It’s what every blogger fears. Something has gone wrong with their blog. It could be something minor, such as, as with my case, excerpts not working, or it could be something major, such as the site’s home page being nothing more than an error.
This is not the time to panic. Most problems with WordPress are easily corrected but there is a very real risk that, by attempting to fix the problem through the wrong methods, you may do more damage than the issue itself.
So take a deep breath and start troubleshooting the problem. To best do that, you have to first understand exactly what is going on and then take precautions to prevent the problem from getting worse before you take any additional steps. Fortunately, the process is actually fairly easy and most of it can be done by just about anyone.
Step 1: Understand the Problem
The first step is always to try and figure out exactly what is going on. If you get an error message, search for it using Google. Odds are you are not the first to see the error and you’ll likely find some good resources that explain the problem and how to fix it. Pay special attention to any results that come from the WordPress.org forums as they are likely going to be your best resources.
This should help you deal with any of the common mistakes. Issues such as bad database passwords and so forth are common enough that a quick Google search can find both the problem and the solution.
If you don’t have a specific error message, meaning that something is simply going wrong, try to replicate the problem and test different scenarios. If it is a problem in the admin panel, try logging in from different accounts. If it is a problem with posting comments, try logging in as yourself and posting as well as posting as a stranger.
When you think you understand the exact problem, try describing the symptoms in a Google search and see what you find. Even if you aren’t successful, you will still have a better handle on the problem and can better diagnose it down the road.
2. Consider the Changes
Next, think about if you’ve done anything to your site recently that might have triggered the problem. Especially with obscure problems, it may have taken you a few days to notice the issue so be prepared to stretch your memory in those cases. Here’s a list of some of the more common things that can trigger problems in WordPress.
- Updating WordPress Itself
- Installing/Updating Plugins
- Changing a Setting
- Moving to a New Host
- Switching Themes
In short, anything you did to alter or change your WordPress install any way, including many things that seem innocent, can cause problems. This is why it is important to keep track of what you’re doing in case something goes wrong.
By now you probably have either figured out what likely caused the problem or what the more common solutions via your searching. Either way, you’re probably ready to take some kind of action but, before you do, it is worthwhile to take a moment to backup.
If you don’t have a good, recent backup of your site it is imperative that you make one now. Specifically, you need to make sure you have a copy of your WP-Content directory, specifically your plugins, themes and uploads folders, as well as a copy of your database, which will likely be obtained from your Web host’s control panel.
Even though your site isn’t working perfectly, there is likely still plenty of useful data that may be in danger of being overwritten.
4. Follow Advice from Steps 1 & 2
If you got a tip on how to resolve an issue from one of your searches or can think of something that you did recently and can easily undo, take that step now. This can include following directions on the WordPress forums, deactivating a plugin you recently installed or reverting back to an old theme.
If any of these things fix the issue, you at least know what caused the problem and can move forward without it, at least until the problem is patched.
5. Check Your Plugins
If there was no help available, your recent action couldn’t be easily undone (such as with a WordPress upgrade) or the steps didn’t solve your problem, a good place to start looking is your plugins.
Deactivate all of your plugins and see if that corrects the problem. If you can’t access the admin panel, you can use FTP to rename the plugin directory temporarily. If that fixes the problem, then you can assume it is one of your plugins creating the issue. You can then reactivate one plugin at a time until the problem resurfaces, letting you know which plugin is causing the problem.
These types of issues are especially common after WordPress updates its core files as many plugins have compatibility issues with new versions. Once you have everything working, you can check to see if there are any updates for your plugins that may address the issue.
6. Check Your Database
Using your site’s control panel, open up your database and, if possible, perform a “repair” on it. This will fix any errors in the database and ensure that everything is running as smoothly as possible. This should only take a few moments on a large database and is relatively safe to do. However, once again, it is important to have a backup available in case data is lost.
7. Reinstall WordPress
If it is not a plugin issue, then you may want to make sure you have a good clean install of WordPress, especially if you just did an upgrade. Sometimes core files can become corrupted and create some odd errors. Download a new copy from WordPress’s site and upload it via FTP.
Generally this is safe to do with a good FTP program, but it is especially important to have your backup ready in the event something goes wrong.
8. Ask for Help
Nearly all WordPress problems are beaten by this point but, in the event you’ve gotten to this point and nothing has worked, it is time to ask for help. I would submit a post to the official WordPress forums and get the help of the gurus there. If your problem seems to be related to a specific theme or plugin, you should probably ask your question on its site.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to do so publicly. Remember, if others were hesitant to ask for help in the public sphere, there would be no results for others to search for.
In short, by asking for help and discussing your problem on a public site, you’re assisting those who follow you to find the answer they seek. They find the answer faster and the same question doesn’t have to be asked hundreds of times.
