Introduction to The WordPress Masterclass

Welcome to this WordPress Masterclass

You are about to join thousands of other webmasters who have used this Masterclass to build their own WordPress websites, from scratch, even if they were complete beginners!

Before we start, let’s make one thing quite clear. This Masterclass is deliberately aimed at those who have no previous experience of WordPress. That means I assume you really are starting from zero: you’ve never done this before but you are eager to learn. If that’s the case, I promise you that, by the time you have worked through this Masterclass, you will have a solid grounding in all you need to know about how to create a working website.

And I’ve deliberately kept the Masterclass as short as possible. That’s because I want to take you through the basics of building your own website in the quickest manner possible.

I want you to learn speedily without getting distracted by non-essentials or heavy tech. Sure, you can buy a 1,000-page bumper WordPress guide that will turn you into an expert world-authority(!) but it won’t help you get on-line any quicker.

What I will promise you is that, if you follow along the lessons in this Masterclass, do exactly as I tell you (yes, Ma’am!), step by step, then you’ll end up with your very own website that you built yourself, even if this is the first time you have ever ventured into the on-line world.

Why should I build my own website when I can easily get online for free?

Having your own web presence is now pretty much essential in today’s on-line world. Everyone now seems have their own pages on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the many other social networks. But the problem is that these free site-building services can come and go, change the rules without notice, and impose restrictions. Some free services can shut your site down if they don’t approve of your content.

Many will clutter up your site with trashy ads and your free site can disappear overnight if the service goes bust or gets taken over. And they offer little or no technical support when you really need it.

So why should I build my own website on my own domain?

The answer is that, with your own privately registered domain and hosting account, YOU own and control the website, no-one else. You can put whatever you like on your site (within the bounds of legality), make it look how you want and no-one can tell you otherwise. You are your own boss.

And, with your own website, you can build your own distinctive brand, whether you are a small business or a community group, an individual, or whatever. You can make your site look and behave how you like, whether for e-commerce, or for publicity purposes, as an information resource – or just a personal blog.

Your domain becomes your very own exclusive web address, your own piece of on-line virtual ‘real estate’ that plays its part in publicizing your mission or message.

These days, if you don’t have your own on-line web presence, you are invisible.

You can create an email address on your domain, print your domain address on your business cards, add it to your email signature and quote in all your off-line literature.

Your own website on your own domain gives you identity, visibility and, indeed, status.

But don’t I need a professional web designer to make a good job of building a website?

No, definitely not! This was once the case in the early days of the Internet because only a few tech-savvy geeks knew and understood the computer language (HTML) that translated your words and pictures into the code that browsers understand.

But as the technology has advanced, so have the tools to build websites become more accessible. WordPress is one of these tools and WordPress is the subject of this Masterclass.

What if I’m not a technical wizard – will I understand all the jargon about web-building?

With this Masterclass you don’t need to know any jargon or gobbledygook – I explain it all in plain English as we go along. As you use the system it will begin to click into place and you’ll understand what you need to know and what you don’t.

If you can use a word processor you can build your own WordPress website – it’s that simple – I promise! And it doesn’t matter whether you use a Windows pc or a Mac laptop or even a tablet – WordPress works independently of your local operating system.

How much will it cost to do it all myself?

Peanuts. The only thing you absolutely have to spend money on is a domain and the services of a web hosting company that will host your website for you. You can get this for the cost of a couple of cappuccinos a month.

For this price you can get your web hosting account from one of the leading WordPress hosting companies, wherever you are in the world and in your local currency.

Of course you can spend money on other tools and services if you want, but, for a simple website that you build yourself you really don’t need to spend any more money than that.

What Is WordPress?

WordPress is a powerful (and free!) package of software that sits in the background on your web server (the remote computer where your domain is hosted) and performs all the technical processing that delivers your content to your visitors on their laptops, tablets, phones or whatever devices they’re using.

Once WordPress is installed on your domain you don’t need to do anything to make it work. It just sits there and performs its magic entirely behind the scenes.

WordPress provides a WYSIWYG (‘what you see is what you get’) interface to you, the web master, that bypasses the need to know any HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, MySQL or any other coding language.

