You probably want to know how to design your WordPress blog and that is a good question.
If you have just set up your blog it doesn’t look nice, although not how you would like to see.
Luckily I’m here to show you exactly how to get a good looking layout and more importantly, to explain what plugins are necessary to install and what the correct settings are. I try to explain it beginner-friendly.
I’ll discuss the following:
A good looking website is not the key to success, but it really helps to attract visitors and let them keep returning.
Maybe you’ve visited websites that used a very small and ugly font, or all bright colors popping up in your face.
I hate it when I come across these pages. I just can’t understand the owner; they clearly haven’t read this blog post, because I’m going to tell you exactly what to look for in a theme and how to prevent these mistakes.
What to look for in a good theme?
- Make sure to have at least a light background, think about the colors white or light grey. These 2 colors are the only ones that I recommend because the words are easily readable and that is the most important thing.
- Another element to keep in mind is if the theme is lightweight. Because a heavy loaded website will decrease the speed of it which is not positive in the eyes of Google.
- Is it SEO optimized? This means that it is coded in a way that will benefit your rankings in search engines.
- Is it Mobile-friendly? How does your blog look like on mobile?
These are factors that I take into account when I choose a theme.
So let’s see which WordPress theme is the best for blogging.
I’ve collected 3 free themes that you can install.
GeneratePress is currently one of the best themes available. It is extremely fast, lightweight, mobile responsive and also very SEO optimized. It has all the factors that you need for a successful blog.
Bento is a really advanced free WordPress theme that has the quality of a premium one. It is easy to use and highly customizable.
Another great option is Bloggie. It is a typical blogging theme with the standard structure and easy to read fonts. In addition to that, I noticed that it is amazingly fast and also has an ad management to monetize your blog easily. This theme is free but is not accessible like the other ones (appearance > themes). You have to visit https://mythemeshop.com/themes/bloggie/ and install it from there. This means that not a lot of bloggers are using this one, so it makes you kind of unique.
I want to be honest with you.
Free themes will do the job, especially if you are just starting out.
You can start right away and do not have to adjust or customize a lot.
But, if you really want to distinguish yourself from thousands of other bloggers, purchasing a premium theme is key.
These themes will give you much more freedom to personalize your blog and provide you with support in case something is not clear or doesn’t work.
In case you are interested, I’ve listed some premium themes down below. Just check it out and find out if it is something for you.
Yes, I’m also going to list GeneratePress as a premium theme, because it has a free and a paid version. Like I already mentioned, the free version is good, but if you really want to have more options you should definitely buy this theme. It is worth it.
Newspaper is one of the best-selling WordPress themes at the moment. It is built to share stories, photos or videos. You can’t go wrong with this theme, which gives your blog a professional design.
Divi, created by Elegant Themes, is definitely one of the best-looking themes there is on the market. It is a visually stunning theme, with lots of customizable options. A theme that will amaze you.
How To Install And Edit A WordPress Theme
Now after you know what themes I recommend, it is time to show you how to install and edit the theme.
It is easier than you think.
Head over to the backend of your blog: yourblog.com/wp-admin.
Log in and mouse over ‘Appearance’ and click on ‘Themes’.
You should see this.
In the bar, you have multiple filter options. Featured, popular and latest. Just play around with it.
Search for your favorite theme and simply install and activate it.
To view your new blog design, enter your domain name in a new tab or go to the top bar of the page > hover over the house icon and click on ‘Visit site’.
But how to edit a WordPress theme?
Once you’ve installed your favorite theme, you have to edit it to meet your needs.
Having a nice design plays a huge role, but 9 times out of 10 you need to optimize it further to make your blog more personal.
The first step is to go to ‘Appearance’ again and this time you press on ‘Customize’.
Just play around with the features and save it.
In case you are still not satisfied you can try to edit the CSS, but I won’t make any attempts as a beginner if I were you.
You can crash your whole site with one tiny mistake. One misplaced comma means game over.
TIP: If you do need to edit, make sure to copy the entire code and paste it in a new text file, on your desktop for example. By doing this you can always restore the code if you made some mistakes.
When starting out you have no idea how many pages you should create or which one you need.
It is very obvious that you can not miss a homepage.
But you can create these 4 pages without even thinking about it.
- Contact page: your visitors need to have an opportunity to get in contact with you if they have questions about you personally or your business.
- About: one thing to create trust is having an about page. Your readers will know the face behind the blog and are likely to interact with you and build a relationship.
- Earnings disclaimer: this disclaimer protects you from liability when users fail to make an effort and fail to meet truth in advertising guidelines. So point out that results are not guaranteed, earnings are estimates, not guarantees, and past success may not happen again when you blog about making money strategies or when you sell income-generating products for example.
- Privacy Page: this is crucial especially when you have visitors from overseas so your blog needs to be GDPR compliant.
After you’ve installed WordPress there are some small things to do in order to give your readers a great experience when they visit your blog.
In addition, these settings could result in a successful blog or a failure.
The first step you need to take is to change your permalinks. The default option will give your urls an ‘ugly’ look and is not ideal in the eyes of search engines.
The first one has the date in it and makes the URL longer, while Google, for instance, does not like this.
The second URL is shorter and looks clean, exactly the opposite, hence I strongly recommend it.
How do you change the URL of your blog?
Mouse over ‘Settings’ > Permalinks and click on ‘Post name’. Although it is a small change, it is a big step in the right direction to a good looking website that is well found by search engines.
A key element pops into my mind right now. It has nothing to do with settings in WordPress, but it is really important that you set-up your Google Search Console.
