useful wordpress toolsuseful wordpress toolsuseful wordpress tools

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If you’ve gone through my previous tutorial on how to create your own self-hosted WordPress site, you might be wondering, “what now?” OR you may have been adventurous and started exploring and playing around with your new WordPress site.  If you’re the latter, kudos! It’s how I got to know WordPress.  If you’re of the former, I’m here to help!

WordPress comes with many cool features.  Sometimes it’s a little confusing and probably even overwhelming.  The good news is, it’s usually pretty easy to undo things you regret doing.

For this part of the tutorial, I will be introducing some neat WordPress tools you can use for your WordPress site.  I suggest choosing and installing these first before you try to input any content into your site because they are very helpful and also, stuff like themes, at times, can mess with what you already have in your site.  So, here goes a brief introduction to the WordPress tools before I go in-depth.

  1. Jetpack: Jetpack is like a swiss army knife of WordPress tools.  If you are hosting your site on your own paid server, you will have to have a account for this one.  This is good because it will help you connect  your site to’s tools like monitoring of your site’s downtimes, your stats and preventing cyber attacks.  This includes.  You will even be able to log into your site and post through once you’re connected which could be helpful if you have more than one site.
  2. Yoast: This is a neat tool which I am still getting to know myself.  It integrates itself to your whole site and lets you know how to optimize your SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  Basically, it will help your website get better ranking on search engines like Google so people can find you more easily.
  3. WordPress Themes: This is where you can choose how your website will look.  You might be able buy or hire someone else to design your site, but honestly, there are many great themes available for free already.  People have reviewed them which you will see and your site will tell you whether or not the themes are compatible with your website.

Installing Jetpack: I am writing this tutorial with Jetpack already installed on my account and connected to my account.  You will probably be asked sometime during this tutorial to connect your account, please do so to take advantage of features for your site.

  1. Sign in to your site and go to your Dashboard.
  2. Go to the menu on the left and click on “Plugins”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.14.41 AM
  3. At the top left, next to the title, “Plugins,” click on “Add New.”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.15.43 AM
  4. On the right, you will find a search bar. Click it and type in “Jetpack” and press return.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.17.29 AM
  5. Jetpack should show up and will probably look something like this.  Please note that mine says it’s already installed.  On yours the button should say “Install Now” instead. Click “Install Now” and wait until it finishes installing.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.20.01 AM
  6. Click on “Activate Plugin” to activate Jetpack.
  7. Click on “Jetpack” on the menu on the left. It should be near the top.  You will see different features of Jetpack highlighted.  Unless you want them otherwise, make sure they all the free features are set to “Active.”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.28.22 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.34.28 AM
  8. If you scroll down, there is “See the other 27 Jetpack features” button.  You can click on it to see other features you can manage or configure.  Here you can pick which features you want which will probably be most of them!
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.34.33 AM

Installing Yoast: Yoast is already installed in my site as well so your menus might look a bit different.

  1. Click on Plugins again on the left menu.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.54.44 PM
  2. Then at the top click “Add New.”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.55.48 PM
  3. Type in “Yoast” in the search bar.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.56.14 PM
  4. Click “Install” on the Yoast listing.  On my site it says “Installed” instead.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.58.00 PM
  5. Once it says it’s been successfully installed, click on “Activate Plugin” to activate Yoast.
  6. On the left menu, you should now se a new button called “SEO.” If you click on it, you will find “Introduction Tour.”  If you click on “Start Tour,” it will give you a tour through Yoast’s features.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.04.24 PM
  7. You will also see that when you create pages or new posts, there will be a new box for Yoast on the pages.  Here is how mine looks while I write this tutorial.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.08.21 PM
  8. Remember that installing Yoast won’t make your site optimized, but using it and following its directions or suggestions will help you get on your way (which is something I actually still have to work on myself!).

INSTALLING THEMES: When choosing themes, choose ones that are compatible with your WordPress installation, pick themes with good reviews, and themes that are responsive.  Responsive themes will work better with different size screens i.e. smart phones and tablets.  Remember that when you install a theme, it probably won’t look exactly like the preview they give.  You can think of themes like an empty house you just bought and you will need to fill it with your things and maybe give it a new coat of paint in some rooms and hang some decorations in order for it to look what you see on magazines.  Pick a theme with the structure and overall look you want and then tweak it to your liking.

  1. Go to “Appearance” on the left menu.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.42.14 PM
  2. At the top, click “Add New.”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.43.12 PM
  3. Explore the different themes. You can preview them and install ALL the different ones you like.  You don’t need to just pick one for now!  When you’re done, go back to “Appearance” to see the different themes you’ve installed.  From here, you can uninstall the ones you no longer like by clicking on the theme and clicking “Delete.”  If you want to preview it on your site, click “Live Preview.” If you decide on the one you like, click “Activate.”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.50.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.50.59 PM
  4. To tweak your theme, choose “Customize” on your theme. You can also find this under “Appearance.”
    Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.51.52 PM
  5. From here on out, depending on your theme, the new menu/view that will pop out might be different.  Some themes will have more options while others less.
  6. If you don’t want to spend the time researching and testing out different themes, my current favorite is Sydney by aThemes.  It’s totally free but if you want to have eCommerce on your site, their PRO version supports the free and very popular WooCommerce Plug-in!  If you want to learn how to install the Sydney theme to look like their demo, take a look at my tutorial here.

There you have it! How does your site look so far?  Were you able to install these WordPress tools successfully?  Feel free to send me your creations or post them on my Facebook page!  If you see some things that need fixing or if you need extra help, don’t forget contact me! I am also on Facebook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to tune in to more posts about improving your WordPress site!

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