If you’ve got a WordPress problem, the most important thing is to not panic. Most of the problems can be easily addressed though, if you go in and start tearing things apart right off the bat, you may damage your site in ways that can’t be repaired.
Taking your time and being methodical will not only help you get your site online faster, but ensure that it’s available for a long time to come.
How About Helping Versus Pitching Top Bloggers?
I often get pitched guest post ideas from bloggers I do not know. Although I appreciate the offer I never take up these folks on their offer because I do not know them, their brand or anything they do. No way do I have the time to actually research the individual; I am a busy bee. Another email bites the dust. I either ignore the email or note guest posting closed long ago on my blog, then include a link to one of my eBooks, like this branding eBook.
Who guest posts on my blog? People who generously helped me, asked for nothing, expected nothing and relaxed. Relaxing is key. Bloggers who help me from a chill vibe often befriend me if they practice writing to hone their blogging skills. From there, opportunities multiply fast. Sweet backlinks on top blogs often flow your way. Traffic and profits increases slowly, steadily expand over time. Blogging buddies supply you with blog post ideas through their questions and problems. Everything grows because you helped top bloggers versus pitching them aka asking them for help. Even if you pitch a valuable guest post idea, the guest post idea serves no value unless you publish the guest post on a trusted, authority blog boasting a huge, loyal readership. Pitches seem worthless until content and links actually appear on top blogs, going live and public, for the world to see.
I often advise helping bloggers freely for months before considering any ask or pitch. Most times, blogging buddies invite you to guest post on their blogs. Blogging success flows to generous people because you get what you give. This is one of the advantages of blogging. Give freely, relax, trust in the process and receive easily. Place your needs to the side. Take care of your fellow blogger. Help them out via a retweet, Facebook Share or perhaps by promoting the blogger on your blog. Nobody needs to struggle blogging. Nobody needs to spend 4 hours daily sending blind pitches to blogging strangers. How about this? Spend those 4 hours patiently, persistently and generously helping people in your blogging niche. Help fellow bloggers to earn their trust. Assist fellow bloggers to befriend fellow bloggers. The split second you earn the trust of any blogger, you plant seeds for a beautiful, thriving, warm friendship. Gaining the trust of fellow bloggers inspires traffic and profits to flow to you. Forget the concept of pitching. I pitched 2 people during my 6 years of running Blogging From Paradise. One blogger pitch served as an experiment with an established, pro blogger and the other pitch served as the direct way to guest post for a 2 million member blogging community.
My 13,500 plus backlinks on Blogging From Paradise flowed to me after I pitched only 2 souls. Imagine that for a second. Observe the raw power of making friends, helping people, expecting nothing and being generous. Capitalize on the passive element of befriending bloggers through generous service. Tonight I will spend 90 minutes walking around my neighborhood. During that hour and a half, my blogging buddies will promote my blog and spread my word. Ditto for my 8 hours of sleep tonight; my blogging buddies grow my traffic and profits around the clock, adding an immensely powerful, passive element to my blogging campaign.
Being generous has some serious perks.
Should You Blog About Everything?
Blog about everything? I know this idea may be on your mind. Newbie bloggers especially ponder the idea.
I know blogging about anything on your mind seems like a good idea to new or even struggling bloggers. Maybe you gain mojo because you post daily, blogging about anything popping up in your dome. But this is a bad idea. Nobody should blog about any and every topic for the clear reason that nobody follows a specific blogger based on the blogger’s random thoughts, save world famous celebrities who built up a big following through some other niche.
Imagine a movie star begins blogging. Movie stars boast tens of millions of fans around the globe. Anything the star does, people hang on their every word, right? Imagine the icon publishing posts on a wide range of topics interesting to them. People read because of the star, not because of the wide range of broad topics. But imagine being a new blogger with zero followers. No movie stars read this post. Readers head for the hills the moment you change topics because no jack of all trades bloggers build credibility. Who has the time, energy and focus to be an expert in 5, 10 or 20 niches? No one does.
Blog About Everything?
Humans specialize. Doctors and lawyers do one thing and do it well because where attention and energy goes, grows. Imagine if your doctor delivered mail and picked up garbage professionally, too, working 2 jobs in addition to their medical practice. Would you trust her doctor skills? No. Of course not. People trust specialists because specialists devote all professional time and energy to one venture. Generalists? Nobody trusts someone who tries to master 2 or 5 or 10 skills simultaneously because thousands of other people master 1 skill, in these areas. We follow specialists and trust specialists. Generalists fade away.
