How To Navigate and Design Your WordPress Site

(this is a continuation of the how to start a blog guide here)

3. Design Your Blog

Lets start off with changing your theme. When it comes to choosing a theme, you have thousands of options. What’s most important to remember here is to pick a theme that’s responsive, meaning it automatically converts to a mobile-friendly version when viewed on a cell phone or tablet.

There are many free themes out there, but I do recommend investing in a quality paid theme for many reasons –

  • You get much more customization options
  • Premium themes come with support and updates from the developer. You can always contact them if something goes wrong.
  • Premium themes are more professional and make your site look put together
  • You are guaranteed that a premium theme will be bug-free, and up to date with your version of WordPress, which is not guaranteed with a free theme

The look and feel of your site is the first impression you give off. People will view your site and in a couple of second decide whether or not you are professional enough to follow, subscribe and even purchasing from.

If you want to check out some premium themes and designs like the famous Genesis Framework, head over to Themeforest.net

1. How to Find and Install a WordPress Theme

Once you have chosen a theme you like, purchase it and download it to your computer. It will be a ZIP file.

Next, head on over to your WordPress Dashboard

Mouse on over to the ‘Appearance’ section and click on ‘Themes’

You’ll see your WordPress comes with some themes already installed.

You can peruse this section and here is where you can find a free theme easily and quickly.

But most likely, you will be uploading your own premium theme so go ahead and click on “Add New”

Then click on ‘upload’ and ‘Choose File,’ here you will upload the .ZIP file you purchased and hit ‘Install Now’

Once the file is uploaded, click ‘Activate’ and you’re done! You have installed your WordPress theme!

2. Set up A Search Engine Friendly Site

Chances are you won’t be ranking on the first page of google anytime soon, but regardless, we have to set the foundation so you can have some organic traffic. These steps need to be done before you start creating posts and pages because if done after, it just messes up your whole site!

There are two things we need to take care of.

  1. Search engines absolutely hate ugly URLs.

URLs like this: http://yourblog.com/2018/04/topic-a/author-adriana/how-to-start-a-blog do not rank well on google

You want it to show up like so http://yourblog.com/start-a-blog

In order to change your links so they’re shorter and cleaner, head on over to ‘Settings’ and then click on ‘Permalinks’ and use the setting ‘Post Name’ like below and save

2. Spam comments

They’re obnoxious and you’re likely going to get tons.

In order to avoid that, go to ‘Settings’ then ‘Discussion’ and tick this option:

3. Install Plugins

When you first launch a WordPress site, it is very basic and has limited functionality. You need to add plug-ins to your website to make it complete

A major pro of WordPress is the long catalog of great plugins available. Think of plugins like apps that you install and improve your site tremendously

A Couple Must Have Free Plugins

Yoast SEO

Yoast makes setting up SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on your website super quick and simple. It suggests ways to improve your posts so that you rank higher in search engines like Google. Every blogger has this plugin and for good reason! There’s a free and paid version but you just need the free one for now. 

W3 Total Cache

Cache plugins are used to speed up your site. This one is great because it saves a static HTML version of your website, instead of generating pages one by one. This takes less strain on your server, creating a faster more user-friendly site, and ultimately better search rankings.

JetPack

JetPack may be one of the best free plugins out there (and a complete necessity), it combines several must-have blog features that you would normally have to pay for elsewhere. They offers analytics, anti-spam & security, social share buttons, and so much more.

UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore

You need to be backing up your site, and this free service allows you to backup and store the files to a storage app of your choosing such as Google Docs, Dropbox and others.

Pinterest “Pin It” Button

Adds a ‘Pin It’ button when you hover over an image, so you can easily pin images to Pinterest.

Pretty Link (Lite)

This is the free version of Pretty Link. The free version allows you to cloak links. It is a tool that takes any regular link and makes it ‘pretty’ by using your own domain. It also makes it easier when writing a post as you don’t have to go back and search for a link, it saves them all in one convenient place.

Broken Link Checker

This plugin is a must, especially if you want to make money with affiliate marketing. You don’t want to risk losing out on commissions as a result of links not working! This plugin automatically checks your website for any broken links and sends you an email whenever it finds one.

