Updated September 5, 2019
New to WordPress? Congratulations, you made a great choice! It would be impossible to cover every aspect of WordPress in one post, so below are tips and FAQs particularly helpful for beginners.
- How do I create a WordPress site?
- Can I have a WordPress website without a blog?
- How can I make money with WordPress?
- Is WordPress easy to use?
- What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? (Or, why you should use WordPress, not WordPress.com.)
- What’s the difference between posts and pages?
- How do I create a new post or page in WordPress?
- What’s the difference between categories and tags
- What version of WordPress am I using?
- What are WordPress Screen Options?
- What is Gutenberg?
- How do I log into WordPress once I log out?
- Don’t use the Admin user
- Use plugins sparingly and carefully
- Optimize your images before uploading them to WordPress
- Use an SEO-friendly permalink structure
- Don’t ignore updates
- Back up your site regularly
- Other WordPress resources
How do I create a WordPress site?
Follow the steps in this post.
Can I have a WordPress website without a blog?
Yes. Follow the steps mentioned above. Instead of adding Posts to your WordPress site, add Pages only. Link to them in your site’s main menu. I explain one way to do that in this video at minute 8:55:
Also, go to Settings > Reading > Your homepage displays > A static page. Set your Homepage to the page you want displayed when someone lands on your site. Leave “Posts page” set to “—Select—” and hit the save button at the bottom.
How can I make money with WordPress?
Read the 5 main ways people make money with WordPress.
Is WordPress easy to use?
There is a learning curve, but it doesn’t last long. I’ve been helping new WordPress users for over a decade, many with zero technical experience. Most feel overwhelmed at the beginning, but the feeling doesn’t last forever. My biggest tip is to learn things as you need to know them. You’ll do great. 🙂
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? (Or, why you should use WordPress, not WordPress.com.)
This has got to be one of the most confusing things for WordPress beginners. And I agree, it is con-fusing. I address this in How to Start a Blog.
What’s the difference between posts and pages?
Your WordPress site is made up of Posts and Pages. Anytime you write your own words on your site, you will write them on either a Post or a Page.
Posts are like articles. They are what we commonly think of when we talk about blogs. They are individual articles on specific topics. For example, if you have a recipe blog, you might have posts like “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” and “Raspberry Lemonade.” Each post features one recipe.
When we talk about adding new content to our blogs, we are usually referring to publishing a new post. When we scroll through a blog, we are usually scrolling through the posts.
Pages don’t show up automatically in the blog portion of a site alongside posts. Instead, they are accessed through direct links in the navigation bar, sidebar or footer.
How do I create a new post or page in WordPress?
First, make sure you’re logged into WordPress, then click the + button at the top of your screen. Choose Post or Page from the dropdown like this:
From there, you’ll enter your title, text and anything else you want to include. Hit the Publish button when you want to make it live on the internet.
What’s the difference between categories and tags
Definitely use categories. I recommend no more than 5-7. How to Start an Online Business will help you choose categories. Tags are optional (I don’t use them).
For example, let’s say I have a website about fashion. I would organize my posts into a handful of categories into which most of my posts would fit nicely. They might include:
- Wardrobe Must-Haves
- Outfit Ideas
Let’s say I write a post about a great dress I found at Nordstrom last weekend. I might write a post about it and add it to the category “Shopping.” I might also tag it “Nordstrom.”
This way, a reader could click on my “Shopping” category and find all my posts about my shopping excursions.
However, if they wanted to know more specific information about what kinds of things I buy at Nordstrom, they might click on the tag “Nordstrom.”
Making a special category for Nordstrom would be impractical as I would then have to make separate categories for all the other stores I shop at too.
What version of WordPress am I using?
This comes in handy when you hear about a WordPress update or bug. Knowing what version you’re using helps you know if you should pay attention.
There are several ways to find your version of WordPress, but an easy way is to login to WordPress, click on Dashboard and look in the bottom corner like so:
What are WordPress Screen Options?
These give you control over which information appears in your WordPress Dashboard. Personally, I like to keep my Dashboard clean and minimal. As you can see here, I only have the “At a Glance” option showing.
To add or remove things, click the Screen Options tab at the top of your Dashboard and check the boxes of the items you want to appear.
