9 Essential Tips When Starting Your First WordPress Website
Before the internet, having a physical location was often the only method to start a business venture. This endeavor included a prerequisite of capital. Today, we’re living in the golden age of the internet, where registering and hosting a domain name are the only requirements to start sharing your voice with a wide audience. It’s a low bar for entry, but it takes commitment and hard work to create a highly trafficked blog or website.
WordPress is the premiere content management system for publishing, providing an easy-to-use interface for beginners as well as a highly customizable one that appeals to more experienced website operators. Here are nine tips to help get you started with publishing a successful site with WordPress:
1. Is There an Audience?
The first consideration when starting a blog is to make sure there is an audience for your content. You might be the expert on building furniture from twigs, but if no one is interested in the subject, then you’ll be writing for nobody. That’s not to say that just because a blog idea doesn’t exist means a new idea won’t be accepted. Similar to starting a business plan, you want to make sure a possible market and readership is out there.
On a similar note, brainstorm all the possible ways you can imagine your blog topic expanding. If you can’t think of at least 10 varied post ideas, there might not be enough passion or substance to create a blog around the idea.
2. Create Lots of Content
Before launching your blog, you should have a minimum of five articles ready to publish. Your content and your voice are what will attract loyal readers. The more quality content you create, the more likely your blog will be to find new readers —so you’ll want to update frequently.
Also, keep a running list of possible topics you want to cover in the future. While your passion is still fresh now, there may be days that you wake up less than enthused to pound out words. Having a list of topics will help you write on days when you feel less inspired. Add to this list whenever a topic idea comes to you.
3. Use a Premade Template
For the visually inclined, website design is the sparkling attraction that warrants focus. While a clear and appealing design is important, you don’t need to shell out big money for custom designs. WordPress and sites like ThemeForest have hundreds of designs, making it easy to find one to suit your blog’s needs. Pick a template and move on. You will be able to integrate a new design in the future should your blog take off.
For those not as enamored by design, premade templates are a savior. Just remember to keep all your branding consistent. Simplicity is fine, but lack of cohesiveness is off-putting to readers.
4. Vary Your Content
Video content is in demand. While vlogging is its beast, many blogs can benefit from strategic video placement. For example, a food blog could share a video of a recipe listed, or it could even benefit from a simple instruction video on how to cut an uncommon vegetable. If leveraged properly, the instructional video has appeal past readers of your recipes.
Keep the written content high-quality, unless you intend to transition to a YouTube-focused business model. Let the video be a supplement, not a replacement for blog posts.
Several factors go into making a well-crafted video. Give yourself some time to learn basic techniques to give your videos a more professional look.
5. Use Your Original Media
Avoid using a stock image for every post. If you have a design blog, share some personal pictures. If you have a music website, show pictures or videos that you have taken at a concert. Your blog should not be a regurgitation of someone else’s content. Merge already-created images with your media so you offer something new to potential readers.
6. Install a Backup Software Plugin
It’s the lesson no one wants to learn the hard way: losing work because you didn’t back it up. It’s an instant way to feel demoralized. A simple backup plugin like BackupBuddy is a must download for new bloggers. The plugin seamlessly integrates with WordPress’s interface and protects you against downed servers, keyboard mistakes, accidentally deleted files, hackers and malware.
Imagine losing a year’s worth of blog posts, never to be seen again because you didn’t back up your content. It’s happened before and will happen again. Don’t be that cautionary tale.
7. Connect to Social Media
Social media is essential to blogging development. The main platforms to include are Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Every post you publish should automatically push to these sites. Several plugin options will automate this process for you. Search hashtags that mesh well with your post topic to increase exposure.
Savvy bloggers know to look at forum websites like Reddit to see if there is a community for their blogging interest. Forum websites can give you a platform to share your site —though many have rules about too much self-promoting—and an insight into what content readers in your community are searching for. It’s a treasure trove for those willing to dig.
8. Engage With the Blogger Community
Our increased connectivity has many negatives. Watch one “Black Mirror” episode to induce serious anxiety about where technology could take us. On the flip side, the internet has made it easier for us to connect with people who share our interests. Your competing bloggers are not your enemies, but instead, represent a community for you to engage with and build upon.
Comment on blogs that have similar interests. Not only are you supporting another blogger, but also a reader may see your comment and decide to check out your website as well. Many bloggers have networks, where each blog links to the other to give all blogs in the network increased exposure.
9. Monitor Website Speed
Your website speed can make or break your viewership. Most users will not wait more than 10 seconds for a page to load before departing. Readers increasingly want more media, which comes with slower load times, and increased page load speed.
To keep yourself from compromising on your media offerings, download a plugin like W3 Total Cache. It allows you to cache and compress your pages, which equals a faster load time for your readers.
Creating and maintaining a new blog is hard work, but it can be an incredibly rewarding adventure. Perhaps you’ll be the next blogger to go viral. These nine tips will help with accomplishing a WordPress website that features great content and many reasons to return.
10. Bonus: Get Your Blog Setup For you
For those who are not very techie and are not comfortable following our do-it-yourself tutorials, we’ve have gathered a team of WordPress professionals who will create a blog for them in 72 hours or less Check out Blog Setup Service
Lexie Lu is a web designer and writer. Her work has been featured on CreativeBloq, Marketo, Manta and many other sites. She is the owner and editor of the design blog Design Roast. Follow Lexie on Twitter @lexieludesigner.