There are thousands of ways to build a website. From hand coding all of your HTML / CSS to simple HTML templates, to Dreamweaver and Frontpage (is that still around?), to all of the various content management systems (CMS) packages – Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress to name a few.
I created my first website my freshman year in college back in 1995- the year Al Gore invented the internet. Back when there was only one internet and I could surf the entire thing in one night. It was all hand coded. I probably had my share of free GeoCities websites too. Website back then was so boring and basic – and a pain in the ass to develop and maintain.
Then along came Frontpage. It was great for putting together a quick website, using their WYSIWYG editor… But the code behind a Frontpage website was a horrible, jumbled mess. I never really got involved with any of the other web design packages, including Dreamweaver – but I have heard great things about it.
Fast fwd to a few years ago, when I finally learned about blogging. I set up my first blog on blogger.com. I then progressed to wordpress.com, until I finally realized that my hosting account had a cool little feature called Fantastico De Luxe – which allows you to install various scripting packages and cms products for free with a few clicks of the mouse. Thanks to my coding and HTML background, I am now able to easily poke my way around WordPress and figure out where all of the files are located and what they do, allowing me to customize almost any template any way that I want to.
But the thing I like most about WordPress is that you do not need any of that experience with HTML or coding to get started. The learning curve is pretty manageable. I even poked around one day with Joomla and Drupal and decided that they were too cumbersome to try to learn and I did not see the benefit of either product over the use of WordPress. I have not found a website project that I have not been able to compete with WordPress. As Glen mentions in his $1M Case Study post: “It has thousands of custom designs out there to choose from, it’s easy to tweak, and the interface makes it very easy to add new website pages. Quite simply: WordPress is the best solution for my needs, so that’s what I’m going with.”
As Glen mentions above, there are thousands of custom designs at your fingertips. I use many premium designs from STUDIOPRESS, but even then I like to go in an make some customizations to make my theme unique. And although a premium theme is cool to have, there are still thousands of free themes that look almost as nice and are just as easy to customize. A quick google search for “Free WP Themes” should get you started on your search.
My Top 5 Favorite WordPress Plugins (in no particular order)
The best part of using WordPress is the number of free plugins that can be installed to add functionality to your website. Whenever I set up a new affiliate niche website, there are some of the plugins that I cannot live without:
- Akismet – Hey, it’s free and comes with your WordPress installation – but I often times forget to activate it. That is until I start getting bombarded with spam comments. I quickly make use of this plugin and 99% of all spam is blocked.
- Yoast SEO – Great for adding custom keywords, titles, and descriptions on individual pages. Many other features for automatically optimizing your SEO. Also, check out All in One SEO Pack for some of the same features.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Use this to automatically generate a dynamic sitemap for your blog. A sitemap is essential to help the spiders find all of the pages on your site.
- CommentLuv – Allows your readers to link back to their most recent blog post, encouraging more comments.
- PHPBay – I’ve already written about this one before here, but this allows you to quickly list eBay items on your site. Combine this with the WordPress search results page and you have a quick and dirty way to create fast thin niche websites. Look for my blog post on this in the near future.
There are so many more awesome plugins that can do so many great things, but these 5 get installed with just about every website that I create. I will add these plugins to my Resources page and then add any other plugins that I find useful as I come across them.
Are you a fan of WordPress? If so, what are some plugins that YOU like to us with your blog? Share with me in the comments below.