If you want to blog about everything just ponder the specialist versus generalist point. Blogging about everything is trying to be a generalist. Nobody trusts you. Even though blogging about everything seems easy, seamless and almost effortless, people stop following your blog on each topic change. Imagine blogging about puppies one day. People who love puppies find your post, read it, enjoy it and follow your blog. Tomorrow, you publish about Chinese food. Puppy readers – who followed you for puppy content – skip the post…..most stop following your blog because puppy fans want only puppy-themed content. You just lost readers, for good.
Change Topics Lose Readers
Visualize the following day; you publish about relationships. Everybody stops following your blog. Perhaps a few relationships-focused folks read the post. But you lose trust the moment you shift topics again. Ultimately, who builds a large, targeted, loyal following, blogging about relationships? Relationships bloggers who blog about relationships 100% of the time. Specialists devote all blogging energy to mastering one topic, spending thousands of hours covering the topic, become skilled and trusted in the niche, build credibility and become successful. All multi topic bloggers blogging about everything fade away and vanish.
The world makes room for specialists. Generalists? Nope.
Pick one blogging topic. Blog about one thing. Focus on one discipline. Be a specialist, not a generalist, to be a leading blogger in your nice. Face your fear of releasing multiple passions to make room for a single passion. I know you fear letting go. I did too before creating Blogging From Paradise.
Google loves specialists too. Google turns its cyber nose down at generalists. I scanned a popular blogging key phrase a few moments ago. Guess what? I rarely note SEO but tidying up one blog post with some details for optimizing helped me reach page one on the search engine. Why? I specialize in the blogging tips niche. Apparently. Google interpreted through its complex algorithms that I published thousands of valuable blog posts on a single topic 100% of the time, virtually. Google traffic rocks. Impress the search engine gods by gaining search trust. Specialize. Stick to one blogging topic. Never blog about everything.
Let go the urge to blog about anything that comes to mind. New bloggers need release this notion to build the foundation for a successful blogging career. Specialize by picking one niche you love blogging about. Be a specialist, not a generalist, to succeed with your blogging campaign.
Do you want to be a pro blogger who circles the globe? Buy my eBook:
Avoid this Blogging Wake Up Call to Enjoy the Journey
Blogging need not be a lesson in harsh wake up calls. You can and will largely enjoy the journey by knowing this: success finds generous bloggers. Let that idea firmly impress onto your mind. Be with it. Allow the idea to worm its way into your consciousness until being generous becomes part of your being. Helping people for free boosts your skills and increases your exposure. Skilled bloggers with massive exposure become successful.
But one wake up call seems to find most bloggers who refuse to learn this lesson. Bloggers need to struggle, fail and suffer because they try to get money and traffic by focusing solely on receiving methods, versus giving generously of their time and talents. Imagine this scenario; a blogger writes and publishes one blog post weekly. Cool. But the blogger sits around and does nothing else blogging-wise for the remainder of the week. Hmmmm…this is not being generous, guys. This is being stingy. Bad move. At week’s end, the blogger did not make a penny of profits. Panicking, the blogger immediately analyzes their various income streams. How can they maximize profits through the streams? What is wrong with their income streams? Did they pick the right streams? Or did they pick the wrong streams? What gives?
Struggling bloggers then spend 2, 3 or 5 hours analyzing their income streams, focusing all of their attention and energy on the GETTING aspect of their blogging campaign. Terrible idea. Why? The reason why you struggle to get is because you refuse to give generously of your time, energy and talents. The income streams? Nope; not a problem. Your lack of generosity is the problem. The wake up call is most bloggers focus heavily on getting when struggling to drive traffic and profits when they should be focused heavily on giving generously. Giving generously leads to greater blogging profits. Instead of writing and publishing one blog post weekly, how about writing and publishing 2-3 posts weekly, weaving some stories into your blog posts? How about you spend 4-8 hours daily generously reading blog posts, commenting genuinely on blog posts, promoting other bloggers and yes, promoting yourself, too?
Put in the giving time to make getting easier and easier. No need to slam into the cold, hard wake up call of focusing selfishly inward, trying to pin your struggles on inanimate, lifeless income streams. You have a giving problem, buddy. Time to be generous. Time to step it up. Write a guest post daily or perhaps, every 2-3 days. Go ahead. Do it. Begin video marketing. Build bonds with bloggers. Help them out. Practice writing. Gain invites to guest post on blogs from your niche. Blogging becomes more fun, more enjoyable and flat out easier if you put in the time, generously helping folks.
Focus heavily on giving. Your star will shine if you generously serve people. On the contrary, blogging and life become so much harder if you obsess over your income streams, analyzing, over analyzing, focusing, wasting precious time and energy on getting, when you should be giving more freely. Blogging feels more fun, too, when you focus heavily on giving, because we were designed to give, to be generous and to serve folks. Doesn’t it feel amazing to help people? Of course, it does. Enjoy the blogging journey and avoid this painful wake up call….plus….you get to sleep in, hehehe 😉
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