How to use WordPress from scratch (Getting Started Guide)


Do you want to learn how to use WordPress? Are you just starting and need a guide to understand how WordPress works?

Well… this introductory guide is for you!

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS for creating websites.

But what is WordPress?


WordPress is a CMS Content Management System.

It is open-source software that has developed a massive community around it and is the most widely used CMS to create any website.

Table of contents
Why have millions of people chosen to learn how to use WordPress?
What are the first steps to using WordPress?
I don’t see the Plugins entry in the Dashboard; why?
How do I see how many people visit my site?
View more
Why have millions of people chosen to learn how to use WordPress?
Why is WordPress so beloved?

First of all, because it is easy to use, it allows even beginners to create web pages without special technical knowledge.
Moreover, it is incredibly flexible because it allows you to get any website, from blogs to e-commerce, and enrich them with valuable features for visitors and site managers.
Finally, it helps you customize the pages as you wish to make your site truly unique.
To use WordPress, you’ll have to install the core, the basic program, on your web space.

You can start creating your website and adding various extensions, which can be free or premium.

Every day, dozens of new WordPress users send us questions about how WordPress works and get their online projects off to a good start.

Therefore, today’s guide is a collection of the most common questions of those who start using WordPress to create a website or create a blog.

For now, start with this guide and consult the various articles to which I leave you the links.

What are the first steps to using WordPress?


How to use WordPress: updates
The first thing you need to do to use WordPress is to have a domain and host and then install the CMS. Many hosting services offer the possibility to install WordPress through a straightforward wizard. It will only take a few clicks to be able to start creating your pages.

As soon as you start creating your site, keep an eye out for available updates, which will notify you directly in the Updates section of the Dashboard (the WordPress administration area).

Specifically, you’ll need to update WordPress itself, the theme, and any installed plugins.

One of the strengths of WordPress is precisely the constant release of updates. Developers are constantly working to:

provide more security,
solve bugs,
improve and enrich functionality.
The frequency of updates depends on when the developers of the various themes, plugins, etc.

Warning! Before making updates, always make sure you have a backup copy of your site because sometimes they might generate errors.

Let’s see how the most common questions we get asked by those starting to explore how WordPress works.

Probably, you have asked yourself many of these questions as well. So here are all the answers you need.

I don’t see the Plugins entry in the Dashboard; why?


You are almost certainly using the .com version of WordPress (the version without domain and hosting plan), which is very limited compared to the .org version.

Some plugins are only available in the paid WordPress.com plans, but to have complete control over the functionality of your site, you will need to use WordPress.org.

You will have many more tools for a successful online business.

The differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org are in the availability of features like these.

Here on SOS WP, we only talk about how to use WordPress in the .org version (apart from sporadic cases).

So to use WordPress.org, you will need to subscribe to a hosting plan.

We recommend using a Server plan, exceptional Italian hosting, or SiteGround.

Both offer excellent service and guarantee high performance and maximum security.

How can I see how many people visit my website?


Google Analytics to monitor your website
The best tool for monitoring traffic and interactions on your site is Google Analytics. This is an entirely free platform that allows you to collect information about how users interact with your site.
Google Analytics is much more than just a visit counter!

Thanks to its reports, you can understand where your visitors come from, which pages they visit and which ones they leave the site from, how much time they spend on the pages and how many of them come back again and again.

You’ll also be able to monitor whether users are coming to your site from Google searches, from social, from links on other websites, or your advertisements.

All this information is invaluable – it will help you develop a successful strategy to attract traffic to your site.

I recommend connecting your site to Google Analytics as soon as possible, as data can only be collected when the tool is connected to your site.

What are the classic editor and the block editor?


The WordPress classic editor is the system for creating web pages present by default in WordPress versions before 5.0. It was a simple editor where you could write Text, insert images or multimedia elements and format the content (similar to Word). The block editor, called Gutenberg, was born first as a plugin, then it was included in the core. It allows you to insert different sections into the page and format them individually.

In the past, to get more complex pages, it was necessary to install a visual builder, such as Elementor, which allows you to organize the elements in a more advanced way and customize each section.

Gutenberg allowed the creation of more advanced layouts directly with a native feature.

The significant change in version 5.0 caused a stir within the community.

Many people don’t like this content creation system, and for them, the Classic Editor plugin is available, which allows them to go back to the old model.

How do I add images to posts?


WordPress uses a repository of files (images, videos, audio tracks, and other file types) called the Media Library. Those discovering how to use WordPress immediately find the system of inserting images through the Library elementary and convenient.

To add an image on WordPress:

Go to Media > Library from your bulletin board and select Add New.
WordPress Media Library
Upload images directly from your computer and videos, pdfs, audio, and many other types of files.
If you’re writing a post with the classic editor, go to the Add Media button located above the Visual Editor, the pane in which you write content.
How to use WordPress – add a file.
Choose whether to select an image already in your Media Library or upload a new one from your PC.
Once the image is selected, use the options visible on the right to format it (you can work on alignment, size, etc.).
If you use the block editor, create a new block of type Image with the “+” button.
Select the Upload button and choose the file from your computer.
The block options will appear on the right side for you to customize.
Gutenberg Image Block


Is there any way to schedule posts in advance?


Absolutely! Running a blog is a lot of work, and if you’re learning how WordPress works, you may have noticed that sometimes it could be very convenient to write multiple posts at once and schedule them to be published.

To schedule a post in advance:

prepare the draft as usual;
instead of selecting Publish and publish immediately on the right:
with the classic editor, click Edit under Publish Now and use the calendar to choose a date and time in the future;
with the block editor, click Publish Immediately and select a date and time from the calendar;
confirm the change by clicking the Schedule button;
scheduled the post, it will be published on the day and time you selected.
How do I make money with my site?
How to use WordPress to earn money with your blog
Many users are interested in knowing how WordPress works because they want to monetize a website.