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is a significant WordPress update that went live in mid December 2018. It introduced a huge change to how content is entered into WordPress.
Before, writing posts and pages was entered into WordPress much like a text editor. Formatting options were usually hand-coded or tweaked using a plugin.
With Gutenberg, a block system was introduced into the content creation process.
Gutenberg blocks accommodate certain types of information. For example, you can use an image block to insert images into a post or page, or a file block to insert PDFs.
Each block has its own styling options which makes it easy to make your posts and pages look just how you want.
How do I log into WordPress once I log out?
In your browser, go to yourdomain.com/admin (or yourtemporarydomain.com/admin). You can also use yourdomain.com/wp-admin. Either works. (Switch out “yourdomain” for your actual domain of course.) You’ll be taken to the login screen:
Don’t use the Admin user
Hackers have been known to use Admin user accounts to break into WordPress sites.
Think of it like this: to get into a site, a hacker needs a username and password, right? Because “admin” is the default username many people don’t change, a hacker will be halfway to their goal.
WARNING: If you’ve already published posts or pages on your blog, attribute all admin content to a new user before deleting the admin username. If you don’t, you could lose all that content! More below.
To see if you’re using the admin user, go to Users > All Users.
Are any of the users in the list “admin”? If no, you can skip the rest of this section; you’re good to go. If yes, let’s change it.
Hover over the admin username on the list. A few links will appear underneath:
Do you see a delete link?
If yes, find the username you are currently logged in as (it’ll be the one without a delete link). Go across to the Role column and make sure it says Administrator. If you make any changes, save! Once saved, hover over the admin username and click delete. Attribute content to a different user (as noted in the warning above) and skip the rest of this section.
If no, it means you are currently logged in as the admin. You can’t delete yourself, so we’ll add a new user first then come back and delete the admin user.
To do that, click “Add New” under “All Users” in the left column, or by clicking the button at the top of the page. Both do the same thing.
Fill out the new user information: username, password and email. Don’t worry if you’re prompted to use a different email address than the one being used by the current admin user. You can change it back after the admin user is deleted. See below.
IMPORTANT: Choose “Administrator” for role. This gives you the highest level of privileges. Click Add New user to save. Hover over the Admin username in the top right corner and choose Log Out.
You’ll be taken to the WordPress login screen. Log back in with the non-admin username and password you just created.
Go to Users > All Users. Hover over the admin username in the list just like you did above. This time, click the delete link.
From this point on, use your new username and password to log into WordPress.
Optional: If you want to change the email address of the new user, go to Users > All Users. Hover over the username and click Edit. Enter your main email and click Update User. The change will be pending until you confirm it via the email confirmation link sent by WordPress.
Use plugins sparingly and carefully
Plugins, while fun, are often the cause of site slowdown, crashes or security holes. Only use plugins you really need and those with a good reputation. I go into much greater detail in my post about plugin tips.
Optimize your images before uploading them to WordPress
Always, always resize and compress your images before you upload them to WordPress. This keeps your site running quicker. If you don’t know how to do that, read my post Tips for Using Images on Your Website.
Use an SEO-friendly permalink structure
WARNING: If you’ve already published posts or pages on your site, proceed with caution. Changing this could cause all your links to break!
Go to Settings > Permalinks. If “Post name” is selected, you’re good. Skip the rest of this section.
If one of the other options is chosen, read What are Permalinks and How Do You Choose Them?
Don’t ignore updates
Outdated versions of WordPress, themes and plugins often have unpatched holes hackers use to gain entry to a site. Or they cause all sorts of other problems. Make sure you keep things up to date.
When a new update is available, it will be indicated by a red dot in your Dashboard. When I see that a major update is available, I typically wait a few days. It’s common for there to be initial glitches in an update and waiting a few days allows time for those glitches to be fixed.
To update go to Dashboard > Updates and follow the prompts.
Back up your site regularly
Hopefully your host conducts daily backups of the server your site is hosted on, but I still recommend keeping backups yourself.
Automate this task with a plugin. I recommend the UpdraftPlus plugin. There are two things you should back up regularly: your database (posts, comments, etc.) and your files (theme, plugins, images, etc.). UpdraftPlus does both.