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How to Easily Use WordPress to Build Your Blog or Website

Finally understand how to use WordPress to build your blog or website. We'll walkthrough the basics so you can get your website started. And don't forget to download your free 20 page WordPress Beginner's Handbook to refer to in the future!

Itching to create your WordPress blog or website?

Well, get excited because we’re going to learn the ins and outs of WordPress to build your site without struggling.
WordPress is powerful and intuitive, and can let you design the site of your dreams. Click To Tweet But before you can run, you have to learn how to walk. And we’re going to do just that – walkthrough how to use WordPress so you can master the basics.

From creating a page to changing your colors, we’ll go through how to get started so everything doesn’t seem so scary and overwhelming.

Related: 41 Things Every Successful Business Website Should Have

And before long, using WordPress will become second nature to you and you’ll love the sense of confidence you have knowing how to use your website.

Because it’s really not that hard! It’s actually fun once you know how to everything works.

So if you’re a WordPress newbie or just want some freshening up, it’s time to get started learning the ins and outs of WordPress!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Installing Your Theme
  2. Creating Your Pages
  3. Creating Your Blog Posts
  4. Adding Your Images
  5. Installing Plugins
  6. Making Your Menu
  7. Making Your Footer
  8. Creating Your Sidebar
  9. Uploading Your Logo
  10. Changing Your Fonts & Colors

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. I only recommend products and services that I know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.

1. Installing Your Theme

The way your website looks online is based on its theme. So instead of starting with a totally blank canvas, a theme can help you out with pre-made sections ready for your content. They can vary with different features, layouts, color schemes, etc.

While WordPress has default themes installed for you to use, like Twenty Seventeen, more like than not, you’ll want to use a theme that is better designed for how you want your website to look.

If you don’t have a theme picked out yet, I’ve written a post that can help you out.

Read: 17 Tips to Choose the Right WordPress Theme

But assuming you do have your theme chosen, you’ll need to install it on your website. You’ll go to Appearance on the sidebar and then you can click the “Add New” button.

You can either search for a theme in the search bar or click “Upload Theme” at the top of the page. This allows you to upload your theme’s zip file that will be then uploaded and installed on your website. If you’ve purchased a premium theme from a site like ThemeForest or Elegant Themes, then they will give you your file to be uploaded this way.

Once you’ve either chosen or uploaded a theme, you’ll need to activate it. If you go back to Themes, you’ll see a grid of your available, installed themes. If you hover over the desired theme, you can see a button below to “Activate.” Make sure the theme you want is activated.

A screenshot of WordPress's theme window. You can see your themes and activate the one for your blog or website.
And if you’re curious, the theme I use for myself and my web design clients is GeneratePress. It’s free, incredibly FAST, lightweight, and SEO focused to ensure a fast load time and higher search rankings. It’s easy to customize later with a great plugin pack and has phenomenal technical support as well.

2. Creating Your Pages

Ok, let’s create your first page on your new WordPress website. To get started, look to your WordPress sidebar. There is a section for Pages. To create a new page, click “Add New” in the drop down frame.

After you click “Add New,” you can start creating a page. Different themes & plugins may have more options than the default, but let’s just go over the standard options now.

A screenshot of WordPress's Add New Page window. Here's where you will add new pages to your blog or website.
First, you can add your title in the area box “Enter title here.” A few moments after you add a title, the URL should appear under it. You can always change what the URL will be by clicking “Edit” after the Permalink.

Then, there is a large white area box where you will type your post. There are two tabs on the right hand side of the box: “Visual” and “Text.” Clicking them alternates the view.

  • The “Visual” tab shows how your post will look – not 100% exactly all the time, but a pretty good representation. Here, you can easily add styling like bold, italic, links, bullets, numbered lists, etc.
  • The “Text” tab is the HTML view. It shows you the backend code for everything you’ve put in the visual section. If you know HTML, you can edit in the “Text” tab and it will show up on “Visual” – for the most part… If you don’t know any HTML, stick with the “Visual” tab. But learning some basic HTML is not as hard as it seems, just FYI 😉 You could even start to learn it by switching the tabs.

