages are distinct from posts — they’re not associated with a date or time like posts, and you can’t tag or categorize them. You want to make sure your pages are accessible no matter where your visitor is on your blog; for many themes, pages will appear as tabs or links in a menu at the top. You can also activate a Pages widget for your sidebar by going to Appearance >> Widgets in your dashboard.
Let’s create a page or two — we’ll go with perennial favorites About and Contact Me. Head into your dashboard and make your way to Pages >>Add New. (As you can see, reaching the admin center for pages in your dashboard is similar to accessing the control panel for your posts — there are lots of similarities and consistency throughout the dashboard, so you’ll become familiar with the options in no time.)
See the Page Screen that opens?
It looks similar to the Post Screen, with the visual/text editor, the Publish module, and other tools. Publishing a page is very much like publishing a post, so go ahead and insert your text into the main module for your About page. At the Daily Post, we’ve talked about how to draft a fantastic About page — feel free to open up our About Page 101 and About Page 201 tutorials in another window for a little guidance.
After inserting your text, upload an image of yourself with the Add Media button, using the process we talked about above; your readers want to see the wizard behind the curtain! If you’re not comfortable displaying a photo of yourself, try an illustration, a logo for your site or brand, an image you think represents you, or even a favorite photo — images help humanize your blog.
Another great feature in the Page Screen is the Page Attributes module: here, you can nest sub-pages under a “parent” page:
In other words, you can create a hierarchy that makes sense for your blog: if you’re an entertainment reviewer, you can create a parent page for “reviews,” and sub-pages for “film,” “music,” and “television.” In this module, you can also change the order of your pages by numbering the pages. This may seem mysterious now, but it comes in handy when you create a custom navigation menu for your blog, which we’ll talk about next.
Action Time! Brainstorm your own page hierarchy. (Doesn’t saying that make you feel like a web wizard? “Sorry, I can’t talk now — I’m brainstorming my page hierarchy.”)
- Jot down the main pages you want to display in a menu, like “About” or “Contact Me.”
- Now, think of common themes within the things you post about — if you’re a photographer, what do you like to shoot? Write that down. If you’re a journalist, which beats do you cover? Write them down.
- Brainstorm further: If you photograph people, do you photograph different kinds of people in various settings, like portraits or weddings? If you’re a chef and one of your focuses is Southeast Asian cuisine, what are your specialties? Maybe you’ll want sub-pages for your Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian recipes (and maybe you should send us some pho).
As you add content to your blog, use these themes to organize your tags and categories. When you’ve built up some posts and pages, use them to create custom menus, which we helpfully cover in the very next section.
Create a custom menu
When you create pages on your blog, they’ll appear as tabs or links in a menu somewhere on your blog, depending on your theme. If you have a theme that supports the custom menu feature, you can customize a navigation menu on your blog, which lets you do cool stuff, including:
- Change the order of (or delete) your pages.
- Nest pages under “parent” pages to create sub-menus.
- Create custom links to your menu.
(The ability to create custom menus is especially useful if you’re creating a website rather than a blog.)
To create a custom menu, head on over to Appearance >> Menus in your dashboard. If this is the first time you’re diving into the world of menus, you’ll want to click on “create a new menu” at the top. Type in a name for your custom menu next to Menu Name — only you will see this — and click Create Menu.
Add pages and links to your menu
On the left, in the Pages module, pick which pages you want to include in your menu by adding a checkmark next to the boxes for these pages, then click Add to Menu.
The pages you choose will appear on the right, in the custom menu you’re building. See? Nifty, right? Yeah, we think so, too.
After you create your first menu, you will notice two options at the bottom to control the following:
- Auto add pages – If selected, new pages will be added automatically when you create them.
- Theme locations – This option allows you to decide where you would like your menu to appear in your theme. By default, the main navigation area of your theme should be selected for you, but you can select a different location if your theme is capable of multiple menus.
Some people use tabs in their menus to link directly to exterior websites — maybe another WordPress.com blog, or another website elsewhere. To add a custom link, go to the Links module, type in the URL and the label for this tab, and then click Add to Menu. It will appear on the right, along with your other items; we’re equal-opportunity menu-creators.
Reorder your menu items
Whenever you feel like it, you can change the placement of the items in your custom menu. Just drag and drop the items up and down to change the order. You can create sub-menus by dragging the items left and right.
Be sure to click the blue Save Changes button to save your settings.
Activate your menu
This menu and future menus you create are listed under the Manage Locations tab on the top left of the Menus screen.
Here, you can manage the locations of your menus by using the drop-downs to select which menu will appear where on your site. (Remember, the number of menus available depends on your current theme, so your options may look slightly different from the ones above.)
Once you feel comfy with custom menus, experiment with other ways to organize your content. Depending on your activated theme, you can do other things with custom menus, including adding category pages.
By now, you’re a master of posts, pages, and menus, and we’ll understand if you want to strike out on your own. But if you want to take it a step further and explore ways to enhance your site with multimedia, then stick around — it’s time to Get Flashy!