LESSON #35: WordPress Themes and Plugins

By | March 18, 2009

(Part 3 in a series of 4)

In the previous two lessons, we’ve been talking about WordPress. Lesson #33 covers getting started with WordPress. Lesson #34 covers several of my recommended WordPress settings. And now we’re going cover the fun stuff!

(Watch this video…)

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Main points:

  • One of the great things about WordPress is that you can instantly change the look of your site by changing the theme.

    -There are hundreds of free themes at: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/

    -A nice thing about selecting a theme from the WP site, is seeing if it is compatible with the latest version, seeing user comments, etc.

    -Tip: If you intend to do very much customization to your theme, you might want to choose one that is NOT heavily dependent on graphical design.

    -Advanced tip: web designers may submit their own theme to WP’s directory (see guidelines first). This could result in exposure from thousands of downloads and back links.

    -There are also thousands of 3rd party themes for sale and for free.

    The best WordPress theme

  • I like to keep a copy of all of my WordPress themes and plugins on my computer, organized in a parallel structure to that on my website.

  • (See video for demo of installing themes and plugins)

  • WordPress Plugins: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/

    Plugins that I currently use:

    All in One SEO Pack
    Ajax Comments-Reply
    Flickr Photo Album
    UPDATE: I no longer use the ShareThis plugin, and now I use Simple Facebook Like Widget. For more information, see this post about Facebook plugins

  • Adding ads, such as AdSense, to WordPress

    There are three main ways…

    -You could use an AdSense-ready theme (such as an AdSense template, or search the WP themes directory for one)

    -You could use an AdSense WP Plugin, such as Adsense Manager (search the Plugins directory for AdSense). In general, this would be my recommendation.

    -You could add it manually to your theme (for example you could insert your ad code into the header.php, sidebar.php, or single.php files)

    Action steps:

    1) Choose a theme for your WordPress site and install it.

    2) If you’re going to allow comments, activate the Akismet plugin.

    3) Explore the other plugins.

    In the next lesson, we’ll look at how to customize your WordPress theme.

    If you need help, please check out the forums at: http://wordpress.org/support/

    As always, you are welcome to post your questions and comments below 🙂 Feel free to let us know your favorite themes and plugins!

    Have a great day!

  • 225 thoughts on “LESSON #35: WordPress Themes and Plugins

    1. Eric Post author

      A WordPress “Theme” is a template for WordPress.

      WordPress.com is where you can have a blog hosted ON wordpress.com. In other words, you don’t OWN the domain. It’s not a good choice for your business. It’s better for casual bloggers only. WordPress.org is where you can download the stand-alone version of WordPress to install on your OWN domain. Also wordpress.org contains plugins, support documents, etc.

    2. Hot Free Dot Info

      Hi Eric,

      Great informative lessons, keep them coming.

      I use similar plugins to you, plus one from my good friend Bill McRea called the WordPress Exit Plugin. It is great for redirecting traffic around my sites or to affiliate offers.

      Actually, Bill has just released another free plugin. He has called this one the Stealth Marketing Plugin. It looks promising, I am gonna try it out over the next few weeks.

      All the best,

    3. Daniel Taylor


    4. Connie

      Thanks Eric for this series. I tried to put a WP blog on my site many months ago a was very unhappy with it so i took it down. These last lessons have given me the courage and hopefully the knowledge to try it again successfully. Thank you.

    5. Rajesh

      Hi Eric,

      I am using the same theme as you are for my new blog. However I am unable to change the font size. Can you or someone else advise me how to do that. I modified style.css but still size remained same.

      Thanks in advance.

    6. man

      Thanks Eric for this lesson.I already have my blog.I tot only all in one seo and wp db backup is important plugin i must install.now i see there are a lot more plugin that also important to install

    7. Eric Post author

      It is in the style.css. Search for “font-size” in it, and change all the px sizes to bigger or smaller numbers.

    8. Jeff

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for all the lessons. They are great! Just wondering if you’ve heard that having too many plugins or widgets can slow your blog down? I can’t remember where I read that but the author was saying to only have what you really need and use and delete the rest.

      Anyway, thanks again and keep up the great work.


    9. Eric Post author

      Yes, and it can be especially impactful depending on what the plugins are. The ones you need to be especially careful about are ones that communicate with another site. For example, I used to use the “ShareThis” plugin, but found that when the sharethis.com website was slow, it caused my own website to load dreadfully slow. The only such plugin that I’m currently using is the Gravatar avatars.

      I would agree with the author you are referring to. No need to have plugins unless you have a need for them. Generally, each plugin is “called for” each time a page is accessed on your WP blog. If you have 20 plugins, that’s a lot of extra work that your website is having to do behind the scenes, which could slow it down.

