You have chosen the perfect domain name and you have installed WordPress on great website hosting, now it is time to set up WordPress and install your theme and some plugins that I recommend for every blog. (Plugins are a piece of software that can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress website).
WordPress works right out of the box, a default theme is installed and you can start blogging right away with no additional set up, but there are a few things that you need to do before you sit down to write that first post.
Setting Up Your WordPress Install
When you first login to your new WordPress website you will be taken to the “Dashboard” screen this is the screen that tells you in a glance what is happening with your website.
Along the left hand side is a menu where you will find everything you need to run your site. This is the menu you should look at first when you are going to do something like create a page or post, add a photo and customize your themes appearance. Along the top, is a icon menu, that after you add some plugins will be filled with quick pick options as well as alerts that something needs to be taken care of like plugin or theme updates.
As I said, there is not much to do to set up your WordPress website, but there are one or two things that you will need to do. Go down the left hand menu and hover on “Users” then click on “Your Profile” you will want to fill in some of the information on this screen before you write your first post.
Under the “Name” section add your first and last name and your “Nickname” as well choose which name, from the drop down, will be public when you publish a post.
Further down the screen under the “About Yourself” section there is a box where you can add “Biographical Information” this is the info that will be included in the authors box at the bottom of your posts so you will want to fill this in (if your theme supports authors boxes).
There is one more section that MUST be changed before you write your first post – the permalink. A permalink is your URL structure, it is how your pages and posts are saved as url addresses. For example, the url structure of this post is https://domainname.com/post-name/ this is how most people want there url’s to look.
To make sure this is the structure that your WordPress install uses go to Settings<Permalinks. It is this screen that you choose how WordPress saves your url. The default is usually https://domainname/category/post-name/. You can leave this if you like or choose another setting but most people and Google prefer just the domain name and the post name. Click the button in front of Post Name and click save.
There is nothing else that HAS to be changed in your WordPress settings, you are now ready to install your theme and your plugins.
If you would like to see the other settings and tabs then watch the video below where I go through every tab to explain what settings are in each of them.
Adding WordPress Plugins and Themes
Installing and activating WordPress plugins and themes is easy however there are 3 ways to do this.
- Install from the WordPress repository
- Install a downloaded zip file
- Install via FTP
First hover over the Plugins tab in the left hand menu and click on add new this will open up the Add Plugin screen and this is where you find all of the free plugins in the WordPress repository.
It is as simple as typing the name of the plugin you are looking for into the search box in the upper right hand side, looking for your plugin in results and clicking on Install in the plugins box. After the plugin is installed just click on Activate, and the plugin is ready to go. That is it, it is just that easy.
Upload a Plugin Zip File
The second way to add a new plugin is usually used if you buy a premium plugin and it is downloaded to your computer. The plugin download will be a zip file, do not unzip this file.
At the top of the Add Plugin screen you will see a Upload Plugin button click on that button and a new section will screen will open at the top of the screen, click Choose File and your file manager will open, navigate to the file where the downloaded plugin is located and click on the plugin file.
Once you have chosen your plugin file just click on Install Now and the plugin will be installed. When finished click on Activate to activate the plugin. That’s it, the plugin has now been installed.
Using FTP to Upload a Plugin
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and you can use this method if you have a large file to upload to your WordPress site, including very large plugins.
First you will need to download an FTP client to your computer. There are quite a few, but one of the most popular and the one I use is FileZilla. Go to the FileZilla website and click on Download FileZilla Client. This software is free to use. Once the software has finished downloading you will open it it up and sign into your website using FTP.
To find the settings to connect FileZilla to your website you will need open your CPanel and under the File section click on FTP Accounts.
At the bottom of the next screen there will be a Special FTP Account section. This is where you will find the main administrative FTP account. The account should be named the same as your user name you used to login to the CPanel. Click on Configure FTP Client at the end of the row where your user name is and it will open up the settings you need to set up FileZilla.
There should be 3 settings:
- FTP Username:
- FTP server:
- FTP & explicit FTPS port:
The Username will be the same as the one you used to login to the CPanel, the server will start with ftp.,and the port will just be a number. Next open up FileZilla and click on File at the top left and then Site Manager.
Next click on New Site and add the info that you were given from the FTP section in your CPanel. The Host section is the server that starts with ftp., add the port number, change the Logon Type to Normal, add your Username and your password that you use to log onto you CPanel, and lastly click Connect. If there is a problem and it won’t connect you may have to change the Protocol section try SFTP from the drop down. Click on OK for any windows that open up.
Once connected you should see you computers file on the left and your website files on the right.
You will have to navigate to both where the file is on your computer on the left hand side and where you want to copy the file into your WordPress site.
For me, the path to my download folder was This PC<C:<users<rutll<downloads, yours will be different. Next you need to find the plugin folder in your website files, for me the path was username<public html<wp-content<plugins. Your plugin file should be found in the same place look for the public html and then wp-content then plugins.
