One question we hear quite a bit is how to start a blog. Yes, even in this day and age, that question is still asked.
But, that is good, isn’t it?! That means that people are exploring their creative skills and desiring to develop them further. Yay!
First Things, First
There are quite a few things to consider when going down the path of starting a blog. One of the first ones is the platform (a.k.a. software, blogging site, etc.).
The answer to choosing a platform is best handled by considering the answer(s) to these two questions:
- What is the purpose of my blog?
- What is my technology comfort level?
For example, if you are not very technical and this blog is just for fun, like sharing pictures of your kids, your pets, your cup of coffee in the morning, etc., you may want to choose a site like Tumbr.com (link is in below list). It is a bit more user-friendly. You could almost skip the aspect of setting up the layout of the blog and just start posting, going with the default blog template provided by Tumblr. It is also great for socializing and building your own community.
However, if you want to set up a business site, I suggest WordPress. You can use a hosted WordPress or a WordPress installation. I recommend the second, but we will go deeper into that topic in a bit.
Do you need to grab a cup of coffee before we continue? I’ll wait.
Two Lists and Their Popularity
The next list includes sites that have the installable version of the software (like the WordPress that we will be discussing).
Google helps us out by showing us some traffic trends on different blogging and content management systems (CMS) on the web. You can see how popular the software that we mentioned, above, is, based on the stats shown in the below graphic.
Ok, before we dig into WordPress, I want to be fair and list some of the other considerations. First a list of sites where you can create a blog online, on another company’s site (even if you use your own domain):
- WordPress.com (hosted WordPress; in contrast, we will be discussing installing your own WordPress);
- Tumblr.com (discussed a bit, above); and
Again, Google has some traffic trends to show us on a comparison of these sites.
The WordPress Installation
Remember how I said I recommend the WordPress installation for a business site? Let’s talk about that a bit here.
The following are resources for starting your own blog using a WordPress installation. This includes the following steps:
- Choosing a domain name;
- Registering that domain; and
As a part of the hosting of the WordPress installation, there are also the considerations of how to handle or what to choose when it comes to these:
- essential pages;
- and more!
And, let’s not forget the next step that follows the start of the blog, and that is blog marketing! But, more on that a bit later.
You do not “purchase” a domain. You register the domain.
Choosing a Domain Name
Your first step to starting a blog on your own domain is choosing a domain name. There are many ways you can go with this, from using your own name, business name, keywords, or a quirky but brandable word. Some great resources to help you out in this choice include the following:
Now, let’s talk about them in more detail, in the following sections…
Google Keyword Planner (Formerly called AdWords Keyword Tool)
Considering a keyword based domain, but not sure where to start? Try out Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. It will give you additional keyword ideas plus their estimated monthly searches. If you use the option to sign in with your AdWords account, you can increase the number of results plus see cost-per-click (CPC) cost data for each keyword.
This site will let you search a specific domain you are interested in (domain.com) or search for a keyword. If the main domain/keyword you search is not available, it will show you if alternatives such as the .net, .org, .co, .me, or other top-level domains (tld) are available. You can use the checkbox at the top to toggle whether results should show premium domains for sale that are related to your search or only show domains that are available at your favorite domain registration site, at normal registration rates for the respective tld.
Before you register that domain, be sure that it is available on social media! Knowem lets you search names/keywords to see if they are taken on over 500 social networks. This is also a great place to find social networks by niche including business, design, entertainment, health, music, photo, and travel. Hover over each network’s name to learn a little more about it.
Registering a Domain Name
Once you have settled on a suitable domain name, you are probably ready to go out and register it.
Note: Remember, you are not actually buying a domain, but registering that you will be the one that will use it. There are governing organizations who have the rights to rescind on your registration if rules are broken, etc. It is not ownership, but registration. Many people get this mixed up and get it wrong. Now you can consider yourself “in the know” and understand the real deal. This comes to you from one of the people who owned one of the first companies that had domain registration services after deregulation, so it comes from an authority!
