So you’re thinking about purchasing a template…good for you! You’re trying to save money, yes? Don’t expect to download it, unzip it, upload it and breathe easy. You will not always be given the sample images and page copy. You will not always be given FTP access to your web host. (What is FTP?) You will not be given WordPress to install.
There are so many pieces to the puzzle that can go wrong for the unseasoned WordPress user.
Therefore, the purpose of this post is to advise those who already have WordPress installed on the different parts of a purchased template install.
WordPress has an Appearance > Themes area that provides free template themes to install, but some of you have already been enamored with the whiz-bang graphics provided by a Template Monster theme, or other low-cost theme. I will not discuss the benefits of using a WordPress pre-built vs a generic Website theme. You can pick my brain over this one, but I don’t do it for free.
My advice: if you only plan on creating one website one time for your own use, just pay someone to do it. I charge $99 for a quick WordPress install and $150 for a custom WordPress install and then for the template install, I charge $99 for certain template installs which can usually include the purchase of the theme and on up depending on which company and which template. All of these costs are wrapped into one website package if you prefer to run your business instead of your website. Enough salesy stuff – dig in!
No bites? Then get ready to dive in (I can’t teach it all in one tiny post) and learn the world of template installation.
Huge Assumption —-> WordPress is already installed.
What you need…
File Transfer Protocol or File Manager
In my words: FTP = the ability to copy files from your PC or Mac to the place where your website will reside (Web Host).
Most web hosts will allow you to set up FTP access - notice I said ‘set up’ – you will have to create an FTP username and password yourself and download Filezilla free download software. (use their free support if you are already sweating)
OR OR OR
If your webhost (where your website resides: ClickHost, HostGator, etc) has a cPanel interface, you will have access to ‘File Manager’ in which case, you will not need FTP access – file manager in cPanel will work just fine. I’m not fully versed on the other hosting environments, though, IMHO, GoDaddy makes it much more confusing than needed.
Homework: Set up FTP username/password and log in using Filezilla OR find File Manager. Once you’ve accomplished one of these, look for a folder named /wp-content – you’re there, move on to the next part.
In my words: Zip = is a grouping of files put into one file to maintain the folder hierarchy; you will need an unzip program to unzip it. It’s a file extension like: great-template.zip
All templates/themes you’ve purchased will provide a zip file. Some of them want you to unzip them to your local machine (PC or Mac, it doesn’t matter). Google or Bing how to unzip on your local machine. Mac already comes ready, but I was a PC gal for years before that. Others will want you to just upload the .zip file via Appearance > Themes > Upload
Read the directions that come with the file. This is very important!
Homework: do what the directions tell you if you are to unzip the files to your local machine. If the directions provide specific FTP (or File Manager) directions, follow them. I can’t be more specific than that because they all vary slightly.
So, let’s say, in a perfect world, that you’ve unzipped the theme, uploaded it to your WordPress install and you can see something remotely similar to the theme. Here is where most people get discouraged.
Why doesn’t it look like the template you purchased with all of the pretty photos and page copy and slideshows, etc???
Because the other component to WordPress Template installs is the database. A database is – in rudimentary terms – an online spreadsheet where everything resides and data is pulled from. Each page pulls data from a database. That’s as far as I’ll go on this one.
SOME template providers will provide sample images and copy. Others, you have to read the directions to see IF they provided the images (usually they won’t because these are copywrited images) where they are located and where should you upload them…
SOME template providers will provide sample copy in which case, you’ll have to get into database uploads which comes easy to a former programmer like me, but it’s not impossible if clear directions are provided by the supplier.
If you are given a SQL (pronounded see’-kwel – Structured Query Language) dump file which may be a .sql extension. If you have cPanel interface, you will have access to the MySQL database function. The directions are detailed, so I’ll stop here. Basically, what you have to do is “undump” the SQL database which will create the tables (there are many tables within a database – think of it like worksheets in a spreadsheet) and add the data.
Ask an Expert
If you get stuck, you can either start over in which case I’d recommend taking a breather – take a walk, clear your head and then re-read the readme.txt file that may have been provided.
This has been all stream of thought and was inspired by another story of someone thinking they can just jump into web development and re-sell websites for a living just because they can spell WordPress and can purchase a template.
I and my colleagues have done this for years. There’s enough work to go around. If you find that you can sell websites but may be weak on the install/execution, then partner with someone darn it! Don’t waffle around with a ‘fake it before you make it’ attitude. Eventually, if you find the right partner, you can start with the smaller projects using this partner as a crutch. There’s nothing like experience to pave the way to success.
Unless you have unlimited time on your hands and love to learn new things.
Another piece of advice: sign up for Meetup.com and find meetups in your area to collaborate and learn more through talking to others. Hang out with people in your industry; if they know less than you, help them; if they know more, collaborate with them.
A few I recommend if you are in the Atlanta area;
My group: Cobb (County) Social Media
The Web world is pretty big, the more trusting partnerships you can make, the faster your business will grow.