WordPress 101: An easy, step by step, guide for you!

WordPress 101: An easy, step by step, guide for you!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about learning SEO to increase traffic to your website, using keywords, title tags, and meta descriptions. Also, the importance of giving descriptive file & picture names, good content and so much more! There’s so much to learn about SEO for your website, and it’s all compiled in last month’s blog post for you! Now that you have a good understanding of all of that, I will take you in a different direction, WordPress. For those who have never created a website, I am sure it sounds like a very complicated and daunting task, however, once you dig into a little you discover it is not all that bad. If you have dug into it and you still find it a little challenging, then you have come to the right place. This blog post has broken down WordPress into eight easy and digestible steps for beginners, who just want to make sure they have a handle on everything WordPress. So, sit back, relax, while we “press” on…sorry, but I had to.

STEP 1: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

Well beginners, there is a lot that goes into both of these services. A lot to be considered about both. It can be overwhelming to try and consider it all. As mentioned above, the point of this blog post is to make the process digestible and easy, so let me break it down very simply for you. At the end of the day, it essentially comes down to this… WordPress.com = A personal blogger who doesn’t care about making moneyWordPress.org = A business or a blogger that wants to make money It’s just a matter of asking yourself, who are you? Which category do you fit in? Once you have answered that question, you are ready for step two!

STEP 2: Pick a Short, Memorable Domain (.com preferably) with Keywords and your Business Name

For step two, I have a some tips for you when it comes to picking a domain. If you keep these in mind, you will be on the fast track to a perfect domain!

  • Stick with “.com”: It is the most memorable, most smartphone keyboards have a “.com” button on them
  • Make it easy to pronounce & spell: not doing this leads to typos which is not good and lowers search engine rankings
  • Keep it unique & brandable: research other blog posts in your niche to find out their domains so you don’t copy them
  • Use Keywords: sound familiar?
  • Keep it short: keep it under 15 characters because longer ones are harder to remember and are prone to typos
  • Avoid hyphens: they are prone to typos and are a sign of spam domains
  • Avoid double letters: they are prone to typos
  • Leave room to expand: choose a name related to your niche, but don’t limit yourself.

As you can see, a lot of these tips have to do with avoiding typos. Typos have a lot to do with poor search engine rankings, so you want to avoid them at all costs. These tips are all pretty simple and make a great checklist, so when coming up with a domain, just go down the list and make sure your domain has passed every test. If it does you are on the fast track to success and you are ready for the next step!

STEP 3: Pick a Web Hosting Provider Optimized for WordPress

When it comes to hosting services, there are a variety to choose from. I am going to give you an overview of five of them. The features I see pertinent, from there, you can decide what matters to you.

Bluehost

  • Largest brand name in WordPress hosting
  • Official WordPress recommended hosting provider
  • 24/7 expert support
  • #1 in web hosting for small business
  • WPBeginner users an exclusive 63% off discount, a Free Domain, Free SSL, and a free Site Builder with templates

HostGator

  • Hosts over 8 million domains
  • 1-click WordPress installation
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • 24/7 support

SiteGround

  • Most popular & highest rated hosting providers in the WordPress communities
  • Known for the best 24/7 support in the industry
  • Features include: automatic upgrades, built-in WP caching, CDN, one-click staging and GIT version control
  • Offers location specific hosting in the U.S., Europe and Asia
  • 60% discount for WPBeginners readers

InMotion Hosting

  • Reliable business class hosting
  • Award winning technical support
  • 99.9% uptime
  • Offers users an exclusive 57% off + free domain and free SSL

DreamHost

  • Custom dashboard
  • 1-click WordPress install
  • Automatic WordPress updates
  • Unlimited space and bandwidth
  • Free SSDs, which makes your site 200% faster

For the beginners who just have no idea where to begin and are totally overwhelmed, I would advise to just go with BlueHost due to the official WordPress recommendation and the #1 ranking for small businesses. Plus the expert support and discounts, it is a safe bet. Again, it is simply asking yourself, what is important to you? What features matter to you? Try and find features that fit your needs and pick the hosting site that you are most comfortable with. Once you have done this…you are ready for step four!

