Want more people to share your WordPress posts? Download the latest version of Shareaholic for WordPress.

We’ve recently announced our sponsorship of WordCamp Boston and we couldn’t be more excited! (We also have one of our own speaking.) To get ready for WordCamp, we’re having a WordPress-themed week here at the Shareaholic blog.

Here are our answers to the top 10 frequently asked questions about WordPress.

1. What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

The main difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that the former is hosted on WordPress’ server while the latter is hosted on an external server. WordPress.com is a great option for first-time bloggers as it simplifies your experience by not allowing you the choice of installing custom themes and plugins or adding code of your own.

WordPress.org allows you much more flexibility because you control where the site is hosted. You can install a variety of plugins, create custom themes and even edit the blog’s code directly.

WordPress.com does allow you to upgrade to receive some of the benefits of WordPress.org, but you will have to pay. WPBeginner offers a more detailed explanation of the sites’ relationship.

2. I want to be able to customize my blog—so I’ll go with WordPress.org. How do I go about getting my blog set up?

First, you must find a place to host your blog. Many different sites offer hosting capabilities. For more information, you should check out WP Beginner’s tips on how to choose the best WordPress hosting solution. No matter which hosting platform you decided to go with, you must make sure that it provides you with the following features:

  • PHP 5.2.4 or greater
  • MySQL 5.0 or greater
  • The mod_rewrite Apache module

After deciding on a host, make sure that you have text editor software and a FTP client. Text editor software allows you edit files in a text format (not a binary format), which will make sure you can correctly edit your blog. WordPress.org recommends several programs here (not Microsoft Word). An FTP client will allow you to upload files and folders to your WordPress site, which is essential to the structure of your blog.

Note: this all must be done before downloading WordPress. After you complete these three steps, install WordPress on your computer.

3. How do I install WordPress?

WordPress has a famous 5-minute installation. (Note: you must do this after finding a host, text editor and FTP client.) Visit WordPress’ site for some awesome direction—they explain it in both simple and detailed terms better than I ever could.

4. How do I choose a theme?

impressive_portfolio_wordpress_theme

© 2010 Harsh Agrawal

As we said in last week’s post (the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to WordPress), choosing a theme is extremely important and can be time-consuming if you let it be. Before sifting through the endless themes available, brainstorm on what type of theme you need. Taking direction from Famous Bloggers, here are the things you should consider when choosing a theme:

  • Price – How much will it cost you to have this theme? Can you afford it? Is it worth it?
  • Site Structure – How usable will the site be? Will it be easy for your readers to navigate?
  • Prior HTML Knowledge – Do you need to customize extensively? (If you are just starting out, you will want a simple theme that doesn’t need additional work.)

Once you decide which elements you need in a theme, check out the following sites to download themes:

5. What are plugins and how do I use them?

Instead of learning how to extensively program to customize your blog, you can use plugins to add customized elements to your site. Find them in the Plugin Directory on WordPress.

Here are a few that we recommend downloading:

  • Shareaholic For WordPress – Make social sharing easy! With Shareaholic, you can customize your sharing buttons to fit in with your theme and receive free analytics on blog and social media traffic.
  • WPTouch – This plugin creates a standard mobile theme for your blog that works on almost every device imaginable.
  • All in One SEO Pack – An easy plugin to make sure you are fully maximizing your SEO capabilities.
  • Gravity Forms – A great way to build forms to collect information from your users in minutes. It’s perfect to create contact forms.
  • After the Deadline – Double-check your spelling and grammar with more precision than Word.

6. How do I manually change the layout?

This is where you will need a bit of coding knowledge. To get up to speed, check out this page. Basically, you will have to go to the Editor tab under Appearance to tinker with the CSS/HTML of the site design.

You can also edit individual posts’ layouts while you writing by clicking the HTML tag in the upper-right corner. As a beginner, you are probably unfamiliar to HTML, so check out this guide for simple tips on using it.

7. What’s the difference between HTML and CSS?

HTML is the language used to construct the entire website’s structure. CSS formats the style of the page to make the HTML look nice. It can align, decorate or position the HTML better than if you were to try using HTML alone.

If you’re having issues with your website design, check out these tips.

8. How do you measure the website stats?

WordPress.org does not come preset with an analytics option—you have to install another plugin. We recommend the Google Analytics plugin as it can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. If you have installed Shareaholic, you can also use our analytics.

9. How do I get people to share my content?

Besides downloading sharing buttons that make it easy for your readers to post to their social networks, you need to make sure you have content that they enjoy. On our blog, we call it “shareable content” because it is content that you create with the purpose of being shared by others. Basically, make sure that you understand your audience, write compelling headlines and copy and use several types of media to entertain your readers. This is both a science and an art, and usually takes a ton of practice before you get it right.

10. I have more questions that you didn’t answer! Where should I go?

Though a little tricky to figure out at first, WordPress provides some tremendous resources for you as you learn more about the platform and blogging in general. We’ve tried to cover the basics, but definitely take a look at their “Getting More Help” section to answer other questions you may have.

Do you have a WordPress blog? What are some tips you wish you knew when you started?

  • Shareaholic

    @thewahwife Thanks for sharing our post :) Hope it was helpful!

  • Shareaholic

    @bravenewcode Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Nice Post! Great easy-to-use guidelines! For newbies, I’d skip the part of about the 5-minute WordPress Install and recommend folks use a host that features WordPress hosting.

    • Ginny Soskey

      Hey Christina, thanks for taking the time to comment! That’s a good point, there are quite a few hosts that make it easy to use WordPress right off the bat. :) I’ll definitely make sure to include that when doing another WordPress 101-type post. Thanks!

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