WordPress powers 18.9% of the web. Some of the largest, most popular websites and blogs run on WordPress. There's a good reason for this. It's powerful, reliable, and extremely flexible software for showcasing your online presence and publishing your own web content. WordPress has become the standard for online publishing.
What makes WordPress different from most other web software providers is that it is open source. This means that the software is constantly being improved by a community, not a corporation. There is no proprietary element to WordPress. Proprietary web software providers can't keep up. They don't have the advantage of thousands of developers constantly improving and innovating their software.
The challenge with WordPress is that there are so many options out there for setting up and building out your site that it can be very overwhelming.
I've learned a lot over the past five years of using WordPress myself and my goal is to share what I've learned with you in order to help you save time and money. Aside from graphic design and extensive coding, there isn't much I can't do with WordPress today.
If you're thinking about using WordPress to power your website, blog, or a hybrid version of the two, here are some tips that can help you avoid the pitfalls that can cost you dearly over the long haul.
3 WordPress Set-up Tips to Save Time and Money
1. Use WordPress.org (the self-hosted version) vs. WordPress.com
You may not realize this, but WordPress offers two versions of their software; the hosted version (where WordPress hosts your site – WordPress.com) and the self-hosted version (where you host your site – WordPress.org). In the past, it was considerably more difficult to host your own site. Today, it's much easier as hosting providers have enable 1-click installs for the software.
By hosting the WordPress.org version with your own hosting provider, you retain full control and flexibility.
For example, with the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) you can utilize any of the thousands of plugins that are available on the market to extend the features and functionality of your site! Amazing plugins have been developed for WordPress.org for social media integration, SEO, content management, commenting systems, lead development, membership programs, and much more!
Additionally, with the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) you have much more control over the design and layout of your site. In fact, there are thousands of WordPress themes on the market to choose from that don't require you to go out and have one custom developed. (Tip: Be sure to use a reliable WordPress “premium” theme framework. I prefer Woo Themes, My Site My Way, and Solostream themes because they don't require significant coding knowledge and they are very user-friendly!)
Lastly, with the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) should you ever decide to monetize your site through ads or affiliate sales, you can. This is something you can't do with the hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.com).
2. Choose a Reliable WordPress-specific Hosting Provider
There are a number of well-known digital marketers who recommend quick and easy WordPress set-ups online. The problem with this is that you get what you pay for with WordPress hosting. It is NOT a commodity. Additionally I can assure you that the top digital marketers aren't using the hosting providers they are recommending any longer.
If you take the cheap and easy route with choosing a WordPress host, be prepared for things like your site going down and poor support. This may be ok if you're just starting out, but in the long run it's not a viable solution. I personally chose this route when I initially launched my first WordPress.org site, and it ended up costing me more in the long run to deal with all the issues and eventually migrate the site to a more reliable provider.
If this is your brand and your business that you are showcasing online through WordPress, do you really want to build your most valuable digital asset on a house of sand?
Stay away from cheap and easy WordPress set-up promotions and hosting, and instead do your own homework.
I moved all of my sites to WP Engine (WordPress.org hosting provider) a couple of years ago and have never looked back (nor have I lost a wink of sleep). WP Engine is a WordPress specific hosting company. The hosting is configured exactly for WordPress software. This means that they know how to best protect your site from getting hacked and to handle the capacity for when you get a surge in traffic! 1 site will cost you $29/month and the support is absolutely fantastic. This is not too much to invest when it comes to your most valued digital asset! (there are a handful of WordPress specific hosting providers out there, but I prefer WP Engine)
3. Seek Out Quality Design Help for Your WordPress.org Site
Remember that your website or blog will be responsible for creating a lasting first impression of who you are, what you do, and who you help. It will cost you more in the long run if you attempt a “do-it-yourself” design when you don't know how to design. Do-it-yourself site designs are VERY obvious, and they crush credibility. Bottom line is that you don't want to skimp on the design of your WordPress site.
Great design for your WordPress.org site doesn't have to be expensive. However, it can be if you don't do your research.
My strategy for finding quality designers at an affordable price has been to seek out individual designers whose work I admire. Normally, that occurs when I'm visiting websites and blogs that are visually appealing to me, and in the footer there is a link to the designer of the site in many cases. I'll research those designers and evaluate their work as well as their pricing.
Keep in mind that there are still many high quality designers who are looking for work and not too high priced. You just have to find them. When I do reach out to a designer I prefer, I'll always check their pricing first and provide a ballpark for my budget. If the designer charges more than my budget for the project, I'll say “I realize I don't quite fit your pricing parameters, but I was hoping we could find a way to work together”.
If the designer isn't willing to negotiate, I'll simply move on to find someone who is more in line with what I'm willing to pay.
You can also ask friends, connections, and peers who they use for design and whether or not they are satisfied.
The more clear you can be about exactly what you want your site to look like, the more control you have over your design costs. Stick with a simple and clean look and feel. You don't need a lot of distracting bells and whistles on your site. You need your site to showcase who you are, what you do, who you help, and most importantly, your unique blog content.
My advice is to stay away from the crowdsourcing design sites or the nickel and dime sites. Again, you get what you pay for here. You may come away with a great looking site design but that is probably the exception not the rule.
Once you find the right designer for your brand, work to develop an ongoing relationship! Recommend them to others and send referrals their way! This can go a long way in getting help for your own site when you need it.
Have you attempted to go it alone with launching your WordPress site? Have you hit snags along the way with cheap hosting? Please share your experiences with me!