WordPress is by far one of the most flexible and usable blogging platforms, and when used properly can provide a professional looking website, with stable core features – with the addition of personalised design and add-ons. Many businesses now choose to host their website on WordPress – because of the flexibility of themes and designs – you can mold a WordPress CMS site into pretty much anything you want.
Starting out with WordPress can be pretty daunting though – and it’s not the easiest platform to get your head around in those initial stages. In fact, without doing a fair bit of research first, you might find yourself tripping up on even the simplest of tasks – that may not have been overly obvious to you.
Here I’ve tried to put together some tips for WordPress beginners (because we all have to start somewhere). These tips will help you create an attractive website using WordPress, but most importantly – a functioning website too that works well and does it’s job.
1. Purchase a domain name
If you’re setting up your blog for professional reasons, you you’re going to be using it for yourself or a business then always (and I mean, always) register a proper domain name to attach to the WordPress blog. It looks incredibly unprofessional to have a WordPress domain (the one they originally provide you with) and it’s actually beneficial in terms of SEO and Google rankings to have a personalised registered domain.
Buying a domain for 2-3 is usually around $20 (maybe more, maybe less) unless you’re going after a popular name, in which you might have to bid or pay a premium. Whilst we’re talking about domains, try to secure a Dot Com domain – as they are globally recognised. If you can’t secure that though, opt for the next best thing – which is a regional domain such as .co.uk for example.
2. Set up a hosting service
Whilst WordPress.com offers you the choice of being hosted by WordPress, I’d always say – try and find your own server and hosting agent. For one of my websites, back when I was a WordPress newbie – no one explained this to me, so I signed up with WordPress and they hosted my blog.
However, I was seriously limited because of this – and as the website grew I realised I couldn’t do things I wanted to – such as install affiliate links, and partnerships. I then had to go through the hassle of redirecting and reinstalling my site on an external server – so I wish I’d known from the beginning.
Lots of companies offer WordPress hosting, and it does cost a few dollars a month – but most offer competitive packages so you shouldn’t need to spend too much for a decent host. Review sites like this one are good, as they are impartial – which means you can compare packages and find one that suits you, but also that doesn’t break the bank either.
3. Don’t settle for average
I think a lot of newbies on WordPress assume that you have to stick with the theme you’re given – and simply try and personalise that as much as they can. The reality is, WordPress is one of the most flexible blogging platforms in terms of design – once you know how and where to look for them.
Basically, to change the look and design of your website, you need to install a new theme – you can find free themes pretty easily on Google, but if I’m being honest – it’s worth investing a little cash and opting for a premium paid theme. Then you simply download the theme (often in a zip file) and upload it back onto your WordPress dashboard in the same format.
Once you’ve activated it – you’ll have the design you wanted – but you’ll probably still need to do a few tweaks here and there. This is actually why I prefer paid themes, because there is usually a designed or customer services person who can help you out should anything go wrong, or if you can’t find specific features. With free ones, it’s a bit more difficult to get the help you might require if you run into difficulties.
4. Don’t go overboard
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers making on their WordPress websites, so I had to share it to make sure you don’t do the same thing. Many new bloggers see all the widget options (widgets are the little features that run alongside your content most often) and they go crazy for it. I’ve seen blogs that have so many widgets, I’m at a lost for words – and my browsers is taking hours just to load the website.
Try and avoid this mistake – and just go for the widgets that work best for your business and content. It’s not necessary to plonk all of them on your site, especially if no ones even going to use them.
5. Plug-Ins are your best friend
A lot of beginners to WordPress simply over look the plug-ins section, and I know I definitely did when I first started using WordPress to host my blogs and websites. Actually though, plug-ins are hugely helpful and can make your users experience on your site much more pleasurable and functional.
There are all sorts of plug-ins to use, but I often looks out for ones that are going to help make my audiences visit to my website easier – such as PI’s that recommend further reading, or offer an easy way to share content on their social networks. There are also analytic PI’s too, which allow you to track and monitor those coming to your website – along with all kinds of useful data. Google Analytics is free and perhaps the best to get you started by far.
6. Don’t forget to share
Last but not least, don’t forget to share your content. It’s not going to magically get lots of visits, so make sure you’re sharing it on your social networks and telling people about it to. After all the hassle you go through perfecting it – you want it to be appreciated after all!
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