Feeling pretty comfortable with online tools, and don’t want the step-by-step version? The Quick Start Guide takes you on a no-nonsense tour of the basics.
If you’d like a little more hand-holding (and we don’t blame you!), skip this guide and plow through the other sections as you need them on your journey to the most awesome blog on the internet.
Get started: register, fill in your profile, and name your new creation.
Register: Head to WordPress.com and set up a username and password for yourself.
Pick a web address: Choose your free YourAddress.wordpress.com web address. (For a custom YourAddress.com web address, head to the next step.)
Choose a plan: Choose between basic, premium, and business, ranging from $0 to $299.00 — Premium and Business include a custom address. You can always upgrade to a paid plan later, once you’re hooked on blogging. (What’s the difference? Here’s the difference.)
Get a profile: Set up a profile with your personal information and upload a Gravatar, the image that represents you in the WordPress.com community. Click on the round icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen (next to the bell) to tweak the details and upload an image. (Not in-depth enough for you? Here’s the in-depth version.)
Set your title: We’ll use your username to set your site’s title — just as a default, but you can change that. Go to My Sites → Customize → Site Identity to name your blog and give it a descriptive tagline.
Get comfy: learn your way around WordPress.com.
Visit the Reader: It’s the first place we’ll take you, and our community hub. Check out the lay of the blogosphere, and find some great new reads. (Not sure how? Here’s how.)
Hit the dashboard: The dashboard is the guts of your blog, where you do everything from customizing the way it looks, to uploading media to share, to editing the posts and pages you’ve written. Click on My Sites to get to your dashboard.
Explore the menus: On the left side of your WordPress.com dashboard are a bunch of links that take you to the parts of your dashboard that control how you blog looks and acts. Click around a little bit and explore — you won’t break anything.
Get personality: pick a theme to define the look and feel of your blog.
Check out the available themes: A theme is a layout and visual look for your blog. WordPress.com has over 350 to choose from, and you can customize any of them. On your dashboard, head to My Sites → Themes to browse the looks on offer. Preview how a theme will look by clicking Try & Customize. If you like what you see, click Activate; if you don’t, keep on browsing. (Want a more detailed intro? Head over here.)
Get configured: customize your theme to make your blog your own.
Now that you have a basic site, and you’ve chosen a look and feel for your blog, you might want to start digging deeper into customizing it to suit your unique needs:
Upload a custom header: Most themes let you tweak the look of the header (the image running across the top of your blog) and the background (the color or pattern behind the main text area). Go to My Sites → Customize → Header to upload your custom header. (Want more info? Check out this section.)
Add more content with widgets: Widgets are easy ways of getting interesting or useful text, images, or navigation elements into the sidebars of your blog (the parts other than your posts). To add and configure widgets, go to My Sites → Customize → Widgets. (To learn what’s possible and how to put widgets to work for you, check out this section of the guide.)
Personalize your blog with custom fonts and colors: Custom Design, which is part of the WordPress.com Premium plan, allows you to change the colors and fonts on your blog. To start experimenting with colors, go to My Sites → Customize → Colors & Backgrounds. To try out some new fonts, go to My Sites → Customize → Fonts. (Need to learn more before taking the plunge? Be our guest.)
Get published: write a post, write a page, and add some menus to help visitors get around.
Decide if you want to write a post or a page: A post is an update, and as you add each new one, the others will be pushed down the stack. A page is a piece of content you want to stick around, and are likely to link to from your blog’s navigation — the most common example is an “About me” page that tells readers who you are. (Still not sure? Dig deeper here.)
Publish a post: Head to My Sites → Blog Posts → Add. Give your masterwork a title, throw down some words, and click Publish. Voilà! (Need a little more help? Here it is.)
Publish a page: Mosey on over to My Sites → Pages → Add in your dashboard. The rest is almost identical to posting, so you’ve got this in the bag. (More on pages? More on pages.)
Create a menu: Help readers find all your great posts and pages with navigation that gets them where you want them to go. You can create new menus with pages, blog categories, or your own custom links. Go to My Sites → Menus to get started, and find out more about the process here.
Get connected: become part of the community and grow your readership.
Tag your posts: Tagging your posts makes it a lot easier for other people to find them, both on your blog and through the magic of the WordPress.com Reader, which allows people to search for content by topic. If you’re not sure of the how and why of tagging, get the low down here.
Find other blogs to read: The Reader lets you find content you’re interested in by subject, giving you not only an excellent way to reach out and like, comment, reblog, or follow bloggers whose work interests you, but also helps inspire you when you’re stuck for ideas.
Show your favorites some love: Build up a network of contacts and connections on WordPress.com by giving feedback via “likes” and comments. Everyone loves to be noticed, and taking the time to show your appreciation builds your network, ultimately bringing more people to your blog.
Use social networks to extend your reach: If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, announce new posts to your networks there to spread the word. WordPress.com has built-in tools to automate that process, so you don’t need to individually share every post. Visit My Sites → Sharing to configure these features or find out more about them here.
Get mobile: post from your tablet or smartphone, and never miss a moment of inspiration.
Find the right app for your device: There are WordPress.com apps for iOS and Android devices, and you can find links to them here.
Now you’ve grazed the surface, why not dip into our in-depth guides in the following sections, starting with Get Started?
Header image based on “Titan Fast Track” by Navins, CC-BY-2.0.