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Table of Contents
- WordPress: My Experience
- WordPress Themes
- WordPress Plugins
- Creating and Sharing Posts
- Are You Ready To Build Your Blog?
It’s hard to believe that “blogging” has been around for over two decades. A blog provides an online platform for all sorts of reasons. From single individuals to large corporations, blogs are utilized to broadcast information all over the world.
While I’m speaking directly to dads in this article, the information below is helpful to anyone who wants to start a new WordPress blog.
If you’re a dad and interested in sharing your experiences with the world, creating your own blog might be the perfect outlet for you. Let me share with you my experience and why WordPress is the best blogging software to use.
WordPress: My Experience
I was first introduced to WordPress back in 2010. I joined a Star Wars fan site that utilized WordPress and volunteered to post news about Star Wars books.
This was my first experience with a CMS (content management system). At first, the WordPress “dashboard” was a bit overwhelming, but I was able to learn it very fast. It wasn’t long before I really started to enjoy the user interface.
After several weeks, I decided to start my own Star Wars blog. The experience with that fan site was great, but I quickly discovered that I wanted to be in complete creative control of a blog.
Yes, I wanted my own site, but I was fascinated with the WordPress dashboard and wanted to experience more of its capabilities.
Starting with WordPress.com
To begin, I created my own free blog over at WordPress.com. That was a great way for me to learn more about using WordPress without having to buy anything.
WordPress.com is a blog host that provides a free tier of WordPress hosting for registered users. Users can also pay for upgraded hosting plans.
WordPress.com is owned by Automattic, the owner of popular plugins such as Jetpack and WooCommerce.
With a free WordPress.com blog, you’re able to upload your own media and publish articles. You can also make some changes to the look and feel of your site.
There are limitations for users of the free plan, though. For one, you can’t upload custom themes. Free blog users can only choose themes from a limited themes collection.
You can’t upload plugins, which extend the functionality of your site. You also aren’t allowed to sell ads, but WordPress.com will place their ads on your site. No, you don’t make money from them.
These limitations and more prompted me very quickly to upgrade to a Wordpres.org site.
Complete Freedom With WordPress.org
WordPress.org is the official home of the full and free WordPress CMS software.
Most people access the software through their hosting provider. Many web hosts, such as SiteGround, provide the necessary technical platform to run WordPress.
You can also download and install it yourself here. The software requires certain technical capabilities to run it yourself.
Using the full CMS finally allowed me to have a blog that I could customize however I wanted. There were now expenses involved, but it’s a small price to pay for full creative control.
Two awesome benefits to owning your own blog are the abilities to upload your own custom themes and plugins.
A theme controls the look and feel of your site. Elements like colors, fonts, layouts, and more are controlled by the theme that’s enabled. There are thousands of themes, both free and paid, to choose from.
At first, I simply chose a theme with a style that fit my content. Over time, I’ve learned to look beyond the style and pick themes that also function well. A theme may look good but may not provide the best user experience.
At this time, I recommend two themes:
- Hello Elementor
- This is a plain, bare-bones theme that works as a great foundation for page builders like Elementor.
- Astra Pro
- Astra is an awesome theme that works well on its own or in combination with page builders. There’s also a free version with limited features to get you started.
As I mentioned above, Plugins extend the functionality of your blog. There are tens of thousands of plugins that can enable pretty much anything, such as SEO optimization, spam protection, contacts forms, and much more.
You don’t want to install a bunch of plugins, though, because having too many will slow your site down. You also run the risk of introducing plugin conflicts and potential security risks. There’s no official number, but the best practice is probably to have as few as possible to achieve your goals.
Here’s a few great plugins that I recommend:
AMP enables websites and blogs to load extremely fast. It’s not for everyone, though, because your site has to be “bare-bones” in order to be fully AMP compatible. There are other settings that allow your blog to partially function with AMP.
Page speed is becoming an absolute requirement for users and search engines, and the AMP plugin can help you to achieve near-instantaneous load times. However, WordPress has a long way to go before blogs can be AMP-Standard compatible.
Elementor enables you to build your blog from the ground up. Headers, footers, archive pages, 404 pages, and more, you can completely customize your blog with ease.
For further reading, see my article: Build a Dad Blog with Elementor.
Jetpack is a great option if you want to combine several tools into one plugin. Its services are hosted by WordPress.com so you’ll need a WordPress.com account for it to function on your blog.
Jetpack has free and paid features. Here’s just a few of the many features Jetpack offers:
- Downtime Monitoring
- Extra Widgets
- Infinite Scroll
- Lazy Loading for Images
- Site Maps
- Image Optimization
- Site Verification
- Like Buttons
- Site Stats
- Brute Force Attack Protection
- Sharing Buttons
- Related Posts
Site Kit is an official plugin from Google that allows you to connect several Google services. You can also access them from within your WordPress dashboard.
- Focus Keyphrase
- This is what you want your article to rank for on search engines. Once you enter this keyphrase for a post, Yoast will tailor its analysis to fit the SEO needs of that post.
- Readability Analysis
- The readability analysis guides you to ensure that your audience and search engines can read and understand your content.
- SEO Analysis
- This tool provides a live review of your article while you write. Once the focus keyphase is entered, Yoast will display the analysis in real time and display good results (green dots), improvements (orange dots), and problems (red dots).
Creating and Sharing Posts
- Pro Tip: Before you write your first article, change your permalink structure from the default setting to “Post Name”. This removes the date from your permalink and makes your URL look cleaner. In your WordPress dashboard, go to “Settings” then “Permalinks”.
Creating a WordPress post is very easy. From within your dashboard, on the left side menu you’ll see “posts”. Click on that and the menu will drop down. Click on “add new”. Now you’re ready to create your post!
The process is similar if you want to create a new page. Go to “pages”, then “add new”.
WordPress uses a block editor called Gutenberg. It introduces a modular approach to posts and pages. Each section of content is its own block. These blocks can added, deleted, arranged, and rearranged, allowing you to create media-rich pages in a visually intuitive way and without work-arounds like custom HTML or shortcodes.
There’s also a handy place to store your images for use in posts and pages call the “Media Library”. However, you don’t want to upload images without any thought to optimization.
The Ultimate Guide to Image Optimization for WordPress is a great article on this topic.
For further reading, check out these articles over at WordPress.org:
- Getting Started
- Basic Administration
- Basic Usage
- Advanced Topics
Are You Ready To Build Your Blog?
Using WordPress is the best way to share your experience as a dad to the world! With countless customization options to choose from, the only limitation is your imagination.
Please leave a comment below with any questions about WordPress. I’ll be happy to use my experience to help you start your dad blog.