Tag Archives: Wordpress

Beginning Blogging – Choosing a theme


As stated last week, the next important decision to be made is what theme will you use? I say this is important and it is but it can be changed at a later date. There, does that take a bit of the stress away? I hope so because this next fact may just bring it right back again. There are over 1,000 themes on WordPress, 1,690 to be precise although this figure will change as they keep on bringing new ones out all the time.

Now, before you shut down in disgust we can make it a bit easier for you. To start with, some of the themes are categorized as premium and you have to pay extra for these. At this stage I am assuming that this is not an option for you. The next thing, and to be honest the one that I used, is your gut. As you scroll down the page looking at all the different designs I can almost guarantee that you will be drawn to some. This may be due to the colour, the style or the pictures.

Current theme preview

This is the theme that I used: Shaan. The main reason I chose this is due to the colour. I like it. Simple. Yes I like the photograph but this photo is not on my site, my own photographs are. In fact when I look at this my blog is actually quite different to this. The recognisable bit is the colour. This is because you may be looking at the theme demo but that is all it is, a demo. You will be able to make it your own as you go on through the choices that you make. (More on this later).

When I was looking through all the themes with a friend I found myself saying things like You need to think about your content.

This is because some themes will lend themselves better to some content than others. For example:

This Hatch design is suited to a heavily visual site with lots of photographs.

Whereas this DePo Masthead theme is a magazine style with several columns appearing at the same time.

I knew that I wanted some photographs mixed in with text. I didn’t want multiple columns and I liked a bit of colour. In fact it is probably easier to draw up a list of the features that you don’t like than the ones you do. I knew from having looked at other blogs that I needed 2 columns, one for the content and one for the bits down the side e.g. Twitter, Facebook links etc.

So, in summary, we have identified four strategies to help you choose your theme:

1) Going with your gut feeling

2) Thinking a little bit about what the content of your blog will be and what the best layout would be.

3) Thinking about what features you have liked on other blogs.

4) Identifying the things you don’t like as you go through the themes.

These 4 will narrow your choices down a fair bit I promise.

When thinking about steps three and four from above it may be worth jotting these down as they will come in useful as we move through this process later on.

As you look down the list of themes there are three words underneath each image:

Activate – click this when you decide you would like to choose a theme.

Live Preview: This will show you what it looks like on a full-page.

Details: This will give a brief overview of the features of a theme.

If I click on live preview I get my page in the style of the new theme so this feature even better when you are already up and blogging.

This brings me to the next bit What if I want to look at themes later or change them?

To do this go to your dashboard. This will bring up a menu down the left hand side. Click on  Appearance (towards the bottom) and then you will find Themes. Click on that and it will bring up the screen where you can search through the themes.

Once you have settled on a theme you are happy with (for a while at least), you can go back to the Appearance menu button, and explore some of the options down there. On mine for example, if I click on background I can change the colour. The Custom menu will be where you can upgrade your site by paying for different fonts etc.

Next week we shall look at the header option (which will tie into the Gravatar which I said I would cover this week but feel I have waffled on enough) and also look at some of the widgets you can use.

As always, any questions then do please ask me. I would also love to know what themes people use and why. I think that it may be time to have a bit of a change of mine!

Blogging for beginners

I apologise to many of you now – these posts are not at all useful to those of you with blogs already. I do, however, know that there are several people who read my blog and would like to start one themselves but are not that sure where to start. So I thought that I would share some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the last year (nearly).

There are a few things that I wish to make clear from the start:

1. I am no expert so I may not get everything right or have all the answers.

2. I only know how to use wordpress although there are other platforms to use (such as blogger).

Over the next few weeks I thought that I would share tips that I have picked up (mostly from other people), try to explain terms such as widgets as well as some basic know – hows. If anyone reading this has any questions then please do ask.

This brings me to my first ‘lesson’.

Commenting on blogs such as this:

At the end of most blog posts you will find a comments box looking something like this:

The labels you cannot read beside the smaller boxes are:  name (required), email (will not be published) (requires), website (optional). Firstly, to put your  mind at rest your email will not appear anywhere publicly. Secondly, although you have to put something in the name box it does not have to be your name if you do not wish to share it (although I am not totally sure I should be writing this!) It just has to be something that is recognisable as a name so it does not get mistaken as spam (unwanted comments by machines). As an example I usually comment as knitnrun4sanity although sometimes just knitnrun. Other people just use their first name. The website box does not have to be filled in at all.

So there you go – you can now ask questions and not worry about any unwanted consequences.

Sometimes you may get this instead:

This allows you log in via an existing WordPress, Twitter or Facebook account. If you wish to do this you can just click on the icon corresponding to the account you wish to use, type your comment and click on post comment box. Your identity on the platform you have chosen to use is the one that will be shown.

Naming Your Blog

The last thing I am going to write about today is your name. When I started blogging I was very nervous about  exposure online. As I know that I am not totally unusual in this – let me tell you that it is possible to have a complete presence online without ever having to disclose your real identity.  The first thing you need to do is to choose a name you like.  I came to my name because I knew that I was going to write about knitting, crochet and running on my blog. I tried to combine the words knitting and crochet but didn’t like what I came up with. I then hit upon knitnrun but found (though Google) that this already existed hence I then added the 4 sanity. (It is also very true!)

When creating a WordPress.com account (free I promise) you are asked for an e-mail. In order to keep my online identity cohesive I set up an e-mail account: knitnrun4sanity@…….. This meant that there is no link to my personal e-mail which involves my name. I also like that this side of my life is kept separate  from school e-mails etc. As well as using my chosen name on my blog I was also keen to use it for a Facebook page and Twitter account. It all links together nicely making it easier to be found.

So to summarise:

When thinking of a name – 1) think about what you will be writing about (it doesn’t have to be linked but is definitely a good starting point).

2) Check to see if the name is already in use through Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.

3) If you wish to keep your real identity a secret then consider opening an e-mail account under your chosen name.

4) It may also be a good idea to set up a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr account under the same name at the same time. It depends what you think you will use but it saves your name being taken by someone else in the meantime. You do not have to do anything with them to start with.

Next time I shall be talking about choosing themes and Gravatar’s. Hopefully a similar time next week. If you have any questions or subjects you would covered then do please let me know 🙂