Before You Get Started
We’ve been blogging for two years and we are still constantly learning so much about it.
These posts are for both technical and non-technical people using WordPress (WP) for the first time (it was a very steep learning curve for us), and also for people who have used it for awhile, and like us, are still discovering things.
These posts are not about content, marketing, how to be successful, or anything like that. They are about the mechanics of WP.
So you’ve decided to start a blog and you’ve done some research on the web and all roads point to WordPress. All the reading tells you it’s the best platform for, well just about anything anyone wants to do on the Internet.
You may already be confused because you’ve found information about WordPress.org and WordPress.com. What’s the difference?
The WordPress software is an open source application. That means the developer made it available to everyone, at no cost. But there is a WordPress organization that will host your blog and take care of updates and the behind the scenes technical stuff like maintenance. That’s WordPress.com. If you go that route, there are some restrictions, most notably limitations for advertising. Here’s a link to the wordpress.com site that tells you more about the differences – WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
If you ‘self-host’, which means you’ll take the wordpress.org route, you’ll have to register a domain name and find a web hosting service. This is not normally a lot of money, and ours came with a WP installation, which was really just a matter of a few clicks and we were ready to go.
If you take the WP.com route, a lot of the work will be done for you. If you take the self-hosting route like we did, read on.
Get a WordPress book! I cannot stress that enough. Before we launched, I spent hours playing around with WP with my book beside me, and I referred to it many times in our first year. I still refer to it on a regular basis.
And use Google. For just about every question you will find a step-by-step guide, or video tutorial on the Internet. And wordpress.org itself has almost limitless discussions about everything WP.
Not to dissuade you from using WP (we love it) or scare you, but in the six months from the time we decided to start a blog (when we registered our domain name, signed up for the hosting service) to the time we actually clicked the ‘Publish’ button for the first time, I had spent about 80 hours learning WP. You don’t need to spend 80 hours before you publish for the first time, but if you’re serious, expect to invest time into learning WP. There are a lot of blogs out there with one or two entries, and we think those bloggers likely decided blogging was a lot harder than they thought it was going to be and gave up. With a self-hosted blog there is a lot of customization you can make to your blog (or website) and many of these are done through something called plugins (more on those in a later post). This has been perfect for us, but it’s time-consuming.
Find a WordPress group in your city! Another thing I cannot emphasize enough. The people in WP groups are not normal people – they are wizards and they love helping people.