Considering using WordPress for your website?
WordPress is an awesome option! It’s quite popular too, powering over 30% of all websites on the web.
Before we dive into the dashboard & specifics, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System for anyone who wants to share information about a service they have, or on a blog – say for recipes for instance. It’s almost as if it’s an online journal, a place to gather your thoughts and share points of view and information with people.
Some of the most influential news sources use WordPress to house all the information of their articles and archives.
But even someone sharing their personal journey throughout starting a family or dating life can find great use from WordPress (fun fact: I started my online journey with a dating blog called jadingheart.com).
WordPress is the place to be if you’re a blogger or a business owner (of any size!)
WordPress was originally built for blogging, to begin with – pages came later! They continue to be #1 when it comes to blogging. The way the blog can be organized and sorted is no match to any platform available.
Exporting posts is a dream.
Importing posts is a breeze.
Most of all, WordPress is designed to be SEO-friendly right from the get-go.
Meaning, if you want your website and content to start showing up on Google, WordPress has some of the best tools in the industry to get you there!
Why is WordPress Better than Other CMS Platforms?
>> There’s support everywhere for WordPress.
A common myth about WordPress is that because there isn’t a “company” you’ve purchased it from, there isn’t support.
However, there’s actually way more than you’d ever believe: free or paid.
First, you can check out wordpress.org for the official extensive documentation on all things WordPress (and that’s the official, official information so you know it’s coming right from the source). Also available on the website is a huge forum monitored by the creators and contributors of WordPress. That’s huge!
Second, if you don’t jive with the available support on WordPress.org, then start Googling for some other options that will no doubt lead you to a ton of freelancers offering services at varying price points to come help you learn and fix or change your site – personally!
You’re in charge, and actually have all the support you need – directly at your fingertips.
>> You don’t need to code to use WordPress.
You can set up a beautiful website, customize pages and make your WordPress website your own by simply choosing HEX codes from a drop down menu in your site’s Customization section (which other platforms require you to do, too) and uploading your own logo.
WordPress works by installing a theme of your choosing (as do other platforms). You can pay for this theme, or you can choose a free one.
The depth of customization will depend on the theme and the one you choose for what you’d like it to look like.
>> WordPress is always improving
WordPress is updated and maintained as an open source software, and as such – it’s constantly being improved on with the sole goal of making the platform better, more advanced and relevant.
When working with platforms that are designed and maintained by a company, you must adhere to those company’s decisions about where they decide to take their business in the future.
That means they can sell the company to someone who changes everything without warning, they can decide to completely change focus and direction and you’ll have agreed to it because of those pesky “Terms and Conditions” you signed with signing up.
WordPress is always improving the features and aspects of the platform that people have asked for, requested for. They are always working for the betterment of the user experience.
That fact alone should never be ignored.
>> WordPress was built to be crawled by search engines like Google and Bing.
WordPress is SEO friendly right from the get-go – no special plugins or insertions required.
The overall framework of WordPress makes it easy for search engine spiders to crawl the content – this in turn makes it easier to rank higher than other non-WordPress websites.
>> WordPress is as secure as your password and upkeep is.
Anything that is password protected and requires a “wall” to get through – can get hacked. Anything.
Often people think it’s easier for people to have a hacked website when they’re on WordPress, but truthfully – anyone can, on any platform, with a flimsy password and no attention paid to your website in months or years (which isn’t a good way to upkeep your site, either!)
Having to update your main CMS is fairly easy. As easy as pressing a button and waiting 3 seconds, actually. With newer supports, you can even choose to have all your plugins and platforms upgrade automatically when they become available. Easy. Peasy.
Making Your Way Around the WordPress Dashboard
If you’re just starting out on WordPress, viewing the dashboard may be a bit intimidating. Truly, to set up, you only need to know and understand a few of the features to get started.
Afterward, you can discover more about the features and capabilities available to you as you grow your business or blog and expand your website.
To start, you can focus on learning about 5 main sections in the backend of the WordPress dashboard.
These are where you would write your blogs within WordPress. You can categorize them into different sections, like a filing system. Organize your blogs into main topics. You can have as many categories as you’d like.
Posts can be scheduled to be published in advance, leaving you able to play around with your content, schedule early and prepare your publishable content in advance.
Posts are a great way to continuously update your website and keep relevant, fresh information on your site. When people use search engines to find answers to problems that you solve, you have a higher chance of getting served as a result to them within the search engine if you’re consistently posting pertinent information for what they need help with.
