Stuck Trying to Learn WordPress? WPBeginner Offers Tutorials and Tips

At BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2012 I had the opportunity to interview one of the speakers, Syed Balkhi, President of Awesome Motive Inc., about the importance of having a blog. His company owns WPBeginner, a free WordPress resource site, providing tips and tutorials for users of the WordPress content management platform. In my last post, I discussed the offerings of several exhibitors at BlogWorld.  This video of our conversation was taped at the SocialChorus Interview Lounge in the exhibit area. Below the video is a follow-up interview I conducted with Syed by email.

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, BlogWorld NYC 2012.

Your site WPBeginner contains excellent information and video tutorials for someone who is just starting out with a WordPress blog. Why did you create this site and what do you gain from it?

Thank you for the compliment regarding WPBeginner. It feels great to know that I have created something helpful for so many.

In early 2009, I decided that my design company would migrate all our clients to WordPress. After a while, I realized that we were answering the same questions over and over for our clients. I knew that we had to figure out an efficient way to handle this. My options were to create a PDF with all the frequently asked questions. Or I could create an online wiki, or community website, for our clients. That’s what I decided to do with WPBeginner.

At the time, most WordPress related sites were for developers by developers. In our site, we tried to offer resources for beginners from a beginner’s perspective. I noticed that my developer friends were sending their clients to the site. Within a short time we were getting thousands of page views and questions from readers.

Often our answers to those questions ended up becoming blog posts where we could share information with other readers. Soon I started seeing sites like Mashable, Smashing Magazine, and others start linking to our resources. Long story short, it became a trusted, authority website in the niche.

Not to be crass, but how do you make money when giving away so much content?

WPBeginner helped grow my web development business even further. Without planning to, we had evolved into what’s called a Freemium model. By giving away content we were able to build our reputation and start charging people for more customized services.

We started working with clients that I would never have imagined — Fortune 500 companies. Aside from consulting and work-for-hire, we do make money from advertisements and affiliate commissions from the products that we recommend.

In viewing the videos, I wonder whether there is enough description for a true WP newbie? What if someone needs more personal hand holding?

One of our biggest struggles is deciding how technical to get in the videos. There are users at all levels. Our videos do a pretty good job explaining the WordPress dashboard and the basic features. If someone needs personal hand holding, we do offer WordPress consulting. More businesses are using the WordPress platform instead of static websites so if you’re someone starting out on WordPress, your own IT consultant can no doubt help you, too.

What are some of the blogs you’ve helped to design?

We have designed the blogs for Mercer, BuySellAds, Webs Inc., Milo, ContactMe, CrazyEgg, Flowtown, and many others.

What do you feel are the two or three most important issues that a new blogger should know about?

I think the single biggest mistake that beginning bloggers make is having the wrong setup. They start out with a blog that’s too complicated and with too many bells and whistles. Get yourself familiar with the platform. Then you can add special landing pages, pop-ups, etc. We can get a new blogger started with our Free WordPress Blog Setup.

Also, folks often don’t know the plugins to use. There are literally thousands of plugins. People add many that they never use which slows down a site’s loading time. And some plugins are not reliable. (Note, plugins add functionality to a blog such as blocking spam or optimizing SEO). So we’ve created a page, or blueprint  that lists all the tools and plugins that we recommend.

Next, many bloggers think it is about how frequently you write. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. I would much rather write one really kick-ass post per week than write one low quality post per day. No matter what you do, be consistent. If you write one post a week, then do that. If you write one post day, then do that. But make sure it’s a quality post.

Lastly, please do not automate your social media. I see a lot of new bloggers try to automate their social media by automatically publishing their posts on Twitter and facebook. Take your time to engage with your audience.

Would you agree that even an experienced blogger needs occasional support from an IT consultant? I know that I do.

Of course, everyone needs an IT consultant at some point. Just because you are an experienced blogger does not mean that you are a server admin, a PHP developer, a graphic designer, or can master HTML code. We can help or find an IT consultant who excels at the WordPress platform.

Why do you think it’s important for a business to have a blog?

I think of blogs as the heart that pumps the blood to social media outlets. I often see corporations relying on press releases and mentions in other well-known publications. However that is a short-term plan that leaves your company vulnerable in the long term because you are always dependent on someone else’s audience. Having a blog allows you to attract new users and create your own loyal fan base.

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Comments

  1. Nice video Jeannette! So nice to see a video that looks professional on a blog. Usually the videos featured are terrible.

    Good that this kind of services exist for beginners. Took me some time to figure out how WordPress works when I started.

