Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, February 13, 2013
WordPress can be quite a confusing platform to get your head around in the initial stages of blogging – but once you’ve mastered it, WordPress actually provides one of the most coherent and flexible blogging platforms around. Unlike with other blogging platforms, wordpress allows for huge flexibility in terms of layout, design and content – but also provides you with a functional and efficient CMS for organizing an efficient website and content schedule.
I guarantee, once you’ve got your head around WordPress, you’ll be hooked – as it genuinely does make the blogging process much easier and overall a quicker more functional process. You’ll have the ability to schedule posts months ahead of time, and even invite guests authors onto the platform to add content without you. But, before you get to that stage – there are a few things you’ll want to know as a WordPress newbie to get you off the ground. Here, I’ve tried to put together a few tips and tricks, to make those first few weeks of “finding your way around” a bit more friendly and a bit less daunting.
#1 - Set yourself up on a server
WordPress is one of the only blogging platforms that needs externally hosting. That may sound complicated to people reading who aren’t familiar with hosting – but don’t worry it’s actually relatively simple and easy to get your head around. Choosing a host costs a small amount a month, and there are plenty to chose from , all which offer different prices and packages. I’ve found review sites like this, helpful in the past when I’ve been at a loss where to start looking. A good hosting agent is worth the extra cash though I’ve always found – as it often means the website runs quicker and smoother – so bear that in mind.
#2 - Pick a domain name
Wordpress is great because you can register your own domain name, and then attach it to your WordPress blog – this is especially great if you’re using the blog for professional or business reasons. I’d always recommend anyone joining WordPress to do this – as it personalises the blog and makes it look more established straight away. Having an actual domain (rather than the pre-selected WordPress one) is also helpful for SEO reasons too. When choosing your domain name, try and choose something relevant to you brand or blog topic, perhaps the name itself, or key words – and try to resist making the URL to long-winded. Something short and snappy often does the job better.
#3 - Pick a theme
Picking a theme is your next stop, and usually it’s your theme choice that will really help your blog’s design take shape. There are thousands of theme choices out there for you to choose from, and the sheer variety of themes is actually what makes WordPress so unique. Themes can completely alter the structure and design of your website, meaning it’s tailored just how you envisioned it would be. Themes don’t need to cost anything – and there are plenty of themes out there, which are completely free to download. However, I’ve found that investing a little bit of cash in a premium theme is often completely worth the money. Premium themes usually comes with much more flexible controls and design features (meaning you can alter even the smallest detail) and they will usually comes with a customer services page too – where (if any problems arise, or if you get a bit stuck) you can ask the designer any questions. When picking a theme try and opt for one that suits your blog’s topic – so if you’re planning on publishing a lot of content – perhaps go for a magazine theme. If you’re publishing photographs on a daily basis – go for a theme that supports large uploads.
#4 - Familiarize yourself with widgets and plug-ins
To evolve your blog from average to a pro, user-friendly blog, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with plugins and widgets available to you. Plugins are great as they help you add those personal touches to your blog, such as social sharing buttons, recommended reading pop-ups and even in-depth author profiles too. Plugins are free (most of the time) so it’s simply a case of searching for ones you like the look of and installing them onto your site, then activating them. Look out for plugins that will help you grow your website too – such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics is great as you can view all sorts of interesting data about your website, such as what country your visits are coming from and even how long they’re visiting each page for.
#5 - Don’t go over-board
Last but not least, don’t go overboard with this! You don’t want to have so many plugins and widgets on your site that it over clutters it and makes everything hard to find. You need to strike a balance. The easiest way to do this is by identifying what is helpful and what enhances the experience and what doesn’t. Anything that doesn’t make the user’s experience better – can be cut.
Elle works with various brands on their social and community management. After struggling with WordPress for many a month – she now owns and edits several successful online publications.