Over the past 10 years, blogging has become something of a phenomenon. From marketers trying to make money online, to teens keeping an online journal – blogging can do it all. In this article, let's take a look at one of the most important tools for anyone looking to start a blog online – WordPress.
So, What Exactly Is WordPress?
In a nutshell, WordPress is a blog publishing platform. This means that WordPress is the place you go to set up, customize and post to your blog. There are many different blog publishing platforms out there, but WordPress is by far and away the most commonly used, the most flexible and more than likely, the easiest one out there.
WordPress actually has two different versions, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. So, if you're going to set up a blog, it's first critical to know the difference.
WordPress.com Vs WordPress.org
WordPress.com (or WordPress lite as I like to call it) is the easier of the two to set up, but has a lot less flexibility and customization than its counterpart. Basically, the fundamental difference is that WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress on your behalf, which means that:
1 – it's free
2 – it's very simple and quick to get started with
However, there are also a few drawbacks to this, most notably, you do not own it. This means that technically (it is very rare, but does happen), WordPress can terminate your blog at any point. Imagine how frustrating that could be!
WordPress.org however, is hosted by the user (that's you!), Meaning that in order to get set up, you have to buy a domain name that you want to have your blog on. This may seem like a big hassle at first (especially for the less computer literate amongst you), but believe me, it has some major advantages. Such as:
1 – You own it! (you can write what you like, as often as you like and no one can ever take it away from you)
2 – You can advertise (this is where blogs make real money – with a.com blog, you can not advertise at all – you do not own it remember!)
And the best of all …
3 – You can use plug-ins
What Are Plug-ins?
Well, plug-ins for WordPress work very similar to software on a computer. Basically, after installing, you'll be able to use the features of it on your blog. A few examples could be:
– enabling videos to be put onto your blog
– enabling readers to retweet your content (using Twitter)
– adding buttons to connect to your social media accounts
And there are literally hundreds of thousands of more that can help you do anything (and everything) you could ever want to make your blog work just the way you want it to!
Installing A Plug-in
Installing them could not be simpler either. You simply go to the back office of your WordPress.org blog, and visit the 'plug-in' tab on the left toolbar.
If you already know the name of the plug-in you can search for it directly, if not, simply enter what you want it to do (eg enable video) and you'll get lots of options. Choose the option you want to install, and select it.
It's really that simple.
Naturally, as you start installing plug-ins you may find slight differences in how you get them up and running, but after you do it once or twice, you'll officially join the ranks of the WordPress wizards!
One very important point to note, however is compatibility.
WordPress has a tendency to update it's software regularly (which is never a bad thing!) And this will mean that some plug-ins will not be compatible with the version you have installed.
This can be resolved several ways, depending on the problem.
Problem 1 – You are using an older version of WordPress and your plug-in does not work.
Best solution – At the top of your screen in your blog's back office, it will tell you if an update is available for WordPress. If one is, then simply click 'update' and you should be good to go.
Problem 2 – The plug-in you are trying to install is out of date
Best solution – Typically, you'll be able to see easily which plug-in is right for you because the description of it will tell you. If not, then try a more specific search or refer to WordPress.com's fantastic help section to see if there is an update.
Alternative – For almost any type of plug-in, there will be plenty of different alternatives for you to try. Each one has a star rating based on other user's feedback (from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest) and so it is easy to judge which works best and will give you the result you're looking for.
What To Do If You Install A Plug-in, It Does not Work And You Can not Find An Update?
WordPress.org has some of the best help you could possibly ask for. If you can not get a plug-in to work and you can not find an appropriate update, you can invariably find the answer you're looking for in one of the forums on the WordPress site, through the incredibly detailed search feature there are wiki's, video tutorials and plenty of ideas and solutions written by other users), so the answer is never far away.
Now, you can set up you blog exactly as you want to perform its function – regardless of whether that's for making you money, keeping an online journal, or just to have fun!