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WPBeginner Turns 8 Years Old

Today is July 4th which means WPBeginner is officially 8 years old — feels unreal to type this!

Like every year, I want to take a few minutes and do a quick recap of all the major things happening in business as well as my personal life.

WPBeginner turns 8

WPBeginner Story

I started using WordPress when I was 16 years old and started WPBeginner at age 19 with a single mission: make WordPress easy for beginners.

Since then WPBeginner has become the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.

For those of you who’re new, you can read the full WPBeginner story on our about page.

Personal Updates

New Dad life — Solomon is 8 months old and is quite fun. I used to think that I was good at delegating, but I think being a parent has forced me to push it to a new level.

Solomon Balkhi

Completely out of the blue, I got invited to have dinner with the United States Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin. The dinner was held at the Treasury building, and it was humbling to be in the company of several national leaders and top entrepreneurs like Shahid Khan, the owner of Jacksonville Jaguars.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Dinner

I also received the Technology Award from the Pakistani News Channel (GeoTV) where I sat down and got to chat with the new Ambassador of Pakistan for United States.

GeoTV Award

WPBeginner Updates

Thanks to you all, WPBeginner has continued to grow in double-digit percentage (year over year). There have been several notable updates from last year, that I’d like to highlight.

1. New WPBeginner Redesign

In November 2016, we launched our new website design. It came with a lot of improvements, most importantly: our mega guides which I promised in the last year’s update.

We now have comprehensive guides on how to speed up WordPress, improve WordPress security, boost WordPress SEO, how to create an online store, how to make a website, and more.

We are working on creating more mega guides in the coming months.

2. Better WPBeginner Infrastructure

Since the redesign, I have gotten several emails asking about the secrets behind WPBeginner’s fast speed.

WPBeginner Speed

The answer is: infrastructure.

As WPBeginner grows, we need to continuously invest in our server infrastructure. This past year, I worked with the team at HostGator to build a completely custom infrastructure for WPBeginner that’s spread across multiple data-centers to ensure high availability.

I have been a HostGator customer since 2007, and WPBeginner has been hosted with them since day 1 (see my full HostGator review). I want to thank David, Patrick, Matt, Yannis, Chris, Taylor, Mike, Alfred, and the entire team that helped with the upgrade.

We are using Sucuri as our firewall, and MaxCDN as our CDN provider both of which play a tremendous role in our overall website speed.

Last but not least, we’re using DNSMadeEasy as our DNS provider because they’re one of the fastest in the industry.

3. WPBeginner on YouTube

Our YouTube channel has continued to prosper as we add new videos every week. We now have over 62,000 subscribers and 8.2 million video views (this is double what we had last year).

If you haven’t subscribed yet, then please go ahead and subscribe to WPBeginner on YouTube (it’s free). My goal is to pass 100,000 subscribers by the time I write this post next year.

4. Weekly Showcases

Over the last several years, we have continuously gotten requests for theme showcases. That’s why this year, we made it a goal to do weekly showcases on Fridays.

So far it has worked out great, and we look forward to doing more showcases.

Product Updates

Just about every week, I get an email from a reader saying: “I didn’t know WPBeginner was behind that product”. Now we even have a products page in the main menu.

Our suite of WordPress plugins are now running on over 3 million websites. Below are some of the most notable updates:

WPForms

We launched WPForms, a drag & drop form builder last year with a goal to make the most beginner friendly WordPress form plugin. I think we’re doing a pretty darn good job.

It has passed over 1.1 million downloads and is actively running on over 300,000 websites. Best part is that we have an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 with over 652 five-star reviews.

You can download it for free from the WPForms website or from the WordPress.org plugins directory.

Please give it a try, so you can see why so many people love it!

MonsterInsights

Last year, we acquired the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress from Yoast and rebranded it to MonsterInsights. I’m really proud of the updates that we have made specially the Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking, Affiliate link tracking, and more.

If you’re a serious business owner, then check out the MonsterInsights Pro version because it will help you unlock really valuable data in your Google Analytics, so you can take your business to the next level.

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is our flagship product, and we recently announced version 4.0.

The new update included a new dashboard, sub-accounts + permission control, better design workflow, and so much more.

