Wordpress is my favorite blogging platform, hands-down. The dashboard is intuitive and easy-to-use, you can purchase or create your theme to fit your exact specifications, and there are great plugins you can use to customize your site if you aren’t an expert coder.
There are so many great tools available, but it can be hard knowing what’s useful if when you’re just getting started. Here’s a roundup of all of my favorite toys for WordPress:
Rockable Press has great books and e-books that will help you get started on WordPress. These books are inexpensive and easy to learn from! I originally learned with How to Be a Rockstar WordPress Designer, which doesn’t seem to be available anymore. To start with the basics, try WordPress for Mere Mortals. For advanced WordPress development, try Building WordPress Themes from Scratch.
You don’t want to overdo it with the plugins (it’ll slow your site down), but a few well-selected ones can really take things up a notch. A few of my favorites?
(You can find these plugins by clicking on the “Plugins” tab on your dashboard and searching for the name).
Disqus Comment System: This comment system replaces the one on WordPress, and it’s way better. It has automatic spam filters, so you don’t have to go crazy sorting through all of the comments for spam. It’s also prettier, easier to use, and has the option of displaying lists of popular posts below the comments.
Sharedaddy: This displays a list of social media icons at the bottom of each blog post or page. It’s super easy to customize, and it’s always a good idea to give your readers a way to share posts with friends.
NextGEN Gallery: This is a great plugin if you are building a portfolio on WordPress. Once installed, you can create easy-to-navigate image galleries that are completely customizeable.
User Photo: For a multi-author blog or website, User Photo allows you to associate a photograph with each login and display it in your post. This plugin is what allows me to display the author bio and headshot at the bottom of each article on The You Are Project’s site. Author thumbnails are a great way to build a deeper connection with your audience!
Link Within: This simple plugin displays random post thumbnails at the bottom of each post, which is a great way to keep visitors moving through your blog. Check out their website to learn more about installation!
If you aren’t a web developer, you can still have a beautiful WordPress site if you pick out a pre-made theme. Most options are inexpensive and customizeable. ThemeForest is a great place to find a the perfect design for your blog or website!
PS: If you’re serious about blogging, investing in a quality theme is totally worth the cost! It’ll help you to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
What do YOU want to know about WordPress?
What would you like to know about starting a blog or using WordPress? I’d love to answer your questions for you! Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and the answer could be featured in my next post.