Now that you know how to get your WordPress site installed, we can move on to blog configuration. While the term might conjure frightening images, it is far easier than you might imagine. WordPress takes care of most of the heavy lifting, leaving you to decide which plug-ins are best to use and to decide upon the right theme for your site.
Setting Up Your WordPress Site
WordPress makes the setup process fairly easy, so don’t panic! Setting up your blog can be done in a few simple steps, most of which can be completed in just seconds. You will start by going to the Settings Tab on your dashboard:
You will then be able to get your blog going by taking care of a few basic pieces of business. You can start by entering your blog’s title and tagline – we’ve discussed titling, but your tagline is a great place to add a keyword or to simply explain what your site is about. This is also the place where you can set up your WordPress URL – the web address at which others can access your WordPress site. You can then move on to setting up your email notifications, your time and date settings, and spend some time working with language settings and even your blog picture. What is important here, though, is that you feel comfortable with how your blog is formatted.
The Best Blogging Plug-Ins
While WordPress itself provides a number of very useful features, there is always room for a bit more. This is where WordPress plug-ins come into play – these simple pieces of code allow you to expand the functionality of WordPress while still taking advantage of all that the platform has to offer. Below are six of the best plug-ins that are available:
- WP Complete Backup – This plug-in makes it easier to restore your blog if something goes wrong with your site or with WordPress.
- AKismet – A great plug-in for catching spam in your blog’s comments. Great for SEO reasons, as it helps to eliminate toxic comments.
- Broken Link Checker – Like the name suggests, it monitors and fixes broken links. Invaluable for SEO.
- Shareaholic – A great plug-in that allows you to give your readers a chance to share your content on some of the most popular social media platforms out there.
- Editorial Calendar – A must-have plug-in for those blogs with multiple authors, it helps with scheduling as well as publishing articles.
Theming Your Blog
One of the best parts about using WordPress is the availability of themes – different looks for your WordPress site. Having a unique style can help to set your blog apart from the crowd, but having a style that conforms to the industry standards might help your blog to look a bit more professional. In either case, it is important to have a theme that allows readers easy access to your content.
It is also important to note that themes come in two flavors – paid and free. We could spend quite a bit of time discussing the two, but it’s quicker to break things down to the major difference between the two: functionality. Paid themes cost money, but they tend to allow you to do more with your site. Free themes are usually quite useful, but do not allow you to really dig in and customize your site.
If you decide to pay for your WordPress theme, it is hard to go wrong with the Genesis Framework. The clean, easy-to-modify design gives you everything that you need to customize your blog while still allowing even a novice to get things running smoothly. The best part about using Genesis, though, is your ability to switch things up on the fly – Genesis comes with a number of “child themes” that allow you to customize the basic framework without requiring you to start from scratch.
Free themes are a bit trickier to navigate, simply because of the glut of free products on the market. I personally don’t think you can go wrong with something clean and simple, so I like to recommend Bliss for most personal bloggers. The theme’s design features great potential for integration with social media, and it is one of the few free themes that works particularly well for tablets and smartphones, as well as for traditional monitor browsing. Minimalist designs like Bliss help to direct readers to the content without causing sensory overload – a plus for any blogger who is interested in putting content first.
Blog configuration really isn’t a difficult process. It may seem overly technical, but anyone can do it. Once you have your blog configured, you can move on to the best part of blogging – providing content. We’ll discuss how to start blogging next week, with an eye on generating useful content for your readers, so get ready to get your blog started!
Do you have any additional thoughts to share about blog configuration? We invite you to share them by leaving a comment below.