So you have an idea for a blog, and you have heard about something called WordPress, but you have no idea what it is, what it can do, or how to use it? That is precisely the position I was in not so long ago! When my second son started nursery, I felt ready to earn some extra money, so I became an Avon Representative. Along with my little Avon business I wanted to have a website, so I could talk a bit about the Avon products I sold. I had heard that WordPress was right for this purpose, so I created a little WordPress blog and set about learning what I could about it. Just so you know, I am no longer an Avon rep, so don’t ask me for any toiletries 🙂 but I am still blogging though!
If you are in the same position I was in back then, this article is for you, in fact, this whole blog is for you! In this post, I will explain what WordPress is, what it can do, and give you a broad overview of how to start a blog with it. If you have ANY questions at all, however basic, then please do leave them in the comments below. Or fill in the ask me anything form in the sidebar, and I will answer you personally.
What is WordPress?
WordPress, by Automattic, is a content management system or CMS for short which can be used to create and update websites. A CMS like WordPress makes it much easier for a person without knowledge of HTML and CSS (the languages used to write web pages) to update a website. WordPress has a simple editor which allows you to write content without knowing HTML and CSS, it also allows you to do things like add pictures to your content by dragging and dropping, and embed videos by just entering the Youtube link. If you can use a word processor, then you should be comfortable creating content with a CMS, and if you do not, it is straightforward to learn how to use the WordPress editor.
Do I have to be a techie to use WordPress?
If words like HTML, CSS, URL and SEO are mysterious to you, don’t worry at all, I’m here to tell you that you do not have to be a technical genius to start a blog on the internet, and you don’t need to know what those words mean either! You may want to learn about them later, but not-knowing won’t hold you back from starting your blog with WordPress.
WordPress is written in a language called PHP (Personal Home Page). You don’t need to know this language to use WordPress, but if you really want to dive deep into WordPress, it wouldn’t hurt to learn but is by no means necessary to have a great WordPress blog.
What is WordPress used for?
WordPress was first invented for blogging. The system of dating, authoring and collating posts into categories makes it perfect for blogging, along with an editor that is as simple to use as a word processor. As WordPress has grown, it has become popular not just for blogging, but also for creating business and personal websites.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com is run by Automattic, and it is a site where you can create a WordPress blog and have it managed by them. You can create a blog on wordpress.com for free. The software or code that WordPress runs on is available at WordPress.org for anyone to download and install on their own web server. Many hosting companies will install the WordPress software for you and set it up, so you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of doing that yourself.
What is so good about WordPress?
WordPress runs on more than 28% of all websites and is the most popular CMS for blogs. Here are four things I love about WordPress:
- WordPress allows you to create a fabulous website without technical knowledge.
- You can personalise your blog by installing a theme. All WordPress sites need a theme, and there are thousands available to make your website look special. There is a vast repository of themes available, many of them free at WordPress.org, and there are other websites that offer premium themes, such as ThemeForest and CodeCanyon.
- You can easily add functionality to your site by installing plugins. Note that if you host your blog on the free tier at wordpress.com plugins cannot be installed. There are thousands of plugins available. Plugins add extra functionality to a WordPress site, for example, adding a contact form to your contact page, a page builder plugin to create a stunning landing page or plugins for adding a shop to your site.
- WordPress is search engine friendly. It does this by adding the correct metadata, allowing you to organise your posts in categories and pinging search engines when you add new content. You don’t have to worry about all of this, because WordPress does it all for you, but you can do more to improve it, and that is something we will talk about later on this blog.
How can I use WordPress for my blog?
If you have an idea for a blog, and a domain name, the next step is to choose a web host or create an account at wordpress.com.
If you choose to self-host, I recommend Kualo or SiteGround because they have speedy servers and great support. I can vouch for these hosts because I have personal experience of both, and Kualo hosts this blog.
Once you have chosen your host, created an account, and picked a domain for your site, the next step is to install WordPress. For most hosts, it is usually a simple case of going to the control panel and clicking on the WordPress icon. If you are not sure or need help at any time, a good web host will have fantastic and very fast support, and should even install WordPress for you if you ask.
When you have WordPress installed, the next step is to log in and choose a theme for your blog. At this point, your new WordPress site is up and running. You may want to head over to the settings for your chosen theme and make some tweaks. If you have a self-hosted WordPress, then you could install a few plugins but this the very minimum you need to do to start your blog off.
In this post, I have described what WordPress is, why it is excellent, and hopefully calmed any worries that you may have had about the technical side of it. If you are still not sure, then I recommend that you put those doubts aside and take the plunge! Learning by doing is often the best method, and there are lots of articles on this blog to help you on your way.
There is much more you can do and learn about, but this is the bare minimum you need to do to get started with your blog, the next step, of course, is writing!