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Q & A with Bob: 5 of My Most Frequently Asked WordPress Questions

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We live in a quick-and-easy culture. We want everything fast. That is why we hear so many WordPress peeps saying:

Set up your blog in less than an hour!

Start blogging in minutes!

WordPress is so easy, even my 90-year-old grandmother can set up her own blog!

Changing themes is as simple as putting on a new coat of nail polish! (Yes, someone actually said that on Twitter.)

The problem with that is it ignores the fact that there can be, like with any new experience, a learning curve. And it makes all those smart professionals feel stupid if they can’t create a blog over their lunch period.

The over-promisers are always going to be there. They know that ‘fast,’ ‘quick,’ and ‘easy’ are persuasive words in marketing copy.

But jumping in without giving certain issues some thought can create headaches down the road. WordPress is a powerful blogging tool, and once you learn how to best use it, you will love it. Just don’t rush into it.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when you are setting up that WordPress blog:

1. Are the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org important?

Actually, yes.  In another post I wrote here I explained how some people are confused by the two options: WordPress.org (aka self-hosted) and WordPress.com (the blog is parked on the WordPress site). There are pros and cons to both. For example, it’s really hard to monetize your blog on .com. Choices of themes are also limited and you don’t have the ability to add plugins. On the other hand, self -hosted means that you have the added responsibility for keeping your site secure, updated and backed up.

2. What theme should I use?

This one is huge. Many new clients come to me because, after  spending hours installing a theme, they have found that it doesn’t fit their needs in the end. Some themes are more suited to simple blogs , while others work better if you want  turn your blog into a dynamic information source. And your options for presenting your expert content can be limited, depending on the theme’s layout, navigation and aesthetic design. Always look at a theme with an eye toward how you can plug your content into the layout and design.

3. Are there certain specific plugins I should use?

Of course. But remember: it’s always quality over quantity. Find those plugins that help with the critical parts: catching spam, SEO, site load speed, and things like that.  Choose ones that fill a specific need and don’t treat them like toys. Because they may be fun to play with, but are they really useful for your readers?

4. Does it matter where I host my site?

Damn well it does. A host can either make or break your site—literally. Don’t always look at price, although there are several good, affordable hosts out there. Listen to what other users are saying about them. Do a search on Twitter and see if they have experienced a lot of down time. Before you sign up, make sure they’ll work with you if you experience a problem. (Some hosts wiggle out by telling you that WordPress off is a ‘third-party software’ and it’s their issue to solve.)  And make sure you can get the support you need—when you need it. I look for hosts that provide both phone support and a 24/7 chat line.

5. Should I just dive into WordPress head first?

No simple answer here because it depends on your comfort level with technology. Although WordPress is a powerful blogging tool, I am the first to admit that it’s not the most intuitive. You can ask the dozens of people I have trained after they cursed and struggled with it. But do explore the dashboard. Poke around, see what does what. Find tools that will help you along the way, but don’t spend hours googling for answers to your questions. There are tons of resources to help you get started. And don’t be afraid to ask people you know and trust about the resources that best fit your individual learning style (podcasts for the auditory learner, print or video tutorials for the visual learner, etc.).

These five points barely  touch the surface. For more practical advice on how not to muck up your WordPress site as you get started, come to my session at BlogWorld in NYC. I promise to make you more confident to tackle your WordPress blog—and give you a few chuckles in the process. See you in New York.


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