5 Mistakes People Make When Starting a WordPress Blog, and How to Avoid Them

Written by Jean Galea
Written by Jean Galea
WordPress might well be the most user-friendly CMS of the bunch, and a snap to install, but that doesn't stop many people making bad decisions that leave a negative impact on the success of their blog. Let's take a look at 5 of the most common problems and how to avoid them.

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WordPress might well be the most user-friendly CMS of the bunch, and a snap to install, but that doesn’t stop many people making bad decisions that leave a negative impact on the success of their blog. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common problems and how to avoid them.

Confusing WordPress.com with WordPress.org

You might have heard of WordPress from a colleague or heard it mentioned in a magazine. Chances are you will then turn to the mighty Google to further your search. Then you might get confused that there are two versions of WordPress (wordpress.com and wordpress.org). The essential difference is that at WordPress.com you just sign up and have a blog ready to fill up with content, while at WordPress.org you get to download the WordPress software itself and install it on your own server.

Looking for the quickest route to getting your content online with no technical fuss? Go to WordPress.com

Want to set up your own server, have more control, or take your site beyond a blog? Go to WordPress.org

Installing Too Many Plugins

There are a gazillion plugins you can install on WordPress, at the time of writing the WordPress plugin repository features more than 16,000 of them. And that is not counting the other non-free plugins which are featured on marketplaces such as CodeCanyon or WP Plugins. A common pitfall is that of installing a boatload of plugins on your blog with the worthy aim of improving functionality and features, the problem is that these plugins inevitably take their toll on database and site performance.

Try to keep the number of plugins on your WordPress site to not more than 25-30 plugins. Keep in mind that some plugins do not clean up the database well after being uninstalled, adding to database size unnecessarily. What I like to do is try out a plugin on a local test site, only when I am sure I want to use it will I upload it on my live site.

Choosing a Low-Quality Theme

Many blogs fail to engage their readers due to a bad choice of theme for the site. This can be due to the design not being adapt for the kind of content you are dishing out, or even due to a bad coding structure which can penalise your rankings in search engines.

Try to find a theme which looks good and incorporates all the current design and coding best practices. Some questions to ask are:

  • Is the theme semantically coded?
  • How is the Options panel, is it easy to use and understand?
  • Is the theme multilanguage-ready?
  • Does the theme guarantee compatibility with the major plugins you plan to use?
  • How does the theme look on different platforms (wide monitors, tv screens, mobile phones etc.)?

Finally, read the user reviews of the theme, and see whether there are any recurring problems that users keep having. Also check support response timeliness and whether issues have been fixed. Choose a theme that is constantly being updated by its author, introducing new improvements and bug-fixes.

Forgetting to Update WordPress Core and Plugins

WordPress updates are released fairly frequently, and it is important to execute these updates in a timely fashion, especially when they are security updates. Failure to update means making your website more susceptible to hacking attempts.

When updating plugins and WordPress, always update in this order:

  1. WordPress Core
  2. Plugins

Many of the plugin updates are done in order to take advantage of new WordPress features, and sometimes dropping compatibility for older WP versions, therefore it makes sense to update the core first and plugins straight after.

Failing to Backup the Website

How would you feel if you were to wake up one morning and find out that your website has disappeared off the net? Would you kick yourself if you got distracted and deleted an important file off the server, and now cannot run your site properly? These are things that happen to all of us sometime or another, and the only solution is to be prepared, i.e. have proper backups in place.

Always make sure you have a reliable backup plan in place. Backups should be taken automatically, else it is easy to forget them. My preferred solution is a plugin called BackupBuddy, which takes care of backing up your site’s files and database, as well as delivering these backups to your preferred destination (Amazon, Dropbox, FTP and more). Backups should be taken regularly, you have to see how many times you update the blog and set an according schedule. I like to make a daily database backup and a weekly full backup, which are sent instantly to another server for storage should I need them in the future.

Want to mention any other pitfalls? The comments section is waiting for you!

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This article was filed in our archives.
Written by Jean Galea
Jean Galea is an investor, entrepreneur, and blogger. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and Spotlight, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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5 Responses

  1. I disagree with your point about not installing too many plugins. You should install as many plugins as you like provided that they’re well coded and optimized. After all, 5 poorply coded plugins could slow down your website compared to 100 really well coded plugins.

    1. Very valid observation Chris, that point is aimed more at users who don’t have the knowledge to judge whether a plugin is well coded and optimized. Hence it’s a general rule to keep in mind that each plugin will eat some of your performance, thus something to be aware of.

      Essentially I agree with you that as long as the plugins are optimised and you know what they are doing, there is no real limit. After all, you could also increase server power if required, introduce caching etc.

  2. Good post – I would add having a careful think about how you intend on setting up your categories and permalinks, although it can sometimes be difficult to foresee how big your blog might get in the future.

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