The Ultimate Essential Guide to WordPress needs to be easy to follow, fun to grasp, and quick to setup.
Learning how to blog is something nearly everyone should be practicing, entertaining or doing at some point in their life.
WordPress began its online dominance in 2003 as an open source project which since has morphed into the largest self-hosted blogging tool and ultimate CMS (content management system) that is trusted and used by millions of marketers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and businesses all over the world on the internet.
The versatility and simplicity of use is what makes WordPress an appealing CMS for all aspiring bloggers, marketers, and the like for anybody who wants to operate, run or manage a website.
If you're new to blogging or WordPress, don't worry. Expert help is here. A complete guide to everything you could possibly need to know about installing, setting up and using WordPress, as well as some of the more important (hidden) features.
Getting to Know Key WordPress Terms
Before we get into WordPress, let's look at the key terms we commonly use in reference to WordPress:
Categories: Categories enable you to sort your posts into types. Categories can be anything you desire, such as cooking, design, sports, random thoughts, anything you desire. The point of categories is to allow you to organize your posts and enable readers to read posts in one specific area of your blog (mapping these out beforehand becomes a vital process if you plan to build a large site in the months and years to come).
Page: A page is a static post where the content does not change. A page is good place to put an author bio, contact information, or other information that won't change.
Plugin: A plugin is code that adds functionality to WordPress. For example, plugins enable WordPress users to share their posts on social media sites, help with on-page SEO, and generally make your life easier.
Widgets: Widgets are add ons that appear on the side bar of your website and are meant to increase the functionality of your blog. For example, you can put a banner ad, social buttons, pictures, links, or pretty much anything to make your blog better for your readers.
Sidebar: The sidebar is the area on your website that enables you to add widgets. It is normally on the left or right side and some themes allow you to have multiple sidebars.
Posts: Posts are simply individual pieces of content that appear on the homepage of your website, provided you don't opt for a static page.
WordPress is famous for its' “5 minute install.” If you're already comfortable installing files onto your server, then here's the basic guide to installing WordPress:
Step 1: Download and unzip the WordPress package on your computer.
Step 2: Create a database on your server for WordPress. Also, create a MySQL user who has all privileges to access and modify the database.
Step 3: Upload WordPress to your web server in your desired location.
• If you want WordPress to appear on the root of your domain (e.g. http://yoursite.com), then move or upload WordPress directory to the root directory of your web server.
• If you'd rather have WordPress on it's own subdirectory on your website (http://yoursite.com/blog), then create the blog directory on your server and upload the unzipped WordPress package to this directory.
Step 4: Run the WordPress installation script by visiting the URL in a web browser. The URL should be where you uploaded the WordPress files.
Step 5: Start blogging!
WordPress Menu Items
Once you log in to WordPress, you'll find a series of menu items that enable you to access various parts of your blog. Below are all the menu items in the administration dashboard:
Posts: This panel allows you to add a new blog post and edit any other blog posts you already have published on the website. The posts section is where you will most likely spend most of the time on your blog.
Media: The media panel allows you to add music, images, videos, or other types of media to your posts. You can view all of your media in the media library and edit the links, alternate text, or any other text as well.
Links: The links panel allows you to view, modify, and delete any links you've added to your blog.
Pages: Pages showcase static content on your website. This tab allows you to edit and manage any existing pages.
Comments: People will leave comments on your blog posts from time to time. This tab enables you to moderate comments and deleted and spam or inappropriate comments.
Appearance: As you can expect, the appearance tab allows you to edit your website's design including the theme. You can customize your blog to appeal to your readers and your own personal taste.
Plugins: The plugins panel enables you to install, modify, or delete any plugins you have on your blog. You can also de-activate plugins you do not need any longer.
Users: The users panel allows you to create additional users who can log in and post on your blog.
Tools: The main function of the tools panel is to allow you to import or export any content you desire.
Settings: Settings allow you to change some of the minor aspects to your blog like the time zone, format of writing sections, and basic feature moderation.
Next, we'll discuss how to install and customize WP themes.
Finding The Right WordPress Theme
After you install WP blogging and CMS software, it's time to find a theme for your blog. You can either use free themes from WordPress or by purchasing premium themes.
To access the free themes, you should go to the theme showcase section of WordPress by clicking Appearance > Themes. There you will find a page to browse through hundreds of themes. You can search for themes based on the color scheme and number of columns.
When looking for a theme, remember to ask yourself these questions:
• Who is your audience?
• What's the purpose of your blog?
• What features do you need in your theme?
• Will you need any special customization or custom features?
If you do not find the right theme in the WordPress dashboard, you can purchase premium themes on many websites. We personally recommend buying from these excellent premium WordPress theme sellers:
Remember, unlike domain name or the actual installation of WP – you can switch and modify your theme at any given time – virtually on the fly – so do not get hung up on the fact you don't know which style, fashion or brand your actively attempting to design and develop.
WordPress Pages vs Posts
After you install a theme, it's time to start adding content. We recommend you start by publishing your pages first, since they do not require you to edit or change them often.
Adding new pages is extremely easy and effortless. Simply click on the page panel dashboard then click > “add new.” You'll then reach a page where you can write, draft, publish and post content.