Ok, back to that domain registration…
The following is a list of domain registration service providers that are considered top providers and desirable providers. Personally, since we closed up shop, I use GoDaddy. After all, when they came on the scene they were able to offer domains for $2-3 cheaper than we were able to offer them, even though we were the lowest priced domains in the US at the time. So, instead of competing, we joined them! Now, to that list…
- Network Solutions (Make sure you look for a good deal on pricing, and one that works for you!
Hosting Your Domain
Once you have registered your domain name, the next thing you will need is hosting. The above companies also offer hosting plans, but I’d like to focus on some that have easy WordPress installations available (i.e. within their hosting control panels). That would make your life much easier!
That said, if you are using a WordPress installation (versus the WordPress site – hosted blog), be sure to verify that your chosen hosting company provides WordPress. Also, look for the following features and services, as well:
- Offer plans that allow you to have multiple domains, unlimited storage, and unlimited bandwidth.
- Have the best customer support options (i.e. text chat, 24-hour phone support, or forums).
- Have better deals for those who opt to pay for several months at one time vs. paying on a month-to-month basis.
- Do or don’t require annual contracts or agreements (depending on their cost and your wishes for a contract or not to have a contract).
Popular vote and public opinion dictate the selection in the list. People recommend these hosts. That doesn’t mean that I have used them personally or have personal experience with them. Remember, I was a successful hosting provider and enjoyed creating my own control panels. I customized these control panels specifically for my clients. Based on that, why would I have a need for another hosting company or other control panels 😉
Here is the list….
- Synthesis – the WordPress-only website hosting company created by Copyblogger Media. They handle install of WordPress on your domain, backups, and security monitoring.
- WP Engine – a WordPress hosting solution used by major brands like Foursquare, HTC, Williams-Sonoma, and others. Unlike other hosting companies, you can try them risk-free for 30 days.
- GoDaddy – There’s nothing like having your hosting and domains with the same provider that way you don’t have to worry about redirecting DNS servers and other things that may be complicated for the non-tech savvy. Plus, it is only one place to call if anything goes wrong! This is the hosting provider that I used for many years. I only switched because I wanted server access (remember, I was the Sys Admin for our hosting servers when we had the hosting company). This is the company that I would use if I went back to being a “normal” person.
- HostGator – Many people express their love for this company. Plans starting at low prices per month for a single domain or reasonable prices for unlimited domains.
- Network Solutions – This links specifically to their WordPress hosting packages. Plans starting at reasonable rates (under $10 at the time of this writing) per month with annual agreement.
- Bluehost – offers 1-click installation of WordPress and are at the top of the recommended by WordPress.org hosting list.
- DreamHost – Also recommended by WordPress.org and has easy WordPress installation options.
- Media Temple – offers more high-end hosting options starting at a higher rate per month than the others in this list. But, they have a one-click WordPress installation feature. Also recommended by WordPress.org.
If you need a little more than just a hosting provider, then you might want to check out my Deborah Anderson’s “technology shingle” for tech help. You can reach me on that site and we can come up with something specialized customized for YOUR needs. When you contact me, I can give you the link for a free chat to discuss your WordPress needs. Who knows, I may like you enough that I consider hosting your WordPress site and providing you with our award-winning hosting service, personalized for you (not available to the public, but available to specific chosen clients).
Importing Your Content
If you have blog content on other platforms, including WordPress.com, Blogger, Drupal, Joomla, or others, then you might want to consider importing it into your new WordPress site. WordPress.org has an Importing Content guide that includes information on how to import content from many different sources.
Depending on which hosting company you decide to use (or are already using), there are various ways you can install WordPress. It is very likely that if you have chosen WordPress hosting that it comes with a one-click type method of installation that is mostly automated. It might be more than one click, but you get the idea, eh? If that is the case, that is great! Then it will be quite easy for you and any questions that may arise are fairly easy for your hosting provider’s customer service team to answer, possibly even 24 hrs a day (if that is one of the features that you were able to get with your hosting package).
If you have to go with manual installation, don’t fret, it is still possible 😉
Here are some guides provided by the above-mentioned hosts (and others) on how to install WordPress.
- GoDaddy – How to Install WordPress.
- HostGator – How to Install WordPress through cPanel QuickInstall.
- Network Solutions – Hosting for WordPress Setup Guide.
