WordPress

Welcome To WordPress

Welcome To WordPress!

If you are considering building or improving your WordPress Site and are searching online to learn more about this incredibly powerful platform, you have made a very wise choice in choosing WordPress and in doing some initial research.

Welcome to the WordPress section of MarketingScoop! My goal is to provide you with latest most up to date WordPress info, a complete one stop shop for everything WordPress related.

WordpressWordPress will allow you to churn out websites with ease and not the type of websites that look like a flashback to the 1980’s but fully functional responsive websites that impress and wow visitors.

Can you imagine being able to get a professional website up running while not being a professional designer and knowing zero about code? Yes, it is entirely possible and simple at the same time. In fact, I am willing to bet you will have a lot of fun in the process and you may even become addicted to WordPress.

This is a journey and we are traveling together. While WordPress is probably the simplest platform ever in terms of creating websites, a little knowledge beforehand can go a long way. It is quite difficult to get WordPress wrong but every now and then little foibles can happen which can take a lot of time to fix or you may have to hire an expert to help you.

Forewarned is forearmed which is why we have everything covered so you can hit the ground running. First, we will start talking about what WordPress is and why you should be very excited about it’s potential to catapult you to blogging success. Don’t worry, this will be a technical jargon-free zone, however, I will include brief technical explanations for those that have an interest.

I will also discuss how to create a blog, so you can start blogging the right way, as well as the pitfalls to watch out for and some secrets to guarantee your success. Perhaps you’re unsure if you should start with a free blog or go for your own self-hosting solution. I cover all that and more as well as deciding what to blog about, no more spinning your wheels and going around in circles. The roadmap to success is right here.

There will also be guidance on theme selection, do you need paid themes, in fact, what are themes and how do they work. We will start with the basics leaving no stone unturned.

Plugins, what are they and how can they help my WordPress site is another subject that’s covered in simple terms. How plugins can take your WordPress site to the next level and give your site limitless potential.

There will also we be lots of tips and tricks as well as warnings on how to avoid a catastrophe. Yes, there is nothing as bad as that sinking feeling when you see your beautiful website and all your hard work vanish before your eyes and you realize there is a major problem. Don’t let this happen to you.

Finally, there will be advanced topics like Multi-site and how it can benefit you if you run or want to run a network of sites.
So pull up a chair, grab a coffee and get comfortable as we head to destination WordPress.


WordPress Themes

Now that you know exactly what WordPress is and which version you should choose, we will now look at one of the most exciting aspects of WordPress which is WordPress Themes.

Why are WordPress themes so exciting? The great thing about WordPress being open source which is something we touched on in our What is WordPress article, is that there are 1000’s of developers volunteering to make it as awesome as possible, which translates to 1000’s of high-quality themes for just about any scenario you can think off.

A theme is basically like a website in a box, but unlike those services like Weebly and Wix you are not locked into any reoccurring plan.Wordpress Themes

If I ran a nursery and wanted to build my WordPress site based on my nursery business, there would be no doubt 100’s of themes available. In fact, there is a theme for just about anything you can think off.

A WordPress theme will usually have lots of pre-built elements. This will usually be in the form of a home page, an about us page, a contact page, and depending on the theme it could have a booking form for a hotel or a menu page for a restaurant. The only thing you would be required to do is swap the templates placeholder content for yours.

That is why WordPress themes are exciting, because of the sheer amount of choice that awaits you and the fact that some of these themes are of an extremely high quality.

Free Themes v Paid Themes

For every free WordPress theme out there, there will normally be a premium version or a paid for version. Just because a WordPress theme will come free, it does not mean it will be limited or it won’t look good, I have built many a professional website using only free themes.

Very often the extra features of the premium version will be clearly displayed whilst using and editing the free version, this will allow you to make an easy decision on whether you would like to upgrade or not.

A lot of the time it will be an easy decision to make as the paid version will enhance the look and increase functionality.

For example, if we were building a WordPress site for a hotel, the free version will usually come with the basics to get you up and running, however, the paid version might include extra theme colors and a premium plugin for live guest support on the site and the ability to take bookings.

Now you could search and easily find similar plugins that will do these things for free but the convenience of having everything under one roof from the same developer is usually worth the upgrade.

As well as that, premium themes normally come with premium support should you be unsure about anything in relation to the theme.

WordPress themes can range anywhere from free as discussed, to a few dollars all the way up to $100’s. Normally the most expensive themes will be fully integrated e-commerce solutions or themes that come with a number of niche templates which will cover every eventuality.

I personally like these types of multi-niche themes as they normally have you covered for whatever type of website you would like to build.

Whether you choose a free or a premium theme will come down to your individual preference and your own needs. As WordPress and 1000’s of its themes are free, have a play around which will cost you nothing and then decide later.

Killer Tips For Choosing WordPress Themes

WordPress is a platform which is constantly being updated and a single update could cause an incompatibility issue with your theme. If you are relying on your website for business this could be an issue, especially if it is security related.

