Welcome to WordPress 101, the ultimate bird’s eye view of what a beginner needs to know about this platform! I’m assuming you have already started your blog, if not you’ll probably want to get started here.
We will be covering the following topics (each is linked to its respective part of the post):
- Understanding the WordPress Dashboard
- Posts vs. Pages
- Best Theme?
- Must Have Plugins
- Writing your 1st post
This would have been incredibly useful for me starting out, but instead I had to hunt across the internet to connect the dots on how to use WordPress.
I’ve compiled this post that should bring you up to speed on what WordPress is all about. Let’s go ahead and jump in!
If you’ve never seen it before, it might look a little daunting, but trust me within a few days you’ll have most of it down!
There are 5 major elements of the dashboard we are going to cover; the rest will be used significantly less often.
Like the name implies, this is where you will view, write, and edit your blog posts. Posts are like entries in a journal or diary (I’ll explain this more in the “Posts vs. Pages” section).
The media element is where… you guessed it, all your media such as pictures are stored.
Pictures are worth a 1,000 words, which is why many bloggers will add them like crazy to save themselves from extra writing… seriously though, using images boosts engagement significantly, so you’ll probably find yourself in here quite often.
– SECRET INGREDIENT –
- Be aware of image sizes. The sizes of image can impact how fast the blog loads, so posting tons of high resolution images can slow things down (I share a plugin in the “Must Have Plugins” section that helps this.)
Pages act like chapters in a book. They are used in the menu of your website (ex: home, about, contact).
The appearance tab is where the majority of your website will be customized.
- Themes: are like an operating system or home decoration style, built onto your website. A theme can affect the layout, how customizable it is, button styles, mobile optimization, etc.
- Customize: is where you can make tiny tweaks to the visuals, such as with the typography, colors, header, footer, social links, etc.
- Widgets: helps customize your sidebar, footer, and header with useful tools/elements like (recent posts, about me section, social icons, etc.).
- Menus: will be used to setup your navigation bar at the top of your website (you will connect a page to each navigation option in the menu).
Plugins are super useful programs to modify your website, so you don’t have to do it all yourself.
The list of things plugins can do is endless; however here are some popular benefits:
- Increase website speed
- Add customizability
- Simplifies elements of your website
(I’ll include a list of some of the best WordPress plugins that are must in the plugins section of this post).
That sums up the elements of the WordPress dashboard, that are used most often. Again, the other buttons like settings, users, and portfolio have their place, but are not needed as frequently.
When I first entered the world of WordPress, the difference between these two wasn’t very clear. If you’re the same way, let me use an analogy that hopefully makes it easier to understand.
To illustrate the difference, lets imagine our blog is a novel (perhaps Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban… this was my favorite in the series!). Each chapter of the book represents a WordPress page.
In the book, lets say we have 5 chapters. A chapter can be viewed as a section or piece of the book. Pages are the same way. Together, pages are used to build the structure of your website.
- Chapter 1: Home
- Chapter 2: Blog
- Chapter 3: Contact
- Chapter 4: Resources
- Chapter 5: Updates
On the other hand, posts are pieces of content put out frequently (ex: “Best BBQ Recipes for Summer 2017” or “Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress”). All posts are stored in 1 chapter or page of your website.
So, all of our blog posts would stored in Chapter 2 of the book, the blog page.
I hope this makes sense; if not, it’ll clear up with time I promise!
This is a big question when it comes to setting up a WordPress site, and for good reason.
The various themes can be compared to Android vs. Apple operating systems… kinda. Theme differences are not quite as great, but each is certainly unique, and in some cases has a passionate group of followers 😀
The battle of the best theme comes down to 3 variables:
#1 Choice: X Theme
X Theme is the full package! The website builder is drag-and-drop, but it’s not limited by using this method of creating (custom CSS can be added easily). What sets it apart is the extensive list of elements, that can be simply placed wherever you want.
In addition, X Theme provides an extensive list of prebuilt website templates, that are themed (ex: restaurant, gym, church, etc). This makes it super fast to get your website off the ground!
With a clean layout, most X Theme websites have a minimalist “feel” that screams modern.
Plus, there are countless outlets for support both on Facebook and their website.
There was a bit of learning curve, which was not terribly steep; however, if website building is intimidating for you, this next theme is probably a better fit.
#2 Choice: Divi
Divi is growing insanely fast, and for good reason… it’s simple. If you’re someone who is not ultra picky when it comes to your website build, Divi would be perfect!
What’s nice about Divi, is that it takes drag-and-drop to another level in the website building world. Just about everything happens in real time, making creating much faster.
Divi comes loaded with a collection of elements (e.g. pricing tables, video sliders, social follows, etc.), and boasts of establishing website security “tighter than Fort Knox.”
They have a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions, so you can try it risk-free!
Plugins are tiny add-ons that connect to your website, improving it in some way. The number of plugins is crazy, so I wanted to provide a list that are super useful for a fresh website!
#1 Social Warfare
Social Warfare creates the cleanest looking social media integration I’ve come across. Social shares are the lifeblood of a website or blog, Social Warfare presents the options easily and beautifully for readers to utilize.
#2 Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is like your GPS on a first time road trip… it’s critical! With this plugin, you are able to navigate how “search engine friendly” your posts are.
Yoast SEO can:
- Gauge your posts SEO strength
- Provide a sample of how your post would look in search
- Analyze several metrics for keyword effectiveness
#3 Convert Kit
Even if you are new to blogging or WordPress in general, you’ve probably heard a dozen times already that the email list is everything! Why is this?
The email list is a communication channel that you have complete control over. Whereas tomorrow, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. could change their system or ban your account… breaking the connection with your community.
Convert Kit is the all-in-one email marketing service! They’ve listened over the years, and perfected the process of email list management.
With Convert Kit:
- Everything is visual, including funnels
- They have endless customization options
- It’s super easy to navigate
Using their email service to capturing leads and build your email list does have a fee, but using their plugin comes included with the package.
Protect your website with Loginizer, which helps fight bots and hackers from attempting to guess your login information. After repeated attempts the plugin will block their IP.
Plus, you can enable features like two-factor authentication and reCAPTCHA for an even stronger layer of security.
Even if you don’t use this plugin to make your pictures website friendly, certainly get something that takes care of this. Huge images, that aren’t optimized for website use, will slow down your page load time.
Every second matters when it comes to page load time, a few extra seconds can mean losing up to 25% of visitors.
Writing your first blog post can be a little daunting, but keep in mind it only gets easier the more you do it. The framework doesn’t take long to wrap your head around, but it takes some getting used to.
– SECRET INGREDIENTS –
- Know the target audience
- Make it visual (lists, bullets, links, pictures, etc.).
- Be patient
Know the target audience
Lets say you were giving a sales pitch on the world’s greatest skis. If you were sharing it with a group of people who have never skied and hated cold weather, how do you think it would go?
Terribly, because you aren’t appealing to their interests, problems, and desires!
If you do not keep the target audience in mind, the post’s effectiveness will suffer.
Make it Visual
In a world that is increasingly noisy, good content alone isn’t going to cut it.
You need to craft a post filled with killer content, and display it in a way that’s appealing to read. Sprinkle some of these elements into your blog post:
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
Don’t expect the very first post to be your crowing achievement in the blogging world. Instead have the expectation that there’s a learning curve, and you’re committed to improving!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were some of the biggest bloggers on the web. Hopefully this relieves some stress around writing your first post, but whatever you do don’t just read and think about it…
Best of luck! Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Feel free to SAVE the pin below, to refer back to this post 😀
This post may contain affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more info.
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