- Bluehost – Using Simple Scripts to Install WordPress.
- DreamHost – WordPress Wiki including instructions from installation through troubleshooting.
- Media Temple – Installing WordPress using the 1-Click Application Tool.
You can also use Google and search for site:yourhost.com “WordPress installation” to see if you can find easy instructions on how to install WordPress using your hosting provider’s resources. Or just do a general search and look for articles by others. Sometimes, the other articles are clearer and easier to understand 😉
Choosing a Great WordPress Theme
Next on your list of priorities, once WordPress is installed, is the design or theme. There are many, many free WordPress themes to choose from and over time, I have tried quite a few of the free themes. They can be really fun, too.
I once tried a free theme (totally clean, btw) that had a woman standing to the left and then the text to the right. There was even an option to choose that the woman was pregnant and the image would change automatically. All this with a free WordPress theme!
Reasons to Go Premium
- Better support if you can’t get things working or want a specific customization or a specific question that needs an answer and a quick answer! Why is this the case? It is because you paid for the theme 😉
- Usually, you don’t have to worry as much that there is malicious code. In contrast, free themes may be designed for the purpose of inserting malicious code, like a backdoor into your site. This is because the coders are up to nefarious things, in that case. Now, from my experience, most coders just like developing code and maybe they have a premium code available and that is how they make their money. If a premium theme company did that, they would no longer have people paying for their premium theme(s) and they would lose too much money. But, as always, buyer beware.
- The themes are better quality.
There are premium themes and then there are premium skins (sometimes called child themes or themes). The premium themes (for purposes of this discussion) are those that can be installed directly into the WordPress installation under “Appearance > Themes.” In contrast, the skins are likely installed through the framework. The framework is likely installed as a theme, under “Appearance > Themes” in WordPress, even though they are a framework.
The following breakdown in the lists should help.
Premium Frameworks (Utilizing Skins)
- StudioPress – These themes work on the Genesis framework and come highly recommended. It comes with SEO built into the theme/framework, lots of great designs that look awesome right out of the box, and easy to follow installation & customization instructions within the support forums. You can buy designs individually or get the entire collection of themes in the Pro Plus package. That package gives you access to every theme StudioPress makes and the ability to use them on your own sites and sites you design for clients.
- Thesis 2.x (affiliate link) – Thesis is the premium theme that I use and love! It requires some customization if you want the design to go beyond minimalism. The price of the personal license is reasonable, coming in at the price of premium themes. The developer license is about twice that but gives more options. There are many skins available for Thesis. My personal favorite is the Themedy collection (also includes Genesis skins). You can also use the skins that come with the Thesis license or design your own. If you are a developer, like me, you will probably love Thesis. However, if you are not tech-savvy, then it is very likely that Thesis is NOT for you.
Premium Themes (Installed Directly into WordPress)
- Elegant Themes – This theme collection is exactly as the brand name suggests, elegantly designed. There are currently over 86 designs available and they are affordable, even at an annual price. Of course, the key thing here is to ensure that it is a site that you use regularly. That may sound crazy, but I have many sites that are in different stages. If I am not using some of them daily, they may not be a candidate for an annual fee theme.
- Press75 – Press75 has a collection of beautiful themes (currently 21). For about $5, you can get one theme. They also have pricing for the entire collection.
Basic WordPress Settings
After choosing what you are going to do about your WordPress design, but before you start with your blog posts, there are a few settings you need to configure in your base WordPress installation.
I have broken out the links from the WordPress Codex (documentation) to help you locate what you need. Although it isn’t the easiest reading out there, these pages should help you to understand what each of the WordPress “Settings” does and how to work with the settings.
The WordPress Settings Section
- General – includes your site title, tagline, site address, registration options, timezone, and date / time formats.
- Writing – includes basic settings for writing your posts including size of the post box, default categories, whether you can post by email, remote posting options, and updating services.
- Reading – includes what your homepage will display, how many blog posts to show, and what will be displayed in the RSS feed.
- Discussion – primarily about your comment settings.
- Media – controls the settings for images in your blog. That includes the designation how the images will be organized (or not organized). I always leave these settings as default unless a theme gives me instructions to change them.
