Blogging Sign-Up and Help Page

by the webmaster-admin guy.

Something’s on your mind. It needs saying. It needs to get put “out there.”

Think about joining the Southwest Michigan Group’s blogging crew!

Note: If the webmaster already gave you a username and password, you don’t need to fill out the form on the right. You may skip down to “After you register…”


  • Name

  • Contact Info

  • About Yourself

  • The password must have a minimum strength of Medium.
    Strength indicator

    Once you’ve decided to get started, and before you fill out the blogging registration form, think about whether you want to use your own name or come up with something else. Whatever username you choose, you’ll be stuck with it. You’ll be able to change your email address and your password, but not your username.

    Use any username you want, but it can’t have any spaces. You can use BarackObama or Barack_Obama but not Barack Obama. (Please don’t impersonate anyone. If you choose, say, BarackObama for your username, please make it clear that you’re not really Barack Obama. Unless, of course, you really are Barack Obama.)

    After you enter the info on the registration form and click “Register” you’ll get an activation link at the email address you entered. Click the link and you’ll be back at this page. The form will be gone, replaced by a message that says “This username is now active!

    Okay, you can fill out the registration form now. The only stuff you really have to fill out are the items marked * .

    After you register and find yourself back on this page:

    You may want to bookmark this page. It will be your “Help” page, so you may want an easy way to find it.

    Your Log-In

    After all that, you’ll be ready to log in for the first time, using the username and password you created.  Clicking the log-in link below will take you to your log-in page. When you get there, you should bookmark that page too, before you log in. Click this link to log in.

    You can start blogging “write” now!

    You don’t have to read everything on this page first. Start as soon as you’re ready. The rest of this can wait.

    Once you’re logged in, go to “+ New” and “Post” on the Toolbar or to “Posts” and “Add New” on the Admin Menu. Start writing. You’ll figure it out. If you get stuck, just come back here for help.

    You don’t need to get all fussy about it, either. I can pretty it up with headlines, pictures, links. Go ahead. Write!

    Your Profile Page

    Your first log-in will land you on your Profile Page. It’s  on the “back side” of the website where we do stuff that changes the “front side” that our visitors see. While logged in and on the back side, you’ll always have that wide black margin on the left (your Admin Menu) and that black bar across the top (your Toolbar). If you prefer something other than black, you have seven other options at the top of your Profile Page.

    To see the front side, click the “Home” icon near the left end of the Toolbar. The Admin Menu will disappear, but you’ll still have your Toolbar. If you don’t want the Toolbar across the top when you’re checking out the front side, you can uncheck the box on your Profile Page where it says “” You would then have to use your browser’s “back” button to get back to the back side—unless you opened the front side in a new tab or window.

    blogging crew profile pageTo get back to your Profile Page from the front side, go to the far right of the Toolbar, hover over your username, and click “Edit My Profile.” Other options on the Toolbar will take you somewhere other than your Profile Page.

    The “Proofreading” section on your Profile Page may help you later. When you’re writing your blog, you’ll be able to click a “Proofread” icon and automatically find  suggestions based on the boxes you checked in the “Proofreading” section.

    Enter any personal info you want into your profile, but you don’t have to enter any of it. Your username and email address should already be there, and there’s a place where you can change your password. You’ll also be able to change your email address. The one thing you can’t change is your blogging username. (This keeps others from impersonating you.) You can change anything else on your Profile Page whenever you want. If for some reason you want a different username, you’ll have to create a second account with a new username and a different email address. You will then have two blogging accounts here.

    Near the bottom of your profile page you’ll see how to upload an avatar—the picture that appears with your username on your posts and comments. If you already have a “Gravatar,” you can use it here, or you can upload an image from your computer. (Maybe you could make it clear that you’re not really Barack Obama by using a Mitt Romney photo for your avatar.)

    If you entered any changes on your profile page, scroll all the way to the bottom and click “Update Profile” to save what you entered.

    The Admin Menu

    blogging dashboardFrom now on when you log in, you will land on your Dashboard. It will look something like the image on the left. (The Toolbar isn’t shown here, but it will be across the top unless you changed that on your profile.) You can go to the Dashboard any time by clicking “Dashboard” at the top of the Admin Menu.

    Feel free to check out the Admin Menu and the Toolbar. Don’t worry. You won’t break anything. (If something on your Admin Menu doesn’t do anything, that’s because its reserved for the webmaster.)

    Notice in the top-right corner of most of the Admin pages you’ll see two tabs: “Screen Options” and “Help”.

