Are you having a hard time with WordPress? Are you frustrated because you can’t make the changes or edits that you want? Do you feel like you change one thing and then three others break? Do you feel like it should be a lot simpler to just add in a picture or change a color?
Yeah, I hear you! I used to feel like that, as well. When I first started building with WordPress, I would struggle with making even basic edits like fonts or colors. I would set out to do something simple, like add in more photos or just switch the order of sections. And I would get so frustrated that I would be ready to throw my laptop out the window.
Since then, I’ve become a professional freelance web developer, and I’ve learned a ton in the process. I’ve come to figure out that my (and my clients’) frustrations with WordPress were not actually due to WordPress, but to other factors. If you’re considering moving away from WordPress because you’re frustrated with it, read on for some other options first.
One big mistake I made at first was using WordPress .COM instead of WordPress .ORG.
Wait, aren’t those the same thing, you might ask? And yes, that would be an absolutely reasonable question. What’s UNreasonable is creating two very different platforms, that work entirely differently and have entirely different functions and giving them almost the exact same name. And you know what, that’s exactly what they did.
When I first started building my teaching resources website for my first business, I thought I found a loophole. I thought I could just get WordPress .com and not have to pay extra for hosting and a domain and all of that stuff. It seemed way easier than using the .org version, so I just assumed I was way smarter than everyone else, lol. Voila, problems solved, right?
Definitely not. In fact, without realizing it, I had made things way, way worse. What I didn’t realize is that there’s a reason WordPress .com is cheaper and seemingly easier. And that’s because it doesn’t really do any of the things I wanted it to do. You can’t monetize a WordPress .com site at all. And that’s very counterintuitive, because it’s literally called ‘.com.’ The .org/ free version is the one you can monetize and customize.
But I thought WordPress was supposed to be SOOO easy to work with? Almost half the internet is using WordPress for blogging, online stores, all sorts of things. What was going on here?
What was going on was that I was using free WordPress themes. Free themes are great if you happen to find exactly what you’re looking for, in the right colors and fonts and layouts. They’re also great if you just need to get something up on the internet and you’re not picky about what it looks like. But in my experience, that doesn’t describe most business owners and bloggers. Most of us have a vision for what we want for our companies and our websites. And it’s very, very difficult to find a free theme that lives up exactly to those expectations. Like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But there are SO many cute, free themes out there, you protest! Yeah, there are! It’s fun to look through them and even to try some of them out, I totally agree. Web designers are so creative and I get lots of ideas from other free themes. But I promise you, the second you try to customize it, you’re going to hit a wall. Those themes are free for a reason.
What’s the solution? How do I stop being frustrated with my WordPress theme?
So what did I do? Keep struggling trying to add CSS code and wrangle the free theme into submission? I mean, you could do that, I suppose. But I would recommend getting a better theme.
WordPress is used by a large chunk of the internet. Assuming you’re using the correct version (.org and not .com), you’re in good company. There are tons of resources for WordPress out there and many web developers (like me!) specialize in it. So we know that WordPress is actually a very good option.
That leaves the hosting and the theme. One or the other or both of these cause my clients endless headaches. We often think the issue is with WordPress itself, when really one of these is the culprit behind all the problems.
<h4>Check your hosting.</h4>
First, let’s look at the hosting. I can’t even tell you the number of urgent messages I’ve gotten when a client has severe problems with Go Daddy or Fat Cow or Bluehost. In all the years I’ve been a web developer, we’ve never had a problem with SiteGround. So, if you’re frustrated with your WordPress site, switching hosting companies could be the solution.
<h4>Check your theme.</h4>
If you have good hosting and you’re sure that’s not the issue, I would next look at the theme. There are a lot of cute themes out there, and it’s easy to get distracted by them, but they are free for a reason. They are usually not well developed or maintained. Or, they work great if you want them exactly as they are ‘out of the box’ and don’t want to change anything. On the other end of the equation, you have bloated themes that try to do too much. They end up being slow and overly complicated.
If you have one of these kinds of themes, I would recommend switching it out. It’s likely not going to be free, but it will save you hours and hours of frustration and will help you get the website you actually want for your blog or business. I gave up on the free themes and bought a lifetime license for Divi about 6 years ago and never went back. I highly recommend it! If you’re not sure if the WordPress/ Divi combo might work for you or not, check out these FAQs for more information.