It will help you to get more insight in your blog and by implementing this information your blog will grow, so check it out.
There are 2 ways to display your homepage:
- Show the latest posts
- Show a static page
When you build an eCommerce store it makes sense to present your products to the people when they land on your website. In that case, you need a static page.
But you are a blogger.
And what you see with a lot of blogs is that they only show their latest posts on the homepage.
But there is no right or wrong. You can go with a static page blog looking, but using the ‘latest posts’ option cannot do any harm.
How to change the homepage display?
You go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Reading’ and change it if you want.
Another important option to double check is one all the way at the bottom.
Search for ‘Search Engine Visibility’, at the bottom.
Make sure to keep this unticked, otherwise, search engines are not going to rank you, which means that you won’t get any organic traffic, so nobody would read your blog posts.
You are scrolling through your comment section and keep seeing people who want to redirect you to a crappy offer.
This type of comments is not uncommon.
Having spam comments on your blog is something you want to avoid. It has a negative user experience effect, but fortunately, there is a simple solution.
Head over to ‘Settings’ > ‘Discussion’ and make sure to tick the following boxes:
- A comment is held for moderation.
- A comment must be manually approved.
I hope that’s clear.
As a blogger your main goal is to write blog posts.
Let’s take a look at how you do this.
To add a new blog post, mouse-over ‘Posts’ and press ‘Add New’.
You should see the following screen.
On top you can enter the title of your blog and below in the big box, you will write your main content.
On the right side, you see the buttons: ‘Draft’, ‘Preview’ and ‘Publish’.
Draft and Publish speak for themselves, you simply save your blog post as a concept or publish it on the internet.
You can even schedule the post to be published later, or make the post private so not everyone is able to see it.
Just play around and test it. Scheduled posts are a game changer. That way you can focus a whole weekend on writing content and it will auto publish the posts over the weeks or months.
To spice your blog post up a little bit and make it more attractive you can add some images.
Here are 2 methods to achieve this.
- Click on ‘Media’ in the left menu and press on Add New.
- Click on ‘Add Media’ just above the content box.
It really is that simple!
Adding headers are more important than you think.
In the first place, you create a structure that makes your blog better readable.
And in the second place search engines like it a lot and will reward you with a higher place in Google.
To add a heading, click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar.
There are multiple headers available.
- Heading 1
- Heading 2
- Heading 3
- Heading 4
- Heading 5
- Heading 6
When you use WordPress, your title is automatically set to heading 1, so you don’t have to worry about that.
I recommend to use heading 2 and 3 and in rare cases, when you write a big piece of content, use header 4.
I never use heading 5 or 6, to be honest.
A good working blog is largely dependent on the type of plugins that are installed.
There are thousands of plugins available in WordPress, and because it is open-sourced content management system every developer is able to build plugins.
Although there are numerous of plugins on the market, not all of them are necessary to create a good and successful blog.
I recommend to install at least these plugins:
- Smush Image Compression and Optimization: this plugin ensures that your images are optimized and compressed so they have the same quality but the file size is lower and your blog loads faster.
- Yoast SEO: having a blog that is optimized for SEO will rank higher in search engines, so it is key to have a plugin that will support you with this.
- WP Super Cache: this plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog which will result in a faster loading website for your visitors. ( If you use Siteground as web hosting, replace WP Super Cache with their SuperCacher plugin)
- ThirstyAffiliates: this plugin is necessary for every blogger who wants to make money with blogging. It turns (often ugly) affiliate links in clean personal URLs, which will increase your conversion ratio. If you want to have all the features, get the pro version.
- WordPress Social Sharing Plugin – Sassy Social Share: this plugin enables your readers to share your content easily over 100+ social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit etc. It is a plugin you really should have installed. It’s lightweight and effective.
- Shortcodes Ultimate: with this plugin, you are able to improve your design and visually attract visitors by creating tabs, buttons, boxes, sliders and carousels, responsive videos and more.
- Contact Form 7: a simple tool to create contact forms so your readers are able to contact you easily. Perfect to build trust!
- Jetpack (optional): it is an all-in-one plugin, which consists of lots of mini-tools that can help your blog grow. The downside is that it is a quite heavy plugin, so it might affect your website loading speed.
- WordFence: this plugin will make sure that your blog is secured. Unfortunately, hackers are trying to get into your website every single day.
- UpdraftPlus: you always need to make a backup of your blog once in a while. I recommend twice a month. If you are a really active blogger, you should do this more often.
So yeah, these plugins will definitely be worth it to check out, so you can decide for yourself which one you need for your own blog.
I use the above plugins to build my blogs which leads to a bigger online business, hence I recommend them.
Well, we’ve reached the end of my post.
If you are still with me, you’ve hopefully learned a lot new stuff and you better take action, because without action there is nothing but a plan.
And plans won’t help people or get you money.
To wrap it up.
- I’ve touched on how to find the perfect WordPress theme and how to install it. I outlined what to look for and showed you some examples.
- I’ve discussed the must have pages for your WordPress blog (about us, disclaimers etc.)
- I’ve shown you the essential and correct settings after you installed WordPress.
- I’ve touched on how to write a blog post in WordPress, which is fundamental to know as a blogger. It is key that you know exactly how this works.
- I’ve shown you what the must-have WordPress plugins are. I can’t blog without these plugins. If you start as a new blogger and have no clue what plugins to install, you have a better understanding which ones I think will suit you best.
If you are serious about starting a blog, just take a look at my FREE 5 Day email course, where I not only help you step by step to set up a blog but I also teach you how to make it profitable and create a passive income online.