Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
The moment you have been waiting for: my FIRST blog post.
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
Want to know the secret to my success? How I managed to learn how to code and immediately start making money with my coding skills, while continuing to learn?
The answer is simple: WordPress.
WordPress is one of those incredible open source gifts that just gives and gives and gives some more. And for the beginning coder who wants to keep learning new programming skills while making some money, WordPress is hands down the way to go.
For those of you not familiar with the platform, WordPress is an open source content management system built in PHP. Originally, WordPress was designed for blogging. But now, thanks to the creation of custom post types and the hard work of thousands of WordPress plugin developers, the platform can do much, much more.
I, like most developers, built my first website using HTML and CSS. Shortly thereafter, a good friend of mine suggested that I look into hacking around in WordPress. What he explained to me is that WordPress was a great content management system, and could be a good way for me to get familiar with some basic programming concepts like templating, working with loops, learning about database, and more fun things like that, while also building cool custom websites.
He spent 30 minutes explaining to me how the application is set up and where to look for more information, and that was it, I was off to the races. Me and my new friend WordPress soon became inseparable.
For a good year or so after that, I had a great side hustle going building marketing and content publishing websites with what can only described as an extremely limited tech skillset.
Now, I look back at the websites I created with WordPress before I really knew anything about programming with a mix of horror and amazement.
But honestly, I really shouldn’t be embarrassed because though they weren’t particular programmatically exciting, WordPress made it easy to build extremely robust custom marketing and content publishing websites even with only a small set of skills. Four years later, many of the websites I built are still alive and going strong (wow did I love big rounded buttons or what?).
The top five reasons why you should learn how to build in WordPress:
1. Do nothing, and you’ll still have a great website
Wordpress comes out of the box with arguably, one of the best content management systems in the world (thank you open source & the power of hundreds of people working together on one web application). Now, there is still a learning curve and some people do complain that the WordPress backend is a little too complicated, but honestly, as someone who has done a lot of work with other systems (and seen what it looks like when you try to building something as robust as WordPress from scratch), they really have worked out a lot of the kinks!
2. Chances are, someone else has already solved any problem you run into
One of the best parts of WordPress is that you have access to a HUGE library of open source WordPress plugins that will allow you to customize the CMS in all manner of ways. If you find yourself wanting to add some functionality to your site that isn’t native to the platform (a slideshow, a contact form, a facebook login) chances are someone else has wanted to add that functionality and already done the hard work for you. And all you have to do is install the plugin!
3. When you are lost, WordPress has the best docs
The WordPress Codex is seriously the most amazing, wonderful, searchable group of docs every created for any open source project ever. Anyone who has worked with other open source web applications or content management systems (*cough* Drupal *cough*) can tell you that the WordPress documents are spectacularly thorough, clear, and easy to use. If this is your first experience, know you are being seriously SPOILED.
4. Did we mention the 5 minute install?
Oh, by the way, WordPress is incredibly easy to install on your local machine (let me introduce you to my friend WAMP and MAMP and the famous, 5 minute WordPress install), and is supported by practically every web hosting service in the world. In fact, major web hosts like GoDaddy and HostGator offer fancy things like “1-click” WordPress installation services that will have you up and running in a matter of seconds.
5. And most importantly, knowing how to hack WordPress is known to lead to some serious CA$H
Last, but not least, knowing how to customize WordPress is a seriously marketable tech skill. There are many many freelancers and companies that have built entire careers on hacking WordPress. Just ask our friend Zoe!
Have I convinced you that WordPress is awesome? Fantastic! Watch out for a post next week about advanced WordPress techniques.
A year later, I realized I should have done more research. I wanted to change my site layout and add functions (like a hovering Pinterest button), and I realized (oh nooos!) I needed a “WordPress.org blog” for that.
Getting a “WordPress.org blog,” it turns out, really means downloading the free, open-source WordPress web software and using a third-party hosting service (like GoDaddy or Bluehost) to get your site online.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, takes care of all that legwork for you. You don’t worry about hosting or serving up files, and your blog comes with a free domain that looks something like this: www.mynewblog.wordpress.com.
But when you hand over responsibility, you also lose control: your WordPress.com site will show ads unless you pay a yearly fee, and many upgrades, like hosting videos or buying a custom domain name for example, can get costly.
To add to the new-blogger confusion, when you’re working on your blog, the Dashboard (the place where you edit your blog from the back end) looks almost exactly the same no matter which avenue you take. Because WordPress.com runs on the same WordPress software as a self-hosted site, the user experience after setting up your blog isn’t that different.
