So – where were we?
That’s right. We’d set you up on your way to producing content on your first WordPress journalism blog. Sure, it’s basic, but you’re getting valuable content out and your bio features on an about page – people know who you are and can read what you write… you finally have a personal online presence!
But it looks a little plain doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, WordPress’ basic blog layouts are horrendously plain, which is what you would expect, as opposed to having all start-up blogs in pink and yellow stripes. But we all know that in a sea of aspiring journalists, you’ve got to stand out in some way or another – pimping your WordPress blog is one way to leave a lasting mark on your visitors, be they fans, readers, or employers.
But it’s not just that. Some WordPress designs are so well made they can unlock the hidden powers of WordPress, making your blog more interactive and useable (this is especially true if your website is being hosting with the CMS installed). So for your free wordpress.com website, here’s how to get a theme going!
Step 1: Find a theme and download it, using the WordPress theme directory or any other site that promises free WordPress themes. We’ll have a look at some good ones in a second, but for now, just know that you have to download the ZIP (.zip) file and save it to somewhere you can find, like the desktop. DON’T UNZIP IT! Most themes want you to use their skin so a big “DOWNLOAD” button is often never far from the landing page.
Step 2: Log in to your WordPress blog (we’ve done this before) and navigate to the “Appearance” panel, which will be displayed in the column on the left
Step 3: Click on the “Install Themes” tab at the top of the Appearance page and, when the program switches to a new screen, select the blue “Upload” link from the choices across the top of the page
Step 4: Click on the “Browse” button and use the file explorer like you would for any other file. Just point it in the direction of where you saved the ZIP file and upload it. Click on the “Install Now” button to pimp out our journalistic blog!
Step 5: Preview the blog if you’d like, to get a feeling for how the new theme will fit in with your current content. The beauty is that all your current blog posts will be formatted to fit the new theme – so if it looks horrendously buggy, it’s probably best that you choose another and avoid sending it live. However, if you really do want that theme and nothing else, you could manually go through and clear up the code or reformat each post.
Step 6: Send it live if everything looks good! It’s likely your blog posts wont all be fully integrated into the new theme, so do check through any or all that look bad and go back and edit the posts individually to re-align the images or rewrite missing captions etc.
So, which WordPress theme is for you?
Well, that can vary between what your website is about and who it caters for. In general, simple, clean and uncluttered themes work best, but fashion and music blogs could benefit from a splash of colour and class here or there, but a straight-up politics or “about-journalism” blog should follow a simple neutral colour system.
Here’s three examples below to kick you off but do add your own in the comments so we can share the love (and knowledge) for any WordPress start-ups out there!
3) ANY of these newspaper or magazine ones if you’re churning out regular content (in a journalism blog run by 5 people for example!)
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look