    • Clicking “Screen Options” will show you several check-boxes that let you choose what appears on the screen. Check and uncheck some of the boxes and click the tab again. What’s on the screen will be different. On most screens, you’ll also be able to re-arrange what’s there by dragging and dropping.
    • Clicking “Help” will show topics and links that can answer some of your questions. Most of the help will relate to what’s on that particular screen.

    You’ll be able to figure out a lot of what you can do and how to do it on your own, but you’ll likely need help with some of it. Use the “Comment” section at the bottom of this page to ask your questions. Enter your question and click “Post Comment.” (Site visitors will be able to do that on your blog posts.) If you check the “Notify” box, you’ll get an email when I answer your question. Please post your questions here rather than emailing me. That way all our bloggers can see all the questions and answers. It’ll be like a “Blogging FAQ” section.

    Getting started on your blog

    the screen where you start bloggingStart by going to “Posts” and “Add New” in the Admin menu or to “+ New” and “Post” on the Toolbar. This will take you to a page that looks something like the image on the left. This is where you’ll do your writing and editing.

    Your work here will feel a lot like using your word processor. Most of the toolbar icons probably look familiar. The main difference is that your word-processing program is very “WYSIWYG”-ish. What you see is what you get. What you print looks like what’s on your screen.

    You’ll see a lot of options to the right of your text box and below it—check boxes, buttons, and what-not. As you get into blogging regularly, you’ll get a sense of what those things do and how to use them. If you’ve blogged on similar sites, all that stuff may make sense to you; but for now the only things that matter are

    • the text box where you’ll do your writing
    • the toolbars across the top of the text box, including the “Add Media” button at the top and the tabs on the right
    • these three buttons off to the right:
      • “Save Draft”
      • “Preview”
      • “Publish

    It’s okay to take your best guess on how to handle all that other stuff. It’s also okay to ignore it.

    That’s not true here. As you enter your blog’s text, it will be obvious that it doesn’t look like the website. Don’t worry. By the time it leaves the back end and lands on the front, it will fit the site’s general formatting. It will also reflect any formatting changes you entered yourself—bold or italicized text, changes in fonts or colors or sizes, etc.

    Here’s what will look different when it’s actually on the site:

    Just so you know that there’s no need to mess with this stuff to get it to look right…

    • The background will be light blue, like on the site, not white like in the text box. You won’t need to mess with your post’s background color unless there are places where you don’t want it to match the light blue.
    • Headings will be different. When you highlight a line of text and select a heading from the “Paragraphs” or “Formats” dropdown, the size and color of the heading you made won’t match how it will look on the site.
    • Your blog will be as wide as the page, of course—much wider than your text box—and the text will flow nicely to fill the page width without you needing to do anything.
    • The right-hand column of the page won’t appear in your text box, and you won’t be able to change its content yourself.
    • The headline that will appear at the top of your blog will be the title you enter where it says “Enter title here.” It won’t appear in your text box.

    Buttons and icons that don’t jive with your word processor

    The “preview” and “publish” buttons

    “Preview” (top right corner) will show you what your blog looks like so far, including any changes—whether you saved your changes or not. It will open your blog page in a separate tab or window and let you stay on your editing screen. The two “View Page” links, just above the page title and just below it, will take you away from your editing screen unless you right-click for a new tab or window.

    “Publish” actually only makes your blog available for publication on the website. I’ll still need to add it to the menu. But when you click “Publish,” your post will automatically be shared to our Facebook page, our Twitter account, and Google Plus, so please don’t click “Publish” until you’re sure your post is ready. Clicking “Publish” will also send me a notification to let me know to add it to the menu. If you accidentally click “Publish” before you’re ready, don’t panic. You can still change it. The “publish” button will become an “update” button.

    TIP: A lot of people who post comments and blogs on the web like to write what they want to say first and then copy and paste it to the web. It’s best to use something quick and simple instead of a full-fledged word processing program. All the formatting you do on your word computer’s word processor will vanish when you paste it into your blog. Notepad works well, or TextEdit if you’re on a Mac.
    The Tricks of the Blogging Toolbar

    The “Add Media” button lets you choose an image from our Media Library and add it to your blog. More on this later.

    The “Visual” and “Text” tabs: “Visual” shows your work in more of a word-processing mode. “Text” will let you directly edit the html code. The “Text” tab can be helpful if you know html, and it might help you understand html if you’re interested. Otherwise, you may want to leave the “Text” tab alone.

    If there’s a “Page Builder” tab, you can ignore it. We don’t use Page Builder here. If the tab is there and you click it, please don’t click anything in the popup window that appears. Click the “Visual” or “Text” tab and the popup will go away.