• If you know HTML well, we recommend you use the HTML mode and publish content accordingly.
• If you do not know HTML well, it's best to use WordPress' easy “WYSIWYG” (what you see is what you get) editor that is standard on WordPress (this is where wordpress plugins can help if needed).
As you publish your page, you have the option to add media, change the font, edit the color scheme, and plenty of other features. It's best to play around with a fake page before you publish your pages just so you are familiar with the tools.
Once you finish writing your Page, make sure to click Publish when it is ready to be live on your website. If you need more time to add content, click “save draft” and your page will not be posted until you are ready. In addition, you can edit the time when the page is posted by clicking “edit” next to the “publish immediately” feature on the right hand side.
Adding a New Post
Just like you did with pages, simply click on the posts section in your administration panel and click “add new.” You'll be ready to add content immediately.
The WYISWYG editor is just like the editor for pages, so you should have some familiarity with the panel. However, you also have the option to add tags to your post, which should describe some things your site is about. For example, if your blog post is about a TV show review, you should use tags related to that TV show, including the name, genre, and perhaps some characters.
In addition, you can also upload images to your posts as well. This process may seem difficult at first but here's a simple guide to uploading images.
• Step 1: Click the “add media' button on the editor to insert an image.
• Step 2: Either upload an image from your desktop or from an existing url.
• Step 3: Adjust the alt text, title, alignment, link url, and size of your image.
• Step 4: Click “insert into post” to add the image.
*Tip: Don't add an image that is so large that it doesn't fit the confines of your post or theme. If the image is too large, edit the image's size to make it fit.
New Post Checklist
Once you're done adding content to your post make sure to go over this checklist to make sure you've completed all these steps:
• Add a title
• Select the category for the post
• Add related tags (3-5 max per)
• Inserted content into the body
• Uploaded a feature or header image (optional)
• Uploaded images throughout the body of content
• Spell-checked spelling and grammar
• Made sure all links appear in a new tab.
Afterwards, click “preview” to take a look at the blog post and see how it will look. Afterwards, go back and make adjustments if any of the visual elements don't look right to you. Once everything looks right, click “publish” and your post will be live.
Adding Multiple Users and (WPMU)
Once your blog becomes popular you may want to hire other writers or editors. You can add new users by clicking on the users section in the dashboard and then clicking “add new.”
You'll need a username, email, and password for the new user. Then you'll need to figure out the role for the new user.
Types of Users:
• Subscribers: A subscriber has subscribed to the blog and subscribers only have access to his or her own profile.
• Administrator: Administrators can do anything within the dashboard. They can edit or publish posts, add other users, edit the theme, or anything else you the root administrator have access to.
• Author: An author can publish, edit, or manage his or her own posts.
• Contributor: A contributor can add posts to your blog but they have to approved by an admin before they are published.
There are thousands of WordPress plugins that will make your life easier. WP plugins can essentially do anything for you and each plugin has its' own specific use. Here are eight of the most popular WordPress plugins:
• Contact Form 7 – This plugin adds a simple contact form to your blog so users can communicate with you. You can customize the fields required within the plugin.
• WordPress SEO by Yoast – This SEO plugin allows you to optimize your content, add meta descriptions and tags, and analyzes whether or not your content is SEO friendly. Another popular alternative is the “all in one seo” plugin.
• Google XML Sitemaps: To put it simply, this plugin will generate a XML sitemap so search engines can index your content.
• WPtouch Mobile Plugin: Mobile is the future so having a mobile optimized site is essential. This plugin will create a mobile optimized website with just a few simple clicks.
• W3 Total Cache: W3 Total Cache will cache your browser, page, object, and databases to improve the speed and efficiency of your site.
• WooCommerce: WooCommerce is a simple plugin that allows you to add products for sale. You can edit products, add taxes, and manage where and who you sell your products to.
• Pretty links: Pretty links edit your ugly affiliate links and instead converts them into simple, clean looking links.
• Akismet: Akismet moderates comments and analyzes whether or not comments look like spam or not.
Other Tips for Successful Blogging
It won't take you long to get used to WordPress and once you do, you'll be publishing content at the speed of light. However, if you're ready to start publishing content on your blog, remember these five tips:
1. Keep it Simple
WordPress is awesome because it does allow you to add hundreds of widgets or customize your blog in every which way you could possibly think of. However, there is really no need to go crazy. Adding too many widgets will clutter your site and your visitors will not find it aesthetically pleasing, which is essential for a blog's success.
2. Utilize Plugins
Plugins are developed to make your life easier. Don't skip out on essential plugins that can save you time and money. However, don't over-complicate things by adding too many plugins (like two SEO plugins for example). Manage the plugins you use and add plugins that have a specific use that will benefit you.
3. Add important pages to the Footer
4. Always think of your visitors
At the end of the day, it is important you always think about your visitors. Make sure your site's appearance, content, and widgets appeal to your visitor, not just you. This will bring your visitors back to your blog, which will grow your blog and it will put you on a path to success.
This completes our 2014 Essential WordPress Guide for How To Blog and get your ideas, ways, and expertise shared with the digital world.