Get Started – Register – Profile – Name Creation
Go to WordPress.com and create a username and password
Create a web address
WordPress comes with a free web address for every blog. All free blogs follow the same naming scheme ‘yourcoolsite.wordpress.com.’ Pro tip, yourcoolsite is a subdomain of WordPress.com, the entire WordPress.com ecosystem is really just one big multi-site installation of the WordPress software, cool right?
Obviously, this isn’t the preferred naming scheme for your actually cool website! The next step is to purchase a domain name, or use one your already own, and map it to your site.
Choose a Plan
WordPress has three paid plans that offer subsequently more amazing features than the last. Every blog begins as a Free plan, but you can easily upgrade to Personal, Premium, or Business. Let’s look at the differences. Each plan has the features of the plan that comes before it.
Jetpack Essential Features
Hundreds of free themes
Basic Design Customization
Custom Domain Name
Email & Live Chat Support
Remove WordPress.com Ads
Unlimited Premium Themes
Advanced Design Customization
Monetize your site
Attend live courses
Google Analytics Integration
Remove WordPress.com Branding
As you move up in tiers you progressively unlock more powerful features such as more storage, video hosting and integration, and most notably, 3rd-party plugin and theme support. Adding third party support is an exciting, new feature which final solves a constantly asked question, “I just bought this theme or plugin, how do I use it on WordPress.com.”
Please note, when you downgrade from one plan to another you will effectively lose access to the upper tier benefits, but you will not lose data. For example, if I have 13GB of storage with the Premium plan, then downgrade to the Free plan, I will not lose any of my media library, though, I will no longer be able to add new media until I clear up enough space.
Get a Profile
Every WordPress site is apart of the WordPress community, a sort of social network of user sites and blogs. The common thread that binds them all is Gravatar, an icon based service that presents you throughout the WordPress community. You can customize your Gravatar by clicking on the round icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and then Profile. Enter your details and upload an image, now you’re good to go!
Set A Title For Your Site
By default, your username will be used as your site’s title. You can change your title to something more unique by going to My Sites -> Customize -> Site Identity to name your site and give it a descriptive tagline.
Reader and My Sites Menus
Check out the Reader
The Reader is the WordPress community hub, a simplistic blog roll of all your favorite authors throughout the WordPress ecosystem. The Reader is tailored to things you love so that every time you log in you can find something that interests you.
The three main elements of the Reader are the Discover, Followed Sites, and Post features. On the Discover tab, you will see a blog roll of what’s hot on WordPress.com, feel free to read, share, comment and follow any posts that interest you.
Fittingly titled, the Followed Sites tab lists all of the most recent posts from your favorite blogs. You can also manage what blogs appear by clicking the Manage button next to the Followed Sites tab.
And since WordPress is all about self-expression, the Pencil and Paper Write icon in the top admin bar will show you a dropdown of all of your blogs, by selecting a blog you will be brought immediately to a new post editor so when brilliance strikes you will be ready to rock.
A great way to attract readers is to interact with other blog posts, leave comments, share and promote! If you are interested in finding new material, then look to the tags tab in the Reader menu. By adding a keyword you will instantly be recommended popular posts on that topic.
My Sites Menu
The My Sites menu allows you to switch between your sites on WordPress.com and all Jetpack enabled WordPress installations. Additionally, the My Sites menu serves as the main navigation around your admin interface.
If you click Switch Site you can easily navigate between all of your WordPress.com and Jetpack enabled WordPress.org site options.
The dashboard is all of the content within the My Site’s tab for any given site, consider this Mission Control. From here you can Publish posts, pages, and access your media library. You can also Personalize your site from the Theme Showcase, or Customize your site from the theme customizer. Under the Configure section, you can manage your Sharing options, add, edit, or remove users from the People tab, manage Plugins if you have a Business Upgrade, purchase and manage Domains, adjust site wide settings, and access the old WP-Admin interface.
Pick a theme
A theme is how your website looks and is structured and handles a great deal of the coding for you. WordPress.com offers hundreds of free and paid themes that look great across all devices, developed by professionals. Go to My Sites -> Themes to browse through the theme repo.
