You can search for every answer to any question through Google. I’ve been the one to roll my eyes when someone exclaims they finally figured out Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and oh boy, how great it is! However, I will admit there are some concepts that you need a real person to talk you through it. At risk for sounding like a complete Internet newb and hypocrite for all the blogging I do, last night I attended a Skillshare class taught by Master Teacher Nate Cooper on what was essentially WordPress for Dummies.
Nate used to work at Apple before he started his own private consulting firm Pedestrian Consulting (which has a pretty gorgeous site). “WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: Getting Started with WordPress” covered everything from what a post was versus a page to how to customize your WordPress templates. The biggest mystery he solved was one that has been haunting me for a few months: what exactly is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
WordPress.com – free, hosted by WordPress, a lot less customization. All you need to do to set yourself up is to create a WordPress.com account. If you want to buy a domain, go ahead. Some sites allow you to “mask” your blog so you can have the domain you own direct to your WordPress.com. However, Nate kindly told me that tactic was terrible for SEO, meaning I have been doing it wrong for three years. Curses.
WordPress.org – still essentially free, but you have to find your own host, which can run a pretty penny. You are also free to use templates outside of WordPress and add in whatever plugin or widget you have your heart set on. To get set up, you need to find a host, buy a domain, and set up your WordPress.org site. If you have an existing blog, you should be able to export it and then import it to your new site. Most likely, whoever you pay to host will do the conversion for you. Woo.
Another groundbreaking realization:
HTML – how a site is built and where “everything lives” and is structured.
CSS – determining the fonts and colors, how everything looks.
Knowing how to use HTML and CSS is valuable for everyone who uses the Internet and is in any way a publisher. A few resources Nate suggested were W3Schools and Codeacademy. I started Codeacademy’s free programming lessons back in January – and gave up. I’m getting around to starting again, but with more basic HTML courses and then working my way up. Throughout the years, whenever I’ve been in a bind, I have been able to hold my own and figure out how to edit HTML and CSS. However it would be nice to graduate from amateur to expert.
I started blogging in 2007 on Blogspot and moved on to WordPress.com in 2009, doing so by researching and experimenting until 4 am one night during winter holiday. Since then, I have only changed my theme a few times and didn’t think too much about .org vs .com and if the layout was exactly what I wanted. That was when blogging was something I did for fun while going to school. Now that I am starting my career and getting more freelance projects and speaking gigs, I realized the value in having a site set up to be most effective. I’m also working on building out a site for my sister along with branding and have had dreams for a while to start my own consulting business, so I knew I needed a WordPress refresher.
I used to look at toying with WordPress as a chore, but after Nate’s class, I’m excited to create something on my own that I’m proud of. Knowing how to really use WordPress is valuable and once you start actually learning how everything works, it becomes a rabbithole with endless amounts of skills for you to learn.