Once upon a time, websites were built exclusively by people in the know. A strong knowledge of HTML was an absolute must and websites were created using code alone.
Today, however, innovations like WordPress have made it possible for anyone who has a basic understanding of computers can build their very own website from scratch. This is why more and more people are documenting their day-to-day lives and even promoting their businesses via WordPress blogs.
And you can too with this beginner’s guide to setting up WordPress!
WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
Okay, let’s start by outlining the characteristics of WordPress.org and WordPress.com because actually they are very different in nature.
Here are a few reasons why:
|Allows you to use your own domain name e.g. www.mydomain.com
|Restricts you to a WordPress.com suffixed domain name e.g.
(unless you pay extra)
|Requires your own web hosting
||Provides a free hosting service
|Allows for endless customisations
||Restricts customisation (unless you pay extra)
|Has no ads
||Is supported by ads
|Supports thousands of fantastic plugins
||Allows just a few pre-defined plugins
Those are just a few differences between the two platforms and it really boils down to a case of flexibility and customisation. Cost is also a factor but, in theory, both offerings are free.
For the purpose of this guide though we will concentrate on the more customisable of the two – WordPress.org – and look at the necessary steps to get it setup.
Registering a Domain Name
The first thing you’ll want to do is come up with a great domain name for your new website. This is actually more difficult than you might think and it pays to spend a bit of time on this stage. After all, your WordPress website is going to have this name for many years to come. Try to think of several as there is a good chance someone may already be using one of your ideas.
There are tonnes of sites that allow you to check domain name availability and inevitably purchase one that you want. Godaddy.com, for example is one of the most popular and you can search for your desired domain name in just a few seconds.
Securing Your Own Web Hosting
There are literally thousands of companies who offer web hosting services and their packages and prices vary greatly. Just make sure that whichever one you choose meets the WordPress minimum requirements.
Whichever you decide to go with, be sure that the price is right for you. Any good web-host will happily help you choose a relevant package for your needs, so send them an enquiry.
Download and Install WordPress
The WordPress framework can be downloaded directly from their website and subsequently installed. WordPress is actually famous for its ‘5-minute installation’ which is one of the reasons why it has become so popular and a comprehensive installation guide can be found here. If, however, you are not confident installing it yourself, many web-hosts provide extremely convenient one-click WordPress installations. Check beforehand if the one you are considering using provides such a service as it will make your installation seamless.
Now The Fun Begins…
Open your internet browser and navigate to your domain name so you can see for yourself exactly what a fresh WordPress installations looks like. As you’ll find out, the standard offering uses a very basic theme by default, but the beauty of a self-hosted WordPress site is that it is hugely customisable.
You’ll probably be feeling relieved to have gotten this far and the thought of now designing your site may be a little daunting. Don’t worry though…
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Photo by Christopher Ross / CC BY-SA 2.0
I often pop over to Google Analytics and see where my website traffic is coming from. At the beginning of January I put some advertising in place, paid and free. I have been checking once a week since then to see how well these adverts are doing at sending potential leads to my website.
At the moment, 3 weeks in, it’s not been hugely successful, but this may change over time – I hope so anyway!
But this post isn’t about advertising, it’s about Google Analytics and a great Google Chrome Add-On I have found which gives you the details of which of your tweets has directed traffic to your website. When you are in GA you can drill down to referral traffic from social networks, but it doesn’t give you further information on the actual updates people are clicking on.
This Chrome Add-On is called Campalyst Plugin and once you’ve added it, if you click on the link on their homepage ‘add Custom Dashboard‘ it will set-up a separate dashboard giving you the stats on which tweets have sent traffic to your website. The free version only lets you look at 5 days, the pro version is $5 per month.
I thought I would provide you with a quick screenshot of what my dashboard looks like – admittedly, 5 days worth doesn’t give you a lot of information if you don’t get a lot of referral traffic from Twitter. And as you can see my bounce rate is really bad, just something else I need to work on!
Anyway it was worth installing, and if I have a particularly good day with referrals from Twitter this will be great tool to see what is working.
If you’d like to improve traffic to your website, it may be worth considering using Google Plus, take a look at this guest article I published back in October 2012 – How to Fully Utilize Google Plus for More Traffic and Income
Do you use Google Analytics? If so, what sections do you generally look at most?