Use the search area to look up a specific feature or theme name, or filter your results by free, premium or all.
If you have upgraded to a Business Plan you can upload most third party themes formerly only found on WordPress.org self-hosted sites. This new feature has really expanded the reach of WordPress.com power-users! If you do upload a theme you would start by clicking the Upload Theme button in the upper right-hand corner of this screen and following the prompts, once activated your theme would be found at the top of the Themes page under Uploaded themes.
Beneath your Uploaded themes are the WordPress.com free and paid themes.
Click the three dots on the right-hand side of the theme thumbnail then click Live Demo to see a demo of the theme. Click Try & Customize to see how your content looks in the theme. This will load all of your post and page content into the theme and let you play around in the customizer before you decide to activate the theme.
Choosing a theme can be a bit daunting at first, but remember, your theme is meant to reflect you. Some themes may require a good amount of set up, this may not be what you need. Experiment with a couple different themes and try to find one that fits, you can always change your theme at another time. The vast majority of themes found on WordPress.com are responsive, meaning they will scale with the size of the device viewport. WordPress.com makes it easy to focus on your content instead of dealing with the overhead of creating a beautiful and accessible website.
Customizer – Set Up Your Theme
The Customizer allows you to change the layout, settings and display options of your site’s theme.
This section contains options to change your Site Title, Tagline, upload a Logo, add a Site Icon, and change the Footer Credit (depending on your upgrade).
Upload a custom header:
Headers, Jumbotrons, intro sliders, the introductory information of your blog goes by many names, but they all serve one purpose, to engage your reader. Most WordPress themes come with a custom header area that can be customized.
Head over to your customizer by clicking on My Sites -> Themes/Customize, then click on Header Image. Most themes will specify a specific size for the header image, so feel free to use Photoshop or a free online editor such as Pixlr to make the necessary cropping. Once you’re happy with the look, click Save & Publish.
Custom fonts and colors
If you upgrade your account to Personal, Premium, or a Business plan you will gain access to the custom font, colors, and CSS modules. Once you upgrade, go to your Customizer to begin experimenting with the new font, colors, and CSS tabs.
This upgrade will give you access to typefaces like Merriweather, Ubuntu and over 30 free Google Fonts. You can also adjust the text size for the Headings and Base fonts. Be sure to choose a more readable font for your base font and save the more whimsical fonts for headers.
You can also adjust the color palette of your theme. If you need a starting point, try using the suggested color palettes. You could also use a color palette generator like http://paletton.com/ and then submit your own colors.
Add unique content with widgets
Widgets are packaged features that can be added to predefined ‘widget areas’ which are decided by your theme. Most themes will include a sidebar, header and footer widget area. If you head over to the Widgets section in the Customizer you can see what widget areas are available. I will cover widgets a bit more in depth in Pt. 2.
Adjust the custom fonts and colors of your site
Every theme handles these options differently, but they will all host these features in the Customizer. As you look through different sections such as header, footer, and background you will see color pickers or custom font options, customize these options and then click Save & Publish.
Set up a Homepage (Static Front Page)
Setting up a standard web page with a static homepage is easy. If you combine your homepage with a few static pages and a custom menu, you will have a fully formed website.
Create the homepage
To start, go to My Sites -> Pages -> Add and call it Home. Add some placeholder text then save. Now add another page and title it something like ‘News’ or ‘Blog,’ something that will indicate a blog.
Lastly, go to My Sites -> Customize -> Static Front Page, then under Front page displays, choose Static page and select your Home page as the Front Page.
Next, add the blog page you created as the Posts page. Save everything by clicking Save & Publish. When you visit your web address you will see your Home page instead of your Posts page.
Now that you have a homepage, try adding some striking images, perhaps an image gallery, or even an image slider. You will also want to create a custom menu and add that from the customizer as your primary menu so visitors can reach your other pages. We will discuss Menus in the next section.
Now that we have a static website with a dedicated blog page and a beautiful theme to structure our content, we now need to start writing and adding engaging content to build traffic.