The short version:
If you're truly new to blogging, adding a new post is one of the first things you'll need to learn how to do. It's not difficult, but it's worth doing properly. I'll walk you through it.
Now, as with all of my blogging beginners/Wordpress posts, remember that the Wordpress that I am working with and the one you'll see in the images may look different to yours, depending on how it's been set up and what themes and plugins you have enabled.
The good news is that this part of the blog will look more or less the same and - importantly - work the same, no matter how you've got things set up.
Let's add a new blog post
Open up Wordpress for me there...
This is likely to be what you're looking at. The important bit here is the options down the left-hand side. Navigate to the section called "Manage" and hit the "add" button beside "Blog Posts". Make sure you're adding a blog post and not a page, which is a totally different beast.
After hitting "add", you'll be on a new blog post editing interface. It's as simple as that. But that would make a pretty boring blog post. so I'm also going to take you through the different elements of the page and what you need to do them to make a blog post. Ready?
The new blog post will be very bare. On the left, you've got the option to go back out to the homepage by hitting "close". You'll only be given an option to save once you've actually written something.
Over on the right, you have the post settings. They can be hidden (if you want more space) by toggling the cog icon. The greyed-out "Publish" and "Preview" buttons will remain inaccessible until you start to write.
Here's where you're going to start writing. Stick a title in the title box, and some text down below. You can change any of it later. See how you now have a "save" option in the top left, and the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons have come to life?
Take a poke around the editing area. Most of these options you'll have seen before when using Microsoft Word or whatever. We've got the usual suspects, like bold and italics, centering, bullets and numbers, changing the text color and increasing and decreasing the indents.
Some parts, however, might be new, and we'll look at them now.
The post URL (web address)
The little link icon to the left of your title allows you to change the URL. This is something that you'll want to do when you start to get a handle on SEO, but you don't need to worry about it now. Just remember that you have the option.
HTML and visual modes
You can toggle between the "visual" and "html" displays. HTML is just another way of formatting your post - it's closer to traditional coding (your blog post is just code, after all, even if you can't see it!) and some people like to use it. If it's a mystery to you, just ignore it and work in "visual".
Add images, videos, etc.
The Add button is what you'll use to make your blog post more interesting and helpful, by adding photos, videos, contact forms, and buy buttons. These elements are very important to how your blog post will look online, so adding images and videos is something you should do from the start!
Some themes will add extra options to this section. These are best added after the post is written, so you can decide where it will be most appropriate.
To add, just make sure your cursor is where you want the picture, etc, to be, and chose it from the list. Once the image appears, click on it for more options, or use the little circles at the edge of the image to resize.
The size of your images is crucial. They must never be too big.
For more info, read this.
Paragraph, or how to format
The Paragraph menu is how you will format your post. Please, please use this button and not a combination of font size and bolding to make headings and subheadings!
Why use the "paragraph" buttons? Well, the formatting you do here is designed to display well on all devices and screens, so that pretty much everyone will see your site and posts in their full glory.
Secondly, H1 and H2 tags are what Google uses to decide what the important bits and main themes of your blog post are. Omitting it can make the post look bad for your readers and doesn't do you any favors in the eyes of Google.
Finally, always using the paragraph tools helps design consistancy, which helps your branding and professionalism. It looks messy if one post has text in one size and the next in another.
Using it is very self-explanatory - highlight the text you want to change, and pick the corresponding size from the list.
Bullets and numbered lists
Always use these rather than adding your own numbers or subbing dashes for bullets, for example. They work well to add structure and interest to your post, so don't be afraid to use them! It's best to use the Wordpress option for exactly the same reason as headings.
The add link button also opens up a bigger window where you can link to content that's already on your site (like another blog post, the about page or your services) or on an unrelated website. If it's the latter, paste the URL in the box and make sure the link text reads how you want it to. Almost always, tick the box to "open link in a new window/tab". This encourages readers to stay on your page, reading your stuff, and not someone else's!
Most blogs will have a home page where you can see the title and maybe an image from the blog posts it contains. Some themes also have a little snippet of the blog post as a taster. In order to make sure that Wordpress picks the right bit as the snippet, add "Read More" just after where you want the snippet to end. If you don't, Wordpress will pick the snippet for you and will sometimes get it wrong.
Paste as text
This one is essential for the very beginners, especially if you're also a fan of Microsoft Word! A very common (but not very good) way of writing blog posts is to write them in Word or another app, and copy and paste them into the blog post. It isn't a good plan because Word and Wordpress are not the same and Wordpress is often unable to handle the formatting that comes from your Office post. As a result, it can give you terrible formatting problems, or simply look awful once it's online.
My rule: create in Wordpress, TextEdit, an editor or an app for the purpose, like Scrivener to avoid weird formatting that will mess up your posts. And before you paste anything into Wordpress, press this little button. It will delete all the formatting and paste "clean" text into Wordpress to be edited with the tools Wordpress gives you. It might seem draconian or unnecessary, but 90% of the practical problems my clients come to me with are related to extraneous or sloppy formatting!
Beside paste as text is another handy button - the option to remove formatting that you've applied. It looks like a small, plain eraser. Imagine you've done all your subheaders in H2 and italic, and after having a good squint, decide that you don't like it. Highlight the thing you want to return to plain text, and hit this button. If you wanted to remove the italic, but not the H2, for example, just highlight and press the italic button again.
The Post Settings...again!
I'll draw your attention to the post settings again, over on the far left. This is very important and a little denser, so I've written a separate post to talk you through that. You can find it here.
Other than that, you're all ready to start writing excellent blog posts! Sure, there's more to learn, but, like so many things in life, there's no better experience than actually doing a thing. So go out there and do things - your business will thank you for it!