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If you're new to WordPress, completely or relatively, it can seem a bit overwhelming to do anything else, write and post, maybe categorize and maybe install a social sharing plugin or three. But with a little guidance, you will be able to easily control parts of this huge piece of software that you currently settle for trying not to worry so much.

A problem that often arises with being new to something is the fear of failing or spoiling something. But paradoxically, for many things, including WordPress, when you're starting out is the best time to screw something up. The consequences of something going wrong with your website before you have visitors other than close friends and family, and when it plays a major role in paying your bills every month, are unmatched.

To avoid worry, adopt a playful attitude. When you're not urgently trying to fix security holes or restore a working site, there's really nothing to fear, especially in the beginning. Start with the parts that seem naturally interesting to you, even if they are all associated with design and you don't know anything about design. Rather than having to struggle through tutorials, you may find that you are naturally learning more about WordPress and exploring different aspects without getting bored.

One of the best things about the 'wasting time' mentality when it comes to WordPress, is that there is no pressure to get through the learning curve as quickly as possible. You can give yourself the time to figure things out on your own, and this makes everything so much easier and more fun.

Below I've listed a few areas where you can get good value by wasting your time and getting a little familiar.

WordPress post scheduling

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This is one of the big reasons why having a CMS is so useful. If you finish a post early, or have to go on vacation, or are taking an internet gap year (which we probably all need), you can write posts / articles ahead of time and schedule them to be published when your posts / articles they usually do.

Or you can play around with the posting times and try to find which one seems to work best for reaching your audience. Check out our WordPress Post Scheduling Guide for more tips and tricks to keep your website on track.

Better WordPress security

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Even though it's easy to think that out-of-the-box WordPress is secure enough, this is an illusion. In fact, my blog got hacked last month because I had been too lazy to implement some of the best security practices. Luckily, I was able to restore my website quite easily, thereby greatly improving my security by doing a few key things.

Important note: Back up your site before trying anything, and beware of whitelisting and other IP-associated solutions for login restrictions, you could end up being locked out of your own admin area.

Areas to consider:

  • Change the login URL
  • Add some basic firewall restrictions
  • Change your database prefix (remember to backup your database first)

WordPress plugins for better security and maintenance:

Guides with more safety information:

  • WordPress Security: Is Your WordPress Site Really Safe?
  • How to protect your WordPress blog, useful tips for any user
  • Codex: WordPress Hardening

Improving WordPress SEO

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SEO can help you get consistent visitors over long periods of time and drive more traffic to your WordPress site. SEO is a simple way to attract visitors without having to write or promote something specifically for them to come.

Keyword research

As I mentioned in my beginner's guide to the WordPress SEO series, if you don't start with keyword research, all your efforts will be in vain. So the next time you write a post or article, spend some time making sure you use the same language as the people looking to learn about the topic of said article or post.

Slugs

Many people will say that it only requires changing your permalinks to show the post names and they will be optimized. But apparently Google prefers it if you keep your slugs short and sweet, ideally 3 words with no filler words (like me for or that).

Because it would be extremely tedious to go through all the overdue material, and most likely not; is not that productive, you should focus on your most extensive / important posts. Posts that really stand out for adding value on a particular topic.

Formatting

Proper use of headings in your content, making sure there is only one h1 on each page, and other factors. Use headings logically and always in order (as an example, the H1 you use for your post heading should be followed by H2 headings for sections within your content, followed by H3 headings, etc.) . Following a hierarchy of headings is much better for search engine indexing.

Clean code

Now unless you are a developer, cleaning up your code will depend on who created the WordPress theme you are using. Here at R Marketing Digital we create all our themes (including Total) with valid semantic HTML code, which helps improve SEO.

Guides to further improve your WordPress SEO:

Plugins to improve WordPress SEO:

Increase WordPress site speed

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Site speed is becoming more and more important. The more "spoiled" the average user gets, the faster the load times a user expects from any website, and the faster the user "bounces" off a slow loading one. Improving the speed of your site is one of those things that seems much more complicated and difficult than it is, because there is a lot of confusing jargon that the "professionals" use.

If you just follow a few basic guidelines, try what works for you and have fun with it (maybe make it a game where every time there is a 0.3s improvement, have a drink or sacrifice a gummy bear in honor of WordPress) you will be able to decrease your loading time in seconds without stress.

Some areas you may want to look at:

  • CDN
  • Caching
  • Image optimization
  • Home page optimization
  • Slow loading

Guides to speed up WordPress even more:

  • 10 free CDN services to speed up WordPress
  • How to speed up your WordPress site (quickly and easily)

Plugins to help speed up WordPress installation:

Website design and WordPress themes

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Giving it a clean, basic layout is something many WordPress themes do well these days. The problem from there is how to make your website stand out a bit, to grab the attention of your visitors. Fortunately for you, many themes like ours Total They come with built-in page builders, live customizers, and more.

Some areas you may want to look at:

  • Page builders
  • Customizable themes
  • Header logo
  • Widgets area
  • Custom home page

Guides for WordPress design:

  • Easy (and affordable) ways to make a WordPress site stand out
  • 12 creative ways to improve your blog design
  • How to Create Images for Your WordPress Blog Without Graphic Design Skills

Plugins to redesign your WordPress site:

  • The best page builders for WordPress

Start building a list

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If a mailing list or email marketing is something that intimidates you, relax. It is no longer as complicated and user-hostile as it used to be over 8 years ago. At the same time, most of the big providers now allow you to try for free (Aweber 1 month free trial, MailChimp free up to 2000 subscribers).

Even though writing a text for emails is something that can put a bad taste in the mouth of someone who is averse to sales, like me, I find it useful to simply channel the same voice of the blog to which they subscribed.

Guides to keep playing:

  • How to create an email list in WordPress
  • Marketing Your WordPress Website: The Ultimate Guide

Add-ons for more 'play':

Create advanced pages easily with page builders

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If you're concerned about tackling the actual images on your website, don't worry. And instead of trying to reinvent the wheel of good design, simply be inspired by the shapes and uses of white space (space between text / images / other objects) that you see on well-designed websites and emulate what you value most. .

Page builders allow you to have great creative control over the layout of a page without having to know a single line of code. This is very low pressure as the only thing that could go wrong is posting a page that doesn't look good. And that can be avoided by simply not pressing publish until you are happy with it.

Add-ons for more 'play':

  • WP Bakery Visual Builder Drag and Drop Page Creation
  • Beaver Builder for WordPress
  • WordPress Layout Builder Driver
  • Qards Review Page Builder for WordPress
  • The best page builders for WordPress

conclusion

While there are many things you can do with WordPress without knowing (or without learning) a single line of code, if you are interested, it is viable to play a lot more if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

The first step should be to install a local copy of WordPress (or just organize your site if you are on WPEngine). Then use Google's big brother and code specific sites like StackExchange to figure out how to do what you want to do.

Your code may not be pretty and you end up using a lot of 'less-than-fancy solutions', but you will be learning, and the results of that may inspire you to dig deeper and learn to code for real.

Are there any areas of WordPress you are concerned about tackling? Let us know in the comments.