    The Blogging Toolbar Icons and Buttons

    the blogging toolbarThe first time you go to your “Add New Post” screen, your Toolbar may not show the two bottom rows of icons in the illustration. To make those rows appear, click the toolbar toggle button. It’s there just in case you’d rather get the icons out of the way and just use the dropdowns. You can toggle back and forth.

    The link icon lets you install a link. Highlight the text you want to use as your link, click the link icon, and a popup box will let you enter the link’s URL.

    If you change your mind about a link you installed, highlight the link’s text (or the piece of it that you don’t want included as part of the link) and click the break link icon. What you highlighted will no longer be a link.

    The anchor icon lets you choose a place in your blog that you will want to link to. Put your blinking insertion point where you want the anchor. Click the anchor icon. A dialog box will let you name the anchor. That will become a URL that you’ll be able to link to. (I did that on this page. The link just above here where it says “More on this later” takes you to an anchor that I installed down below.)

    When you click the proofread button and scroll through what you’ve written, you’ll see some words underlined that you may want to think about. If you click the underlined words, a dropdown will tell you why they’re underlined. Most of this will be based on the proofreading preferences you entered on your profile page. To make the underlines go away, you can either make a change or unclick the proofread button.

    The clear formatting (eraser) icon will remove formatting from highlighted text. It won’t remove your links, or change your headers, blockquotes, lists, etc. It only clears the kind of formatting circled in the illustration.

    The icons to the right of the proofread button let you do certain special things. Go ahead and experiment if you want. You won’t break anything.

    Adding Media to Your Blog

    Right now, our Media Library contains images, pdf files and a video or two. You can use any of these files or you can upload your own images, audio, and video from your computer to our Media Library.

    upload files while blogging

    Uploading Media

    You have two ways to upload a new media file:

    Method One: Upload while you’re blogging…
    1. Put your blinking insertion point where you want to put a media file.
    2. Click the “Add Media” button.
    3. In the window that pops up, you’ll see our entire library of media files. You can use the “All media items” menu to see images, video, or audio. Our library is huge! It will load in sections as you scroll down through the library. If you know the specific item you’re looking for, you may be able to find it by using the “Search media items” field. If you find the file you in our library, you can click it and skip to 5 (B) below. If you don’t see the file you want, click the “Upload Files” tab.blogging media information fields
    4. In the “Upload Files” popup window, you can click “Select Files” to find the file on your computer, or you can simply drag-and-drop the file straight from your computer. Yes, you can drag-and-drop more than one file at a time.
    5. (A) Now you’ll be back at the library, and you’ll see the new file(s) at the top left. Each new file will have a checkmark in its top right corner. If you uploaded multiple files, one will be outlined, and its checkmark will be bigger. (B) In the right-hand column will be a place where you can add info about that particular file. (The illustration on the right is for image files. Audios and videos will be different.) You can add the info now, later, or never. One thing you might want to do now is go to “Link To” near the bottom and decide if the image will serve as a link and, if so, to where. The other thing you’ll want to do is click the blue “Insert into post” button. Then you’ll be back on your blogging screen. Congratulations! You’ve inserted your media file.
    add new blogging mediaMethod Two: Upload whenever you feel like it…

    On the Admin menu, go to “Media” and “Add New.” This will take you to Step 4 above. After you do Step 4, you’ll still be in the same window. The new file’s name will appear below the Select/Drag-&-Drop box with an “Edit” link on the far right. This link will take you to a popup that lets you add info about the file, similar to the info that Step 5 (B) lets you enter.  (Again, you can enter the info now, later, or never.) Then, instead of “Insert into post,” you’ll click “Update.” After that, if you click “Library” in the Admin menu you’ll see the new file(s) at the top left.

    Editing your image after you’ve put it in your blog

    If you click on your image, drag squares and a mini-toolbar will appear. Dragging a square will change the image’s size but not its shape. Clicking the “x” will delete the image. Clicking the pencil will open a popup that will let you edit the image’s information, including its size, how it fits into the text around it, etc. At the top of the popup window, a text box will let you enter a caption for the image. The other four buttons on the mini-toolbar let you change the image’s orientation without going to the popup. The Enbridge Line 5 image on the left shows the orientation you’d get by selecting by the grayed and outlined button in this particular image’s mini-toolbar.

    Okay. That’s about it. I’ll update this page as questions get posted. If you have a question, don’t think twice about asking it.

    Post it in the “Comment” box at the bottom of the page.

    Now go. Start blogging. Write now.

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