7 Facts to Know About WordPress

  1. WordPress now powers 27 percent of the entire internet. Tweet this
  2. Brands like The Walking Dead, TechCrunch, The Walt Disney Company, Time Inc., Fortune, New York Observer, New York Post, TED, USA Today, CNN, CBS Local, and NBC all use WordPress in some capacity.
  3. WordPress is easily the most popular CMS with roughly 59% of the market. Tweet this
  4. 297,629 of the top 1 million websites use WordPress. Tweet this
  5. According to Alignable’s SMB Index, WordPress is the most trusted software for small business (ahead of Google, Facebook, and more). Tweet this
  6. 25% of WordPress users make a full-time living off the CMS. Tweet this
  7. A DIY WordPress website can cost as little as $200 per year. Tweet this
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7 Facts to Know About WordPress

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Intro and WordPress Installation

So what is WordPress and how do you use it?

For starters, WordPress is what’s called a content management system (or CMS) – which is basically a system used to manage the content of a website.

Without a CMS, website owners would have to either learn how to code or ask a developer to alter the source code of the pages of their website anytime they wanted to make changes.

CMSs like WordPress make it extremely easy to manage and edit a website with little to no coding knowledge.

But WordPress is more than just an easy way to manage a website. It provides the actual framework for a website, too.

Think of a website as a house. There’s the foundation, frame, and walls, then there are the cosmetics that give each house its customized look.

WordPress tutorial for beginners

Now, think of WordPress as the foundation, frame, and walls of your website, essentially taking care of the groundwork part of building a website. Then you (the user) can come in and customize your website in an easy-to-use interface.

That’s somewhat oversimplifying it, but for the sake of this intro let’s leave it at that for now.

At the time of this article, WordPress powers over 24% of the internet.

When you consider there are over 1 billion websites on the internet, 24% is an impressive number.

One statistic said over 74 million websites are using WordPress. These range from blogs to enterprise websites to full-blown applications.

It’s no exaggeration to say that WordPress has quickly become the go-to resource for nearly everyone looking to build a website – and for good reason.

So the next question most people have is: how do you install WordPress so you can actually use it?

Depending on how you came across WordPress in the first place, chances are you ended up on WordPress.org looking to download and install WordPress, only to find that when you click the download button on WordPress.org, you download a series of files and folders that you probably have no idea what to do with.

WordPress tutorial for beginners

Well, in order to understand what WordPress is and how to use those files and folders, we first have to understand how websites work.

A website is essentially nothing more than a group of files and folders sitting on a server that is accessible to the public (for example, on a hosting provider’s server like BlueHost, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc.).

WordPress tutorial for beginners

WordPress, then, is simply a set of pre-made files and folders that make up the foundation of a basic website, complete with everything you need to get started building and customizing your website – so you don’t have to do the hard work of building every single file and folder of a website from the ground up.

WordPress is so valuable because it essentially enables anyone with a computer and a little knowledge of how WordPress works to create a great-looking website and publish regularly to that website without the help of an expensive web developer.

Now that we know what WordPress is, we can look at how to get it installed so we can start building our website.

First, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting account from a company like BlueHost, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc., then point your domain to your hosting account’s public server.

WordPress tutorial for beginners

This server is where you’ll put the WordPress files and folders so the public can see your new website.

If that sounded complicated, don’t worry. Hosting providers like BlueHost and GoDaddy thrive on customer service, and they’ll gladly walk you through the entire process of setting up your domain and hosting account. If you’re new to all of this, I highly recommend using customer service to help you get set up in this area.

If you want to try to setup your domain and hosting yourself, you’ll need to go to your hosting account control panel (typically called cPanel, Plesk, or just a link that says ”manage hosting account”) and find your “addon domains.”

Check to see if the domain name you want to use is on this list already (if it isn’t the primary domain on your hosting account). If not, this is where you’ll “link” your domain name to your hosting account by adding it as an addon domain.

Once you have your hosting account set up, there are basically 2 ways to install WordPress.

Number 1 is to use an installer provided by your hosting company.

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This is by far the easiest and best way to install WordPress in my opinion. You’ll simply log in to your hosting account control panel (again, typically this is called cPanel, Plesk, or just a link that says ”manage hosting account”) and look for the WordPress installer application. This is an application made specifically for the purpose of simplifying installing WordPress on your server.