- Permalinks – Here you will determine how your URLs (links) will be displayed. I usually go with Custom Struction /%postname%/ that will make my URLs look like http://domain.com/this-is-the-post-title/. Whatever you choose, make sure you include /%postname%/ somewhere so the keywords from your post title will be in your URL for SEO value. Learn more about Permalink formats on the Using Permalinks documentation page.
Aside from the main settings, you will also want to go to Users > “Your Profile” and fill in your information. Be sure that your Display name publicly as shows your name as you want it to be displayed throughout the site. Also, be sure that you fill in the website and biographical info fields.
If it isn’t already, make sure that your email address is linked to a Gravatar. This is the service that puts a picture next to your comments on any WordPress site. It also pops up at many other sites, as they are also integrated with Gravatar.
WordPress plugins help enhance the functionality and design of your WordPress site in many ways.
Chances are if you want your WordPress site to do something, there is a plugin out there that will help it along its way. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily choose the first one that pops up in a search. I suggest that you do a bit of research and see what others say about a plugin. This helps you to be safer when it comes to security issues and functionality.
The list below includes plugins that come recommended by popular opinion. There are many plugins to include on this list, but could not. It is all about how current the plugin is, in some cases. As of the writing of this article, the plugins in the list are current.
To install any free plugin, simply go to your Plugins > “Add New,” search for it, and install it directly from your dashboard. Make sure it matches the referenced pages linked below as some plugins have similar names.
WordPress Plugins List
Keeping SEO in Mind
- All in One SEO Pack – This plugin adds additional fields to your dashboard so you can optimize your homepage, posts, and pages for SEO. You don’t need it if you use StudioPress or Thesis as they come with those options built into the framework. I personally use another SEO plugin that is much more powerful, but a comparable plugin (to the one that I use) would be Yoast SEO. In fact, I use the free Yoast SEO on its own blog, to check for readability of blog posts. If I didn’t use the SEO plugin that I use, I would use the premium version of Yoast SEO.
- Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin creates a simple sitemap for your website and keeps it updated, notifying search engines of additions and changes to your posts and pages. Be sure to visit the settings for it after installing. That allows the plugin to create your sitemap for the first time and it will do the rest! Note: Some SEO plugins (especially the premium) will take care of the sitemap for you. In that case, you would not want to have two plugins doing the same job and wouldn’t need this one.
The Rest of the List
- Akismet – helps moderate spam comments. You can get your API key from Akismet. The price ranges from “name your price” to $50 per month for multi-site enterprise access. Personally, I don’t use Akismet, but use CommentLuv by Andy Bailey. However, CommentLuv is discontinued. I had a discussion with Andy and he mentioned that he no longer supports CommentLuv. He also gave me permission to update it for my own uses and that of my clients. He is behind the G.A.S.P plugin, as well. It is a spambot checkbox. It is available for use with CommentLuv or Akismet.
- Contact Form 7 – This is a simple little contact form that will ask for a name, email, subject, and message. Personally, I prefer SI Contact Form with all of its options and capabilities, but from the feedback I have heard, it is too difficult for the average non-geek to use. For that reason, it would seem that Contact Form 7 is a better choice for most people.
- Redirection – This plugin allows you to create permanent redirects from one page on your website to another URL in your WordPress dashboard.
- WP Super Cache – This plugin helps your site deal with a huge influx of traffic so your site doesn’t crash just because there were too many visitors at once. It stores versions of your site so that your site doesn’t have to take another trip to the server. This is similar to what your browser cache does except it is on your hosting server.
There are also specific plugins for specific purposes. However, these days, they often cost money and sometimes quite a bit of money.
Archive (Portfolio) of Your Blog Posts (Especially Guest Blogs)
If you want an archives page, like what you see on my “portfolio domain” at deboraheanderson.com like mine, you would need a premium plugin. It is called WP RSS Aggregator. It is sometimes a bit complicated to use. However, it is well worth it, once you get the right add-ons and learn how to use it. After that, it does all of the work for you!
The Aggregator, when set up, pulls all of my articles from all over the net (I have guest articles and regular authorships in multiple places) and automatically inserts it into my “portfolio domain.” I have mine set up to pull the entire article, but only display the excerpt for the sake of the site, with a link to the original article. This is the polite thing to do for the site for whom I wrote the article.
This came in very handy when Examiner.com gave about a 10-day notice that they would be going away and I had my articles in place, as a backup. I heard that some Examiner authors only had the version that appeared on Examiner.com so they lost all of the work that they had put into their articles. So, plugins like the Aggregator serve two purposes, as an archive (portfolio) and as a backup.
The Free Archive Plugin Option
If you want a plugin that is free and you are ok with a less “pretty” look, there is one available. It is the Compact Archives plugin. It creates a calendar grid for date-based archives.
Once you have installed a new plugin, be sure to look for its settings. Settings links for plugins can appear in various places in the admin dashboard including Appearance, Plugins, Tools, and Settings. Many plugins will require a one-time setup and confirmation of customized settings. Keep in mind that sometimes those settings are hard to find (like the plugin developer didn’t realize that we don’t automatically know!). In those cases, you might even have to look at the code (readme file) to find out where to go. However, a Google search may be more helpful. Also, in cases like that, I have found that the plugin is sub-par and ended up removing it anyway. So, that (the hard-to-find settings) may be a sign that it is not a quality plugin and you may be able to live without it!
No matter what the purpose of your website, there are some essential pages you will want to include. Here are some suggestions:
- About – inform the visitors to your site what your site is about and a little about the person or people behind it.
- Contact – include a simple contact form in order to help your visitors contact you. There are some plugins included in the list, to help you with this. Also, a contact form may help to cut down on spam email by not making your email address public. You can even set it up to send the contact form email to another email, to further cut down on the incoming email to your main account.
- Hire Me – include this to help solicit for people to hire you. Your site may primarily be a blog, but if you also offer services, a “Hire Me” page will help you list those services for your visitors.
- Guest Post Guidelines – a page to describe your expectations and requirements for any guest blog posts. If you haven’t already, you will eventually start receiving offers from people wanting to guest post on your site or, alternatively, you will want to start reaching out to others to guest post. Include full details of exactly what you want in a guest post on this page.
- Advertise – the guidelines for those seeking to pay you to advertise on your site. If your site accepts display advertising, make sure you have a page that tells people why they would want to advertise on your website (benefits) and how much it will cost them.
- Archives – this page points to the place where your visitors can access an archive of your past blog posts.
Essential Sidebar Widgets
Your sidebar, especially on a blog, is a great place to put the information you want every visitor to see. This helps every visitor to see it no matter how they arrived on your site. Some things to put in your sidebar include the following:
- About This Site – This is a short blurb that tells people the objective of your site. It also lets your visitors know who is behind the site. It can end with a link to your about page for more details.
- Subscription Options – This is where you put your RSS feed link. Also, include links to your social media profiles. And, include your email list subscription form, as well.
- Categories – Some people list their categories in their main navigation bar. If you do not do that, consider listing them in your sidebar. That way, people know what topics your site covers.
- Search Box – If you have a ton of content on your site, you need this. Afterall, you know people will want to search your volumes of content to find what they are seeking.
I love analytics. In fact, I taught and served as a private tutor for Graduate Level Statistics. Yes, I am addicted to numbers, too.
That said, there is such a thing as overkill and there is such a thing as not interpreting them correctly. We will spare that second statement for another article. But, the first statement just means that having your analytics available to check is different than checking it every five minutes (not recommended).
There are two types of analytics that are available to bloggers. The first is the one that is essential and that is the general analytics for the entire site. The second would be the analytics for the RSS feed (more on that in a bit). There are also some plugins that let you check analytics for other things, like YouTube or other social profiles. Yes, it is true that that is not your site, but it is helpful when they are in the same place. Be careful with this, though, too many plugins will affect your speed for your blog and you don’t want it to be an adverse thing for your visitors.
