New WordPress users often make these 5 mistakes when starting their blog, and sometimes even not-so-new users might have forgotten about these very important steps. This is a friendly reminder 🙂
1. Not backing up their site
This is the first plugin that any new WordPress user should install. It is the most important one, because if your site goes down, or you’ve been hacked or anything else that could happen, you will need a backup to restore your site.
I recommend the one I use UpdraftPlus which will do it automatically once you set it up. I backup everything to my dropbox so I know it’s not on my server. And it’s free. Look for it where you add new plugins on your dashboard.
2. Writing their posts/pages first in Evernote or Word
I didn’t know anyone did that until a client told me something was wrong with their new WordPress. She wrote her first post and the paragraphs we not displaying properly, there was no space between them.
I went to her dashboard and looked at the post code and it was weird because instead of a paragraph code, I was seeing a div code. Which meant that the css (this is where all the styling of your site happens) was not being called to do it’s job. I went ahead and change all this code back to paragraphs and all was well.
But I needed to know how this happened and that’s when she told me that maybe because she wrote it in Evernote and then copied and pasted it into the WordPress editor!
Never, ever do that. The editor has a button called “Save Draft” and it’s for exactly that purpose, to write a draft and save it as such until you are ready to hit the “publish” button.
3. Choosing the wrong theme and the wrong home page layout
First the only free themes you should consider using are from WordPress.org. Otherwise you will end up with spam code hidden in a link in your footer and trying to remove it, will break your site and you won’t be able to access it anymore. And make sure you check out reviews and also make sure it is responsive and work with the latest WordPress version.
But I highly recommend using the Genesis framework from StudioPress.com and one of their themes. Genesis and themes specially designed for it are the only ones I work with when I customize a client’s website/blog. You can find out why it’s the best by clicking on the top menu button on their site that says: Studiopress 101.
It is well worth your while to choose a theme that has the layout you need. For this site, I use a home page layout and for my blog, I’m using a blog layout.
A home page layout with widgets (sections) is great for a website offering different services, books, videos, etc. so that the visitors can just click on each category to explore what they need/want.
4. Not changing the permalinks
The permalinks are the links for the posts of your site, the url. You want to get rid of the dates in your permalink structure as your content is timeless, the only exception would be a news website. Visitors would probably not click on a ‘dated’ post in search results.
It’s easy to change the permalink structure, just go to Settings -> Permalinks in your dashboard sidebar and select post name, as shown on this screenshot:
If you already have posts using any other structure, you’ll have to use a redirect plugin or add some code to your .htaccess.
5. Not updating plugins and themes
This is REALLY important. Please update themes,plugins and WordPress as soon as you see it’s needed in your dashboard. If you don’t you might end up with a mess and plugins not working properly. It is so easy to update any of them, there is no excuse. Always make sure your backup has been done before updating.
I know it can be very overwhelming when you first start using WordPress, so I hope these helped. But I also know you’ll get comfortable in no time.