Make Your Blog Work For You – Theme It!
Blogging is a great way to do many things all at once. Make money, drive traffic, post content and create back links.
My favorite content management system for a blog is WordPress. That’s probably because there is so much flexibility with the system, ways to personalize it, themes to match your business and plugins that will improve the function of the blog. There are other systems with much greater power but they also require more tech knowledge.
You can choose to load a WordPress blog to your own domain or to use a hosted blog (free) on the WordPress site. If you load a WordPress blog to your site you have more options and more flexibility. There may already be a tool available within your hosting program to load WordPress quickly and painlessly. Many hosts have Fantasitico within the control panel which controls the loading and installation of several different programs, including WordPress.
Click on the smiling Fantastico face, chose the WordPress blog platform and follow the simple directions to load the blog. A few quick notes. If the blog home page is “http://www.yoursite.com” then leave the directory blank. If you want it on the domain but in it’s own folder the address would look like this: “http://www.yoursite.com/blog”. In this case put the word ‘blog’ (or word of your choice) in the box for the directory but don’t create the folder yourself.
Now we’re going shopping.
To make your blog work for you the blog must match your business. It does no good to have a blog about dogs that isn’t dog friendly. So let’s go shopping. You can get free themes for WordPress at a couple of different places. A theme is the layout, set up and images that give the blog a certain ‘feeling’. If you are well versed in css you can change the layout and look but even if you know just a bit about html you can change the images and the order of the items.
One of my favorite places to start is alex king (http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress/themes – click theme browser). These themes were built for WordPress 1.5 (current version 2.2) but will work with the new 2.2 platform. WordPress also has themes (http://themes.wordpress.net) that you can sort using several options.
Think of the themes as clothing. They aren’t the basis for a WordPress blog (platform) but are the clothing that the blog is dressed in.
You can also type a search into your browser – try “WordPress Themes” and start looking for one that appeals to you and the theme of your business. You want something that looks professional, clean and appeals to your particular audience.
Once you’ve found the theme you want to download the zip file to your desktop. Unzip the program and upload the files to the file where WordPress is hosted. The files will go to the wp-content, themes folder. You’ll find two other themes already loaded there. One will be ‘default’ and the other ‘Classic’. Upload the files the way you find them, in individual folders under the theme folder. Be sure to name them correctly because that’s how your theme will find the right images and styles to load correctly.
Once the files are uploaded you can go in and chose the theme under the Presentation tab. If you get stuck and need more help head over to the WordPress Forum where most are very willing to help. Before posting a question look through the forum to be sure your question hasn’t already been answered. You can do this using Google. Use the Google search bar and type in YourQuestionKeywords site: http://www.site.com and Google will search the site for your answers.
This is a start – and not the end. If you have loaded the theme but still not satisfied with the way it interfaces with the remainder of your business you have two choices – either make some modifications or chose another theme. Modifications aren’t scary but there are a few tricks. In Part Two I’ll be covering how to personalize the header image, change some colors and move around the side bar.
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