OptinMonster helps you grow your email list by converting abandoning website visitors into subscribers. If you’re not using it, then you’re missing out on subscribers.

Envira Gallery

Envira Gallery passed over 100,000 active installs this year. It’s the most powerful WordPress gallery plugin that’s actually fast and easy to use.

We have over two-dozen addons ranging from featured content gallery to WooCommerce to Lightroom. I’m really excited about the next version of Envira that our team is working on.

Our School in Cambodia

I started a tradition 3 years ago when we built our first school in Guatemala. After building 3 schools in Guatemala through Pencils of Promise, Amanda and I wanted to contribute in a different region.

My friend Neil Patel introduced me to Bill and Nancy from the Cambodian Village Fund. Thanks to their awesome work, we were able to build a primary school in Cambodia. While I wasn’t able to attend the opening ceremony because Solomon is so young, I definitely look forward to going there in the future.

Cambodian Village Fund

Thank You Everyone

I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us in this journey. I really do appreciate all of your retweets, personal emails, content suggestions, and the in-person hugs / interactions at the events.

You all are AMAZING and without you, there is no WPBeginner.

I look forward to another solid year ahead of us.

Syed Balkhi
Founder of WPBeginner

P.S. We’re hiring a full-time (remote work) WordPress Plugin Developer and a Technical Support specialist. If you or someone you know would be interested in being part of our fast-growing team, then please apply here.



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How to Create Custom WordPress Layouts With Elementor

Want to create your own custom page layouts in WordPress? Elementor is a drag & drop WordPress page builder that allows you to easily create custom WordPress layouts without having any coding knowledge. In this article, we will show you how to easily create custom WordPress layouts with Elementor with just a few clicks.

How to Create Custom WordPress Layouts with Elementor

Why and When Do You Need Custom WordPress Layouts?

Many free and premium WordPress themes come with multiple layout choices for different kind of pages. However, sometimes none of these layouts would meet your requirements.

If you know how to code in PHP, HTML, and CSS, then you can create your own page templates or even build a child theme for your site. However, majority of WordPress users are not developers, so this option doesn’t work for them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just create page layouts using a drag and drop interface?

This is exactly what Elementor does. It is a drag and drop WordPress page builder plugin that allows you to easily create your own custom WordPress layouts without any coding skills.

It has an intuitive user interface that lets you build custom layouts with a live preview. It comes with many ready to use modules for all kind of web design elements.

There are several professionally designed templates that you can instantly load and use as a starting point. It works with all standard compliant WordPress themes and is compatible with all popular WordPress plugins.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to create custom WordPress layouts with Elementor.

Getting Started with Elementor

First you will need to purchase Elementor Pro plugin. It is the paid version of the free Elementor plugin and gives you access to additional features and 1 year of support.

Next, you will need to install and activate the Elementor plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Elementor » Settings page to configure plugin settings.

Elementor settings

Here you can enable Elementor for different post types. By default, it is enabled for your WordPress posts and pages. If you have custom post types on your site, then those will also appear here, and you can enable them as well.

You can exclude or include user roles that can use Elementor when writing posts or pages. By default, it is enabled only for administrators.

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Creating Custom WordPress Layout with Elementor

First you need to create a new page (or post) on your WordPress site. On the post edit screen, you will notice the new ‘Edit with Elementor’ button.

Edit with Elementor button

Clicking on it will launch the Elementor user interface where you can edit your page using Elementor’s drag and drop page builder.

Elementor builder interface

Now you can add sections and build your page from scratch, or you can add a template.

Templates are a faster way to quickly get you started. Elementor comes with several professionally designed templates that you can customize as much as you want.

Let’s start with a template by clicking on the ‘Add Template’ button.

This will bring up a popup where you will be able to see different templates available. You should look for a template that is similar to what you have in mind for your page layout.

Select and insert a template

Now click to select the template you like and then click on the ‘Insert’ button to add it to your page.

Elementor will now load the template for you.

You can now start editing the template to match your needs. Simply point and click on any element to select it, and Elementor will show you its settings in the left column.

Editing an item in Elementor

Now let’s talk about how Elementor layouts work.

