Blogging for the Man: A Technical Guide

So, you’ve been chosen to be an author for a Burning Man blog? Sweet. Here’s what you need to know to blog successfully.

Getting Started

1. You’ll need a computer (duh) with a web browser (duh) and an internet connection (duh). Which browser you use is up to you, but we recommend the latest version of Firefox or Chrome.

2. You’ll be set up with an account on the live blog, as well as the blog sandbox. The sandbox is a place where you can see what this blogging stuff is all about, that the public does not have access to. You can write test posts and publish them, upload photos and generally practice to get the feel of things before you post on the live blog. Kind of like a private blog party, except much geekier. The login info for both accounts will be emailed to you.

3. Read the official Burning Blog Editorial Guidelines document thoroughly and completely. Learn it. Live it. You’ll be held to its standards, and it has critical information about writing, categorizing, and tagging your posts that could just save your life.

4. Peruse the posts currently published in the blog, and get an idea of their length, style, tone, flow, number of pictures, picture placement, titles, paragraph blocking, etc. You’ll want to generally keep your posts in line with what’s already there so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

How To Write a Blog Post

OK, sit down at the computer, get your ideas together, grab a drink, and get ready to write. Ready? OK.

1. Go to http://blog.burningman.com/wp-login.php (or the sandbox, which is at http://brimstonedev.burningman.com/burnblog/wordpress/wp-login.php) and use your new login and password to log in.
2. You will see what is known as the Dashboard, and there are links and info here specifically to help you with posting on the blog.burningman.com site.
3. Click on the “Add New” button in the Posts menu on the left-hand-side of your screen.
4. In the Add New Post screen that opens, you will see a handy check-list to the right to remind you of the essential posting steps.
5. Choose a category for your post in the “Categories” window. By selecting the “Most Used” set of categories, you will see which ones are in current use. Make sure that “Uncategorized” is NOT selected.
6. Put a title in the “Title” bar.
7. Write the content of your post in the “Post” window.
8. Use the wysiwyg menu bar at the top of the Post window to dink around with the text formatting if you wish. But please don’t make your post look like a ransom note.
9. Add an image if you’d like (see “Working with Images”, below) by clicking the little square-within-a-square icon next to the words “Add media” in the Post window menu bar. Position your image in your post.
10. Choose some tags that reflect the content of your post from the list of tags found in the editorial guidelines. If you click on the red text “Display Click Tags” you will see a whole list of tags appear that you can select by clicking on them. How to choose? Think of tags as an index reference … what would people look for in an index and hope to find your post?
11. Check any links you’ve put in your post, make sure they’re valid.
12. Preview your post by clicking the “Preview Your Post” button, and see if it looks good. Noodle it as necessary until it looks good.
13. When you’re happy with everything about your post, click the “Publish” button to publish it on the live blog.
14. Go to http://blog.burningman.com (or the sandbox) and double-check it there, just in case. If you need to edit it, you can click the “Edit” link below the post to do so. You will need to be logged in to edit your own posts, so if you decide at some point to edit older posts you have written, the Edit link will only appear after you’ve logged in.

Working With Images

Images in WordPress are an interesting animal. First off, we’ll talk about image specifications / requirements, followed by the 2 steps for putting images in your post:

  1. Determine where you want your image to go in the post.
  2. Upload an image

Image Specifications:
Images should be .jpg, .gif or .png format, no wider or taller than 450 pixels. For photos that are portrait orientated, that you would like to have copy flow around, a max width of 225 is suggested. Of course, they should be appropriate, topical to your post, and family-friendly (no nudity, profanity or drug use).

To learn how to edit and resize images, we’ve put together some instructions for Photoshop and Irfanview in a separate PDF, which is here [LINK].

Position the Image in Your Post:
Place your cursor at the beginning of the first line of the paragraph you want the image to sit next to. Ideally, you want to place an image next to copy that describes or discusses the image. Then go to the next step.

Upload an Image:
There are two ways to show an image in a blog post: upload it, or reference it from another website. Ideally, you upload it, to avoid a situation where the referenced photo moves or is deleted. Also, it’s bad form to link to someone else’s image that you’ve not asked permission to use, as it can blow out their bandwidth. Ready? OK.

  1. Click the “Add media” button above the Post window menu bar. Then either:
    1. click “Upload Files” to upload an image from your computer or …
    2. click “Insert from URL” if you’re linking to an image on a different website
  2. Type in your desired image caption in the “Caption” field and in the “Alt Text” field (this is what search engines scan)
  3. Select the desired alignment (none, left, center, right) and size of the final image. (Note: only left, right and center alignments will wrap text around your image.)
  4. Click “Insert into Post”

Preview your post to see how the image actually sits relative to the text, and noodle it around in the Post window to get it just right, including adjusting the image size to fit properly.

Embedding an Audio File

Want to embed an audio player to play an mp3 inline in your post? Use this syntax, and place it in your blog post using the Text view of the edit window:

[audio:http://www.yourdomain.com/path/to/your_mp3_file.mp3]

Need More Information?

WordPress has comprehensive tutorials that can give you detailed instructions about blogging.

Check it out:
http://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Posts

For more detailed information, follow this links to further lessons:
http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Lessons