The 10 Commandments for WordPress Blogging Beginners

The 10 Commandments for WordPress Blogging Beginners

If you want to be a blogger you can join Tumblr, Blogger or a plethora of publishing platforms. They are easy, quick to setup and free. But if you want to get serious as an online publisher then you can’t go past WordPress.

If you look around, every third person that you meet is a WordPress blogger (or at least has heard of WordPress). The world wide web is overflowing with company blogs, personal blogs and community blogs, in fact anything that you can think of has a dedicated blog!

Which made me think, what if Moses was here and blogging? What would be his 10 Commandments for WordPress blogging beginners?

Let’s find out!

1. Thou shalt have an ‘About Us’ page

Things are getting personal. Visitors nowadays want to read up not only about your products/services, but also about the people behind them. Even if you’re a blogger by hobby (only), your readers will still be interested in knowing you.

So make sure you have a great ‘About Us’ page, one that connects with the readers. Remember, it’s going to be your most visited page after your Homepage!

2. Thou shalt not have too many categories

Having too many categories on your website is a strict no-no. It slows down your website considerably, something which you wouldn’t want. WordPress has a wonderful thing called “tags”. What it does is groups posts based on the keywords you set (manually) for your post. So it does (more or less) the same function as categories without affecting your site performance.

But this does not mean that you shouldn’t have any categories at all! Remember, the focus here is “too many”, so have categories but use tags as well.

3.  Thou shalt not install too many plugins

And while we’re on the subject of “too many”, as a WordPress beginner you may get super-excited to see the vast number of plugins available to help your website, to the extent that you end up installing a lot of them. A big mistake! Some are incompatible (and not to forget crappy too!), and having too many of them may decrease your site speed. So install only those plugins that you feel are absolutely necessary.

The 10 Commandments for WordPress Blogging Beginners

Also, when you’re not using a certain plugin, delete it. Having inactive plugins not only make your site slow, but also attract malware.

4.  Thou shalt download themes only from reputable sources

If you conduct a Google search, there are thousands of websites offering premium WordPress themes. All of them look great, and they’re free too! But beware! Some of these themes may have malicious code, and once installed your site will become a prime target of hackers. Download premium themes only from reputable sources, like ThemeForest and WooThemes (to name a few).

If you’re a newbie and don’t have enough resources to invest in premium themes, I’d suggest you go for themes that are free. WP Explorer  has a great collection, and they are reliable too.

5. Thou shalt change your permalink structure

When a visitor is reading a certain post in your blog, by default the URL displayed is “YourWordPressBlog.com/?p=123”. Here, “/?=123” is your permalink. The problem with this default permalink is that the visitor (and search bots) is unable to see which post the URL is referring to. Not a very good thing for you! So change your permalink.

But how?

Its simple. Go to your Dashboard, click on “Settings” and then on “Permalinks”. You will see 6 options here (screenshot below). Choose the one that best suits you.

The 10 Commandments for WordPress Blogging Beginners

6. Thou shalt update

Most WordPress users think that once they’ve installed the WordPress software, themes and plugins, they’re set for life. And they couldn’t have been more WRONG! WordPress releases new versions every once in a while, and with each new version comes better features and improved functionality.

So make sure that your site is running on the latest WordPress version (3.8.1). If not, update. You can check your current version by scrolling to the bottom of any page on your dashboard. And in case you need to update, you’ll see a prompt to do the same.

The 10 Commandments for WordPress Blogging Beginners

And the same goes for plugins too! Update them regularly to avoid any hiccups in your site performance.

7. Thou shalt back it up

When you’re setting up your WordPress site and working towards SEO, there’s a lot of work to be done – download and install software, choose a theme, write content, select plugins, check analytics, and so on. So much so that you tend to forget the most important task – backing up your website. Creating a backup should be your number one priority, and there are many plugins that help you do that. For a full backup, I recommend VaultPress.

There are also the other category of WordPress users who backup their website every other day! Certainly not feasible as you’ll end up wasting a lot of time. Creating a backup once a month should suffice, unless there are any major changes made to the site (in which case, it should be done immediately after the change).