Deciding between starting a free WordPress.com blog and self-hosted WordPress site is as simple as deciding how much freedom you want over your site’s look and feel, how much behind-the-scenes work you’re willing to do, and whether you want to monetize your blog.
1. How much control do you want over your site’s look and feel?
If you’re okay with an “out of the box” theme [http://theme.wordpress.com/], WordPress.com might work for you. For an extra charge, you can customize some features, like fonts and background colors. Overall, though, you are limited when it comes to changing the design of your site.
If you’re looking at those themes and thinking, “but I want my Instagram feed up higher and I’d like social media buttons above the top navigation,” you’ll want to go with a self-hosted WordPress blog so you can access your site’s layout and HTML.
2. What extra functionality do you want on your site?
Remember that anecdote about the Pinterest hover button I wanted? WordPress.com is always updating and adding new features, but you will have more control on a self-hosted site. Through WordPress.org, you’ll have access to libraries of plugins [https://wordpress.org/plugins/] that can add features like interactive calendars, social media sharing options, and RSS feeds–not to mention, Google Analytics–to your site. And by accessing your site’s code, your opportunities to add to and embellish features are unlimited.
3. Do you want to monetize your site?
“Oh wow, I have so many pageviews! Maybe I can make a little cash with ads!” Nope. Not if you’re on a WordPress.com site. They’re giving you a lot for free; it’s no surprise that you can only sell ads in WordPress-approved ways. On a self-hosted site, however, the world is your oyster…or, you know, your sales floor.
In addition, while, WordPress.com recently introduced new ways to sell on your site, eCommerce is more established and flexible with a self-hosted site.
4. How much can you spend?
Self-hosting is an upfront cost that ranges from a few dollars a month to closer to hundreds per year. But using a free WordPress.com blog and adding a lot of additional features can get pricey. Infographic cost comparison:http://howtomakemyblog.com/wordpress-com-org/
When it comes down to it, WordPress.com is a valuable tool for users looking for a free option, who don’t need to customize or make money off of their site. But getting a self-hosted site through WordPress.org provides the most flexibility, freedom, and opportunity for growth. And let’s face it, you’re going to want to use this site to become a moneybags, and WordPress.org allows more freedom for turning your hard work into cold hard cash.
Looking for a new job where you can put your tech know-how to work? Having digital skills opens up a world of career choices for you. Take a look at some of the latest and greatest jobs we’ve found that’ll let you flex your digital muscles.
Today, we’re featuring jobs that require WordPress skills – and learn more by signing up to watch our webinar on Friday, August 1st: 3 Ways to Make WordPress Bullet-Proof!
Position: Designer, Marketing & Communications, Interactive Design
Company: Boston University
Location: Boston, MA
Start as a member of BU’s integrated design team. Take the lead on creating and improving websites through outstanding design. Manage, build, and grow Boston University’s nationally recognized and award-winning online magazine, Bostonia. Coordinate successful issue launches, liase between the magazine editor and the design team, and play a key role in enhancing the content management system (a customized installation of WordPress). Plus, participate in the design and front-end development of other WordPress-powered websites and editorial channels across the university.
Position: Graphic Designer / Project Manager
Company: Community Blueprint
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Create campaigns for governmental and nonprofit organizations focus on public health behavior change in this multi-faceted opportunity. A little experience with print and web design, project management skills, and an understanding of WordPress sets you up for success in this role. Your time will be split managing multiple projects and doing design for some or them.
Position: Web Designer
Company: Global Bioethics Initiative
Location: New York, NY
Jump right in to help create and launch a new website for the Global Bioethics Initiative, focused on serving as an educational resource and a database for breaking news and research in the fields of organ trafficking and organ transplantation. The site will be made – ideally – using WordPress. Take your Skillcrush skills and create a beautiful, user-friendly, and content-centered site to cover organs, tissues, cells donation, and biotechnology policy trafficking stories.
Position: Content Marketing Manager
Location: San Francisco, CA
Put your marketing chops to work at this content marketing company, InfoScout. The current blog, InfoScout.co, is only scratching the surface of what can be done with the company’s data – so you will report directly to the CEO in this amazing opportunity to take the content to the next level. Bring your go-getter attitude to optimizing content, managing the WordPress blog, and growing the InfoScout newsletter base!
When you ask a web server for a page, it’s PHP’s job to create it. When you browse a WordPress blog or make a post on Facebook, PHP is putting it all together.
