Customizing Your WordPress Blog: Installing Themes

Now that you’ve got your hosting set up and WordPress blog installed, it’s time to start customizing it. In this section of the series we’ll go over installing themes. The WordPress dashboard is basically your “Home” on the backend of your blog. From here you can manage and customize it to your heart’s content.

By default, the menu on the dashboard is collapsed, but you can expand it by clicking on the little arrow at the bottom. Even though scrolling over each icon will display all of its contained submenus, it may help to keep the menu expanded while you’re learning your way around.

Expand WordPress dashboard menu.

To get started with themes, click on the “Appearance” menu or hover over it and select “Themes.”

Note: Your WordPress blog will display a “Coming Soon” page until you’re ready to launch it. So, feel free to play around with as many themes as you’d like.

Your WordPress install includes three themes that you can customize and apply to your site: Twenty Sixteen, Twenty Fifteen, and Twenty Fourteen. There are hundreds of other themes that you can browse through by clicking on “Add New Theme.”

From here you can search for and browse through free and premium themes from WordPress’ own Theme Directory.

Add new themes to WordPress.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the only place where you can find themes; this is just the beginning. Searching for “WordPress themes” on Google will bring up a ton of other sites that you can browse through. If you’re feeling adventurous and/or creative, you can even create your own theme using a WordPress theme builder like Layers or Unyson.

Since you’re using Bluehost, you can also take advantage of their marketplace which is built right into the dashboard. Just click on “Marketplace” or hover over it and click on “Themes.”

As you can see, there are a ton of sources for themes and definitely not enough time to look through them all.

Bluehost Marketplace via WordPress dashboard.

For now, click on “Add New Theme” under Appearance and find one that you like. When you do, click on the center of it to see more details and preview it. If you like what you see, click on “Install” and then “Activate” if you’re ready to apply it to your WordPress blog (the Install button will change to Activate once it’s installed).

Preview and install WordPress theme.

You will now see the theme listed under “Themes” on your dashboard. If you go to your homepage, you’ll see that it has been applied to your WordPress blog. To visit your homepage you can middle click on your blog’s name at the top of the dashboard (or left-click and choose “open link in new tab”). Alternately, simply open a new tab and type in your blog’s web address (domain).

Visit your WordPress site.

Note: only you will be able to see your homepage. Everyone else will see the “Coming Soon” page. You can test this out by going to your blog’s web address (domain) in an incognito window.

Customize your WordPress theme.

You can customize your theme further by clicking on “Customize” from the “Themes” section. This allows you to customize your theme options, colors, header image, background image, menus, widgets, and more.

Customize your WordPress theme.

Getting your theme to look perfect will take some time, maybe even weeks or months depending on how much of a perfectionist you are. Your potential readers should be your focus. You have to make sure that your blog is easy to navigate, functional, and easy on the eyes. You don’t want to run people away!

If you’re ready to add some cool features and functionality to your blog, stick around for the next section where we’ll be going over how to install WordPress plugins.

Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions you may have about installing themes on WordPress. I’d also love to know which theme you ultimately chose to start your blog with!

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