STEP 4: Install WordPress

Beginners, there are tons of WordPress installers to choose from. So many that there is no easy way for me to break it down for you in this blog post. The best suggestion I have for you is to simply follow this link below this paragraph. It is very self explanatory, has step by step instructions with pictures and has a little paragraph about each installer so you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Once you have installed WordPress, you are ready for step five! http://www.wpbeginner.com/how-to-install-wordpress/#installtranslate

STEP 5: Learn the basics of WordPress

WordPress has done a thorough job making sure everyone one understands the basics with there 23 video series about the basics. You can get started on that series at this link below… http://videos.wpbeginner.com/ Obviously, that video series is going to have way more than I will be able to give you. Also, in your smaller pockets of free time, you can simply search the key concepts of WordPress basics, Pages v.s. Posts or categories v.s. Tags. Any words you don’t know, you can use the WordPress dictionary. The video series will give you all you need and much more on the basics of WordPress. Once you have that down, it is on to the next step!

STEP 6: Using WordPress Plugins

When it comes to WordPress plugins, there is a lot to keep track of and it can seem daunting, especially to a beginner. Which is why I, yet again, comprised a sort of checklist for you to use when considering plugins. When dealing with plugins for your site, consult this list to ensure you are getting everything you can out of the process. You want to ensure you aren’t wasting anything.

  • Define what you want your plugin to do
  • Use Google search or WPBegginer’s plugins category to search for your desired plugin
  • Compare different plugins using the sidebar on the plugin page
  • Check plugin ratings and reviews on the sidebar. The support section shows how many threads have been resolved or not in the past two months; a high number of unresolved threads are an indicator of support in the long run The compatibility section allows users to check a plugin version with a WordPress version
  • Use plugin screenshots o see how plugins look on the front & backend of your WordPress website
  • When looking at a plugin, check FAQs and Other Notes tabs
  • Test the speed of your plugin by going to a site speed checking service, entering the URL of your website and running a speed test; note the result, go back to your website, activate your plugin and test the speed again; if the plugin adds significant time to your sites speed, find a better plugin

As you can see, there is quite a bit to take into account when dealing with plugins, which may be overwhelming, if you stick to the checklist, it isn’t too bad however. Once you are satisfied with your plugin(s), you can move on to the next step!

STEP 7: Using WordPress Themes

You are almost there! The last big step is choosing your theme. Don’t you worry, I am sticking to the theme of this blog post, and I am going with a checklist format for this section as well! I know, you can exhale now. Yet again, there are so many things to consider and worry about when it comes to themes, so if you stick to my tips, you will be off to a great start!

  • Strive for simplicity: don’t overcomplicate things, you have heard of the saying “simple yet elegant”
  • Responsive is not optional anymore: make you theme mobile friendly and test it by resizing your browser screen and seeing if the theme adjusts
  • Browser compatibility: ensure your theme works across all browsers
  • Supported plugins: ensure your theme supports all the popular plugins
  • Transition + multilingual ready: ensure your theme supports multilingual sites and plugins
  • Page builders: choose themes that are shipping with one of the most used page builder plugins
  • Support options: choose a theme that has good documentation and support option
  • SEO friendliness: check theme with the W3C Markup Validation service
  • Ratings & Reviews: check ratings & reviews for a theme’s quality

As with the checklists above, make sure the theme you want meets all the tips above and you will be well off in the right direction. If it doesn’t meet very many, you many want to pick a different theme. The goal is to have the best theme possible, if you feel like you have attained that, you can move to the final step!

STEP 8: Customizing WordPress

This step is the easiest because it is completely up to you. You can customize WordPress as much or as little as you want based on your needs. Of course, WordPress has a couple of tools to help, such as the WordPress tutorials section with over 200 videos or the WPBeginner’s YouTube channel. This step is as easy or as hard as you make it. How much customization you do is up to you! Hopefully you found this guide to using WordPress useful. The eight step blog post with checklists, tips and links will help you utilize WordPress and create a beautiful website that you can be proud to call your own. When you started reading this blog post, you were a beginner, now, hopefully you feel like you can go out there and tackle whatever website challenge lay ahead of you, and you can do it with improved and im”press”ive knowledge! (Sorry, I had to get one more in)

Sam Barker
Sam Barker is a sophomore at IU, majoring in Media with a concentration in Media Science. His hometown is Carmel, Indiana and he is the youngest of four kids.

Sam was introduced to Media as a potential major by his academic advisor at the very end of the first semester of his freshman year and had never considered media as a career path previously.

In his free time, Sam enjoys sports, movies, hiking, Mexican food and comedy. He also thinks that he is a lot funnier than he actually is and that definitely shows up in his various forms of media writings.