Category Archives: General information

Getting started with WordPress

As promised, I’ve provided below the steps we worked through this morning. Hopefully everyone was able to get through at least part of it during class.


Getting started with WordPress


  1. Decide whether you’ll use your own name or a pseudonym.
  2. Decide whether your entire site will be password protected, or only your essays.
  3. Choose an address (URL) for your site:
  4. Choose a title for your site.

Setting up the site

  1. Set up a account using your email address.
    1. Go to the site and click on the “Get Started” button.
    2. On the next page, fill out the form using your email address, a username (the site will suggest one, but you can change it) and password of your choosing, and the address you chose. Do not forget your username or password! For now, choose the free version of WordPress. If you like working with the platform enough that you decide you want to upgrade, you can always do that at some point in the future.
    3. Click the “Create Blog” button at the bottom of the page you just filled out.
    4. Check your email for a message from WordPress. (It will probably be in the “Updates” tab.) Click on the “Activate Blog” button you’ll find in the body of the email.
  2. You’re now all set. Your site is activated, and you should be logged in. Your should now be looking at a setup page. Give your site a title. Optionally, you can add a tagline (if you don’t want one, I’d suggest deleting the generic one that’s already filled in). Click on “Next Step.”
  3. Choose a theme (visual design) for your site. There are plenty of free ones; click “Show More Themes” to see more than the nine on the initial page. (You can keep clicking that button — which will keep showing up until WordPress runs out of themes to show you — until you find one you like.) You can change themes later if at some point in the semester you find one you like better than the one you initially selected. Once you’ve chosen your theme, click on the “Customize It!” button to adjust any settings you’d like (again, you can make changes later, so feel free to experiment). When you’re done, click “Next Step.”
  4. Connect your site to your Twitter and/or Facebook account(s) if you’d like. (If you plan to keep your site private, you probably don’t want to do this. Even if you plan to have your site public, there’s probably not much point unless you choose to use your site for blogging as well as to house your portfolio.) Click “Next Step” when you’re ready to move on.
  5. Click “Finish” on the next page (we’ll create the first post in a few minutes).
  6. The next page lets you know you’ve finished the setup process. At this point, click on “My Blog” in the menu bar. You’ll see a list of blogs, including the one you just created. Click on its name.

Managing the site; creating posts and pages

  1. At this point, you should be looking at your site (and you’ll probably see a notice that says “Apologies, but no entries were found”). Hover over your site’s name in the menu bar, then choose “Dashboard” from the menu that drops down. Go to “Settings” in the left sidebar, then choose “General.”
  2. Click in the “Timezone” section, and choose a city in our timezone (I usually choose Detroit). Click on “Save Changes.”
  3. Under “Settings” in the sidebar, choose “Reading.” In the “Site Visibility” section, choose the privacy settings you’d like. Click “Save Changes.” If you chose to make your site private, be sure to invite both me (at my address) and the two reader accounts (listed in your assignment sheets) to your site.
  4. To create a page for your essays, click on “Pages” in the sidebar. (You can delete the “About” page if you’d like.) Click on “Add New.” Give your page a name. (You can create one page to house all of your essays, and create sections in that page to separate your best pieces from the rest of your work, or you can create a page for each. It’s up to you.)
  5. Editing the page is simple; just start typing in the composer. To link to your work, just type the name of your essay. Open your essay from Google Docs in another tab or window. Click on the “Share” button in your document, then select and copy the “Link to share” in the dialog box that pops up. Return to the WordPress tab and select the name of your essay. Click the link button in the composer’s menu, and paste the link you just copied in the URL field of the dialog box that comes up (be sure to delete what’s already there first). Click “Add Link,” then click “Publish” (over on the right).
  6. To see what your site now looks like, open it in a new tab. Right click your site’s title in the top left of your window, then choose “Open Link in New Tab.” You’ll still see that you have no entries, but you’ll now see you have a new page (it will show up in your site’s menu). When you click on it, you’ll see the page you just created. You can always go back to your home page by clicking on your site’s name.
  7. The main page of your site contains all your posts. If you were seriously blogging, each of your entries would appear here in reverse chronological order, as they do on the course site. This page is what visitors see first, so it’s important to have a post here telling them what the site is for. (If you really intend to blog as well as to build your portfolio here, see me during office hours about ways to have your site be both a blog and a portfolio in ways that don’t confuse visitors.) Go back to the tab where your dashboard is open, and click on “Posts” in the sidebar, then choose “Add New.”
  8. Give your post a title, add some content, and click “Publish.”
  9. Reload your page in the other tab, and you’ll see your new post.

Backing up your work

  1. Before making any major changes (a change of theme, new widgets in the sidebar — I can say more about that for anyone interested later on —, etc.), it’s a good idea to back up your data. Actually, it’s a good idea to back up your data regularly anyway, just to be safe. To do that, go to your dashboard and choose “Tools,” then “Export.”
  2. Be sure “All content” is selected, then click on “Download Export File.” That will give you a file that you can use to restore your content if you ever have major issues with your site and need to delete everything and start over. It can also be used to move your site to another site that uses WordPress, whether it’s hosted at or self-hosted. I’d recommend downloading a backup file once a week. Where data is concerned, paranoia is good.

Be sure to email me the link to your site.

Information form

Once again, welcome to Political Issues (W)! I look forward to seeing you all on August 26th.

Between now and then (or as soon thereafter as possible), please fill out the class information form, which can be found here (you’ll be asked to log in with your Saint Mary’s user name and password).


Welcome to the Political Issues course! This is the course site for the Fall 2013 class.

This particular version of the course is listed as POSC151W, which means that, in addition to providing you with the opportunity to explore a variety of political issues, it’s intended to assist you in developing the writing skills you’ll need throughout your college career and beyond; it’s part of the Writing Proficiency Program at Saint Mary’s College.

More specific information about the course will begin appearing here as the start of the semester approaches. I can, however, answer one of the most common questions I tend to get in advance of the semester: What about books?

I will likely recommend a few books that you may find helpful as good writing resources. When I decide on a few, I’ll list them here on the site. However, there are no books that are required for this course, and none that we’ll all use together in class.

Enjoy the rest of the summer. I look forward to meeting you in August!

Amy Cavender, CSC
Department of Political Science