Once the hangout of hobbyists and bloggers, WordPress has now evolved into a powerful and sophisticated web platform that supports a host of features both for professional and do-it-yourself webmasters.

The terms ‘blog’ and ‘website’ are now effectively synonymous as far as our usage of WordPress is concerned. Pundits use the two terms interchangeably because the technology platform behind both is exactly the same.

WordPress is now actually used by some of the major players on the Internet as a complete Content Management System (CMS). Think CNN, the Library of Congress, Vogue, Renault, the New Yorker, Time.com, Smithsonian Museum, Tribune Media – they all use WordPress as part of their Internet presence.

And, in addition to the experts, millions of ordinary people and small businesses around the world also use WordPress as their platform of choice to make their appearance on the web.

What’s so special about WordPress?

  • WordPress is FREE and open-source
  • WordPress is stable and maintained by an army of experts
  • WordPress contains numerous behind-the-scenes features that make creating your own website a breeze

WordPress is wonderful, but it has a reputation for being difficult. This is, in part, due to the documentation.

WordPress was originally written by programmers, for programmers, and the instructions (‘codex’, as it’s termed) are often written in tech-speak and seem to assume that you know what they are talking about in the first place. This has improved in recent versions, but it can still be a challenge if you are not a fully paid-up techie.

I know all this. I’m a computer programmer myself. I actually am a techie (and proud of it!) but I can also write plain English. In this tutorial, I just concentrate on the basic essentials of WordPress and ignore all the complications that you don’t need to know when you’re first starting out.

WordPress.com v WordPress.org

Before we begin, let me explain the difference between these two versions of WordPress.

WordPress.com is a free site-building tool offered by Automattic Inc, the company that invented and runs WordPress. It was originally offered as a blogging platform but it now hosts sites of many different varieties. On WordPress.com you get free web hosting and a slightly restricted version of WordPress. So why not go for free? The difference is that you don’t own the site – WordPress does.

And they have restrictions as to what you can put on your site and how you can build it. Yes, you can buy a domain and use it to redirect to your WordPress.com site but your website is still not totally under your control. And they’ll put ads on your site unless you pay them not to do so.

So, to be your own boss over your own website (or blog) you need to use the full version – WordPress.org – which is what this Masterclass is all about. Serious webmasters all use self-hosted WordPress.org and in this Masterclass I explain exactly how to use it, lesson by lesson.

How To Use This Masterclass

The best way to use this tutorial is to sit down at your laptop (Windows, Mac or whatever – it doesn’t matter what hardware, operating system or browser you are using) with this Masterclass beside you and follow each lesson, step by step.

Because WordPress is now so sophisticated and flexible, it can sometimes be difficult for newcomers to see the wood from the trees. So I have broken this Masterclass down into two levels:

  • Quick Start Guide
  • In-Depth Guide

The Quick Start Guide, covering Lessons 1 – 10, is intended to get you up and running, building your own WordPress website, mostly using the default settings, and avoiding as many of the technicalities as possible.

When you have completed lessons 1 – 10 you will have a basic, working website that you can continue to build and use without any further tweaking. For many people, this is all they may ever need.

The In-Depth Guide takes you further than just the basics and introduces some of the more sophisticated and functional options that WordPress provides to help you make your website more efficient and unique.

Lessons 11 – 20 take the basic website that you built in the Quick Start Guide and help you develop it on to become a feature-rich resource, tailored for your purposes.

And as we go through these lessons I illustrate the tools I am teaching by building a website (www.sarahmcharry.com) from scratch, right before your eyes. You can copy what I’m doing step by step and the techniques you’ll learn will quickly click into place. And you can access this demo website and see it for yourself.

At the end of each lesson there are one or more Action Steps for you to take to help you put into practice what you have just learned. If you take the time to complete the Action Steps between each lesson then you’ll have your website completed all the quicker.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) also appear at the end of each lesson and cover the main queries people often ask when they’ve read the lesson. The FAQs may not be relevant to you but they could just add a little bit of extra know-how when it is needed.

When you’ve completed all twenty lessons and performed the action steps as outlined you will have created a real live, working WordPress website just like the professionals! And you’ll be well-equipped to discover for yourself any of the more advanced features that, as a web master, you may wish to investigate.

Right, let’s get started!


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