Having used many different tools over the last couple of years, I have finally found a few that I really rely on to help me with daily task management, and I thought I would let you know what these are.
I think I have written about all of these individually in the past, so I apologise if I’m repeating myself, but I really can’t say anything bad about these tools.
Social Media Scheduling
I use two scheduling tools for my social media, Hootsuite and Buffer. But I want to talk about Buffer, as they have recently added some new connections which I have been waiting for, for a long time.
One of those is Buffer to Google+, it’s been a long time coming but finally I can now fill up Buffer to post to my business Google+ page. You can read about it on the Buffer blog Introducing Buffer for Google+: The easiest way to post to your Google+ Business Page. The other connection recently introduced was Buffer to LinkedIn company pages, Introducing Buffer for LinkedIn Company pages: The easiest way to keep your LinkedIn page up to date.
With both of these new connections, I can now use Buffer as I have done with Twitter and Facebook for the past couple of years and top it up with great content from all the various blogs I try to keep up with.
I pay for my Buffer package, but it does mean I can have up to 12 accounts connected, which means for my most special clients I can add their social media accounts so they get the benefits of Buffer too!
If you haven’t tried Buffer, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
When you only have one website, it’s pretty easy to maintain it, cope with the regular plugin updates, and the not so regular WordPress and Theme updates. When you have more than one website, I now have nearly 10 WordPress websites to maintain I needed a quick and easy way of updating them all at the same time.
That’s where ManageWP comes in, I pay for it, but you can get a free version. I just need to login to the ManageWP Dashboard and I can do all the updates with one click. Not only does it do updates, it will also let you delete spam comments with one click across all of your websites, as well as some other cool features.
Many people think that updating themes and plugins can cause your website to crash, and in fact this has actually happened to me in the past, but by not updating these your website could be wide open to security vulnerabilities. When I use ManageWP I can exclude a website to update automatically, I sometimes do this with important client websites, I prefer to do these individually, especially big WordPress updates.
ManageWP saves me an enormous amount of time, and also ensures all my websites are up to date and plugs those security issues.
I only wrote a blog post about using Asana last week, so I am not going to repeat myself here. You can read both Asana’s posts here:
Get Organised with this Free Resource
Organise your Clients (or Team) with this Free Resource
I use Asana on a daily basis, with my own tasks and clients. It keeps me on track with my workload and ensures all my deadlines are met.
So those are my three top tools for keeping me organised, what are yours?
Do you use these tools, what do you think?
It’s been a few months since I wrote an article on WordPress plugins. I know you are all as nosey as me and like to know what others are using and how they can improve your WordPress website. So here are five of my newest discoveries and the ones I am using on a regular basis across all my own websites and on some client sites.
Limit Login Attempts
I installed this plugin very recently due to the attacks on WordPress websites which are going on at the moment. As well as changing all my passwords, deleting the admin user on my website I installed this plugin. What it does is limit the number of times someone can try to login to your website.
Limit the number of login attempts possible both through normal login as well as using auth cookies.
By default WordPress allows unlimited login attempts either through the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows passwords (or hashes) to be brute-force cracked with relative ease.
Limit Login Attempts blocks an Internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
Since I installed this a couple of weeks ago I have had an awful lot of activity showing within this plugin, bots are trying to login, usually using the username ‘admin’ or ‘username’. After they get the password wrong 3 times the plugin locks them out, you can customise the amount of time they are locked out for.
Here is a screenshot of the stats for this website:
I would highly recommend installing this plugin or something similar, especially because of the brute force attack on WordPress websites going on right now.
WangGuard I came across by mistake really, I’d never heard of it before. On one of my other websites I have a forum, and I was getting lots of spam registrations. I thought there must be a way to stop these, so I started the search. This plugin is great, and all spam registrations have now stopped completely! If you allow people to register on your WordPress website then this plugin is great. I have recently installed it on a client site and her spam registrations have vanished.
What is WangGuard?
WangGuard is a service born out of the need to control Sploggers or spam users.
What are Sploggers or spam users?
Sploggers or spam users are those individuals that through manual or automated means, register in all sorts of communities, blog networks, forums, etc… in an attempt to create links to their own sites and advertise their own products.
