A couple of weeks ago, I had been asked by Glynnis of the Pinelands Muse, our local community magazine, whether I would be willing to give her, and a friend of hers, an introductory lesson in blogging on the WordPress.com platform.
She herself was keen to create a personal blog to showcase the beautiful photographs she takes, in addition to all the wonderful work she does for the Muse magazine and the Pinelands online directory. Her friend Clare runs a catering company in Cape Town by the name of Appetite Catering, and she wanted to be able to share her favourite recipes and to write about special celebrations and events she had catered for and hosted.
Although I have been a blogger for a number of years, I hadn’t been asked to teach anyone else how to blog before. But this was a challenge I was definitely keen to face!
Putting on my teacher’s hat, I planned our introductory lesson and prepared a comprehensive set of notes, in case it all went a bit pear-shaped or in case I got flustered and forgot important information. If you’ve been doing something for a long time, you tend to repeat certain actions and thought processes automatically. But when you have to explain such things to someone else, you need to proceed far more systematically, logically and consciously:
- establish a baseline by figuring out what they already know and what skills they already have
- limit your scope and focus on what is most important for them
- explain the terminology so that you speak the same language
- create an outline with a hierarchy of steps in a logical sequence
- explain and demonstrate each step
- give them the time to try out and practice each step
- answer questions and re-explain things that weren’t understood
- reinforce what has been done correctly.
We started out by registering and activating an account with WordPress.com, and making sure their passwords worked. I showed them where to find HELP if they needed it. We explored the Dashboard with its various pop-out menus. We chose an appropriate theme for their two blogs, added a header image to the one, added a couple of widgets in the sidebar, and tweaked some settings. Then we got down to the most important part: writing a new post, formatting the text, and uploading a couple of photos. We also added categories and tags, and – after a final proofread and double-check via the Preview page – clicked the Magic Publish Button.
That moment, when your post is sent out into the ether to be shared with the rest of the world, is still, after all this time, the greatest thrill – as I am sure it was for Glynnis and Clare too that day. Butterflies flutter in the stomach, thoughts and questions swirl through the mind…. How will it be received? What if I’ve made a typo or left out a word or made an obvious mistake? Will people enjoy reading what I wrote? Will they comment?
And thus, in the midst of a truly dramatic thunderstorm raging right overhead, complete with sizzling lightning strikes and ear-splitting crashes of thunder, two New Baby Blogs were born:
- Glynnis: Glynnphotographics, “playing with pixels in time” and
- Clare: Appetite Catering, “celebrating the senses”.
What an exciting birth! I so look forward to seeing them grow and evolve over the coming years. Do go and check them out, and make them feel welcome in the Big Friendly Blogosphere.
And in case anyone ever again asks me for an introductory lesson in blogging on WordPress.com, I shall be better prepared! 🙂