All you have to do is open your WordPress installer application, tell it which domain you want WordPress installed on, enter a user login and password, and click install. Within a couple of minutes, it should prompt you to tell you your new WordPress install is ready to go, and you’re ready to jump in and get started on your new website.

The other way to install WordPress is slightly more in-depth. It involves using what’s called “file transfer protocol”, or FTP. FTP is what you would use to transfer files from your computer to your public server (the one you pay for through your hosting provider). Think of this as the manual way of installing WordPress.

You would start by going to wordpress.org and downloading the WordPress files directly to your computer, then use FTP client software like FileZilla to transfer the files from your computer directly to your public server from your hosting provider.

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Once the files are transferred, you’ll then go to your phpMyAdmin from your hosting account control panel…

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…and create a new database…

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…then create a new user.

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Keep up with the name of this new database and user information, because you’ll need it during the WordPress install.

Next you’ll need to know which folder your domain is pointing to, then once you upload the WordPress files to that folder, you’ll need to navigate to your website where WordPress is actually designed to walk you through the final stages of the setup from there.

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It’s not too bad, and WordPress makes it as easy as possible, but it still can be a headache if you’re new to all this.

Having said all of that, I highly recommend not going the FTP route if you can help it. Not that it’s bad, it just doesn’t make sense to not use the installers built specifically to solve this problem for, let’s say, “non-technically-inclined” people.

So, that’s it. At this point you should have WordPress up and running on your website.

Now you’re ready for the good part – setting up and customizing your new website.

Next we’ll go over what all the different aspects of WordPress do and how to use them, as well as how to customize your new site to make it your own. We’re also going to cover how to setup your WordPress website with all the best online marketing practices, including search engine optimization as well as how to link your website to your social media and email marketing accounts.

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard

If you haven’t logged in to your WordPress website, type your site’s domain name into the address bar in your browser and add forward-slash wp dash admin (/wp-admin), and hit enter.

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You should now see a login form where you’ll enter the username and password you created during the WordPress install.

Once you’ve logged in, you should be redirected to your WordPress dashboard. You’ll see a menu on the left-hand side and several boxes on the right. Those boxes on the right are just kind of an overhead look at your site. You’ll see things like activity and news in this section.

On the left you have a list of menu items, including Dashboard, Posts, Media, Pages, etc.

For the sake of time, we’ll just hit on the main sections you’ll be interacting with the most, and we’ll go more in-depth in future sections.

Most of this is pretty self-explanatory. For example, the Posts section is where you create new posts, for a blog for instance.

Pages is where you make new pages for your site, like an About Us page or a Contact Us page.

Media is where all your pictures and videos live, and it’s where you’ll upload new pictures and videos as well. We’ll talk more about that in later sections.

Appearance is where you would go to change your theme, customize your site with WordPress’s Customizer, create navigation menus, add widgets, and more. We go more in-depth into widgets in a later section in the tutorial.

The Plugins section is where you go to search for and install new plugins for your site. Think of plugins as apps. Plugins in WordPress are similar to what apps are to an iPhone or Android. Again, we have an entire section dedicated to understanding and using plugins.

Two important sections to understand as a new WordPress user are the Tools and Settings sections.

These two can be confusing when you’re first starting out, so let me explain the difference.

The Tools section is a place where you can import content from another WordPress site or export your site’s content. Sometimes certain plugins will go here after you install them, but other than that, you shouldn’t have to use the Tools section very much.

The Settings section, on the other hand, is one of the most important sections of the dashboard, and it isn’t always easy to understand where certain settings live.

For instance, you’ll notice there’s a Writing and Reading sub-section under settings.

Writing is where the settings that pertain to the writer of the posts live, and Reading is where the setting that affect the reader live. Again, the naming convention isn’t always intuitive, so you’ll want to explore a bit in your settings to make sure you have everything the way you want.

One of the things you may want to check in your settings right now is the Permalinks section.

This section determines how urls (or permalinks) show up to other people.

Under Common Settings you’ll notice a few different options for displaying permalinks, but most modern sites go with the “Post name” setting here mainly because it makes things simpler and easier to understand, and because search engines tend to like this structure better.

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That about covers the WordPress Dashboard for now. In the next few sections, we’ll go in-depth into the most important aspects of each of the sections found in the WordPress Dashboard, and how to understand and use them with confidence.