Let’s face it: you’re going to make some mistakes when you’re just getting started making a blog with WordPress.
From not installing the proper forms to using the wrong platform, it’s easy to take a misstep here and there.
Fortunately, most of these mistakes aren’t fatal and your blog or website can recover nicely from them as soon as you learn to avoid them in the future.
For now, though, being familiar with the most common mistakes beginners make with WordPress can help you steer clear and get your blogging career off on the right foot.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Six Most Common WordPress Mistakes
1. Choosing WordPress.com When You Should Use WordPress.org
Beginning WordPress users are consistently confused about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and rightfully so!
While the two platforms seem similar, WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform that allows much more room for customization, growth, expansion, and control.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is WordPress’s free blogging platform that is powerful but not all that useful in the long run.
One of the most common mistakes new bloggers make is to set up their account on a WordPress.com site only to find out that they don’t have control over their content, the look of their blog, the blog’s ability to make money, or the ability to install new plugins.
This is infuriating for a new blogger that is serious about using his or her blog to run a business.
Fortunately, the problem can be avoided by setting your blog up on the WordPress.org platform from the beginning.
I recommend doing your own research but if you can also find several of the premium WordPress hosting companies that I’ve reviewed in this article.
I wrote a much more extensive article on the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org which you can read here:
This saves you from difficult transfers down the road and allows you to start making money from your blog immediately.
2. Spending Too Much Money on the Wrong Things
When new bloggers get started on WordPress, the temptation to purchase everything that’s available for their blog can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, this is a bad move that often ends up in disappointment and blown budgets.
As a new blogger on the WordPress.org platform, all you truly need to get started is a domain name and web hosting.
Unfortunately, many people jump to purchase things like branded emails, 6 years’ worth of registration, SSL, and much, much more.
While these things can be useful down the road, it’s important not to jump at them early on in your blogging career. If you wind up needing them in a few months or a year, they’re easy to purchase at that point and you’ll likely save money by waiting.
3. Failing to Back Up Files
While WordPress is a powerful platform, running a blog on the .org service means that you’re responsible for all of your own backups.
All too often, WordPress users forget this only to be rudely reminded when their site crashes and much of their data is lost.
To prevent this from happening to you, put an automatic back-up schedule in place.
While there are plenty of things you don’t need to spend money on for your blog, investing in a good backup platform is pivotal.
The best way to install any plugin is through your WordPress dashboard just go to Plugins –> Add New → Search Plugins box “type in your search term”
Keep in mind most hosting companies will be doing automatic backups for you but you will want to talk with the hosting company you choose to get more details on how they handle their backups.
InMotion Hosting does backups every 24 to 36 hours and they will restore your site for free if something happens. But I recommend to put a fail safe system in place and have your site backed up by a third party.
I had a chat with a SiteGround representative and he assured me that backups were being taken every 24 hours and the backups were being kept on a separate server from the server you host your site on.
Most of the common beginner WordPress mistakes I go over in this blog post can be alleviated by installing a very powerful plugin called JetPack.
I have JetPack installed on all of my websites it increases the performance, security, and functionality of all my blogs.
JetPack is free (there are a few premium features which do cost a little money) and developed by Automattic, the same group of people behind the development of WordPress.
JetPack has VaultPress included so just by installing this one very powerful, easy to use WordPress plugin, you will save yourself from having to install multiple plugins that do the same thing.
JetPack also connects your self-hosted WordPress.org site to WordPress.com and there is several benefits from doing this but they are outside the scope of this article and better suited for a different post.
The main point is…
Install JetPack it’s free and you will save yourself time and money down the road.
4. Neglecting to Update a Site
In addition to requiring users to handle their own backups, WordPress also requires users to stay on top of updating their site.
While WordPress notifies users when their site is up for an update, many users don’t pay attention – either because they’re too busy with creating content or because they’re not managing their sites properly.
Unfortunately, failing to update your site can create security gaps that can place your site at risk for being hacked.
Additionally, sites that fall too far out of the update cycle become incredibly hard to update down the road.
Luckily most WordPress web hosting companies will offer to keep your WordPress site up to date with the latest WordPress release.
But you do want to be careful as your theme may have problems after WordPress upgrades. The best practice is to choose a reputable theme that is kept up to date with the most recent WordPress version.
The lesson to be learned is that you should always update your site as soon as the option is available.
Typically, updates are a simple, one-click procedure. Be sure to back all of your site’s content up before the update, just to be safe.
Keeping your WordPress plugins up to date is another best practice and a common mistake many beginners make.
If you take my advice and install JetPack from the very beginning you can save yourself the trouble.
Connecting your self-hosted WordPress.org site to WordPress.com via the JetPack plugin will allow you to select Automatic Updates from your WordPress.com Tools section which will then keep WordPress plugins auto-updated.
5. Not Creating a Customized Favicon
“Favicon” is short for “favorite icon” and you interact with them all the time, even if you don’t know it. Favicons are the tiny icon that appears on the tab of a browser or in a bookmark list to give a site its identity, as seen here.
While they may seem like a small consideration, they’re more important than most people think.
The reason for this is that Favicons brand your site at a glance. For example, say I have nine browser tabs open and I want to quickly locate Etsy. As you can see below, that’s easy to do thanks to each site’s Favicon.
Imagine, however, that none of those sites had Favicons or that they all used default Favicons.
It would be much harder to locate the site I want, right?
With that in mind, you’ll do well to ensure that your website’s Favicon is something that helps users identify your site at a glance.
You can hire a designer on a site like Fiverr.
Fiverr is a really awesome online marketplace where you can hire people for just about anything starting at $5. Fiverr will keep the money in escrow until the work is finished so it’s completely safe.
6. Not Including a Contact Form
As your site grows, readers who encounter your content are going to want to reach out to you to ask questions or offer suggestions, but if you haven’t installed a contact form, they won’t be able to.
There are dozens of WordPress plugins that will allow you to embed a contact form on your site so that users can reach out and typically the process takes only a few minutes.
JetPack is really the swiss army knife of plugins and like I said before it’s the one that I recommend using when you first start out blogging.
JetPack comes with a Contact Form feature that is free and really easy to use.
If you need something more powerful and are looking for more features with tons of integration options with other platforms then GravityForms is the Contact Form plugin of choice.
GravityForms is really the de facto Contact Form for WordPress and is used by just about every professional when building a custom website.
I personally use GravityForms on this site and recommend it if you have the budget.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough to create a contact page for your site and list your email there, since that will only result in your inbox being stuffed with spam.
For a great example of a contact form, consider the one that Search Engine Journal uses on its contact page.
As you can see that have integrated reCaptcha with their Contact Form which is not a bad idea.
A far simpler solution when you first start your blog would be to activate Akismet spam protection.
Akismet is another awesome free feature made available to you by Automattic.
The best way to install any plugin is through your WordPress dashboard just go to Plugins –> Add New → Search Plugins box and search for Akismet.
Once again if you take my advice and install JetPack you will automatically have the ability to activate Akismet from within JetPack.
But first you will need to signup for an Akismet account to generate the API which you can do here.
While you’re bound to make mistakes as you get started with WordPress, knowing about the most common mistakes people make with the platform can help you avoid falling into those pits yourself.
JetPack is a real website saver and when you are starting a blog I recommend installing JetPack first thing.
If you do make mistakes, be advised that your website can recover from pretty much anything as long as you continue to learn and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
If you are ready to build a blog or have not started a blog yet then head over to my WordPress tutorial and get WordPress installed within 20 minutes.
Please let me know if this article was helpful and if you have any suggestions please add them in the comments below.
To Your Success,