How to Add A Plugin

  1. Click the link below to the plugin you want. It will lead to it’s download page.
  2. Click ‘download’ on that page and it will be saved to your computer.
  3. You do not need to unzip this file, just leave it as is.
  4. Go to your WordPress dashboard and on the left side tab click where it says ‘Plugins.’

5. From there click,  ‘Add New’ and the next screen will have an option to ‘Upload Plugin.’ Click there and upload the plugin you saved to your computer earlier. (You can also use this page to search for new plugins and upload them directly)

6. Once the plugin has been uploaded successfully, you can go to you ‘Plugins’ tab again and click ‘Activate.’

Step 4: Add Posts and Pages

If you’ve made it this far, I am SO incredibly proud of you!

At this point you should have a fully functioning WordPress blog on your own domain. You also already have a beautiful blog theme set up.

For the purpose of comparison, when I launched my first blog without a guide and it took me THREE WEEKS to get everything up and running.. and even then, I hadn’t set up certain things correctly.

This step is the one you’ll consistently be using. Creating blog posts, adding images and links; this is the life of a blogger (which you now are). Welcome!

Adding A Post

To add a new blog post,click the ‘Posts’ section on the left-hand side and then click ‘Add New’

In the top field, you place the title of you blog post and you place all your content in the big box below it.

On the right-hand side, you will see a little box. Here you can publish your post so the whole world can see it, or save it as a Draft and work on it later, or even schedule it to be published at a later date.

You can find all Posts in the “All Posts” Section under ‘Posts’ and edit it at anytime

You’re (most likely) going to posts links to other websites or even to your own posts. Google loves links!

To add a link, click on the icon in the toolbar that looks kind of like a chain link.

On the pop-up you add some more information to create your link

  • URL – where you put the web address of the link you want to share. Make sure to include the entire link, ‘http://” before the ‘www’ or your link won’t work.
  • “Link Text” – this is the text you want people to see and click on. Can be ‘click here’ or anything you wish
  • “Open link in a new tab” – I recommend always checking this box. If not, when someone clicks your link, they’ll leave your blog.
  • “Or link to existing content” – here you can search for an existing page or post within your blog and link to it. Just use the ‘Search’ section to find the post.

Adding Images

To add images to your post, click the ‘Add Media’ button on the upper left hand side

IMPORTANT: Make sure to leave your cursor inside the blog post, right where you want the photo to be placed before clicking ‘Add Media.’ If not, you’ll have to move it later and it can distort your post.

Next, on the pop up click ‘Upload File’ and then click ‘Select Files’

Once you’ve found the image you want to upload, double-click it and WordPress will automatically upload it.

Once the image had uploaded completely, select it and hit “Insert into Post” to place it into you post.

Adding Headers & Text

As you can see from this post, I have created various sections and broken the up with headers.

It’s a good idea to use headers throughout your posts

Adding Headers

To add a heading, simply click the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar.

You will write most of your blog posts in ‘Paragraph’.  Also, try to only use ‘Heading 1’ once in your blog post and use ‘Heading 2’ or the others throughout your blog post as this is better for search engines.

FYI, you can highlight the text you want to change and then click on the drop-down menu and select the format you want the text to appear in. Whatever works best for you.

Editing Fonts

You’ve probably used Microsoft Word at some point, so this section is pointless for most. But I want to cover all my bases and set you off on the right foot, so here we go

  • ‘B’ for bolding
  • ‘I’ for italics
  • “U” is to underline your text
  • “A” will open a drop down menu so you can change the font color

Step 5: Start Growing & Monetizing Your Blog

Congratulations on getting this far!!

Now it’s time to start creating content and making your blog successful. As a rule of thumb, I recommend you get at least 10 blog posts out there before you start worrying about traffic and gaining readers.

The last thing you want is to go viral on Day 1 and only have two posts up!

As always, if you get stuck at any point in this guide, or you feel I have missed a step somewhere, email me at hello [at] thefab20s.com and I’ll help you out