Thankfully most theme developers keep their themes regularly updated which is an important factor when spending money on a theme.

Always read the feedback and comments for a particular theme. As well as that, you will usually always see the regular updates in the developers notes on the theme page.

If the theme hasn’t been touched in a long time, you may want to avoid it, especially if you hold customer information on your website.


WordPress plugins

Previously I may have mentioned that WordPress Themes are some of the most exciting aspects of WordPress. Actually, it may just be plugins. You see, as I mentioned, a theme is like a website in a box, what you see is what you get but plugins give you the ability to go way beyond that.

Plugins allow you to take a basic good looking functional website and transform it into a show stopper.

WordPress Plugins in Detail

A WordPress plugin is a piece of software written in PHP code that you install on your WordPress site. You do not have to worry about the code or anything like that. When you choose your plugin, you just need to press install and then activate.

You can also think of a plugin as being just like an app. If there is an app for it there is a plugin for it. If there is something you would like your website to do, you can be sure there will be a plugin for it.

Just the other day I wanted to copy one of my WordPress website pages as I was building a similar page with just a few words that would be different. Copying and pasting from an existing page would have been a bit messy and I surprisingly could not see any option in WordPress to duplicate a page, so I searched for a plugin and around 1 minute later a free plugin was installed and my page was duplicated.

Currently, there are around 50,000 free plugins, you are only limited by your imagination. Some of the things you can do with plugins include, run a jobs board, add a contact form, start a forum, start an eCommerce (woo commerce) store.

It’s important to note that some plugins will run behind the scenes and some will run on site that will be visitor facing. For example, some plugins will allow you to add your own snippets of code if you are technically minded and some will increase your WordPress SEO performance of your site.

Free v Paid Plugins

Just like with themes there will be free and premium plugins. A lot of free plugins are very functional and work extremely well. Likewise, there are many excellent paid for plugins that can really take your WordPress site to the next level.

Again, as with themes, it’s important to ensure that the plugin you are about to install is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and is being kept updated. This information will be clearly visible on the plugin page as it will normally state when it was last updated.

A Word of Caution

When it comes to themes and plugins always install them from reputable developers with active feedback that you can see on the official plugin or theme page from within the WordPress dashboard.

If somebody provides you with a random link to the download latest and greatest plugin that you upload to your site, it could bring down the house. Yes, that’s right, your site could get wiped out and it is something I have experienced more than once.

There could be a bad line of code in there or worse still malicious code that hacks your site. If this happens, you will either have to do a complete re-install of your entire site and or have an expert fix it for you at a cost.


WordPress Hosting

Remember there are 2 ways to host a WordPress site. There is hosting with WordPress and there is self-hosting, Self-hosting is you taking care of the hosting yourself which is not as scary as it sounds.

When somebody refers to WordPress hosting, they will usually always mean self-hosting, as hosting companies can provide dedicated hosting just for WordPress sites which they call WordPress Hosting.

What is WordPress Hosting?

This could potentially get a little confusing so please bear with me. Let’s start at the beginning as it is important that you fully understand your options when it comes to choosing hosting.

A hosting company in the simplest possible way provides you with space to store your website when accessed by visitors in the same way you would rent a shop. The space a hosting company provides you with will be located on their servers.

Think of the servers as serving your websites to visitors. Before WordPress installations became easy you would have to go through quite a number of steps to install WordPress with your hosting company including creating the database.

Thankfully all that is now a thing of the past and there really is nothing more simple than installing WordPress. In order for WordPress to run smoothly, there will be a number of very basic requirements when I say very basic I mean almost every hosting company no matter which one you choose will usually meet those basic requirements.

Shared WordPress Hosting v Managed WordPress Hosting

When you sign up for hosting and choose a basic package for a few dollars a month, you will normally be signing up to shared hosting. What this means is that your sites will all share server space. This is fine for most beginners just starting out but performance will not be optimal compared to dedicated hosting in which your site will have its own server.

Usually, if you are running a business and expecting a lot of site traffic it is recommended to go with a dedicated server.

When you choose shared hosting, the vast majority of all hosting companies will now provide a very simple and one click install of WordPress. In the case of my host, I fill out some basic details like the domain I want to use and the website name, then click a button. About 5 minutes later I will get an email to my brand new WordPress site.

Hosting companies are now offering Managed WordPress Hosting. This is basically just a fancy way of saying that they will provide you with a WordPress installation with optimal security and performance settings. They will also keep WordPress, it’s themes and plugins automatically updated for you. Needless to say, this will come at an extra cost which is usually a lot more than the standard shared hosting one-click install plan.

Do you really need to pay more for Managed WordPress Hosting? I don’t think so no unless again you are expecting a lot of traffic and you intend to use as a business. Shared hosting works well and always has done. Also, there are many plugins which can keep your site safe and keep it running fast.

