After you install your new WordPress blog, it’s time to configure it. You only have to do this once, unless you want to change some things. By configuring, you are able to customize the look and feel of your blog. Once you login to your blog, you will see the WordPress dashboard. Here you can do all your customizations.
How to Login to your Blog
To login to your blog, you have to go to http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
(Remember to switch yourdomain.com to whatever domain that you registered)
You will see the following login screen. Enter the username and password that you created during the wordpress setup process. If you don’t remember, the “Lost Password” link will send you an email reminder.
There are 7 sections to customizing your blog:
1. Theme Installation – Themes are the design of your blog. It allows you to customize the way your blog looks. Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to you to install and change your themes anytime you want. There are literally over 1000 free themes, and you can install them directly from the dashboard.
Installing a Theme
On the left menu navigation, click on “Appearance” tab, then click on “Themes“. This will load all the themes you have installed and will also allow you install new themes or change current theme.
If you want to add a new theme, click on the “Add New” button. WordPress will show you all available themes. Browse around until you see a theme you like.
When you find a theme you like, you can see the theme details and you can also preview it. If you like the theme, you can click the “Install” button.
Once WordPress finishes downloading the theme, you will see a message “Successfully installed the theme…” (Like what I highlighted in the picture below). You also have to remember, when you install a theme, it is not activated until you click on the “Activate” button.
2. Theme Customizing – Once you decide on a theme, you can further customize it. This is where you can upload a custom logo and edit a few other things. Most of the defaults settings will be good enough.
Customizing Your Theme
To customize your theme, click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu navigation, then click on the “Customize” tab.
The next page will show how your theme looks on the right hand side, and customization options on the left had side. To upload a custom logo, click either the “Branding” or the “Header Image” tabs. *Note* Some themes might have it under “Logo Image“.
Once you made your changes, click on the “Save & Publish” button. You should see the changes you made when you reload your blog.
3. Widgets – Widgets allow you to customize your sidebar. You can place the latest blog posts, pages, you can put categories on your sidebar, search box, recent comments, and more. The power of widgets is that it get updated automatically, so if you place a widget that shows the most recent posts, then every time you post a new blog article, it will show in the sidebar.
To add widgets, click on “Appearance” on the left menu navigation, then click on the “Widgets” tab.
Click on the widget that you like to add, then click on the “Add Widget” button. This will add the widget to the list on the right side of the screen. Now when you view your blog, you will see the widget you added on the sidebar.
4. Menus – Menus let you customize what links show in the header of your blog and the footer. This is great for navigation, so you can decide the most important parts of your blog that you want the readers to see.
To edit your menus, click on “Appearance” on the left menu navigation, then click on “Menus“. This will open up the menu options page.
On the left you will see the list of pages you can add to the menu. On the right will show the menu and what pages are shown.
If you want to add a certain page to the menu, just check the box next to the page, then click on “Add to Menu“.
Once you added all the pages you want to the menu, click on “Save Menu“.
5. Plugins – One of the most powerful features of WordPress is the ability to add plugins. Plugins are little bits of software that extends the functionality of WordPress. Again WordPress press makes it easy to find and install plugins, and you can do it from the dashboard. Example: you can install a plugin to automatically add social network icons, or to place advertising on your blog.
To install a new plugin, click the “Plugins” tab from the left menu navigation, then click on the “Add New” button. This will show you a list of available plugins so you can browse around.
Once you find a plugin you want to use, click on the “Install Now” button.
WordPress will download the plugin and install it on your blog. There will be message “Successfully installed the plugin…” (like the example I highlighted). Your plugin is installed but you still have to click on the “Activate” link to activate the plugin.
6. Users – Users administration allows you to add/edit/delete additional users. If your blog has multiple authors, you can create a username and password for each author and you can assign different permissions.
To add a new user or edit an existing one, click on the “Users” tab from the left menu navigation. Here you will see a list of users for your blog. Click on the “Add New” button to add a new user.
7. Settings – Settings allows you edit your blog’s information like title, tagline, date format, how many blog posts shows in the front page, and stuff like that. For the most part, the default settings options are usually good enough, but some bloggers like total customization.
To the settings for your blog, click on the “Settings” tab from the left menu navigation. You will see a list of setting options that you can edit. For the most part, the default settings pretty good and most bloggers won’t need to change anything. (Except for the title and headline of your blog)
Ready to Use Your Blog? Continue to Step Four
In step four, I will show you how to use your blog.