Please note: This post covers configuring and using WordPress for your new blog. You should have completed the tutorial on how to start a blog prior to reading this article. For any specific questions about WordPress please post a question at my free Facebook group.
In this tutorial I’m going to walk you through your new WordPress blog. You don’t need to be a master at WordPress to be able to use it. Honestly, I don’t recommend devoting a ton of time learning about it initially, instead you should focus on the content of your blog. WordPress is just like any other software, if you know the basics, then you’ll be fine. Just learn as you go and when you come across a question Google it. Trust me, you don’t need to be a WordPress expert to build a profitable blog. That’s the whole goal of WordPress actually, anyone can install and build a blog or ecommerce site with limited technical know-how. This post is going to walk you through everything you need to get up and running.
WordPress Basics You Need To Know
WordPress is a content management system. A content management system, aka CMS, is the software that powers your website. Think of it like Windows or OS X that your computer runs on. WordPress is constantly being updated, and will always remain free.
Remember you can always log in to WordPress via http://yoursite.com/wp-admin
Go ahead and do that now. This should bring you to your dashboard screen. Which looks like the following.
This is the user interface for WordPress. You’ll do almost all the work on your website from these menus. That includes posting blogs, moderating comments, and altering how your website looks. Let’s get started setting everything up.
Changing The Appearance With Themes
First, you need to decide on how you want your site to look. This is done by uploading a theme to WordPress. Themes are like stencils for your site. They tell WordPress where to put all the different elements of your blog. Think of it as the body of a new car, but you still decide on the color and certain options. Rest assured, you can change or tweak your theme in the future.
Themes come in three types; free, paid, or completely custom. You can browse the free ones by hovering over Appearance in the left navigation menu and clicking themes. You’ll notice several themes your WordPress site comes with when it is installed. Click the button that says Add New at the top of the page. Now you have access to thousands of free themes.
My advice? Ignore all the free stuff and buy a premium theme. No, seriously. The free ones are fine if you are not completely sold on having a blog, but chances are you just paid for a year’s worth of hosting and you want decent looking website. Plus, premium themes generally come with cool functionality (plugins) built-in, along with thorough documentation, and support from the theme’s author.
I am completely sold on Mek’s Voice Theme. That’s the theme I use for Dollar Efforts. Take a look at it and see what you think, but I think it’s way more customizable than you’ll ever need. If you’d like to look at other premium themes then feel free to browse the other offerings on Themeforest. Keep in mind, I can offer some support on the Voice Theme, but I can’t promise to be able to help you with any other theme you might choose.
A couple of things you want to make sure of before selecting a theme.
- It needs to be responsive. Responsive means that the website will automatically adjust in size and resolution when being viewed on a desktop, mobile, or tablet. My other site, Geekbabyclothes.com, gets 55% of it’s traffic from mobile users. A responsive theme is a must-have.
- You want it to have a very high rating and lots of purchases, they’re listed as sales on Themeforest. Do not purchase anything brand new.
- Make sure you get at least 6 months of support with your theme. That means the author will answer your specific questions via forum, email, or some type of messaging app.
- Try out the live demo before purchasing. If you still aren’t sure then get a free theme for now.
I’m assuming you’ve picked out your theme and are now installing to your WordPress site. You can install the free WordPress themes directly from the theme directory. If you purchased your theme from Themeforest, then download the file as a zip file. Head back over to Appearance → Themes in your WordPress menu. Click the Add New button and then the Upload Theme. You should be able to simply upload the whole zip file. Viola. Make sure you enable the theme and you are all done. At this point, you need to refer to your theme’s documentation with all the features of your theme and any included functionality. Once again, bring your specific questions to my Facebook group. Try not to get frustrated. You’re learning something new and that comes with some bumps in the road. Don’t spend hours trying to figure out a problem. Ask the theme’s author or myself. Read your theme’s documentation! The Voice theme creates a whole new menu item called Theme Options, which allows you to easily customize your website.
Adding Functionality With Plugins
Okay, you’ve got your theme installed and enabled. Let’s talk about plugins. Plugins give your blog a plethora of functionality. From adding social media buttons to backing up your WordPress database every night. I could write ten more posts just about plugins.
Here’s the basics about plugins.
- All the plugins you need you actually access through WordPress. Hover over Plugins in the left menu and click on Add New.
- You want to have as few as plugins as possible. If the theme you purchased suggests plugins then make sure you download and activate those.
- Plugins can be free, have a one-time fee, or have a monthly charge to access all their settings. Almost all plugins have some free features. You don’t want to buy a plugin unless absolutely necessary.
- Plugins can break your site, so don’t start off activating a bunch of them, until you are more comfortable with WordPress. It’s better to break your site now before it’s up and running.
These are the plugins I recommend you get for your website. Search for these in the Add New page for plugins.
Yoast SEO – Yoast is like your person search engine optimization assistant. You can just use the free version. Go through the tutorial and read the documentation. Do not pay for the courses. I’ll cover SEO in another post.
Social Warfare – Do you like my giant social media share buttons under my post image? Sweet, this is the plugin that does that. The free version is all you need now, but I’ll be doing a special post on just Pinterest, which I’ll recommend acquiring the paid version.
Thirstyaffiliates – I use this for my affiliate links. I think it’s currently the best plugin for handling that kind of linking. We’ll cover it more in my making money guide. Free version is fine.
Wp Review – If you want a review website then you might want to give this plugin a look.
MailChimp for WordPress – This helps you get email subscribers. You’ll need it eventually.
The only other plugins that I have installed either came with my WordPress installation or were recommended by the author of the Voice theme I’m using.
You don’t need anything else right now. Let’s move on before your head explodes.
Choosing The Right Settings
I want to walk you through the basic settings for your blog.
Go ahead and click Settings in the left navigation menu. General will be selected first, so let’s go through that.
Everything here should be self explanatory, but you want to make sure the Membership box is not checked. That way readers won’t be able to create an account on your website. I always choose the following date format: December 22, 2017
Skip over the Writing menu, and click on Reading. This page is where you need to set the page you want as your homepage, aka front page. Of course you can leave it as the default, but I recommend creating a custom page. Your theme’s documentation should walk you through that.
Moving on to the Discussion settings page, it’s the next one beneath Reading. You can probably leave this page alone, but later on you might want to tweak how moderating comments works on your blog. Underneath Pages in the left navigation menu you’ll see Comments. That page shows all your comments. Just keep all this in mind, because you will need it in the future.
The next settings to look at is permalinks. In almost all cases, you want to select “Post Name” under the common settings.
That’s it. You should be good to go.