    10. watchonlinetvmovies.com

      Excellent video!Very detailed. I just recently created a wordpress site and had to figure out alot of things on my own. I wish I would have seen this video first. I’ll definately be back to watch more helpful vids in the future. Thanks

    11. Mike

      Hello Eric,

      I lack words to appreciate you. However, I have a question. I want to launch some sites just for adsense and affiliate, and had wanted to use Hypervre, but after your lessons on word press,and watching your socrates theme sales video, I felt that templates for hypervre are obsolete. Can I use word press( socrates theme) to create multiple sites like I coiuld do using hypervre. I want to purchase Joel comm’s socrates theme, just want to be sure before I go ahead.
      Thanks for your sincere guide.


    12. jasmeet

      Hi Eric,

      I have been wanting to change my current theme at in2headlien.com to a new theme but i am scared that i will loose content and plugins that are previously installed. What do you suggest is the best way to ensure that plug ins remain intact after a new theme has been installed.

    13. Eric Post author

      The only way to find out is to test it. The nice thing about WordPress is you can easily switch back to your old theme with one click. So just be sure not to overwrite the old theme. Then you can test the new theme and see how it works with your plugins. You should not lose any content, unless it was written into the PHP files of the old theme manually.

    14. Ted

      For me one of the most feature rich themes by far is Flexibility 3.
      It’s free and gives you almost complete control over every aspect of your site. I use it a lot.
      You can download it here.
      It has many inbuilt headers and menu tabs you can choose from and so much more.
      There are also a series of tutorial videos that show how to use its many features. They are under the FAQ menu tab on the site.
      Check it out, you’ll be glad you did.

    15. Claudia

      Hi Eric…I keep coming back to these lessons as I need them. They are really the best on the interent. I like how you go back and add and substract information as times are changing. I like your new picture with your wife included too…you have a very beautiful family!

      I am finding my head is spinning again with too many gurus emailing me and so many offers that I just don’t know what to follow. When I feel that overloaded feeling…I come back to your site and I feel your teaching gets my head going in the right direction again.

      I review lessons over and over again and I always learn more.

      Thanks, Eric. You help me when I’m feeling like giving up…

    16. Brian

      Hi Eric, I noticed that you don’t use a broken link checker plugin. Is this because you don’t think it offers any value.
      I am amazed how many broken links I have been getting and many of them are permanently broken and will lead search engines to dead ends if not dealt with.

    17. Kathy

      Hi Eric
      Although I am struggling a little and don’t always understand these technical type of things the first time, I am really starting to get a better understanding of things. I will probably have to view the WordPress lessons a few times over before I really get to grips but it is slowly sinking in. Life has been somewhat difficult to say the least for the past few years but I can honestly say that for the first time I do feel optimistic about the future. Thank you

    18. Deb

      Great instruction as always. I have setup my blog and am using Socrates. I am having trouble trying to figure out how to get my Aweber into the sidebar. I would like to make my site look like yours.

    19. Chad Benton

      Hi Eric,

      I saw you were concerned about using third party plugins. You obviously know more about this than I do but I use a plugin called Sexy Bookmarks instead of Share This.

      The intrepidity theme is the best free theme for Internet Marketing. I do have the Socrates Theme and it’s awesome too.

      You taught me a few very useful plugins and I thank you for that. You also brought up a good point about loading too many plugins. I have had some issues and even lost connection to the server a couple times. Always back up your blog before you install plugins.

      I would like to bring up one plugin that is perfect for internet marketing and affiliate marketing even more. It’s called Pretty Link and you can pick up the free version right through your admin panel.

      It solves your links being tracked, cloaked and speeding up creating quality looking nofollow redirect links.

      Thanks again for all your tips Eric!

    20. Chad Benton

      Create your form code at aweber and copy to clipboard or notepad.

      Under the appearance tab in your admin click on widgets. Drag the text widget to your sidebar and it will open up. Paste your code here and click save. Check if it looks ok and if not reopen the widget and put a checkmark in have WordPress add paragraphs and this should fix it.

    21. Kathy

      Hi, Eric:
      Thank you for your instruction. However, I have a question. I will build the store online. which wordpress plugin is best for my website?
      Plugins that I have:
      All in One SEO Pack
      WP-DB Manager
      WP-Super Cache
      WP Touch

      Thank you


    22. jinny

      so I probably will not recommend it : what do you mean?
      looks like you watch Piano Briefs lol

    23. renata

      why this:
      so I probably will not recommend it
      were you thinking of piano briefs ? lol

    24. Micah

      Hello Jinny,

      For the reasons Eric mentioned, he likely won’t write an official review with his recommendation for that product!