If you wanted a very simple PHP page to greet you every time you looked at it, it might look something like this:
<?php echo “Hi there stranger!”; ?>
That would make a web page that looked like this:
Hi there stranger!
One of the reasons many people learn PHP instead of Ruby or Python is that it comes installed on pretty much every web server out there. If you happen to have a bit of web space to your name, chances are you’re able to run PHP.
Cocktail Party Fact
PHP supposedly stands for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.” If you said “Hey, but that doesn’t say what PHP means!” then you get the point ;).
It’s back to school season parents! Are you excited? Frantic? Both? You have a lot on your plate – starting hectic morning routines anew, helping with homework, packing healthy lunches, managing after school activities, WHEW. And of-course during all this you’re probably wondering if your kids are learning the right things at school and how you can supplement their education at home.
You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of computer literacy and getting your kids into programming and coding. But with the abundance of apps, toys, and books available, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are my top 4 choices for parents looking to get their young ones into tech:
This iPad app lets kids drag and drop functioning blocks of code to build their own programs. The app teaches kids programming fundamentals as well as critical thinking and problem solving skills in a creative environment. The app fosters a “learn by experimenting” attitude and encourages kids to play and try things and see what works. Hopscotch was actually inspired by Scratch, # 3 on this list. Hopscotch cofounders Jocelyn Leavitt and Samantha John hope to get girls into programming earlier and help fill the void of women in tech.
2. Hello Ruby
We love everything about Linda Liukas and her upcoming children’s book Hello Ruby. The book raised $100k in 24 hours on Kickstarter and more than exceeded its initial goal of $10k by raising just over $380k at the end of its campaign. The book aims to teach 4-7 year olds about programming and open source culture through a smart, mischievous female protagonist and her whimsical adventures. Parents get a workbook so they can learn and help their kids solve problems in the accompanying activity book. We interviewed Liukas at the completion of her Kickstarter project – you can read that interview here.
Scratch is a brainchild of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT’s Media Lab. It’s a programming language and comes with an extensive online community of it’s own. It’s designed for kids aged 8-16 and is totally free to use. Scratch allows students to create their own animations, interactive stories and much more. It uses drag and drop blocks of code similar to Hopscotch.
I learned about Tynker from my old boss, who’s wife Tanya homeschools their 3 kids. Tynker provides self-paced courses with tutoring baked right in. Their tutorials are interactive and fun for kids, allowing them to unlock achievements and badges, create customized projects and characters and build video games while they learn programming concepts. Sharing projects on the web with others is a big focus of Tynker’s and they hold summer camps to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing. They occasionally run workshops exclusively for girls as well.
Are you an old hat at getting kids into tech? Know all the cool, fun, hip new programming and tech apps, toys and tools out there? Share your top picks in the comments below!
A great morning routine can really make or break your day. In her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam writes, “Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself first. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen.”
Even if you have never considered yourself a morning person, you are going to have to figure out how to work around that as some of the most successful people in the world attribute a lot of their productivity to a stellar morning routine. Check out these kings and queens of technology and their amazing morning routines.
Can you say early riser? Warrior wakes up at 4:30 a.m., reads email for an hour, checks out the news, exercises, and gets her son ready for school. She is in the office by 8:30 at the latest and starts her workday.
David Karp, Founder of Tumblr
The 28 year old founder and CEO of Tumblr, puts off checking his email until he gets to the office around 9:30 am, unlike many of his CEO colleagues. I guess he is of the philosophy that you should not start your day by checking email. As quoted in Inc. Magazine, “Reading e-mails at home never feels good or productive . If something urgently needs my attention, someone will call or text me.”
Steve Jobs, late Apple CEO
Jobs spent his mornings re-evaluating his work and his goals in life. In his speech to a graduating class at Stanford, Jobs said:
For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
Mayer is another early riser. We aren’t sure of the time but she has admitted she really doesn’t need much sleep to thrive (between four and six hours of sleep on any given night). Of course, this is also the woman who said there are 130 hours of potential work time in a week if you shower strategically.
Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab
Goldberg is definitely of the school of thought that working out first thing in the morning makes you productive for the rest of the day. According to research, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, on exercise days, people’s mood significantly improved after exercising. Goldberg told Inc.
I start my day at 6 every morning, and the first thing I do is check overnight emails. Our technology team is based in India, so they’re ahead of us. After I respond to any urgent emails, I do my morning run on the treadmill at a full steep incline for 30 minutes. I try not to think about work. Instead, I watch TV shows on my iPad. Currently, I’m watching ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’–I’m up to Season Six. My other favorite shows are ‘Top Chef,’ ‘Dexter,’ and ‘Mad Men.’