There are also some buttons above the text area box. The first is “Add Media.” This allows you to insert media – your pictures, videos, PDFs, etc. – into the page. After you click it, an Insert Media popup window appears. You can either upload a new media or choose an existing media file from the Media Library.

For example, let’s work with placing an image onto your page. After you’ve chosen “Add Media,” you can select “Upload” and navigate to your image on your computer to upload to your website.

How WordPress shows its attachment display settings for images.
Then, you’ll be redirected to your whole media library. You’ll select the image and then a right-hand-side sidebar will then populate with info about that
image. You are given details in the top and options to Edit Image or Delete it. If you don’t need to edit it, you will just make sure the Title and the Alt Text is filled out with accurate and detailed description. Then, near the bottom you can change how the image will display:

  • Do you want it aligned center, right or left?
  • Do you want the image clickable, and if so, where do you want to send them: a bigger image size or an external link (to another page)?
  • And lastly, what size do you want? WordPress lets you insert Full Size, Large, Medium or Thumbnail.

Once you pick your settings, click Insert into post. The image will appear (or code if in the Text view). Once in your page, you can always edit it by clicking the image again.

For styling your text (ex. make it interesting), you have a long row of buttons to help you out. Just play around and you’ll see what’s what.

Click here to see a list with a brief description:

If you’re not sure what to put on each page or how to design it, take a look at this post:

Read: 5 Steps to Design Your Website or Blog

So after you’ve written and/or styled your page, you have options on what to do next. Look on the right-hand side of the page, and you’ll see the “Publish” box. Here are your options:

  • The first is the Preview button. You can click that and it’ll open a window where you can see exactly how your page will look.
  • The Save Draft button saves your work. You can come back to publish later, and your work will still be here.
  • Status: shows current status. Click edit to change if needed.
  • Visibility: shows the current visibility. Click edit to choose from Public (everyone), Password protected (only those with the password can see it after they’ve entered the correct password), Private (only you!).
  • Publish: set the publish date. Immediately is the default, but you can schedule your page to be published on a future date.

WordPress publish settings for blog posts or website pages

Once you’ve made any changes and clicked OK for the above options, you can then click the blue Publish button if you’re done. It will publish the post at the stated time.

Design Tip:

Depending on your theme or page builder, building pages can be radically different. You might have other options to design your pages (with columns, full-width sections, animations, etc.).

3. Creating Your Blog Posts

If you’re going to be adding a blog to your website, then you’ll need to know how to create your blog posts.

So again, you’ll find your posts on the WordPress sidebar aptly entitled “Posts.” But now, if you look at your WordPress sidebar, there are four default options under Posts: All Posts, Add New, Categories, and Tags. Let’s look at these…

Categories & Tags

When you create a post, you can add categories and tags. This is helpful so when visitors come to your blog, if you have a search feature, they can search by topic. Then, blog posts that match that category or tag will show up. Also, if you have any sort of archive, you can sort by category or tag as well.

So what’s the difference between categories and tags? They are related in the sense that they help describe your post topic. But categories are broader and tags are narrower.

For example, let’s say you write a post about baseball on an exercise blog. You might add a category of Sports to the posts, with a tag of Baseball. You can add multiple categories and tags, but it’s better just to have 3-5 categories on what your blog covers. You can have more tags though. In our example, we also might tag “outdoor sports”, “team sports”, or even “summer fun.”

WordPress categories default page where you can insert your categories.

Now Categories and Tags show up in the sidebar under Posts so you can see which ones you have on your site and even delete them via the “Bulk Actions” drop down menu. Let’s look at the table for category and tags (they have the same header, so this applies to both, even though I’m saying category):

  • The Name is how the Category appears on your website, such as in Archives or at the bottom of a blog post.
  • The Description may appear depending on your theme, so you might just want to write a few words.
  • The Slug may appear in the URL of your site (for example, if you have a page with just one category). Therefore, WordPress suggests it’s lowercase with only letters, numbers, and/or hyphens.
  • And the Count just shows how many posts are in each category.

For our baseball example, our table might show name of Sports, description of “Activities played for fun or competition”, a slug of “sports”, and a count of 1 (Just know if our name was “Team Sports,” the slug could be “team-sports” with a hyphen).

Lastly, next to the table is a Parent option if you want categories with hierarchies. For example, we want our parent category to be Sports, with sub-categories of Indoor and Outdoor. This is only for categories – not tags.

