Getting started with WordPress can be confusing. In this article, I offer 7 WordPress Tips for Beginners. These are easy updates that you can do without having to know any code.
WordPress Tips For Beginners
Tip 1 – Always Include Images in Posts and Pages
To add an image as a Featured Image, scroll down until you see the “Featured Image” section. Click the “Set Featured Image” link. On many themes, the featured image is used on your Home page and Blog page when it is showing the listing of your posts. Depending on your theme, it may also show up in your blog post.
However, not all themes will include the image in your post or page. So if your theme doesn’t include it, make sure an image is included by manually adding it.
You can easily do this by clicking the “Add Media” button above the post or page editor. This will pop up a box showing all your media including images. If you don’t have any images uploaded, you can add images by selecting the “Uploads Files” tab. Click the “Select Files” button and then selecting an image from your computer or device. Once the image is uploaded, enter a title, caption, alt text, and description under “Attachment Details”. Finally, click “Insert Into Post”.
Tip 2 – Keep Plug-Ins To A Minimum
Keep the number of plug-ins you add to your WordPress blog to a minimum number. Too many plug-ins can cause performance issues and slow down the loading of your pages on your website. It is important to find a good balance between the number of plug-ins you use to add needed functionality and the number that causes your site to load slowly.
Start off a small set of plug-ins and add others only as you need them. If you find that you aren’t using a plug-in that you’ve installed, deactivate it or uninstall it. No use having it around!
Here is a starter set of plug-ins I recommend. Or can read my Popular WordPress Plugins article to get a more in-depth review of the WordPress plugins I recommend.
If you need other functionality, add new plug-ins one at a time and check the loading of your website pages. If you notice a slowdown, uninstall the plug-in and find another similar one. Check its performance too.
Tip 3 – Limit Top-Level Category Menus
Having too many top-level categories can clutter up your menus and make organization of your blog difficult. It can also be confusing for your readers.
Many of your readers will be viewing your blog on their phone or tablet. When they do, most themes will collapse the menu. When the reader selects the icon to open the menu, a list of menu items will appear. Have too many and they will have to keep scrolling to find what they are looking for.
On the desktop or wider device, the menu won’t usually be collapsed. But if there are too many items, the menu could take up a lot screen real estate at the top of your page. This too can require your readers to scroll before getting to your content.
So, limit the number of top-level parent categories you use for blog posts to 3 to 5 categories. Put sub-categories under these parent categories. Then use only the parent categories for your categories on your menus.
Tip 4 – Create Draft Post and Page Templates
Create a template for your posts and pages. This allows you to have a head start on creating your blog post and helps keep a consistent look across your posts and pages. There are several ways that you can do this.
Many bloggers will create a text or Word document for their template. Then when they create a new blog post they copy and paste the template into the editor.
Others do the same thing but use a draft post or page that never gets published. Then each time you create a post, you first open the draft. Then you copy and paste the template.
These are both good starts, but I prefer doing all this in WordPress without having to cut and paste.
I use a plug-in (that I included in the plug-in list above) called Duplicate Post. With this plug-in, I create a draft post or page. I add placeholders for images, titles, text and other items I want to include in each post or page.
Then whenever I want to create a new post or page, I “clone” the draft post or page. This creates a copy of the draft post or page and sets the status to “Draft”. I open the new draft and make all the edits I need.
Tip 5 – Keep Your WordPress and plug-ins up-to-date.
Having a highly functional and performing WordPress website is just as important to the content you are writing. In fact, it may even be more important because if your site is performing slow or is having issues loading pages because of outdated software, your readers will never see your blog posts and pages.
Many hosting companies provide this service (we include it in our WordPress hosting plans), but in case they don’t you will have to remember to do this periodically. And in most cases, it will be a manual process.
When you log into your WordPress Admin, there may be a notice of required updates. If not, you will have to check these yourself. I recommend you check this at least weekly.
To check this, select “Dashboard” and then “Updates” from the WordPress Admin menu. This page shows if your installation of WordPress is up-to-date. It also includes information about your plug-ins and themes.
If there is a message that WordPress or your plug-ins or themes are out of date, you can then select which you that you want to update.
Tip 6 – Invest in a professionally developed theme
Invest in a professionally developed theme as soon as possible after the install and initial set up of your WordPress blog. A theme controls the look and feel of your blog. There are many free themes available but they usually don’t offer the same number of choices and functionality as a professionally developed theme you purchase. Also, you will usually get better support and help from the developers of a professional theme vs. a free theme.
There are many places that you can purchase a theme. You can even have a custom theme professionally developed. However, I don’t recommend this for a new blogger because of the time and cost it takes. A pre-packaged, professional theme will meet most of the needs of your blog.
If you decide to purchase a theme and install it yourself, I recommend using ThemeForest. They have thousands of themes at reasonable prices. You will have to sift through a lot of choices and then try to make the best choice for yourself. This can be difficult if you’ve never had a WordPress blog before and don’t know what features you need.
Then you will have to manually install the theme or pay a developer to do so. And usually, the basic install of theme won’t look anything like the demo sites. This is usually because the demo sites have been further customized by developers who know the ins and outs of their themes.
Website Buoy offers WordPress hosting packages that include the install of several different themes that you can choose from. We take the guesswork out of picking the right theme. We’ve also performed customizations so that you can get started with your theme right away and start blogging. Check out our WordPress hosting plans to learn more.
Tip 7 – Make periodic backups
Backing up your WordPress blog periodically is good insurance against website failure. This can happen when something goes wrong with your web hosting but more likely happens when you manually install updates to WordPress or the plug-ins and themes you are using.
By making a back up of your WordPress blog, you can restore a working copy and not lose all the updates and content you have added.
Many hosting companies include backups in their hosting plans. They will automatically do this on a periodic basis, usually nightly or sometimes weekly. This is a good start. But if you are making changes more than once a day (for nightly backups) or more than once a week (for weekly backups), you can still lose your data.
So if you are going to do backups manually, I recommend using the BackWPup plug-in (it is listed above in the plug-ins section). This plug-in allows you take a full back up of your WordPress installation including your database which contains all your blog posts and pages. However, if you need to restore the backup, it may require assistance from your hosting company.
Check out the following WordPress tutorials and WordPress guides:
- Learn WordPress: Getting Started With WordPress CMS
- One-Click WordPress Install and Set Up
- How To Choose A WordPress Theme
- How To Install WordPress Themes
- Customizing WordPress Themes
- Top 7 WordPress Tips For Beginners
- Popular WordPress Plugins
- How To Create A Custom Homepage In WordPress
- How To Create A Page In WordPress
- WordPress Admin Panel Guide
- WordPress Admin Getting Started Guide
- How To Edit The WordPress Menu Bar
- WordPress Category Page: How Categories Work In WordPress
- WordPress Tag Page: How Tags Work In WordPress
- Your WordPress Media Library Questions Answered
- Easy Way To Edit Images In WordPress: Resize, Flip, Rotate, And Crop Explained
- Add WordPress Post: How To Create A WordPress Post Now
Want to get up and running quickly with your WordPress blog without the hassle of picking a hosting company and installing WordPress and essential features?
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Check out our WordPress Design Services.