To move the file is easy, just find the file on your computer on the left hand side and drag and drop the file into the plugins file on the right.
That is how you transfer files using FTP.
How to Install WordPress Themes
You install WordPress themes much the same way you install the plugins.
As with plugins there are 3 ways to do this (although slightly different in where to find the proper screen):
- Install from the WordPress repository
- Install a downloaded zip file
- Install via FTP
To install a free theme from the WordPress repository, hover on Appearance, click on Themes and then click the Add Theme button at the top of the screen. This will open a similar page to the add plugin screen. It will show some themes from the repository.
Just type in the name of theme you are looking for in the search box at the top left. Once you find the theme you want, hover on the theme and click install. That’s it! You just installed a new theme. You can click on Activate at this point to change over the theme but if you don’t have time to change the settings, to make it look good to your readers, you should wait until you have the time and activate it then.
You can see how much work it will take to make the theme look the way you want by choosing Live Preview. This will open the theme and the customizer to show what the theme would look like when you click activate.
Upload Premium WordPress Theme
Uploading a premium theme is done the same way as a premium plugin. In the Add Theme screen click on the button at the top of the screen that says Upload Theme. This will open a panel at the top of the screen where you click Choose File, your file manager will open. Find the theme zip file in your downloads and once the file is chosen click Install Now and your downloaded theme will be installed.
Uploading Theme using FTP
This is the same as uploading a plugin with FTP. The only difference is instead of dragging the theme into the plugin file, you drag the theme into the themes file.
See the video below to see this in action.
What Themes and Plugins Should You Use
There are literally tens of 1000’s of WordPress themes and plugins. this is one of the reasons that WordPress is so popular and has become a dominant force for online publishing. But what theme or plugins should you choose? With so many choices it can be hard to determine what you want or need as far as themes and plugins go. Below are some of my top picks for themes, free plugins and premium plugins.
For the most part choosing a theme really is a matter of personal choice. The things to look for are a well coded, well supported, mobile responsive, fast loading theme that has the options that you need and nothing more.
If you are brand new to WordPress then choosing a free theme from the WordPress repository to start with, will give you some ideas as to what you really want and need on your website. Buying a premium theme right away may be a waste of money if you really don’t know what you want and how it will function.
There are many popular “do everything” themes such as X, and Avada, these themes have every option under the sun, lots of people love them, I don’t. I feel for the most part themes like these have too much stuffed in them and that makes them load slow and hard to set up. I personally do not use any themes from ThemeForest as I find it hard to find themes that are well coded with decent support, there are a ton of crappy themes to be found there.
If you are looking for a well coded premium theme that has lots of good support, that loads fast and will work well, I personally use StudioPress themes or the premium version of the Astra theme. Astra does have a free option but it lacks some of the features that I consider a must, such as a footer section and some other advanced options.
Along with these 2 themes I sometimes will use a plugin called Beaver Builder to add custom coded pages and posts. Beaver Builder also comes with a very customizable theme.
Free plugins that I use on most if not all of my websites:
- Akismet – AntiSpam comments
- Simple Social Share – adds social buttons for “follows” in a widget area
- Social Warfare – Social share buttons (both a free version and a paid) or Shared Counts – (very much like Social Warfare but totally free)
- All In One Migration – Backups and Website migrations
- Wordfence – Website security (both free and paid I only use the free version)
- Yoast SEO – helps with onsite SEO and creating sitemaps (I use the free version)
- Icegram – Email subscribe popups (I do not use this plugin as I strictly use paid plugins for this function)
- JQuery Pin It Button – Adds a pin it button on hover to your images
- WP Fastest Cache – Caching plugin (best free caching plugin in my opinion)
- WP Related Posts – Adds related posts to the bottom of your posts to increase time on site
- Ninja Forms – Contact forms and more (free and paid)
- Tiny PNG – Image compression
- Monster Insights – Website analytics and easy way to insert Google Analytics code (both a free and paid version)
- Anti Malware Security – as the title says anti-malware scanner / remover (not really needed until you have a problem
- Instagram Feed – Adds an Instagram feed to footer or sidebar
Optional Paid Plugins
If you want to start an Amazon affiliate site then I would recommend EasyAzon, I tried the OneLink that Amazon offers and found it glitchy and it did not always work, you can use this plugin for link localization and to extend the Amazon tracking cookie by 89 days. It also makes inserting good looking Amazon images easy.
If you are planning on using affiliate programs this is a good plugin for making your links look good, check out Thirsty Affiliates. They offer both a free and paid version.
This is the plugin I use for popups and subscription boxes Optin Monster I have also used Thrive Leads.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I also use a page builder on some websites. A page builder is a plugin that helps you build awesome looking pages and posts with out any coding knowledge. I highly recommend Beaver Builder it is by far the best page builder.
The last premium plugin that I use on a few sites is a caching plugin called WP Rocket. If you want to try a premium caching plugin this is the one I suggest you try out.