Alexa Von Tobel, CEO and Founder of LearnVest
Von Tobel is also in support of a morning workout followed by a plan to the minute day. She told The Observer:
I start with an early morning workout (whether a power walk with friends, barre class or spin class), which is critical to feeling energized for the whole day. My calendar is often scheduled down to 15-minute intervals, so I can (attempt to!) make time for everything — internal and external meetings, speaking events, interviews, etc. I try to put as much as possible on auto-pilot (ex: using shortcuts like eating basically the same thing for breakfast and lunch). Also, I like to tackle the hardest things first, so I think through my priorities the night before and make sure I have time for my most strategic work.
When starting a web site or a blog of any kind on WordPress there are certain plugins that can make your life 1000x easier. Not only will they save you time, but plugins can bring your site to the next level by making it more usable, searchable, and innovative.
So what is this magical “plugin” we speak of? A plugin is simply a program that you can install to add a specific feature to your website. For WordPress, these plugins are written in PHP and integrate seamlessly with your site.
Installing A Plugin
Installing a plugin can be a little bit tricky if you haven’t done it before. First, log in to your WordPress admin page (https://[yourdomain.com]/wp-admin). From the admin dashboard, look to the left sidebar menu. There is an option on that menu to choose called “Plugins.” Click it! You’ll open the plugins settings tab. From here, there are two main ways to install:
1. Search for a plugin in the plugins library
When you open the plugins setting tab, there is a search box on the main page. Type in the name of the specific plugin you are looking for, or a keyword (i.e. “SEO”) to find a list of options. You can also search by popular, new, favorites, or pre-determined keywords. Once you search, a list of matching results will appear. Research them by clicking “details” or install right away by clicking “install now.”
2. Upload your plugin
You can download a plugin as a .zip file to your computer, and then upload it to your site. Click the “upload” tab in the top navigation on the plugins settings tab, choose the file, and voila! Your plugin will upload and install for you. An important note is that you can only upload files in .zip format, so if you get an error message, check that!
Every plugin is slightly different with the setup required once it is installed – some require none at all, and others require a bit of work. Click into your plugin once you install it to make sure you follow the correct steps to get it up and running!
Must Have Plugins
As you will see, there are thousands of plugins to choose from. What makes a plugin a must-have? Here’s the criteria we like to use at Skillcrush:
- Will the plugin make your site faster?
- Will the plugin reduce spam?
- Will the plugin help you better accomplish your site goals?
We scoured to find you a few wonderfully helpful plugins that will accomplish just that! Try them out to make running your website much easier:
This is a great plugin for getting rid of annoying comment spam. If you are frequently disapproving or deleting spam comments, you need this. [Download here]
This plugin makes it much easier for search engines to go through your content. And, when a search engine can better index your content, it is more likely to show up in searches! Plus, this plugin notifies search engines whenever you publish a new post. [Download here]
This is a fun plugin for web designers to use to make it easy for your clients to show how pleased they are with your work! It creates a new custom post type specifically for client stories and testimonials. These “client pages” can be sorted by category, linked to blog posts, and more. [Download here]
This plugin is super useful for ANY blog: it is the ultimate optimization plugin. It enables you to determine how your post will look on Facebook and Google. It also allows you to optimize your page or post for Google search. There is a reason there have been over 7 million downloads to date! [Download here]
This plugin will get your stuff shared on social media seamlessly. Plus, it looks gorgeous on your site! [Download here]
This plugin will help your site load faster (which, especially if you have a lot of high-resolution photos or images, is quite important). It has page cache, minification, database caching, CDN integration and browser caching to speed up loading times for site visitors. [Download here]
This plugin fully automate the internal linking process of your WordPress blog. One of the best ways to keep people on your site and improve SEO is to link between your own site content and posts, and this makes it straightforward and no-brainer. It also can convert specific keywords into internal and affiliate links. [Download here]
This plugin integrates video into your site in a big way. You simply put a shortcode into any page or post, and users will be able to record short videos, up to three minutes in length. It’s a fun feature to add, if you have a creative way to use it! [Download here]
If you ever filled out a contact form on a blog, it very well may be through Contact Form. This plugin provides easy contact forms for blogs (i.e. contact us for help / advertising, etc.). It also works in conjunction with Askimet (above!) so there won’t be any spam abuse with these forms. [Download here]
Do you have any particularly helpful WordPress plugins? We’re always on the lookout for new favorites! Let us know.