8. Thou shalt not crowd your sidebar

Your sidebar shouldn’t look like a junkyard sale – a place where you’ll find links to everything (latest tweets, testimonials, Facebook fans, latest posts, contact details, ads, and so on). Have a clear idea of what your goal in each page is, and have only those links appear on the sidebar. It will help you give a cleaner and clutter-free look to your website, and also to direct your traffic to the desired page.

So keep only those widgets that are required, and get rid of the rest. To do this, go to Dashboard → Appearance & Widgets.

9. Thou shalt rename the admin account

The first thing that you do when using WordPress is log in to your Admin account. And that’s also the first mistake that most beginners make. The username of the account is kept “Admin” (or some other standard name), which makes it a sitting target for hackers. So always change the username.

Also, keeping your username different from your account display name will provide more security to your site against hackers.

10.  Thou shalt be contactable

A ‘Contact Me’ page is extremely important if you want to build your readership. Your readers should have a way to get in touch with you in case of any queries, opinions, etc. It also helps in building a connection with the readers (provided you reply of course), which will eventually translate into long-term loyalty to your blog.

Deciding how you’d like your readers to get in touch with you is entirely up to you. You could either share your phone number/email ID, or have a contact form for the visitors to fill in. For contact forms, I suggest you use Contact Form 7 plugin. My tip? Keep it simple!

The 10 Commandments for WordPress Blogging Beginners

There you have it, the Ten Commandments from the modern-day Moses to all WordPress beginners. They will play a fundamental role in making your blogging career a success, so make sure you have them engraved in your mind!

Guest author : Sofia Brooks has established herself as an expert in blogging and social media over the last 10 years. Currently she works with IX Web Hosting, lending her expertise to its WordPress hosting service.

 

 

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Comments

  • http://blacktango.com Dan Perlman

    Why don’t you suggest getting free themes from the http://wordpress.org site? They have been vetted and are safe.

  • Cornelia_LO

    Great stuff! Can you elaborate on #9? Is the “wp-admin” what we’re meant to change?

    • cmmmc

      Create a new user called something very random such as bf8brgg4 (example) with a very difficult password (that you can store in your browser and never need again) and then remove the “admin” user. Then hackers or people trying to break your site will not find the admin user. As a result, far better protected!

  • http://www.terrellcotton.com Terrell Cotton

    Excellent advice. Definitely using this checklist for my blog.

  • Sebastien Ross

    beware of editing html if you´re not expertise programer !! ,,don´t insert any code if you´re not 100% shure !!! lol, that bring me lot of troubles

  • http://WorkWithEyram.com/ eyram (http:WorkWithEyram.com)

    Interesting piece Sophia… I am off to tweet it

  • Roam Business

    All good tips Jeff, but we’re sold on Google’s blogger for it’s ease of use and the fact that some of your “commandments” are features already built into Blogger. One more thing, since Google owns blogger – whose blog platform do you think is going to get better SEO? LOL

    • Lorelle Mac

      And since google owns blogger they own your blog

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    When I work with clients I always tell them to make the about page more personal. Everyone knows you wrote it, so why speak in the third person? People connect with people!

  • http://usefulgraphicdesigntutorials.com/about-useful-graphic-design-tutorials Caroline

    I think it would be helpful to give an idea of what is too many categories and plugins? Just saying..

  • http://17hourdays.com/ Brittany

    One small detail–Moses did not write the original ten commandments–God did. But other than that–great list! Which reminds me… I need to go back up my site…

  • Susan

    I appreciate these tips. One thing that happened when I did #5, was unexpected. I choose the default “Post Name” as the default, and it then gave 404 errors. I am slowly getting that cleaned up– any way to avoid that? Your idea about fewer categories, made sense. Then I looked at the long list of “Archives” by month and year, and thought, who clicks on that? I don’t because it’s too cumbersome, so I am trying to see if the post titles will just run onto the next pages, and so on.Any ideas about that as a way to clean up the page?

  • http://thehungrydogblog.com/ Jason Price

    Excellent starter list. Many of these things I’ve learned from Jeff or ‘the hard way’. Nice post!

  • http://www.eusebioarroyojr.com/ Eusebio Arroyo

    Love this post Jeff. Thanks!