Note: There are such things as plugin organizers (again, a topic for another article) and by using something like that, where you can group your plugins, you can have analytics plugins on your site and only turn them on at a singular time, for convenience and then turn them off so they don’t create a load on your site. However, in cases like that, I usually create a subdomain. Ok, I’m getting geeky, aren’t I? This is an advanced topic, so if you got anything out of that, pat yourself on the back! If you didn’t, that is ok. Ignore this paragraph and let’s move on, shall we?
Analytics for the Site
Google Analytics will take care of your entire website’s stats. Installation is as easy as signing up for an account, setting up a website profile, and copying your analytics code. Then, all you need to do is paste the code into your theme’s admin panel (many include an option for analytics code, tracking scripts, or scripts/code to be placed in your header) or within your theme’s header.php file itself IF there is no option in the theme’s admin panel. Again, poke around your site because so many of them have an easy way to insert the code. It almost seems rare to find a site that does not have that option.
Analytics for the RSS Feed
It used to be that the RSS resource of choice was Feedburner. However, now that it is “no more,” the blogger is left to find another resource. See the note, in the below image, signifying the discontinuation of Feedburner as we know it.
One of the really popular RSS solutions is FeedBlitz. I have been using it ever since FeedBurner went away and I have never regretted that choice. In fact, even though the banner below is an affiliate link, I did not even realize that I was an affiliate! In other words, I recommend it because of the benefits and not the affiliate aspect (which is the case for any and all affiliate links in this article).
FeedBlitz handles much more than just RSS and the analytics. It also allows you to connect to social profiles, handle your email list, create a newsletter (or just use the RSS feed as a stylish HTML newsletter), and much more. It allows for one control panel/dashboard from which you can manage multiple sites. This comes in handy for those of us with too many sites! Not having to log out and log back in multiple times is a helpful feature.
I cannot do FeedBlitz the attention it deserves. If you are interested in seeing all of the benefits and features, check out their site. When I signed up, I think the price was $3 per month. But, I don’t believe I am paying that much more. So, while it is not free, it is about as close as you can get for a paid service.
This goes into the more advanced side of WordPress usage, but there are two things you should consider.
Backups are a priority when owning any website. What would you do if your website were gone tomorrow and you had to start all over again? Most of us would be devastated!
I have used various plugins and after trying them out, I only found one that was a case of satisfaction. I would recommend that one, but it appears that it has been removed from the WordPress repository. That may mean nothing, but I wouldn’t want to recommend something that doesn’t exist.
The Backup Service
From my own experience, it appears that using a backup service is the best solution. So many of the plugins, etc. either put your hosting at risk by filling up your server with backups or require you hooking up with a cloud storage system anyway and it is usually a case where it costs something. So, if you are going to end up paying for it, you might as well consider a service, eh?
There is a service called VaultPress that will do the job for you for an affordable rate per month, per site. The suggestion is to get this for your priority sites (like your business). That way, if there is a disaster, you have a business continuity plan in place for how you will handle it.
For smaller sites, you may want to use the manual backups process. You may also consider trying out the backup plugins to see if you like any of them.
Don’t forget that backing up the database doesn’t backup any custom theme modifications you’ve made. You actually need two parts, the database, and the actual site. You can use a free file transfer program (FTP) like FileZilla to download the files to your computer. It may be that after that you would want to move the files to an external drive for safe keeping. I also recommend that you put the date in the filename, in case you access the file and the date changes on the file. That way, you are sure to know which backup is the most recent, if you need it.
Frequently, you will see a friendly link at the top of our WordPress dashboard letting you know that there is an update available. Updates to WordPress are very important as they patch security vulnerabilities and help the functionality of your site.
At the same time, be careful with updates. I used to always do the updates immediately. Recently, however, the WordPress update actually did irreparable damage to my site. Fortunately, because I am a programmer, I was able to fix it. In most cases, you can roll back the site to a previous WordPress installation. However, in this case, that wasn’t possible.
My suggestion is to 1) turn off automatic updates; and 2) research the update before going for it yourself.
Simply Google WordPress #.# Update. Chances are, someone has written about it and noted any issues they ran into and you can benefit from their experience.