There are many different ways to earn money online; one of the essential requirements is to have a specific volume of traffic (for this, I refer you to the question on how to use WordPress to get more traffic).

As for actual monetization strategies, the list is long and includes:

selling services,
sale of physical products,
sale of digital products,
promotion of other affiliate services/products,
membership programs,
advertising
and many others.


What if I want to create e-commerce?


Creating e-commerce with WordPress and WooCommerce is much easier than you think.

WooCommerce is the most widely used plugin for creating online stores, and its wizard-based configuration will allow you to put your first product up within minutes of installation.

The type of products you can sell with WooCommerce ranges from physical to digital products, and you can also set up product variants intuitively.

If you want to add functionality to your online shop, you can rely on the countless WooCommerce extensions that will let you build e-commerce just the way you want it.

WooCommerce is a tool that anyone can use without any particular technical knowledge.

At the same time, it is rich in features; its potential is tremendous and will allow you to create professional and successful e-commerce.

Do I need to backup my website?
Do I need to backup my website?
You should!

You must have a backup of your site to protect yourself from the possibility of losing your content if there are errors, hacker attacks, or other technical problems.

There are several ways to back up a WordPress site:

manually, by downloading the files via FTP and the database from your cPanel,
by subscribing to one of the backup services offered by hosting companies,
using one of the WordPress backup plugins,
using a service like ManageWP.
SiteGround, for example, allows you to make automatic daily backups.

The service is included in each hosting plan and allows you to keep your data safe for all eventualities.

These are all valid options, and the important thing is that the method you decide to use allows you to restore your site in case files and databases are lost or corrupted.

How do I change and customize the appearance of my site?


WordPress Guide: choose your theme on Themeforest
One of the main topics of our blog is how to use WordPress to create original, professional, and custom websites.

To create the look and feel of sites, themes are used.

There are thousands of WordPress themes, from the most disparate looks and designed specifically for specific categories of websites or topics.

My advice is to choose a theme that comes as close as possible to the look you want to achieve to limit additional customizations to a minimum.

Moreover, the latest themes have many options to customize colors, fonts, etc. (when you’re going to choose a theme, I always recommend you try the demo so you can see the template “in action” and test its various features).

Another way to further customize the appearance of your site is through CSS.

In this case, you’ll have to work directly on the CSS code, which is quite simple to learn and apply.

Speaking of which, I recommend reading the CSS guide also posted here on the blog.

How do I send the newsletter?


What is the newsletter, and what is it for?
The newsletter is one of the most powerful tools to keep you in touch with your users!

But how do you use WordPress to manage your newsletters? Here are the two main methods:

You can lean on one of the many external newsletter services.
A tool that I like is MailerLite, but you can also try other popular services such as MailChimp and GetResponse.
Also, here on SOS WP, you can find a guide on how WordPress works connected with MailChimp, and a guide dedicated to GetResponse.
Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin that sends the newsletter through your server space (for most users, however, it is more functional to use one of the external services mentioned above).
Among the best ones, there is undoubtedly MailPoet.
How do I add a contact form?
A fundamental element for any website is the contact form.
A blog can serve several purposes; it can be used to keep in touch with your readers, improve your site’s SEO, or both.

Frequency is essential in both cases.

You want users to have new content to read often, and search engines have the new range to add to their indexes!

“Quantity,” on the other hand, is more important from an SEO perspective.

Google and other search engines prefer long, in-depth content.

If you’re interested in the SEO aspect (which I recommend you pay close attention to), publishing content over a thousand words is ideal.

Experts in the field indicate 1600 words as the ideal length!

How do I get more visits to my site?


First, remember to be patient.

On the web, “quality” traffic of loyal users who follow you over time grows gradually.

Here’s how to use WordPress to increase traffic to your site:

First, you’ll need to combine various communication channels:
publish content regularly,
Share it on social (very important!),
send it through your newsletter;
My second tip is to pay attention to the topics you cover and how you structure your editorial calendar:
propose a good mix of issues, so that users always find something interesting;
Another very effective way to increase traffic to your site is through guest blogging, which allows you to make yourself known to users on other sites;
Finally, be sure to learn how WordPress works about SEO to be able to rank your site high on search engines.
You can find an introductory guide on how to do SEO with WordPress here.

Can I create a multilingual site?


Of course, you can! The most popular and complete plugin for creating multilingual sites is WPML.

Thanks to it, you can choose which languages to work with and add more at any time.

With a simple button, you’ll be able to create a copy of an article in the language you want; all you have to do is insert the translated contents.

You can easily translate all the elements of your site, including menus, sidebars, footers, etc., and even the essential elements for SEO (title, meta description, etc.) are easily managed by the plugin.

With the new version of WPML, you can also use a convenient automatic translator that will speed up your work.

Can WordPress also be used by more experienced programmers?


Certainly yes! The success of WordPress is also because it can be used by beginners to create websites with ease, but also by more experienced developers because it offers the possibility to work quietly on the codes.

To customize the HTML code of a WordPress page:

With the classic editor, select Text above the content pane to display the HTML;
With the block editor, select Edit as HTML in the block options;
To add CSS, you can operate in the appropriate section of your theme Customize area, or install plugins that allow you to manage custom styles in a more advanced way;
If you want to make more substantial changes to your theme, you have access to the site’s files written in PHP in the Appearance > Editor section of your theme board.
In this case, be very careful because you will need to use a child theme. Without the child theme, updating the article will erase your customizations.

Conclusion

These are just some of the questions we get asked by users starting to learn how WordPress works.

Do you have more questions about how to use WordPress?
Feel free to leave a message below. I’ll add them to the guide with answers!

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