If you feel Managed WordPress Hosting is for you, then that’s fantastic if you feel the extra costs will benefit you.


WordPress Multi-site

The chances are that you have probably never heard of WordPress multi-site before. WordPress Multi-site is one of the most underrated and often overlooked features of WordPress and in many cases its incorrect use can lead to issues.

What is WordPress Multi-site?

WordPress Multi-site is a feature which lets you create a network of sites under the one single domain. For example, under www.JimBobsAutos.com we could have Arlington.JimBobsAutos.com or NewHaven.JimBobsAutos.com.

The great thing about Multi-site is that it allows you to administer all the sites and site tasks from a single dashboard. There will be no need to remember different logins for different sites since you can add and remove plugins, control user access, and add themes from a single location.

Multi-site is a great solution for streamlining the work involved in managing a number of different sites on the same network.

Is Multi-site Right for You?

To get the full benefit of WordPress Multi Site it is best to use this feature to manage sites which have common features. Maybe you have custom applications and are running the same themes for a number of sites. If you have a single main website and then sites to support physical locations that would be ideal for MultiSite.

If you are running sites with different themes and applications with no commonality between the sites that is where complex issues can arise and MultiSite would not be suitable.

There are also a number of different themes which are intended for Multi-site use.

Multi-site Alternatives

There are many plugins out there that perform the same function as Multi-site which you should also consider as well as WordPress management programs.

If you do plan on running Multi Site it is recommended that you consult a Multi-site consultant at first, especially if you are planning on running a lot of sites. Remember it is important to scale within your resource limits in terms of your hosting provider.

In relation to that last point, it is important that you choose a hosting company which has a good track record in Multi-site Hosting, as the last thing you will need is for every site on the network to go down.

Conclusion

When used under the right circumstances it can be a very powerful feature, just be sure that it is right for you and your sites. It also helps to speak to professional before deciding on whether you should proceed with Multi-site or not.


How to Start A Blog

A blogging journey is one of the most exciting adventures you can embark on. What can start out as a simple hobby can potentially become a viral sensation. In the same way that YouTube vloggers do not normally bank on international fame when they begin their simple amateur vlogs, the same can be said for a lot of bloggers who have made it big and turned a hobby into an empire.

As a beginner, you may be ready to begin your own blogging journey but you may have a lot of questions running around your head and be unsure about a lot of things and possibly even confused. Fear not as this article will set you on the best course for success.

Are you excited? You should be.

To Be Passionate or Not?

One of the first decisions you will have to make is what to blog about, you may even already have some ideas or you may be completely at a loss. In blogging lingo, we call this niche selection. When it comes to niche selection people will generally fall into one of 2 camps.

Blog about what you are passionate about or research and blog about something which has massive potential.

If you are an avid long-distance running enthusiast and you want to blog about this, there is no doubt that you will find it easy to produce bucket loads of content on a daily basis, which is great. The problem is, some people struggle to come up with something they are passionate about which can lead to frustration and they usually fail to make a start.

The thing is you do not have to be passionate and be actively involved in a niche to blog about it. There is plenty of information online and your initial research will arm you with everything you need to make your blog a complete success, although a passing interest does help.

Should I Use a Free Blog?

Normally when I advise on aspects of blogging, decisions will normally come down to personal choice. However, in this case, I am going to flat out recommend to never use a free blog. A free blog is a service like blogger in which they will host the blog for you and you will not need a domain name.

Imagine that you have been working on your blog for years pushing out 1000’s words of content with a massive following and then one day its lights out because you broke a minor rule. Or worse still you are approached by a big company that wants to write you a fat check for your blog, wait, you can’t sell it because it still belongs to blogger.

Basically, a free blog gives you no control no matter how hard you have worked on it. The alternative and best option is to sign up for cheap $3-month hosting and buy a domain name for $10. You will then have full 100% control over your own blog. You will still have to abide this hosting company’s terms and conditions but it would have to be something quite serious for them to shut you down.

Domain & Hosting

The next option is to choose your domain and hosting. The domain name will totally come down to personal choice. You could use your own name, it could be the name of your business or it could be a play on words. There really is no right or wrong but try to keep it simple and catchy. If it is something you have to spell every time you tell somebody about it then you may need to rethink it.

For hosting companies for every good review of a hosting company there is likely to be 10 bad reviews. There is no one hosting company with only good reviews, that’s just the way it is, so don’t waste your time going round in circles looking for a hosting company.

I have been with companies for years that have huge numbers of bad reviews and I never had a single problem.

As a beginner most basic hosting packages will suit your needs so just choose a company that has had some good reviews recently and what works for your budget.

Once you have hosting install WordPress and begin your blogging journey.

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Steven M. Smith, Owner, graduated The Art Institute of Vancouver for Web Design & Interactive Media, Graphic & Web Design and has been featured in the Province Newspaper and the Vancouver Sun for his articles on SEO for small companies as well as Company Branding musts and misses.