Here is a screenshot of the dashboard stats for one of my websites:
It’s taken me a long time to install this plugin, the reason is I didn’t feel that it could improve what I already have on my website, supposedly giving you lots of features which blogs hosted on WordPress.com already have. Well how wrong was I? I think Jetpack is fab and still haven’t explored all the extra things I can now do on my websites/blogs. The main one I have been using is the stats, it’s very clear and I can easily see what pages/posts are being viewed most, and also what keywords people are using to get to my websites.
Jetpack isn’t just about stats though, look at all these features:
I found this recently when a client asked if I could create some fancy social media icons for her. There are many plugins around which let you add your social media networks as buttons on your website, usually in the sidebar.
With the free version you get 20 themes to choose from, plenty of choice if you ask me.
I am using this plugin on this website, I’ve not yet installed it on my other websites but plan to in the future because there is a good choice. There are plenty of extra features if you purchase the premium plugin for a one-off price of $24.49.
Digg Digg is now owned by the guys at Buffer, but this isn’t why I’ve installed it. I like the look of the sharing buttons down the side of the websites I have seen it on. It moves as you move down the page, which means it’s always there ready for someone to click on to share your article. It’s fully customisable, which means you can have a couple of buttons or as many as you like. I have chosen the social networks I use the most, but also did some research on what social networks were referring a lot of traffic to my website.
Digg Digg is free and offers much more sharing possibilities than some of the other sharing widgets I have used in the past.
So that’s my five fantastic WordPress plugins I am loving at the moment… Do you use any of these plugins, what do you think?
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I offer a very reasonable WordPress website or blog design and set-up using the fab Genesis framework which has a huge choice of themes. For a free no obligation chat about what I can offer, please get in touch now!
Some of my recent work:
Lorraine Charcuterie Distribution
All these plugins I have used on either my own websites or on client websites and they are all very simple to implement. In fact simple is the key word in this blog post.
I used to use Akismet for my spam, but as a business website I was paying $5 per month for it. It isn’t a great deal of money, but it wasn’t stopping the spam, it was just redirecting it. I then came across a plugin by the creator of CommentLuv (Andy Bailey) and have been using it ever since, on both mine and client websites. It’s called Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin and it just creates a little tick box after your comments asking you to confirm you’re not a spammer.
I very rarely have any spam now, there is the odd occasion some gets through but it’s usually in the form of pingbacks rather than comments.
I didn’t really think about backing my website up to begin with, I assumed my hosting company would have a back-up. I don’t know why I changed my mind, but I thought it a good idea to have something, just in case the terrible happens and my site vanishes into thin air. As a massive Dropbox fan I was pleased to see they have a plugin which saves your back-up to your Dropbox account. It’s very easy to set-up and now I have daily back-ups of all my websites just in case! It’s called WordPress Backup to Dropbox and you will need to connect it to your Dropbox account, so make sure you open an account if you don’t already have one.
I have two plugins under images because I found a great one today, which I’ll start with. I was working on a redesign of a client website today and the new theme I was using had a great front page which used various widgets and images. My client has been posting to her website for around 3 years so there were a lot of images, I think around 1800. The problem was the thumbnails just didn’t line up properly. After searching for a solution I came across Regenerate Thumbnails, it basically regenerates the thumbnails of all your image attachments. I clicked regenerate all 1800 or so, and it whizzed through them really quickly. The front page of the website now looks how it should do, and I’m really pleased I found this plugin, it’s saved me lots of work!
The other plugin I use a lot is the simplest of them all. it’s called Image Widget and you just place it in your sidebar, or other widget area and upload an image to it, or choose something from the media library. It just makes it so simple, you can include a caption, description and link and also change the dimensions if necessary. I use this a lot, and it’s very simple to use!
I have tried out a few plugins to present all my social media networks in a simple way, and finally found one that is simple but effective. It’s called Simple Social Icons and you can customise it in many different ways, it has all the main social networks to choose from and in my opinion the most important ones, it also has RSS and email options too.
I hope you find my list helpful, I am always looking for new plugins to test on my websites – anything that makes creating websites easier is always a good thing. If you have any you’d like to recommend, please comment below, and remember to tick that box confirming you’re not a spammer!