How to Start a Blog in 10 Minutes: Part 2

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.21.21 AM

*Please note: The video walkthrough for Step 2 can be found in the second half of the video for step 1.

Step Two: Picking a Theme

Open up and you should see a screen like this.  We call this cPanel.  This is where you will manage your themes, media, blog posts, pages, and more.  Pretty much everything.  The interface is very intuitive; you will know it like you know facebook in no time.

next steps

On the left side, hover over “Appearance”, then click “Themes”.


You can see WPEngine has already activated Twenty Sixteen for you.  Let’s click “Add New” and find something a little more interesting.

add theme

Click “Popular” and start browsing.


See anything you like?  There are a ton of amazing, fully-functional themes that are very easy on the eyes.  They are free for the most part, too.  You can customize nearly everything with no code whatsoever.  Try to be sure the theme you select is “responsive”, meaning no matter what device a user accesses your site with, the theme will adjust.

I built with Zerif Lite.  It is an excellent theme.  I can hide sections I don’t want and change all text/icons/photos to my liking.  We will look at Zerif Lite briefly for our purposes; you are free to try as many themes as you like.

The theme you choose for the long-term will depend on how you want visitors to (a) perceive your brand and (b) interact with your site.  On, I use Zerif Lite to direct first-time visitors to set-up their own blog.  Then I provide supporting content after they’ve built it.  Instead of directing visitors to build a blog, you could use it to direct visitors to buy an eBook, read your best blog post, etc.  It all depends on your objectives.  Keep those objectives in mind and always structure and write accordingly.

Go ahead and hit “install”.

pick zerif

Now hit “Activate”.

activate theme

“Get Started With Zerif Lite”

start zerif

Now you can click “Go to Customizer”.


This is the interface we use to customize the design of our site.  Most themes will have similar options; some more/less than others.

customizer opened

I clicked “Big Title Section”, then “Main Content” and changed the buttons and text at the top of the page.  I also scrolled down and clicked “Background Image” to upload my own (I recommend Pexels for free, royalty-free, hi-res images).  Then I hit “Save & Publish” in the top right of the customizer bar, and hit the X in the top left.

Go ahead, explore a little bit.

finished product

Click here to proceed to Step 3: Adding a .com Domain