Elementor layouts are built using sections, columns, and widgets. Sections are like rows or blocks that you place on your page.

Each section can have multiple columns and each section and column can have its own styles, colors, content, etc.

Editing sections and columns in Elementor

You can add anything in your columns and sections using Elementor widgets.

These widgets are different kind of content blocks that you can place in your Elementor sections.

Simply select a widget and drop it into your section or column. There is an extensive set of widgets available that cover all popular web design elements that you can think of.

Elementor Widgets

You can add images, text, headings, image galleries, videos, maps, icons, testimonials, slider, carousels, and so much more.

You can also add default WordPress widgets and even the widgets created by other WordPress plugins on your site.

Once you are done editing, you can click on the Save button to save your changes.

Save and exit Elementor

Note: Saving a layout will not publish the page on your WordPress site. It will just save your page layout.

You can now preview your page or go to WordPress dashboard.

This will bring you back to the WordPress post editor. You can now save your WordPress page or publish it on your website.

Publish page

Creating Your Own Templates in Elementor

Elementor allows you to save your own custom layouts as templates. This way you can reuse your own templates to create new pages even faster in the future.

Simply edit the page you would like to save as a template with Elementor.

In the Elementor builder interface, click on the folder icon next to the save button and then select ‘Save template’.

Save your template

This will bring up a popup where you need to provide a name for your template and click on the save button.

Template name

Next time you are creating a custom page layout, you would be able to select it from the ‘My Templates’ tab.

Custom template

You can also export this template and use it on other WordPress sites using Elementor.

You will need to visit Elementor » Library page to see your saved templates. Take your mouse over to your template name and then click on ‘Export template’ link.

Export template

After downloading your template file you can go to the library page on another WordPress site using Elementor and then import your template.

That’s all for now.

We hope this article helped you learn how to create custom WordPress layouts with Elementor. You may also want to see our step by step guide on how to speed up WordPress and boost performance.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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How to Display Custom Fields Outside The Loop in WordPress

Do you want to display custom fields outside the loop in WordPress? Normally, custom fields are displayed inside the WordPress loop along with other post content and metadata. In this article, we will show you how to display custom fields outside the loop in WordPress.

How to display custom fields outside the WordPress loop

What Are Custom Fields in WordPress

Custom fields allow you to add additional meta data into your WordPress posts and then display them along with your post content.

You can add custom fields by simply enabling the custom fields metabox under the Screen Options. You can also create custom metaboxes in WordPress to give your custom fields a better user interface.

Adding custom field to a WordPress post or page

For more details, see our beginner’s guide on using WordPress custom fields.

Since custom fields add metadata to posts, they can be easily displayed inside the WordPress loop along with other post content. However, sometimes you may want to display them outside the loop. For example, in a sidebar widget. This is when it becomes a bit tricky.

That being said, let’s see how to easily display custom fields outside the loop in WordPress.

Display Custom Fields Data Outside The Loop in WordPress

Instead of displaying custom fields meta data outside the loop, we’ll actually show you how to use multiple loops in your WordPress themes without affecting the main loop.

This article requires you to add code to your WordPress theme files. If you haven’t done this before, then you may want to see our guide on how to copy and paste code in WordPress.

You’ll need to add the following code to your theme files where you want to display the custom fields data in WordPress.

post->ID;
echo get_post_meta($postid, 'Your-Custom-Field', true);
wp_reset_query();
?>

This code simply loads up the global variable $wp_query to get the post ID. After that, it uses get_post_meta() function to fetch and output your custom field data.

Don’t forget to change Your-Custom-Field with your actual custom field.

You can customize the code to match your needs. You can also use other query arguments to fetch and display custom fields data for different posts and pages.

Let’s take a look at another example. This one uses WP_Query class which is a much better and more flexible way to use multiple loops in your WordPress theme files.

Simply add this code to your theme or child theme where you would like to show the custom field.

$args = array ( 
// Post or Page ID
'p' => 231,
);

// The Query
$the_query = new WP_Query( $args );

// The Loop
if ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {

	while ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
		$the_query->the_post();
		echo get_post_meta( get_the_ID(), 'Mood', true);
		}

	
	/* Restore original Post Data */
	wp_reset_postdata();

} else {

echo 'Nothing found';
	
}

Don’t forget to replace Mood with your own custom field name and post ID with your own post or page id.