    • Thanks, Catarina. I literally met Syed five minutes before going on camera, so there was a lot of “winging it.” But when you’re passionate about blogging, as we are, it became an easy conversation. I was glad to learn about WPBeginner, too.

  2. Jeannette,
    Great post. We use WordPress as our website and blog CMS, so I’m always looking for tips.

    We’re also working hard to improve our SEO – would love to see your thoughts/advice on that in a future blog post.

    Hope your summer is going well!

    • Hi Maria — good to hear from you. SEO is a dense and complicated topic. I know enough about SEO to know that I don’t know enough! I will try to find someone more expert to write a blog about it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. What a great video. It was really fun to see this interview with Syed.

    I am still learning all the nuances of WordPress. Figuring it all out has been an adventure and I believe that this is really a never ending process.

    • Thanks, Susan. You make a valid point. There is always something new to learn about WordPress and it is a never-ending process.

  4. Jeannette, it’s so cool to hear you speak! I’ve used WP Beginner, and it’s true, so many WordPress sites are written by developers for developers. Like Syed, I enjoy teaching a variety of people WordPress. Recently, I converted our local library’s website to WordPress, and I was thrilled when the director emailed me that she had updated the board members on her own (I hadn’t even trained her – she just figured it out).

    • Leora — thanks. I enjoy reading your posts, although you are way more advanced than I am. You use HTML-speak and can really scramble under the WordPress hood to figure things out!

  5. Awesome video! Thanks for taking the time to come by our booth and chat with Syed, it was great meeting you and we hope you enjoyed the experience at the SocialChorus lounge!

    We love going to events like BlogWorld to meet new media content creators like yourself that are evangelizing new media.

    Hope you found the platform easy to use, and please let us know if you have any questions.

    Bobby Isaacson
    Manager of Business Development at SocialChorus
    bobby.isaacson@socialchorus.com

    • Bobby — it was my pleasure. Thanks for enabling me to conduct the interview with Syed. It was great meeting you and your team, too. You’re quite right — these conferences enlarge our circle of new media contacts which is all to the good.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing the video on your blog Jeannette and being a part of our Interview Lounge at BlogWorld! Your interview turned out awesome!

    Anna
    SocialChorus, Social Media Manager

    • Thanks, Anna. It was fun interviewing Syed. I appreciated the opportunity to do so at your Interview Lounge.

  7. You are a natural on video Jeannette. I know when I started with WordPress it was a bit daunting and I haven’t heard of WPbeginner. You should do more video interviews.

    • Thanks, Susan. Great sound system. You wouldn’t have guessed how much noise and activity was just out of camera range. I know I should do more videos. Maybe this is the push I need!

  8. Bethany — glad the this resource will be helpful to you. Every blogging “guru” I’ve read over the years advises giving away your content free, at least in the beginning. Then as your subscriber base grows from all that great content you can begin to sell them services that add even more value.

  9. Wow, this is great, Jeannette! You’ve really taken it to the next level. You were great and hearing Syed’s story was great too. I’m going to check this out a little more. It might be time to take the leap to wordpress. I know, I know.

    • Thanks, Dennis. I had no idea you weren’t using WordPress. Just looked and you’re on Blogger. I think you will find WP easy to work with and you’ll get a lot more functionality. Glad the video nudged you to try it!

  10. Great information Jeannette. The WPbeginner is really helpful. When I started with WP, it was really hard to fix some of the things my own. Thanks for the wonderful bloggers who really help.

    • Bindhurani — I’m glad you you found WPBeginner helpful. Lot of good information on their site. Bloggers are a pretty helpful bunch — we try to help each other.

  11. Hey Jeannette,

    Thanks for sharing this post! I could say, I am next to beginner when it comes to WordPress management and I believe I could learn so many things yet esp. handling complex things in WP. Thanks also for WPBeginner blog. It is the best guide for me.

    • Mia, Glad I could help. I just took a look at your site which is nicely designed. I have a suggestion: move your search box to the top of the page where people can easily find it.

  12. Great video and super helpful information. Being a WordPress novice myself, I am spending far too much time trying and fixing (mainly self-imposed) issues, rather than creating the amount of content I want to. WPBeginner seems to be the remedy here. Thanks much for sharing the video. Keep them coming 🙂

    • Trevor — thanks, I’m glad the video was helpful. There is a lot to learn, but I think your blog is providing lots of useful information to contract attorneys.

  13. Joanna — Overweight passengers is a problem. I know an overweight executive who always buys two seats when she travels, which is thoughtful of other passengers. But not everyone can afford to do that.

  14. Great video, Jeannette! I used to frequent WPBeginner when I was starting my blog. Every now and then, I still go back to it for a bit of a refresher.