Confused about WordPress and how to get off to the best start with your new website?
If you’re new to websites and blogs, WordPress seems to be the answer. There are a number of good reasons for that, which I’m not going to go into today. Suffice to say that WordPress (WP) has become the starting point for hundreds of thousands of people out there who had no clue about websites in the beginning and found everything they needed in this platform.
But the fact is that all is not straightforward with WordPress and it’s important to point out a few basic fundamentals before you go off and take the first steps.
Even though I teach WordPress courses and I’m happy to answer questions if I’m asked, it’s obvious to me that it’s all too easy to make assumptions when starting out. So many people will start first and ask questions later. Don’t be one of them!
Here’s a great example of what I mean. A friend of mine recently asked me for some help with his website. He’d set up a WordPress site to advertise his house, and he just needed some advice on how to add in some more functionality.
“No problem”, I said. “I’ll pop in next time I’m in the area and show you how to do it.”
However, all was not well.
On arriving, it took me all of 5 seconds to realize that when he’d told me he had a WordPress site, what he meant was “I have a WordPress blog.” Confused? You should be.
A Brief History of WordPress
I’ve often wondered why the people behind WordPress decided to create two products with the same name. It’s caused a few problems over the years, especially when you’re trying to convince people that WordPress really is a great system.
It took me a while to explain to my friend the story of WordPress…
“Long ago, when the world was young, some clever people came up with a powerful software program to create blogs, which were all the rage back then.
It was designed to be used by ordinary guys who had no coding experience and wanted to get on the web. And so WordPress was born. To make things even easier, these helpful programmers created a blogging service, where you could simply register, set up a blog and away you go. No domain names, no hosting, just good old-fashioned blogging. And it worked great for so many people.
It was called WordPress.com.
Now, these clever programmers weren’t great business people but they were very nice, and they decided that they could do more to help people do more with their blogs. They increased the functionality of WordPress and gave it away as a complete system that could be installed on a server and run as a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is simply a way of making websites easier to build and manage, and this became known as WordPress.Org.
These two versions of WordPress are like brothers – they have the same heritage but are different characters.”
WordPress or WordPress?
Can you see the problem? WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Which do I need?
Well, going back to my friend and his website will help us to see the difference. He had set up a free blog with WordPress.com and started to build out a nice little website. He’d paid to have a domain name, he’d purchased a theme, and he thought that was all he needed.
It’s only when he wanted to add in more functionality that things became a problem. He’d reached the limits of WordPress.com, because it is only meant to be a blogging platform.
My advice to him was to start again from scratch with a self-hosted WordPress.org installation, and from that mouthful you can tell that things aren’t so simple if you want more flexibility and power from WordPress.
The reason is that with the full version of WordPress, the restrictions are off and possibilities are endless. So long as you take care of all the little details that you don’t need to worry about with a blogging service (WordPress.com).
Little details? I means big, important things like buying a Domain Name, finding a suitable Hosting Service, and ensuring you have support with technical issues, backups in place, and some kind of security. To name a few.
Which Type of Hosting for My WordPress Site?
I’m not going to go in depth about buying domain names today. That can be a whole subject in it’s own right, and my training covers a lot of what you need to take into consideration.
But getting your WordPress site hosted is another big hurdle for many, and it should be a lot simpler than it is.
Don’t get me wrong, hosting can be a straight-forward process of signing up for a service, paying a monthly fee and filling in some information about your website. It just doesn’t go smoothly for some.
There are a zillion companies out there offering website hosting services. Everyone seems to know one: GoDaddy, and it’s the one I’ve had most problems with. I will say this in their favor, though. They have a very good support desk.
Website hosting is a service. You basically rent a piece of a powerful server in a secure, managed data-center, which will be in the US, UK or Europe. Your monthly package will include hosting for one or more websites, a certain amount of disk space and a certain amount of bandwidth. Bigger, busier websites will require more disk space and more bandwidth, but if you’re just starting out you don’t need to worry about that now.
Dedicated to WordPress
With a hosting service, you’ll have the flexibility to install any kind of website software you like, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and many more. We are only concerned with WordPress, and because WordPress works a little differently to your basic website, I always prefer to look for a hosting service that specifically offers WordPress hosting.
There are a number of technical reasons for this, but practically speaking a WordPress hosting service is going to take away a lot of potential problems for the beginner.
With a dedicated WordPress hosting service, WordPress will be installed automatically for you on the server, and you should not have to worry about configuring anything in the background. This is always my advice for anyone who plans to use WordPress for anything other than a hobby.
To make things super easy for you, I suggest one of these hosting service providers for your WordPress website:
- SiteGround is a recognized Hosting service with a great reputation and offers dedicated WordPress hosting for a great price. Packages for multiple websites, super-fast storage and plenty of bandwidth for your visitors. All you need to build a WordPress-based business online.
- Wealthy Affiliate is primarily a training platform aimed at affiliate marketers, and offer weekly training and help for those getting starting with affiliate websites. Their hosting service is dedicated WordPress, and their monthly package allows up to 25 websites plus 25 test websites. Full automated backups and a great 24 hour support desk included, but is quite expensive so they have a 7 day free trial.
Choosing the right hosting service is important. You want to have flexibility to grow as your business grows, and either of these services above are going to give you that.
I hope this article has helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding WordPress and Hosting, and as always I’d love to get your feedback and comments.