Custom field in WordPress sidebar widget

That’s all for now.

We hope this article helped you learn how to display custom fields outside the loop in WordPress. You may also want to see our WordPress theme cheat sheet for beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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13 Crucial WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly

Ever wondered which WordPress maintenance tasks you should be performing regularly? After starting a blog, often users don’t perform maintenance checks unless something breaks. By running regular maintenance tasks, you can make sure that your WordPress site is always performing at its best. In this article, we will share 13 crucial WordPress maintenance tasks to perform regularly, and how to do each one of them.

Crucial WordPress maintenance tasks to perform regularly

Why and When to Perform WordPress Maintenance Tasks

Your WordPress site is a powerful system made of several parts. This includes your WordPress hosting, WordPress software itself, plugins, and themes.

On top of that, you add your own content with text and images. Together, all of them make a website that is loved by your visitors and customers.

However, this system needs to be looked after to ensure optimal performance. There are few simple maintenance tasks that you can perform on a regular basis to ensure that your website is working at its best.

How often should you perform WordPress maintenance tasks?

If you run a busy website with a lot of traffic, then every three months. For smaller websites with low traffic and content, you need to do these maintenance tasks every six months.

Now that being said, let’s take a look at the essential WordPress maintenance tasks you need to perform and how to do them.

1. Change All Your WordPress Passwords

Change all your passwords regularly

Passwords are your first defense against unauthorized access to your website. You should always use strong unique passwords for all your online accounts including your WordPress website, FTP accounts, and database.

However, even if you are using strong passwords and they are compromised, then it is possible that you wouldn’t even notice it.

That’s why WordPress security experts recommend changing your WordPress passwords regularly. This includes passwords for your WordPress admin area, FTP or SSH accounts, and your WordPress database password.

For more details on this topic, see our beginners guide on how to manage passwords for WordPress users.

2. Create a Complete Backup of Your Website

Create manual backup

Backups are one of the most important WordPress tool in your arsenal. There are plenty of great WordPress backup plugins that can help you completely automate the WordPress backup process.

However, sometimes your backup solution may suddenly stop working without you even noticing.

Once in a while, you need to manually run your backup plugin to create a complete backup of your website. After running the backup, you need to verify that your backup files are properly stored at the remote location of your choice (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc).

3. Check and Update All WordPress Files

Check and update all WordPress files

WordPress comes with a built-in system to manage updates for WordPress core, plugins, and themes. You should always use the latest version of WordPress and keep all your plugins and themes updated.

However, there are some situations when you may miss an update. For example, when a premium plugin or theme’s license expired, and it failed to check for an update.

Go to the WordPress Updates page to manually check for updates. Review all your installed plugins and themes to make sure that they are running the latest version.

4. Check and Delete Spam Comments

Review spam comments

If you are using Akismet to combat comment spam in WordPress, then it automatically keeps spam away from your comment moderation queue.

However, sometimes Akismet may end up marking a legitimate comment as spam. Once in a while, you need to take a quick look at the spam comments to ensure that there are no real comments incorrectly marked as spam.

Once you are done, you can safely delete all spam comments from your website. If you have thousands of spam comments, then you should use this method to batch delete all spam comments in WordPress.

It wouldn’t necessarily improve performance, but it will ensure that you don’t miss out genuine comments.

5. Test All Your WordPress Forms

Test all your WordPress forms

WordPress form builder plugins like WPForms make it super easy to create beautiful forms on your website.

However due to misconfiguration on your WordPress hosting server or your email service provider, sometimes these forms may suddenly stop sending emails.

You need to check all forms on your website to make sure that they are working properly. If a form is not working, then see our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

6. Optimize Your WordPress Database

Optimize your WordPress database

WordPress stores most data in your WordPress database. It contains all your content, comments, users, and settings.

However, overtime your database may gather a lot of unnecessary data. This increases your WordPress backup sizes which may affect uploading, downloading, and restoring backups.

Optimizing your WordPress database allows you to clean up clutter, defragment tables, and improves database performance.

