Wow, you really did it — started your own business. Feels good, right? Maybe even great? Possibly a little scary. But you need your website looking good and representing you and your brand. You’ve heard that WordPress® is the way to go, especially if you intend to blog to keep your audience engaged.
I remember my first website. Investigating hosting options, making the purchase, and then installing WordPress for the first time. But then I found this dashboard with so many options! Where to start? Do I begin just writing like crazy? Do I customize it? What are themes and plugins? What do they do? I had so many questions.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I didn’t ask for help. I just dove in headfirst and created my first site. And I was so proud of myself! I sent the whole family my domain name and asked them to give me their opinions. It was funny — suddenly nobody answered their phones or returned my texts. A few days later, my daughter sat me down and gently said, “Mom, your site looks awful. Do you need some help?”
HTML isn’t short for hot tamale
That’s when I discovered people like Julie Deneen take the time to break it all down to make it easy for anyone to get a WordPress site up and running in no time (and with no uncomfortable conversations with family members). In “22 Ideas to Help Your WordPress Website Look Customized and Professional,” Julie has compiled some of the best tips I’ve seen online to date.
For instance, I never knew that Jetpack did all the things that it did. I sort of thought it made your site run faster, hence the name Jetpack. As Julie explains it:
"Jetpack is a backpack of plugins that help bring functionality to your site. One of the modules, called SHARING, allows you to add the most common share buttons at the bottom of your posts. If you go into Settings > Sharing, you’ll see a spot for your Twitter handle. Paste it in and that way people don’t have to guess what your name is on Twitter!”
Now I’m really glad that Jetpack was included in my WordPress installation. And speaking of sharing, Julie recommends having social media buttons in more than one place. Smart. And shows you how to create a custom 404 page. What’s that? It’s a page that you create to kindly tell people they have gone to a page on your site that doesn’t exist. Or, as Julie says,
"A 404 page is a must for those bad links you don’t have control over.”
I like to think of those links running rampant while you’re not looking. It’s the little things that make a difference, but aren’t inherently self-evident. For somebody like me who originally thought HTML was short for hot tamale and RSS for Really Serious Stuff, I really needed Julie Deneen and her 22 ideas back then.
Information like this can make the difference between a blog that your daughter will read out of pity and a blog that will draw in your audience.