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Since 2006, I’ve been working with WordPress daily. My first work with the platform was in a blogging situation where I used a basic self-hosted site to keep a blog about my life. Before that, I had been using Google’s Blogger which was becoming a little unwieldy for what I wanted to do.
That’s why I made the leap to self-hosting and that’s when my journey with this incredible piece of code started.
Since then, I’ve been using WordPress for any number of different situations. I’ve used it for blogging, news verification, liveblogging, ticketing for events, event management, portfolio publishing, magazine style sites, a home for a discount card and many more. I’ve worked it into websites for churches, innovation management consultancies, concert promoters, news organisations, creative industries companies, concert promoters and loads more.
In fact, I’ve never found a project that WordPress didn’t work for - sometimes with a little coding, sometimes right out of the box.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of questions about WordPress from people who I’ve worked with in various other capacities or come across in day to day life. I always enjoy helping them get started with publishing information about whatever sector they’re working in or interested in.
That’s why I wrote the book WordPress for Mere Mortals which has just been published as an e-book by Rockable Press.
The Common Problems
There are a lot of questions that get consistently asked and which seem to really confuse people. That’s OK. WordPress is so flexible that there’s bound to be a lot of confusion. Here are some of the most confusing things that we can clear up pretty quickly:
Q) What’s the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
A) WordPress.com is run by a company called Automattic, and offers a version that's taken care of for you which you can find by going to WordPress.com - all you have to do is write your blog posts. If you want to do something more complex, head on over to WordPress.org to download the WordPress software and get started, but remember you’ll need somewhere to host the files yourself.
Q) What Belongs on a Page and What Should Go in a Post?
A) A page contains information which is unlikely to change over a great deal of time. For example, your contact page is probably going to remain largely unchanged over months or even years. A post contains something which is time sensitive like a message about an offer that your cafe has on at the moment or news about a big client your law firm has just won.
Q) How Do I Change the Design of My Blog?
A) Easy! WordPress streamlined this process for you by allowing people who write code to create themes. Themes mean you don’t have to know anything about design. You can find some great ones on ThemeForest.net for starters. Just download them to your desktop and then log in to your WordPress installation (yoursite.com/wp-admin) > select Appearances > Themes > Upload your ZIP file and then ‘Activate’
Q) Can I Upload Pictures?
A) Yup! Uploading pictures and other media (video etc.) is really easy. Just start writing a post and when you want to put a picture into the text, just select the ‘Upload Media’ button which is right above the text formatting options. Find the file on your computer, then press ‘Upload’, and then select ‘Insert into post’.
Why Should You Use WordPress?
There are many reasons why you would want to use WordPress above other choices. Here are some of them:
- Availability of plugins - a plugin is a package of code that someone has written to accomplish a specific task. For example, Akismet is a plugin which makes sure that WordPress doesn’t get completely spammed by wayward spammers. Some more fun examples of things that plugins can do are embedding Flickr streams, put one of those neat sliding images that you see on websites these days, make your events calendar look and work better than the default one. Plugins are available freely and most of the time don’t cost anything or much. If you want to find a plugin to accomplish your goal, just Google this formula “‘insert your problem here’ WordPress Plugin (Free)”
- Designers are on your side - the design community loves WordPress and you can be sure that there’s already a theme out there that already fits what you’ve got in mind. That can save you a whole bunch of money. As previously mentioned, you can just head over to Envato’s ThemeForest where there’s a wonderful selection. One of the best new themes is Radiant by Brandon Jones (http://themes.mdnw.net/?theme=Radiant)
- You’re in good company - There’s an impressive list of people who are using WordPress already. They include: Playstation, Smashing Magazine, The Who, Tom Jones, Pac-Man, GigaOM and many more. If those guys are using WordPress, they must all agree on something.
- Support is great - If you ever get stuck, you’re never alone. There has never been a time in all the years I have used WordPress that I haven’t found the answer to a question by Googling the problem. The WordPress.org support forums are incredible places to find answers to questions with a very dedicated community who love to help.
WordPress for Mere Mortals
As I mentioned above, I wrote the book WordPress for Mere Mortals to help people get over some of the problems that they have with starting out on WordPress.
We’ll start off with why WordPress is the tool for your project. Did you know 60% of the internet is powered by the WordPress platform? Everything from your neighbor’s blog about her dog Chuck to the Prime Minister of Great Britain’s website! WordPress is very diverse and you can do anything you want with it.
Then we’ll move on to some very practical guides about buying a domain name, finding a web host and choosing a theme for your site before we take a look at what a post is and how that’s different from a page.
We’ll also go through the process of managing all of the content on your website, and uploading pictures. Then we’ll also cover stuff like how to embed video from YouTube. Finally, we’ll have a look at some plugins that will help super charge your site.
If you want to get started with WordPress or you know someone who wants to start a website or blog, you should get this book, WordPress for Mere Mortals. I wrote it so that anyone could understand it - even after the introductory chapters, we still use very little jargon.
And, if you have any questions about getting started with WordPress, you can always tweet me on @iammarcthomas - I’ll give you a hand or point you in the right direction.