There are 4 submenus under POSTS in WordPress and they are as follows:
>> All Posts
All your blog posts are listed here in a table format that includes: Title; Author; Categories; Tags; Comments; and Date Last Modified. You can click to edit any existing post from here or choose to Add New from this page as well.
>> Add New
If you’d like to add a new post without checking out the main dashboard, you’d select this option in the submenu category of POSTS in WordPress.
This link will open up a fresh page that allows you start immediately start typing (see image below) and creating your blog post.
When you create your blog, you may want to create categories to organize the different topics you’ll be writing about. This area in WordPress allows you to create, edit and delete all the categories for your blog posts.
Tags are available for you to use to further organize each individual blog post, and even further than just assigning a category.
A great example for this is using a food recipe blog as a guide. Let’s say you have a blog post category of Breakfasts and you’re latest post is about an egg-white omelette with mushrooms and spinach. You can tag your blog post to be further detailed without removing the overall website focus. Some tag suggestions would be: egg whites omelette; mushroom; spinach; healthy; etc.
The robust media library of WordPress can house all your website’s images, PDFs, audio and video files in one convenient place.
From your library, you can edit, crop, rename and alter items you upload to the library and even create galleries to display throughout the website.
Items in the library are organized via date uploaded.
This section of WordPress is where all the pages of your website live. Some examples are your About, Services and of course – your home page!
You can have as many pages as you’d like with WordPress and they can be organized in sub-categories for the most optimized organization
Similar to posts, you can choose to publish your pages in advance so you can plan ahead for events, or ideas you have for your content and services.
Appearance is where you get to choose what your WordPress website will look like on the frontend to any visitor that comes to your website.
Under this section, you select the theme of your website. Every theme includes a place for your navigation menu, header, footer and blog and page layout.
Depending on your theme, these placements will look different. If you’d like to customize what the theme looks like in terms of colors and menu assignments, you’d be able to do this by selecting the Customize submenu link (under Appearance).
Widgets are most generally referred to as the sidebar of your website, however, widgets can appear anywhere your theme allows.
Whatever design your website has, you’ll need to assign content to any widgets that come with your theme. When you head over to this section of the website, you’ll see a page with all the available widget content on the left, and all the available widgets to use the content on, on the right.
See image below:
This is an example of a website that has three widgets that appear in the footer of a website, as well as widgets that will appear on the sidebar of the website (which could appear on the blog or even regular pages).
The available widgets on the left will also vary depending on any special plugins you may have installed on your website.
Speaking of plugins, this is the section which lists and organizes all the ones you have installed on your website.
Whether you have activated the plugins or not, this is where they are sorted (alphabetically) and where you’ll know if it needs an update or not.
Plugins are so amazing and what can really set your website apart from others based on features and capabilities you’re looking to add to your online space.
Ready to get Started?
Welcome to the WordPress family.
Now comes the fun part: getting your website all set up and launched!
Launch your WordPress Website in 5 Steps
1. Choose a domain name
One that represents you or your business (preferably easy to remember and spell). Oh, and available! Check out if your desired name is available here.
2. Purchase hosting with a reputable company
You need a hosting account to host your website, WordPress software, and all the files associated with them. WP Engine is an awesome option for hosting. They have great plans, support, and features for fabulous pricing.
3. Install WordPress on Your Host
One of the reasons I love WP Engine is the easy one-click installation they have with their plans. Everything is done in a minute or two and you’re all set. Many shared hosting companies will do this for you, too, so check with yours if you’re not sure.
4. Choose a WordPress theme
There are so many beautiful and functional designs available for WordPress, free and paid.
At The Launch It Co we’ve developed our own responsive, customizable WordPress theme that allows you to have complete control over your theme’s look and feel (we even show you how to get it, too!).
5. Personalize: Add your content, colors, and logo
Don’t overthink it. It’s easy to get lost in this step – but truly, you need to take this and run with it if you’re just starting out. Your website will NEVER be complete, because you should always be updating, revising, and changing the content and what works anyway.
Want more detailed instructions on how to setup your WordPress website with me?
About the Author: Emilia
When Emilia started her business in 2010, she had no idea what she was doing online, no network, no direction. Since then, a LOT has changed.
She grew her team from 1 to 3 and developed a small, curated network of industry partners. She’s co-created a responsive WordPress theme with all the features and tech requirements websites need to convert visitors into clients. She’s created a DIY WordPress website course and helped tons of students and hundreds of clients launch their strategic websites.
A lover of WordPress and a lover of motivating inspired entrepreneurs, check out Emilia and the Launch It Co to create your WordPress website!