When something is free, there are usually trade-offs. With WordPress.com, you can do some amazing things, but you will still be a little limited. The big one is that you won’t have an entirely custom URL. When you sign up for WordPress.com you’ll get to choose your blog name but your URL will be “yourblog.wordpress.com”. The other issue is one of advertisements. WordPress.com will insert ads into your content occasionally for guests who aren’t logged in to your site. Even with these detractors, WordPress.com is an enormously useful platform for those on the smallest of budgets.
1. Sign Up For A WordPress.com Account
Head on over to WordPress.com and get started. The process here is pretty straight forward. Decide what your blog will be called and put that in the first line. It has to be longer than 4 characters, but I would suggest keeping it small and memorable. Then fill in the usual username and password for logging into you site. The other nice benefit of the WordPress.com account you’re creating here is the ability to use the forum if down the road, you decide to dig into WordPress a bit more.
2. Configure Your Site
If this is your first time looking at the WordPress interface, it might be a bit daunting, but don’t get scared off yet. On the left side are your main sections and they’re relatively well labeled.
We’ll begin with the important one, “Settings”. If you’re not already there, click or hover over the Settings tab and then choose “General”. This is where you’ll change the blog name as it will appear in the title bar and the site headline. I recommend also changing the tagline from it’s default. If you don’t need a tagline, you can leave that field blank.
The next thing you’ll want to do is pick a theme. This is actually one of the biggest selling points of WordPress. Your selection of possible themes is huge. You’ll find the Themes editor under the Appearence tab on the left. At the top of this page of settings you’ll see the screen shot and title of your currently selected theme. If you like the looks of the current theme, feel free to move along. If you want to explore your options a bit, you can scroll down and choose one listed or even search on the right if you’ve got something specific in mind. If you want to get a feel for how things work before settling on one, I highly recommend the Twenty Eleven theme. It is the default theme for WordPress and is full of great functions and broadly compatible with most plugins.
Once you have selected your theme, there are usually options. This does of course depend on the theme that you’ve chosen. You’ll typically find the options pages within the appearance tab on the left. Feel free to experiment with background colors, text colors, header images, etc. The options really are as endless as your imagination.
Your WordPress.com site is alive and operational. There are many things to add now. Plugins and widgets and custom menus and all sorts of things can be added for beauty and functionality, but those go far beyond the scope of this post. I hope to cover many of these topics soon, but if you have any pressing questions, you can post them, email me, or Google away. One of the advantages of using WordPress.com instead of hosting your own site, is the social community I’d love to know if this has been any help, so if you send me a link to your new site, I’d be happy to see how you’re doing and might even post it for others as well. Happy building.