Caution: In my experience, had I followed that advice (using Google) and processed it as fast as I normally do, I would not have seen the caution. So, wait about a week, Google the update information from other users, and then proceed, if you want to proceed. Truly, after that unfortunate experience, I am ok with waiting a month to update. The only concern that I have found with waiting is that there might be a security aspect and a need to update sooner. Again, Google to see what is up on the ‘net regarding both issues.
There are also updates to look for with your plugins. You will see a circled number next to the Plugins menu in your dashboard if your plugins need an update. Normally these go smoothly. I still recommend, whenever you are given the option, that you choose the manual update instead of the automatic. There have been a couple of cases where I have found that the update has made things worse. For example, remember the plugin organizer I referenced? The update to that plugin does not allow it to be as functional as I liked, so I purposefully do NOT update that plugin. Fortunately, I have so many websites that after updating it, I was able to easily roll it back, using the code from another site. You can do something the same by keeping those backups handy 🙂
There are lots of different places to go to for WordPress support. The first thing I always do when I get a particular error message is simply Google it. You are likely to find someone who has run into it before and knows the solution. To be truthful, I usually just dig in and fix it, but the Google solution is a better one for the normal person. I am too geeky sometimes 😉
After that, you can try the WordPress support forums. You can use the search to see if your issue has already been discussed or add your issue to one of the forum categories.
The next would be the support forum for the specific product if it’s a product related issue. StudioPress and DIYthemes (Thesis) both have great support forums for users of their themes. Some premium plugins also have great support forums. In general, if you paid for something and it’s not working accordingly, make sure to try their site and contact them directly if there isn’t a community forum. I have found this to be a very helpful approach, especially the “contact them” solution for paid themes and plugins.
Further Reading for Learning About WordPress & How to Blog
If this hasn’t covered everything you need to know about WordPress, check out the Getting Started with WordPress page that covers most of what was mentioned above and more.
For the Geek in You (Or Not – Skip It!
If you’d like to compare creating a WordPress website versus one using Drupal, Joomla, or raw HTML, then be sure to check out this How to Make a Website guide.
Note: Many people reference software like WordPress as a “Content Management System” (CMS). Technically, WordPress is a blogging software. Loosely put, it is a CMS if all you care to manage are the blog posts and it is giving you the ability to do so. However, it isn’t really a CMS, as true CMS platforms involve much more, which I will spare you at this moment.
There are ways of turning the blog software into a CMS, but again, sparing you. With what authority do I say this? I am a programmer, I have developed CMS programs from scratch. I have gone to school with others of the same caliber (from which I graduated summa cum laude) and I taught others professionally. Do you want me to continue? Yeah, I’m sick of hearing myself,
With what authority do I say this? I am a programmer, I have developed CMS programs from scratch. I have gone to school with others of the same caliber (from which I graduated summa cum laude) and I taught others professionally. Do you want me to continue? Yeah, I’m sick of hearing myself, too.. lol This rant also applies to other software beyond WordPress. For these purposes, we will just put up with people incorrectly labeling WordPress as a CMS – ok? 🙂
The following list includes helpful resources for when you are ready to start learning about content development. It also provides some helpful articles for the newbie blogger.
- 3 Steps to Creating Your Blog Plan – This guide helps you put together your content action plan.
- 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – This eBook includes a daily task to complete each day for 31 days. At the end of the 31 days, you will have published a variety of different types & styles of posts, learned how to come up with new post ideas, promoted your blog, deepened reader engagement, reached out to other bloggers, developed an editorial calendar, and designed a plan for your next month of blogging.
- Blog Sponsorship: How to Conquer It Even at First Glance – If one of your objectives is to make some money from your blog, this article should help point you in that direction. Even if it is not your main source of income, paying for premium themes, plugins, and the hosting requires a bit of money. Blog monetization may help.
- How to Start a Blog Guide – free guide on… you guessed it – how to start a blog!;
- How to Create a Blog and Make Money Online – more information and comprehensive guide on the topic of monetization.
- Rookie Mistakes New Bloggers Make – a helpful resource to double check what you know (and what you may not know) about blogging.
Please note: Much of this article was originally researched and written by Kristi Hines. It has since been updated/rewritten line-by-line. It retains the format originally published by Ms. Hines, but the content has been rewritten by Deborah.