    25. Micah

      Hello Renata,

      For the reasons Eric mentioned, he likely won’t write an official review with his recommendation for that product!

    26. Norman Macey

      Hi Eric
      Is there a reason for not using the add new option whilst in the plugins area?
      I know you like to keep everthing within your site folder on your computer, surely its just as quick to transfer the plugin to your computer via FTP.

    27. Eric Post author

      No reason not to use it. I hope to update the video eventually with new features such as this.

    28. peter

      Hi Eric installed seo pack as per vidio’s
      i am running w/p vertion 3.3 when i activate the seo pack i got this message
      !!All in One SEO Pack must be configured. Go to the admin page to enable and configure the plugin.
      All in One SEO Pack now supports Custom Post Types and Google Analytics!! so i go to this page in plugins then to Options configuration panel and i get this page
      Plugin Status: Enabled
      Home Title: Peter Hodgins Blog
      Home Description:
      Home Keywords (comma separated):
      Canonical URLs:
      Rewrite Titles:
      Peost Title Format: %post_title% | %blog_title%|
      Page Title Format: %page_title% | %blog_title%
      Category Title Format: ?tegory_title% | %blog_title%
      Archive Title Format:?te% | %blog_title%
      Tag Title Format:%tag% | %blog_title%
      Search Title Format: %search% | %blog_title%
      Description Format:?scription%
      404 Title Format:Nothing found for %request_words%
      Paged Format:Nothing found for %request_words%
      SEO for Custom Post Types:
      Custom Post Types for SEO Column Support:
      Google Analytics ID:
      Use Categories for META keywords:
      Use Tags for META keywords:
      Dynamically Generate Keywords for Posts Page:
      Use noindex for Categories:
      Use noindex for Archives:
      Use noindex for Tag Archives:
      Autogenerate Descriptions:
      Capitalize Category Titles:
      Exclude Pages:
      Additional Post Headers:
      Additional Page Headers:
      Additional Home Headers:
      Log important events:
      it is saying it as been activated
      !!!!!All in One SEO Pack must be configured. Go to the admin page to enable and configure the plugin.
      All in One SEO Pack now supports Custom Post Types and Google Analytics.!!!!

      dont know what to do about this message s the instalation ok

    29. obi

      thanks alot , i did not see ALL IN ONE SEO in my own version of wordpress . what will i do please

    30. Glenn T Russell

      What is the difference between using the WP theme and using the template, i.e. Hostgator? How do they corrolate

    31. Micah

      Hello Glenn,

      Hostgator is the “webhost” for your website. In order for people to be able to visit your website, it needs to be on a server that is always connected to the internet. A webhost is necessary no matter what kind of website you have.

      A WordPress theme is a special design for your WordPress blog.

      If you want to have an attractive looking blog, you might want to purchase an eye-catching theme. Then, you would also need hosting so people could visit your blog.

    32. Glenn T Russell

      Micah~ Thanks for your prompt response, but I guess my question wasn’t very clear. What I’m asking is if you can just use the templates and themes Hostgator provides, or must one install and use WordPress. I’m obviously a “newbie” and it’s all pretty overwhelming at this point!

    33. Eric Post author

      You can do either. You could use the templates, which I mentioned in lesson #31 (Note: their templates have improved since I made that lesson). Or you could install and use WordPress. Personally, I would recommend the WordPress route, because it’s a better long-term solution. Also, it’s really not any more difficult than using a template. You can install WordPress for free with a few clicks, and you’re good to go.

    34. zareena

      Can’t believe that you guys are such dedicated and committed towards your students,what you have promised, you are delivering. you are doing more than enough.

      You understand the frustration and need of your students, and in no time you answer their questions. That is something new, which I have not seen from the so called gurus who charge you not less than $2000.00 and then no help at all. I’m very pleased with the course and your attitude towards your student, you want them to be successful not just take the money and that is it.

    35. Thomas

      Thanks Eric for the lesson!
      I liked to share this great blog with you, which allows lots of Professional Free Premium WordPress Themes & Plugins! Enjoy.
      And Thanks again.

    36. shannan

      Most wonderful coaching ever. I am in awe that it is at no cost. I have a ‘doublediprecessionprooofincome’ site launching sept.1, and you and the other boss firing fellows are heavily recommended.

    37. Brenda

      Could you also use filezilla to drag and drop the website database of an active website from your server to your hard drive? If so, do you copy everything from the server side, or just certain files?

    38. Delbert

      Just checked and API keys are no longer included with WordPress.com accounts.

    39. lucy

      Hi eric sorry for being a pain im missing lessons
      13 to 25 nothing in my email account that i can see, i dont wish to skip those steps can you help please,thank you


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