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Setting up a website is oftentimes step #1 or #2 when starting any business.

Already set up a WordPress site? Thinking about whether or not you should use WordPress versus another alternative like Weebly, Squarespace, etc.?

WordPress is a little more challenging to set up than any of their competing platforms, but for a good reason: it’s the best website back-end for managing sites with lots of content.

If you’ll be uploading lots of pictures or videos, blogging, podcasting or adding a portfolio of any type at all, WordPress is the way to go. “All the pros” use WordPress and if you need any more justification just check out the stats.

I outlined the easiest way to start a WordPress site in a previous post if you’re needing help getting started.

With that being said, I made several mistakes when I started my first WordPress site and I want to help you avoid those mistakes.

These mistakes cost me about 65 hours worth of my time and $361.

Here’s the cool part: these mistakes can all easily be avoided.

Have any more you’d like to add to this list? Post your thoughts below as a comment.

1. Wasting Money On Crappy Themes

Time Saved = 30 hours
$ Saved = $98

The biggest mistake I made with was wasting time and money messing around with themes that were crappy to begin with.

Pick A Theme With A High Rating & 1,000+ Total Ratings

The number of ratings is more important than the actual rating itself because it’s a great indicator of how easy the theme is to use and how many others have used it.

I’m not a coder. I’m sure you’re not either.

I made the mistake of picking the Creativo and Highend themes and it cost me over 30 hours of tinkering and messing around trying to fix things that turned out to be bugs in the themes.

Look at the screenshot below and you’ll notice that the Creativo theme has a 4-star rating, but only 16 people have left ratings.

Pick wordpress themes with 1,000+ reviews - GenY Success

I use the Enfold theme for this website now. Notice that it has 3,900+ reviews, a 5-star rating and is only $9 more.

I set it up in half the amount of time as the Creativo theme and it’s worked flawlessly.

Use the Enfold WordPress theme - GenY Success

Looks Aren’t The Only Important Factor
Live Demo - GenY Success

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” as they say. What looks good on the outside might not be good on the inside. I learned this first hand with the Creativo theme.

Each site has a live preview mode. Test the site out before you make a purchase. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Is the site responsive? Does the site look good on your desktop and on your mobile device? 30-40% of your traffic will likely be mobile, making it very important that your site is responsive.
  • Test the speed of the site. Website speed is crucial in delivering a great user experience. Copy and paste the URL of the live preview site into Pingdom. Make sure the site gets a grade of at least 70/100.
  • Is the site easily customizable? Ask yourself if you would be happy with their stock layout if it had your content and branding on it. If the answer is “yes,” you can easily replicate it. If the answer is “no,” look for another theme.
Use Themeforest To Pick A Theme

Themeforest is the best place to buy WordPress themes, hands down. The only other major reseller of themes is Mojo Marketplace.

I prefer Themeforest because there’s much more customer feedback on their site than Mojo Marketplace. It’s much easier to pick a theme when you can see that thousands of others like it as well.

2. Optimizing My Site’s Speed

Time Saved = 2 hours

Why is website speed so important? When I asked Dan Norris, founder of WPCurve this question, here was his response:

Dan Norris - GenY Success“Simple. A faster site means more conversions, better Google rankings, lower bounce rate and better brand recognition.”

– Dan Norris (founder of WPCurve & author of The 7 Day Startup)

Dan gave us a great article from WP Curve with more tips on increasing the speed of your WordPress site.

I was getting load times of 4+ seconds with the Creativo theme. Simply finding a good theme like Envato fixed 90% of my site’s speed issues.


Install the W3 Total Cache plugin for your website. Caching helps the website load faster and W3 Total Cache speeds up the content delivery of your site.

# of Plugins

Dan Norris was on The Smart Passive Income Podcast w/ Pat Flynn to discuss the most common WordPress mistakes. Dan recommends keeping less than 20 installed plugins on your website. Anything more will slow the load time of your site. Listen to the entire episode for additional tips to speed up your site.

Reducing the number of plugins took 1 whole second off of my site’s load time. This is a big one.

3. Not Increasing Upload Size of Media Files

Time Saved = 3 hours

I spent several hours just trying to figure out how to get a file larger that 10mb on my site.

WordPress themes, images, eBooks, videos and other forms of media are all oftentimes larger than 10mb. I wanted to get my free eBook into the hands of my email subscribers and it’s about 11mb. I spent hours trying to figure out where I was going to host the file.

All I had to do was call up my site hose (Bluehost) and ask them to increase the upload size limit from 10mb to 50mb. Easy fix.

Call up your website host and ask them to increase the file upload size for you.

4. Finding The Right Share Buttons

SumoMe - GenY SuccessTime Saved = 4 hours

Easily accessible share buttons are essential in getting your content spread across all of the different social media platforms.

I’ve narrowed it down to two that I really like: SumoMe and Digg Digg.

I use SumoMe on this site and love it. It floats well, shows up in all browsers well and it counts shares well.

Many social sharing buttons don’t count the shares if the post wasn’t shared directly from the site itself. For example, you could copy/paste the link from this blog post and share it on Facebook and SumoMe will add that to the total. Many sharing plugins don’t count those shares.

Find social sharing buttons that float with the post. Make it easy for people to share your content.

5. Knowing What People Are ACTUALLY Doing On My Site

Time Saved = A ton! And counting…

Wait…I can tell what people do on my site?

Yes you can. And you can get a much more detailed glimpse than Google Analytics will provide you.

When I asked Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg about why it’s important to get more detailed analytics for your site than what Google Analytics offers, he responded with:

Neil Patel - GenY Success“Google Analytics is a great tool, but it is limited in what it offers. For example if you want a detailed analysis of your life time value or a visual representation of how users interact with specific web pages, you would have to go beyond Google Analytics.”

– Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSMetrics, Crazy Egg & Hello Bar

By combining Google Analytics with other stats tools, you can get better insights about your visitors, which will help you make better business decisions and ultimately make more money.

I don’t have a way of measuring the time these tools have saved me because I’m making improvements to my site based on what users are actually responding to and clicking on. I’m not sure how much time would be wasted if I wasn’t because I’m making changes based on actual data and not just intuition.

Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg - GenY Success

Imagine if you could watch people when they get on your website to see what they click on and how far they scroll.

That’s actually possible with Crazy Egg. See the heat map on my website?

Crazy Egg is showing me where people click the most on I have it set up for each of my pages so I can see what people actually click on.

This type of knowledge helps me determine what content I should add or take out based on how people actually use my website. I’m not just taking a stab at the wind and guessing what people like or dislike.

SumoMe Heat Maps & Content Analytics

SumoMe has a free solution very similar to Crazy Egg, but not quite as robust. Heat Maps will tell you what people are clicking on and Content Analytics will tell you how far people scroll down on your pages and articles. If you don’t want to spend $14.99 / month for Crazy Egg, SumoMe is a great alternative.

6. Setting up basic email opt-ins

Time Saved = 15 hours
$ Saved = $263

The biggest mistake almost every online entrepreneur makes is not collecting email addresses from the start.

I took their advice and implemented email opt-in boxes from the start. I spent quite a bit of money though on opt-ins that didn’t work.

I want to help you avoid spending money trying all of the different options.

The best overall package I’ve found is the one offered from Noah Kagan at SumoMe, which is free (unless you want the upgrades).

When I asked Noah why he decided to create SumoMe when there were so many other email opt-in options out there, here’s what he responded with:

Noah Kagan - GenY Success

“That’s exactly it. There are TOO many other OPTIONS out there. We are doing to web plugins what Google did to MS Word.”

– Noah Kagan (blogger at, founder of AppSumo, founder of SumoMe and many more

I’ve used OptinMonster, OptinSkin, Hybrid Connect, Plugmatter, HelloBar and SumoMe.

Below are the plugins I actually use based on where I’ve gotten email subscribers from.

SumoMeList Builder - GenY Success

SumoMe is the easiest opt-in I’ve found to work with. I use the List Builder and Scrollbox apps and they work great.

List Builder is the opt-in pictured on the right. It’s a simple pop up and it’s what gets most of my email subscribers.

Scrollbox is a great opt-in because you can set it to pop up in the lower part of the screen only after the user has scrolled a certain percentage of the page they’re viewing.

Cost: Free, with a few choices for inexpensive upgrades


OptinSkin is great for embedding sign up forms on specific pages. I use them on my Start Here and About pages. It’s one of the few opt-in plugins I’ve seen that is easily customizable…making it easy to embed onto pages with very little work.

Cost: $67.00

Plugmatter - GenY SuccessPlugmatter

Feature boxes are one of the most effective email opt-ins because they’re the least invasive. They don’t pop up into the browser, they’re just front and center at the top of every page.

Plugmatter is an extremely effective method for me to gather email subscribers, as you can see in the Crazy Egg picture above.

Cost: $37 for basic, I use professional for $57 because it allows for A/B testing

7. Filtering Out The Spam

Time Saved = 1 hour

Disqus is a very powerful tool for comments because the user has to use a social media account or create an account to leave a comment. It only saved me 1 hour because I switched over to it very early, so I never had to deal with a ton of spam.

Spam is a huge problem if your site gets a decent amount of traffic. Disqus will eliminated 90%+ of spam comments. Pat Flynn discusses this with Dan Norris in their episode together on the Smart Passive Income Podcast.

Leaving comments is much simpler with Disqus once the user has created an account because they can do it with one click.

8. Using SEO To Increase My Site’s Organic Rankings

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - GenY SuccessSEO is a tricky beast. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great WordPress plugin providing an all in one solution for SEO and social tagging.

The screenshot is what this post looked like before optimizing it. This great plugin allows you to change the title of the page, test keywords and preview the meta description all in one place.

My favorite part of this tool is the social section where you can edit the preview image for Facebook and optimize your post for different social media platforms. This is a key element for getting clicks on the your Facebook and Twitter posts.

9. Using Shortened Links

Long links are hard to remember. Imagine if I gave out the show notes link for each podcast episode by reading out the full link:

It would be crazy right? There’s no way anyone would remember it.

With Pretty Link, I can set up to forward directly to the longer link.

Pretty Link also tracks the number of clicks, which is extremely helpful so you know what people are actually responding to.

This plugin is free, making it a no brainer. I also use this tool to create branded links for places where I’m mentioned outside of my website.

I use to forward to my show link on iTunes:

10. Keeping It Simple

Time Saved = 10 hours

The easy thing to do when building a website is to think that it needs to be fancy.

I made the mistake of making a site with 30+ plugins and a ton of pages, but people just weren’t responding to the site at all.

When I changed over to the site’s current theme and layout, I noticed a dramatic increase in traffic and email opt-ins.

Check out Time Magazine’s top 50 websites of 2014. What do you notice about the majority of the websites?

They are easy to navigate and not cluttered with a ton of pages.

Most of them have basic homepage layouts and it’s very straightforward and easy to figure out what the website is about.

Keep your site simple and easy to navigate, your audience will love you for it.

Save Yourself Time & Money By Avoiding My Mistakes

Total Time Saved = 65 hours
Total $ Saved = $361

Avoid the mistakes I made above like the plague and you’ll save yourself a ton of time and headache.

What did you find particularly useful in the mistakes I made? What mistakes have you made with your WordPress site that would be helpful for others to avoid? Post your thoughts below.