So, you have decided to create a blog with WordPress. If this is your first venture into the world of WordPress, have no fear. The WordPress platform is perhaps the easiest website development software to learn, use and expand upon, as your site grows from “first blog” to the web blogging site of your dreams.
All aspects of WordPress are virtually turn-key and headache free, particularly once you learn the basics and dig in to have a little fun with all of its bells and whistles. Simply follow these steps to create a blog with WordPress, then customize as you wish.
First Things, First
The first decision you must make when working with WordPress is whether you want to use the WordPress domain to host your blog, or your own dot com. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will explore the option of using your own domain, your dot com, on which to build your blog. This is because there are steps involved on your own site which are not necessary when using WordPress’ own domain.
Despite a few extra steps and a little monthly hosting fee from your internet service provider, you will not regret the decision to create a blog with WordPress on your own domain. Having your own dot com makes you the king of your WordPress castle. You can make as many changes as you want to every aspect of your site and use third party themes with ease and complete customization control. Besides, having your own dot com is important toward being taken seriously in the world of blogs and websites.
A Quick Note About “Blogs”
While WordPress is indeed a blogging platform and was originally created for bloggers to write little snippets of information for a general audience, WordPress is perhaps the most powerful and fully functional content management system today. Major companies and even Fortune 500 brands build and operate their own websites using WordPress.
So, you may be starting a blog, but you may also be building a company website, eCommerce environment, online resume, photography portfolio, or other fully functional website on the WordPress platform. As we go through the steps here, we will continue to use the term “blog” to just keep things simple. Just do not let the term limit your dreams, as with WordPress, just about any kind of website or web environment is possible.
Ready, Set, Go!
If you have not already purchased your dot com, start by doing that. Buy it through a know hosting provider with experience in WordPress site hosting. Be sure to read user reviews about which hosts work well with WordPress and which do not. Most mainstream hosts these days do work well, but some can cause more headaches with the system.
A typical provider will make things super easy for you, by having a one-click button on your hosting control panel to install WordPress and get things started. That is the type of provider you should look for, and the type for which we will outline steps, here. If you do not know how to go through their WordPress installation steps, simply call their tech support and get help. They should make things super easy for you.
Once your WordPress site has been installed from your control panel or by the provider, you are ready to roll. Within the next few minutes, you will actually have a site which is starting to take on your personality.
Log Into WordPress
Your point for logging into WordPress will always be the same. You might wish to bookmark your login address, so you always have one-click access from your browser. Otherwise, just remember this web address and login here using the username and password created during the setup process, each time:
Once you have logged in, you will be at the WordPress site Dashboard for your dot com. This is where all changes, updates, blog posts and creative activities will take place for your site. Spend some time getting to know the different panel areas and options. Do not be afraid to make changes in form fields, as WordPress has made the Dashboard very simple for changes and you really cannot seriously “break” anything.
Selecting a Theme
The first customization you will want to make is to select a theme for use as your site’s user environment. There are two places to access themes and find the one which suits your needs and personality. First, you can browse through the free themes on WordPress, through the Dashboard’s Appearance option.
From your Dashboard, click on Appearance -> Themes. Once on the Themes page, simply scroll down to select “Add New Theme.” This will allow you to browse through options or search using specific terms, such as colors, available options or other search words which might take you to a theme of interest. If you find a theme of interest, simply click “Install” on that theme and the magic will happen for you, installing the theme and all of its components.
If you do not find a free theme you like through WordPress, an option is to buy a fully packaged design from a provider such as ThemeForest. ThemeForest is a portal for individual designers to sell their own designed themes for use on sites like yours. Just ensure the theme you choose to buy is under the category of “WordPress,” so it will work with WordPress and not another content management system. If you buy a third-party theme here or elsewhere, you download the files from that site, then install on your WordPress from the Themes page of your Dashboard. Simply click Install and go through those steps to install the provider’s .zip package.
One area where a lot of new blog developers get stuck is in the Install process when using a third party theme. If you receive an error code saying that the theme could not install, you likely are trying to install all of the theme’s files and documentation as a whole, not just the theme, itself.
ThemeForest provides two options on their downloads panel. The first is to download the full package and the second is to download just the WordPress theme. To get started on your first theme, just download the WordPress theme first and install it through your Dashboard. When that is done, you can go back to ThemeForest and download the whole package, including documentation and ReadMe files, as well as demos and other data. Once you get the hang of things, you will get through this more easily without the added download. That second download and all theme updates are free, by the way.
So now, your WordPress theme is installed. Go to your Dashboard Themes page and select Activate on the theme you have uploaded.
The hardest part of your work is done. Now you can start making this site your own, to suit your personality and needs.
Configuring Your Blog
If you downloaded a third party theme and uploaded it to WordPress, there will be a ReadMe file or documentation in that theme download, providing some guidance for the setup of the specific design. Otherwise, you can simply use your Dashboard options to change things as you like.
There is not too much to be done, beyond customization according to your tastes. But, we will explore a few things which may be useful.
Name and Tagline
To change the name of your blog and tagline as they are shown on the live user side, go to the Settings -> General option on the Dashboard. There, simply type the name and tagline you wish to appear in the appropriate fields. Just remember that what you type is what search engines will index, so this should be concise and a good descriptor for your blog.
You can add a menu for site navigation through the Appearance -> Menu option. Just follow the simple instructions there and drag and drop your way through menu design.
Permalinks are the page addresses for your posts and pages. You want these to be easy for search engines and readers, so change the Settings -> Permalink naming option to “Post-name.” This is the most recommended option for site publicity, as Google prefers it.
If other people will be writing or making changes on your blog, create additional users and assign them passwords at the Users tab from the Dashboard. If you are the “boss” or owner of the site, just ensure you have more rights than anyone, so you are always in charge of changes and no one else can go rogue.
Perhaps the very best part of WordPress is its plugins. If there is something you want your site to do, there is probably a plugin for it. These are all FREE. Explore the Plugins tab and select your favorites, installing and activating it as you did your theme, but from the Plugins tab. So easy, and so much fun!
Always ensure your plugins are kept up to date. Reminders will pop up on your dashboard when new versions are available. If you decide you do not like a plugin or wish to delete it, you can do so from the Plugins tab. Just select the plugin and choose to delete. Or, under the individual plugin title you can simply deactivate.
Posting is easy, as the Posts -> New option takes you right to a page where you type your story or information. Use the tool items to change fonts, colors, add images or media and other options. When you are finished with your writing and are ready to publish, select a category on the right side of your screen. After clicking Publish, your work is live on the website.
When readers post comments about your posts, you can edit, approve or delete them through the Comments tab of the Dashboard. You have no obligation to accept any or all comments. Be smart about what you allow on your blog, whether you choose to let free speech reign supreme, or choose to be picky about what you allow people to say.