For step by step instructions, see our guide on how to optimize your WordPress database with one click

7. Run Performance Tests

Run performance tests

Many users optimize their WordPress performance when they first start and then forget about it. Meanwhile you keep adding new content, install new plugins, or may even change your theme. All of them may affect performance of your WordPress site.

Faster websites are not just good for user experience, they also improve your website’s performance on search engines. This is why you need to regularly do a thorough performance review of your website.

When reviewing your site’s performance, don’t just limit it to improving your homepage. Also test your most popular content, and all your important pages.

For best results, follow our step by step guide to boost WordPress speed and performance.

8. Find and Fix 404 Errors

Fix 404 errors

When a user requests a page that doesn’t exist on your website, then WordPress will show them a 404 error page.

404 errors that occur because a user mistyped an address are normal and nothing to be worried about. However, 404 errors that occur because a page is no longer available can cause bad user experience.

If you are not already tracking 404 error pages, then see our guide on how to easily track 404 error pages in WordPress and redirect them.

9. Find and Fix Broken Links

Find and fix broken links in WordPress

As your website grows, you will realize that some external websites that you linked to in your older articles do not exist anymore. Some may have moved to new locations, while others may just disappear.

The broken links issue is not just limited to external links. You can accidentally add broken images, poorly formatted links, or misspell your own links. This causes bad user experience and affects your site’s bounce rate and page views.

You need to check your website for broken links as part of your WordPress maintenance routine. For instructions, see our guide on how to find and fix broken links in WordPress.

10. Perform a Thorough Content and SEO Audit

SEO Audit

Next thing you need to include in your regular maintenance tasks is a thorough in-depth review of your content. This is where the data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics comes in.

Google Analytics shows you where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your website. This data allows you to discover content on your website where users are coming but are not converting into customers or subscribers.

Google Search Console shows you Search Analytics which helps you find search keywords where your site appears in the results. You can sort it to show you keywords where your site can easily rank higher by updating those articles.

Search Analytics in Google Search Console

If you are using Yoast SEO, then you can set particular keywords as focus keyword, and it will analyze your content for that keyword.

Improving SEO score of an article in WordPress

Even with an excellent SEO score, you can still further improve content by adding new information, images, and linking to it from other pages on your website.

For more SEO tips, follow our ultimate step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners.

11. Optimize Images on Your WordPress Site

Optimize images and media library

Images take longer to load hence they decrease your page load speed. Some of them you’ll discover during the performance checkup of your site.

However you will definitely miss those in your less popular articles. If you run a multi-author WordPress site, then some of your authors may not be as careful about image sizes as you are.

Adding image and media library review to your WordPress maintenance checklist, allows you to stay on top of the issue. You can perform this check to find out images that can be reduced in size or images that are just too large.

For more information, see our guide on how to save images optimized for the Web.

12. Review WordPress Security Logs

WordPress security review

Some WordPress users don’t realize that their site is under attack until it slows down or their search rankings drop.

We have already mentioned some security precautions like changing passwords, and creating manual backups as proactive measures. You also need to review your site’s access and error logs to see if you can find any unusual activity on your site.

We also recommend using Sucuri. It is a website security company that offers website firewall to protect your website against common threats.

For a complete security audit of your WordPress site, follow the instructions in our step by step ultimate WordPress security guide.

13. Troubleshooting Maintenance Tasks

Troubleshooting

Most WordPress maintenance tasks are quite harmless and wouldn’t affect your website’s normal functioning. However, some may slow down your site, like checking for broken links or running image optimizer plugin.

If you run a staging site, then you can perform your maintenance tasks on your staging site and then push them live.

However, most users don’t run a staging site. In that case, you’ll have to expect a temporary slow site and some unexpected errors.

One way to deal with this is by putting your WordPress site in maintenance mode. Alternatively, you can perform these tasks during your low traffic hours.

If you run across an issue, then see our guide on how to fix common WordPress errors. If the error you are seeing is not listed there, then follow the steps in our WordPress troubleshooting guide. It will help you locate the problem and find a solution.

That’s all, we hope this article helped you learn crucial WordPress maintenance tasks you need to perform regularly on your website. You may also want to see our list of the most wanted WordPress tips, tricks, and hacks.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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