If You’ve Never used WordPress Before

Step by Step Instruction

I’m assuming in this guide that you have little to no programming or coding experience, and that you want to keep things as simple as possible. And obviously that you’ve chosen to go with WordPress as your platform. (If you want to compare WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, click HERE.)

Step 1: Log in to your new Site

On your hosting site, they should have a button or link named ‘WP Admin.’ This is what you want to click on to access your administration panel on your new WordPress site. The Dashboard is always where you start. This is also known as the ‘backend’ of your site. Here it is:

Everything that you need to do with your site can be controlled from here. This panel is your new best friend.

Step 2: Get familiar with basic functions

On the Left

Here’s a list of the basic terms that you see at the left side of your Dashboard panel and what they mean:

Posts – These are your blog posts. You can post as often as you like; once a month, once a year, once a day, it’s up to you. Posts are normally where you talk about the topic(s) your website is built around. You can also use many customizations options from within the post to make it look like what you want.

Media – This is the collection of all the stuff you add to a blog post to enhance it; pictures, audio, video, etc.

Pages – A page is meant to be a more static thing. You create pages for information that you do not expect to change often. And it’s something your readers can access readily for whatever information you put on it.

Comments – This is where you can access whenever someone makes a post comment on your site. You can determine if they can comment on Pages or Posts or both. You can filter comments, and you can completely disable commenting.

Feedback – As it says, this is where your customers and visitors can give you direct feedback about your site. This is directly to you, and not in response to a post or page.

Appearance – This is a huge section, you’ll be accessing it often. It includes:

Themes – Control the Theme (layout) of your website

Customization – Control each element of your website to personalize it

Widgets – This is is a small block that performs a specific function. Functions like, listing your posts, a calendar of when you post, number of visitors, Twitter feed, any number of things. You can add widgets in sidebars. Those are the areas immediately to the left and the right of each page of your site. There is also a section at the bottom called a Footer where you can use widgets.

Menus – This is where you pick which posts or pages are going to be in your site’s main menu. The number of menus you can have depends on the theme that you pick. Your main is the main navigation bar that visitors use to move around your site.

Header – This is where you can install a picture or a banner that will appear at the top of your site. You can control which pages it appears on if you don’t want it to be sitewide.

Background – Here you can set a picture that will be in the background of every post and every page.

Edit CSS – CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. Simply put, it’s a computer language that’s used to tell stylize HTML documents. If you’re not a programmer, you don’t really need to worry about this.

Editor – The Editor allows you to access the CSS for all the pages on your site. It’s a very dangerous thing to fool with if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s accessing the basic code that makes your site work. Again, if you’re not a programmer, you don’t need to worry about this.

Plugins – These are the individual enhancement programs that you can add to your site. Their purpose is to enhance every function that both you and your visitors do on your site. If you haven’t looked at my list of Must Have plugins, click HERE to see that list.

Users – This is a list of all the people that can access your website. This can be only you, or you can set up profiles for others to have access.

Tools – This section mainly focuses on other information around the web. You can use it like a bookmarking tool. You can also import information that you have from other blogs. This is also the place to export whatever parts of your website you’d like.

Settings – This is where you can tweak and access how your site behaves. That includes for both you and your visitors. As you add more plugins, they will show up in this section as well.

The Upper Right Hand Corner

In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, you will see a couple of pull-down tabs:

Screen Options – This tab brings up customization options for your dashboard. Here, you can turn off and on the widgets you desire to have hidden or shown at any given time.

Help – The Help tab provides some information about these customizations as well as some helpful links to documentation and support.

Sign In – You will also find your sign in name and your picture. You can access the settings of your profile, or change your picture using Gravatar.

Search – There is also a search function that you can use to search your entire site for whatever you want. This is useful for locating pages or topics that you might have forgotten about.

Step 3: Do these things Immediately

  1. Change your Password – Navigate to your profile by going to “Users” and then “Your Profile.” At the bottom of the page, you will see a place to enter your new password and another box to confirm it. There is a strength indicator that helps you create stronger passwords if you wish to use it. When you are done, click “Update Profile” and your old password will be replaced.
  2. Verify your Info – Go to Settings, then General. Verify that your time zone, email, & other pertinent information is correct.
  3. Address – Here’s where you can ensure that your domain is attached inside of the site itself. Change the Site URL and WordPress URL to [http://www.yourdomain.com]. Click Save.
  4. Basic look – Navigate down to Settings, then Permalinks. This page determines how your blog posts and page addresses look. Choose whichever structure you prefer.
  5. Privacy – Navigate to Settings, then Privacy. Be sure that this is “allow search engines” checked. Don’t forget to save it! This helps with what is called SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. It helps Google and other search engines find your site.
  6. Comment control – Go to Settings, followed by Discussion. The defaults here are usually good, but this is where you control the comments settings if you want to add restrictions or make changes.
  7. Order – Go to Settings, and then the Reading Here you’ll need to choose how many blog posts you want to show on the page and whether you want a specific home page or for the blog itself to show up.

Step 4: You’re Ready!

It’s now time to create your first page or your first post. Go to the top where it says “Add New” and choose what you want to start with. Once you’ve finished writing what you want, on the upper right you’ll see a button that says “Publish.” Click that. Once the page refreshes, it’ll tell you that your post is active and at the very top it will say “View Post.” Click on that to see your new content. You’re in business!

I know that working with WordPress can be daunting, because it is an almost limitless program. These basics will help you get started on the right foot, and you’ll keep learning as you go!

Download these instructions as a PDF

Unofficial Step 5: Choosing a Theme

The reason I say that this step is “unofficial” is because picking a theme is a subjective process. You may be happy with the basic built-in themes that come with WordPress (this site was built with Twenty Seventeen and I love it). Or you may want to explore the hundreds, maybe even thousands of others options. To check out some more artist specific themes, click HERE. Ultimately that’s up to you, which leads us directly to…

Unofficial Step 6: Setting Up a Store

I know you may be wondering why I haven’t included setting up a store in these tutorials. There are a few reasons why:

  • Not every artist wants to sell directly from their site
  • Artists that do want to sell don’t all like the same sales platform
  • If I recommend a platform and you hate it, I won’t be happy with that
  • Sales platforms are very complicated and need more advanced training to work properly

So I really recommend that after you go through the basic tutorials, you pick a theme. Because your sales capabilities will be directly tied into what theme you pick. At the point if you want to build the store yourself, you’re going to have research your available options, because not all of them will work the same (or even at all) with all themes.

Remember to start by going to the Plugins tab on the left in your admin panel, and click “Add New.” Once that page loads, on the search bar on the right above all the suggested plugins, type in “Store” and begin to browse all the options that come up. And always be sure to check the compatibility of a plugin with your current version of WordPress and with your current theme. And again, HERE is my list of all the Plugins that I recommend you must start with to make your site do what you want it to do.

Happy Building!