While you can create a static HTML website or use any number of content management systems, I highly recommend setting up your website using self-hosted WordPress (as opposed to WordPress.com's free hosting). The process is fairly simple. WordPress, between its themes and plugins, can handle just about anything you'd want to do with your professional site, and by going with a self-hosted site you won't have limitations on how it can be used, what plugins and tools you can use, and how it can later be redirected if you want to move it.
So for this week's round-up, let's focus on WordPress -- how to set up your site, plugins you might want to consider, and a theme I highly recommend.
4 WordPress Posts from All Freelance Writing's Archives
To kick things off, here are some posts from my archives that might help you in building your professional website on WordPress:
In this first post in my series on WordPress for writers, I introduce you to WP's theme repository (where you can find free site designs). Then I walk you through some of the early things you'll want to do after installing WordPress in your hosting account, from setting up your content structure to going through your standard settings options.
In this follow-up post, I share some of my favorite WordPress plugins with you. I've run dozens of WordPress sites, and some of these have become standards for me. While this list is a few years old, some I'd still highly-recommend from this list are anti-spam, WordPress SEO by Yoast, Contact Form 7, and WP Fastest Cache. I'll do an update of this post a little further down the road with a fresh plugin list, but those are a good starting place.
In the final post in my "WordPress for Writers" series, I walk you through some tips and tricks for your new WordPress site, from customizing and protecting your login page to limiting the number of post revisions WordPress stores to your database to cut down on your database size and improve site speeds. Like the last post, this one is also due for an update in the near future, to fix some formatting issues and give you some updated plugin suggestions. But there are also some direct code snippets you can use in the meantime.
In this post I share some WordPress plugins that can help you go beyond building a basic site. You'll find a plugin that can help you build a project brief form for prospects, one that can help you create a public availability calendar, one that can help you create a private client area on your site, and more.
4 Additional WordPress Resources
Here are some posts and resources you can find elsewhere that will help you use WordPress to build your freelance writer website:
This short guide will walk you through the simple manual installation process for self-hosted WordPress. (You'll need a hosting account and domain name to do this.) Note that some hosts have their own one-click-style installations to make this even easier.
If I had to recommend only one WordPress theme, it would be Divi from Elegant Themes. I've been a customer of theirs for about 7 years, and I've used quite a few premium WordPress themes in the 14 years or so I've been building sites. Divi is hands-down the best. I've slowly been moving almost all of my sites to it, and it's the theme All Freelance Writing itself is built on. If you're looking for a premium theme with decent support and plenty of flexibility, play around with the demo and see if this one might suit you.
Because WordPress is a popular CMS, that makes it a frequent target of hackers. So it's important to secure your site as soon as you set it up. This guide will run you through some of the most important basics (beyond keeping your installations, themes, and plugins up-to-date).
In addition to security, you'll want to make sure your freelance writer website loads quickly. And when adding themes and plugins to a WordPress site, it's easy to slow things down enough to turn off visitors. This guide will help you test your site speed after you set it up. Then it goes over common tricks and tweaks that can help you improve your site's performance.
Do you have WordPress tips, tricks, or questions? Share them in the comments.