Add New
Alright, let’s create a new post finally. After you click “Add New,” you can start creating a post. Different themes & plugins may have more options than the default, but let’s just go over the standard options now.

Just like creating a new page, you’ll need to enter a title for the post in the area box “Enter title here.” A few moments after you add a post, the URL should appear under it.

Then, there is the large white area box where you will insert your blog post. And you can add images just like before.

Tip:

It’s safer to write your post in another word processing program than directly in WordPress (ex. Microsoft Word, Pages). If your internet goes down or you accidentally refresh the page, you can risk losing all your work! So just transfer your post when you’re finished!

So after you’ve written and/or styled your post, you can then Save Draft. On the right-hand side of the page are more boxes. Let’s work from bottom to top:

  • The “Featured Image” box lets you set the image that will show up at the beginning of your post and probably display in your blog page.
  • The “Tags” box is where you add your tags. You can add multiple tags by using commas. Ex. Baseball, outdoors.
  • The “Categories” box is where you can choose which category you want your post filed under and even Add New category right there. Make sure you select the category via the checkmark.
  • The “Format” box can change the format of the post to something other than standard (ex. Image, video, quote, etc.)
  • The “Publish” box has several important buttons. Here they are again:
  • The first is the Preview button. You can click that and it’ll open a window where you can see how your post will look.
  • The Save Draft button saves your work.
  • Status: shows current status. Click edit to change if needed.
  • Visibility: shows the current visibility. Click edit to choose from Public (everyone), Password protected (only those with the password can see it after they’ve entered the correct password), Private (only you!).
  • Publish: set the publish date. Immediately is the default, but you can schedule your post for a future date.

And that’s it! Now your posts will be visible on whichever page you have as the posts page.

WordPress Tip:

See Settings > Reading to change the page you want your blog on. Use the drop down for Posts to select your desired page. All you really need to do is create a new blank page called “Blog” and that select it from the drop down.

4. Adding Your Images

While you can add images within pages and posts, you can also add images in the Media Library. It’s also located on the sidebar. You can then bulk add media and even bulk delete! You can add new files by either dropping them into the area or Selecting Files from your computer.
Make sure to resize, optimize, and rename your image before it goes on your website. Click To Tweet Or else you’re going to hurt your SEO and conversions.

Read: How to Pick and Place Your Website Images Correctly

Screenshot of WordPress's media library

5. Installing Plugins

For beginners to WordPress, you may be wondering what a “plugin” is. I know I had no idea when I first started out. I thought it was super technical or scary, but now I appreciate what cool things they can do!

Basically, a plugin is an additional code (mini program) that you can upload to your site to do a function easier. For example, a plugin could insert Facebook comments on your site or backup your site automatically. The sky’s the limit with plugins – there are thousands to choose from. If you want a certain element on your site or blog, your best resource is to google what you want and add WordPress or plugin at the end (ex. “Show Instagram feed WordPress plugin”).

Add New
If you want to add a new plugin, most are available via the Add New section. You can then search by name in the Search Plugins box. When you find one you want, it’s a good idea to check when it was last updated and whether it’s compatible with your version of WordPress. As a general rule (emphasis on general), you want to look for ones updated recently, are compatible and have good reviews and a lot of active installs. When ready, click the Install Now button. WordPress will let you know if it was installed successfully and give you the option of activating it.

Important to Know
Plugins are from third-party sources, which means it comes with inherent security risks. They are generally minimal, but again, emphasis on general. It’s best to find plugins from respected companies with good reviews. Do your due diligence first.

Also, installing or updating a plugin can sometimes break your site. After you do that, you’ll get a white screen where you can’t access your admin dashboard anymore. In that case, you’ll need to log in to wherever you can access your files from your hosting account or use FTP (if you do this). For example, if you use cPanel, you’d log into your hosting account (ex. MDD Hosting – my preferred!) and go to cPanel. Then you’d access your files via File Explorer. You go to where your plugins folder is and delete that bad plugin. If you try going back to your admin control, it should be back to normal.

If you’re wondering what plugins to install, here are a few ones to start out with:

6. Making Your Menu

Once you have some pages created, you can make a Menu for them. You aren’t limited to one menu. You can create a new menu from the link below the Edit Menus tab.

