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How To Make The Most Of Your WordPress Site

I have to admit it… I love WordPress.

In my work I’m often helping people set up and maintain their blog and I have no qualms about recommending WordPress.

Many people reading this would already know that the totally free option is WordPress.com, where your blog is hosted on WordPress’ server. This is a great option but, particularly if you’re running a business, the self-hosted software at WordPress.org is much better. By hosting the software on your own domain you have more control over your site, plus you can use it to promote products and services or affiliate products if you want to.

When using the self-hosted version of WordPress you still have a wide selection of templates – or themes – available to you. Many of these are free or you can spend a bit of money getting something more suitable for your specific needs. Or you can get someone to design a theme just for you. To find these, simply search for “Free WordPress templates” or “WordPress templates”.

My favourite is the Thesis Theme (the one I’m using on this site). This isn’t free, but it’s very reasonably priced. The greatest thing about the Thesis Theme is that it is just so easy to customise.

Most themes require some knowledge of CSS coding to be able to edit the style sheet to change the layout of the site, font styles, colours and sizes or the header or footer. But in Thesis, it comes complete with simple drop-down menus so you can choose how many columns you want your blog to have, the column positions, the size and style of your fonts, the widgets you want included in the sidebar and so on. To get an idea of how easy this theme is to customise, have a look at this Thesis Theme video by the theme’s creator, Chris Pearson.

Once you’ve downloaded the software from WordPress.org and chosen your theme, it’s time to set up and configure your site. This is not difficult, but it can be a challenge if you don’t know where to start.

A great resource is this series of tutorials at Blogging Time Savers. You can make use of the entire course or simply buy individual modules for the specific thing you’re looking to do for as little as a few dollars. I strongly recommend following some simple, clear yet detailed instructions on how to install and configure your site.

If you’re using the Thesis Theme, once your site is basically set up you can refer to Thesis’ tutorials on how to customise your site (the link to these will be given to you when you purchase the software).

Then you can also add some extra plug-ins to allow you to do many other things, such as Google Analytics to monitor your blog’s traffic, a site map to improve your Google ranking, an OpenHook plug-in to help you further customise your Thesis Theme, a spam filter, blog stats counter and so much more. My favourite plug-ins are:

  • Thesis OpenHook – allows extra Thesis Theme customisation
  • Akismet – spam filter
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Google Analytics
  • WordPress.com Stats
  • Page Mash – handy for selecting some pages that you might want to keep hidden
  • PodPress
  • RSS Footer
  • Share This – social bookmarking links
  • WP Video
  • All-In-One SEO – although this isn’t required if you’re using the Thesis Theme

To find these plug-ins simply click on the plug-ins link you’ll find in your WordPress site’s admin panel.

Another great thing about WordPress is that there’s no shortage of help available if ever you get stuck.

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Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate