You can locate many articles and videos on selecting WordPress themes and what you will find is that they are all focused on WordPress.org software. They are aimed at those who have access to template files and can hack them, and they tend to be for either make money bloggers or business bloggers or both.
In fact many are sponsored themes produced for targeting a specific market. Most instructions I read were aimed at creating page based structures I refer to as mock websites. The substance is focused on business branding, placement of advertising space, and use of SEO plugins.
Such articles are almost useless to WordPress.com bloggers blogging on WP.MU mulituser blogging software. There is no blogger access to template files underlying themes, no FTP access, neither themes nor plugins can be uploaded, and blogger initiated advertising is not allowed on WordPress.com blogs. WordPress.com versus WordPress.org
Most WordPress.com bloggers begin by selecting a theme from the > Appearance > Themes section in their dashboard based on eye appeal. Update: There is now a WordPress.com Themes Showcase and live demo site with a search box for feature filters.
Over time each blogger learns how to use the theme features to present their content in a way that suits them. No theme will suit every blogger and as blogging and commenting progresses discoveries of different features in other themes surface. That often leads to a changing themes on their WordPress.com blog following A Mid-Life Blog Crisis.
Although we can change WordPress.com themes with the click of a single button, doing so can lead to having to make many adjustments that may affect readers. This article is Part 1 of a three-part series of articles for helping WordPress.com bloggers take a step by step approach behind the scenes to test new themes in a mirror blog before making a theme switch.
Every blogger needs a test blog
You can register as many free blogs as you wish at WordPress.com and then use them as you wish. Once you have registered a test blog and set the visibility to “private” to keep out search engines, you make it into an exact replica of your main blog AKA a “mirror blog” and use it for testing themes, lay-outs , widgets, and any other new items you are considering adding to your main blog.
The benefit of having such a test or mirror blog is you will feel no sense of urgency or concern when testing other themes and items because your readers will still be viewing the main site. After testing you can switch to your main blog, select the theme you have tested, click the “activate” button, and reinstall widgets in moments.
Registering another WordPress.com blog
The unique identifier is the email address used when registering blogs. All blogs registered under the same email address appear in the drop down menu of the “username” that created them. If you want to have your test blog registered to your username when signed into click this register a WordPress.com blog link.
If you do not want your test blog registered under the same username then log out of WorPress.com and register under a new username and give a different email address.
Don’t forget to set blog visibility to private. I would like my blog to be visible only to users I choose.
Creating a mirror blog
In order to create a mirror blog you will be exporting content and blogroll links in separate files of the main blog and importing them into your test blog.
1. In the Main blog > Dashboard > Tools > Export
When you click the button below WordPress will create an XML file for you to save to your computer. This format will contain your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags.
Once you’ve saved the download file, you can use the Import function on another WordPress blog to import this blog.
Click > Download Export File button
Save the file to your desktop
2. In the Mirror Blog > Dashboard > Tools > Import
To get started, choose a system to import from below:
Click > WordPress Import posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags from a WordPress export file
3. Export/Import BlogRoll Links
There are two methods re: export and import of blogroll links.
4. Text Widget Contents
You can copy and paste the contents of your text widgets on your main blog into text widgets on the test or mirror blog.