On the left-hand side of the page are all the options to create menu links. The right-hand side of the page is your Menu Structure & Settings. You can name it at the top and save changes via the Save Menu button. You can choose which menu is your primary menu under the Settings (you can also change this via Customizer > Menus).

So adding items to the menu is easy. You would go to the section that contains what you want (ex. pages or posts), and just select any and all you need and click Add to Menu. You can then drag your items around to change the order.

WordPress menu page with mobile menu option

What’s cool is that you can use the Custom Links section to add a menu item based from a URL. So for example, to add Google as a menu item, you would go to Custom Link, put https://www.google.com and Link Text as Google.

WordPress custom links window

If your blog has several categories and you want the category names as menu items, you can do that from the Categories section. Select the category you want and Add to Menu. Now, when someone clicks that tab on the menu, your blog posts with that category will show up.

Just remember to Save Menu when you’re done making changes!

7. Making Your Footer

If you want your website or blog to have a footer, then most likely you’ll be working in the “Widgets” section. If go to your WordPress sidebar, look for Appearance > Widgets.

Example WordPress footer widget

Here you can add sections to your footer. You’re given default widgets on the left-hand side of the page, such as Archives, Calendar, Recent Posts, etc. Just know, there is also a Text widget. You can upload HTML so you could upload images, text, formatting, videos, etc. Anything that you can use HTML with can go there. Or just type a few words if needed.

On the right-hand side of the screen are the areas which support widgets. You click the name (ex. Right Sidebar. Footer Widget 1) and then just drag the widget you want in its box. You can then reorder multiple widgets by just click and holding down to move up or down.

After you’ve dragged a widget into its container, you can click the Widget to bring up its options. Then make sure you click the Save button in the lower right corner after you make any changes. The changes are then live on your website.

Read: What’s a Website Footer and Why You Need One

8. Creating Your Sidebar

Just like your footer, you will probably make your sidebar in the Widgets section as well. There should be boxes on the right side of the page that make up your Sidebar. Just drag and drop the widgets from the left to the box that you want.

9. Uploading Your Logo

You’ll also need to upload your logo to your website and decide where to place it. This can often be found in the Customize area of WordPress or else in your theme’s options on the sidebar.

The default is the Customize section of WordPress. Go to Appearance > Customize and you’ll be launched into the Customize screen.

The window where you can upload your logo and favicon to WordPress.
This shows you in real time how changes will affect your website. Just know they won’t be published until you select “Save Changes.”

So to add your logo, go to Customize and then select on the left sidebar “Site Identity.” Here you can upload your logo and favicon.

Design Tip:

A favicon is the symbol in the tab on your website. It’s usually a small square icon of your logo. It helps with SEO if you do insert a favicon. Here’s mine: cropped-Ali-Rand-Web-Design-For-Entrepreneurs-Favicon-gold.png

10. Changing Your Fonts & Colors

In the Customize screen, you can change your Typography and Colors as well (depending on your theme). You can change the how big your headings are, any special stylings (ex. old, italic, etc.), and the color for them.

Where you can edit your colors for your WordPress blog or website.
You can also usually change colors for other aspects of your blog or website. Just play with the settings and options to see how and where the colors change.

Just remember to save your changes once you’re happy.

Conclusion

So now you’ve learned the basics of using WordPress to build your website. You can create new pages and posts, and can upload pictures or videos.

It’s important to never stop educating yourself, so once you get comfortable with the basics, always try to find new things to learn.

Maybe how to integrate email marketing or social media links. Or even to add some image or hover effects.

The possibilities are endless! It’s just up to you to turn them into realities!

And to make you’ve got the rest of your website covered, read this next:

Read: How to Build Your Website From Scratch

Got a second? Leave a comment below with how you’re going to design your website. Any takeaways you’ll use from this post?

And if you’ve found this post helpful, please share it with your friends so they can also learn WordPress!

About the Author
I create beautiful and conversion-focused WordPress websites for service-based entrepreneurs and businesses. Because websites should sell for you, not just look pretty. And if you're interested in learning how to maintain your website (so you can fix those pesky issues!), then click here.

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