My standard changes to a free WordPress.com blog

Every time I set up a new wordpress.com blog I make the same changes before I even start thinking about writing a post.  The following is really just a crib sheet for myself, but someone may find it useful.

A couple of notes first:

  • There’s no single ‘right way’ to set up a blog.  If you do things differently then great – who wants homogenity?
  • This is for the free WordPress.com, not the self-hosted version of WP
  • I’m posting this in Nov 08.  Sorry if the layout and features have changed
  • I’ve assumed that you’ve signed up and got yourself a blog

Ok, on with it…

Quick list of changes

  • About page – update content and disallow comments and pings
  • Delete ‘Hello World’ post
  • Links – delete WordPress.com and WordPress.org and add a couple of my own (if relevant)
  • Change blog tagline
  • Add Stumbleupon, Delicious, Digg and Reddit icons to posts
  • Free up comment publication
  • Disable Snap Shots
  • Hide ‘related links’
  • Update profile details
  • Choose a theme and some sidebar widgets

Making the changes

I’ve ordered this part as per the tabs at the top of the WordPress dashboard, only I’ve gone right to left (NB – no need to change anything under ‘Comments’). There’s method to my madness though.

Users

  • Click ‘Your Profile’ (just above where ‘Manage Users’ is in big letters)
  • Enter your name (unless you want to be anonymous) and nickname.  Choose what you want your name to be displayed as (at the bottom of posts and in comments) from the drop down menu.
  • Click on ‘Update Profile’ at the bottom of the page

Settings

  • General – delete the existing tagline that says ‘Just another WordPress blog’ and replace it with something more suitable (or just leave it blank)
  • Reading – tick the boxes to add Stumbleupon, Delicious, Digg and Reddit icons to posts
  • Discussion – untick the box that says ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’

Remember to click ‘Save Changes’ at the bottom of each page where you alter settings.

Design

Themes and widgets are really a matter of personal preference, although I’d always recommend getting rid of Snap Shots (the link previews that pop up when you hover a cursor over some anchor text) and ‘related posts’ (the rarely relevant list of posts on other wordpress.com blogs). They’re both irritating.

  • Themes – scroll through and pick something you like.  Click on it to preview it and click ‘Activate theme’ in the top right of the preview window to, well, activate it.  The look of your blog will change straight away.
  • Widgets – these will be dictated by personal preference and the particular aims of your blog.  As a basic layout I’d suggest (from top to bottom) Pages, Text (with a brief explanation of what the blog is about), Recent Comments (apparently placing this high up encourages commenting), Categories, Links and Search
  • Extras – untick ‘Enable snap shots on this blog’, tick to ‘Hide related posts on this blog’

Manage

  • Posts – tick the box next to ‘Hello World’ and click delete
  • Pages – click on ‘About’ and change the text to something more relevant. Also scroll down, click on ‘Comments & Pings’ and untick both boxes to disallow them both
  • Links, tick the boxes next to the two existing links to WordPress websites and click delete.  Then click on ‘Add link’ to insert a link of your own

Write

  • Pages – add any extra static pages that are needed
  • Posts – finally, time to write that first post.