Many are unaware of just how easy it is to start your own blog using the best open source tool for blogging out there: WordPress. This is a tutorial that will get you up and running in no time. It will cover everything from purchasing your domain name and hosting account, to downloading, installing and configuring WordPress on your website. After all, your space on the World Wide Web is your birth right, and giving it up because you overestimate the process involved is a pity indeed.
So let’s jump right into this
Step 1: Domain & Hosting
Before you can run a website or blog, you need a unique address (domain) pointing to a space that you’ve reserved on a remote server somewhere on the planet (hosting). You can view my guide on hosting to fully understand the different categories, and thus, which one is best for you. Generally speaking, if this is your first time, a standard shared web hosting account, that usually offers a free domain on top, gets the job done.
For example, if you choose to go with Blue Host, then simply visit the website, and sign up for an account that will cost you $7 for every month, and you’ll probably pay for two years in advance. Any standard plan from any provider will do, granted it supports PHP and MySQL databases (some providers don’t offer databases with their basic packages, but that’s a bit of a rarity nowadays).
Step 2: Create the Database
Now that you own an account, log on to the administration control panel, which is provided to you by the hosting company you’ve chosen to go with, to create a database:
- Go to your control panel and login
- Find the databases link, click “add new database”
- Give it a name, for example: WordPressBlog
- Add a user that will be accessing the database (by creating a username and password)
- Take note of the address of the database (in most cases, it’s “localhost”, but sometimes it’s different. In which case you’ll see it displayed along with the database name somewhere)
Now that you’ve created the database, as well as the credentials for accessing it, you’re ready to install WordPress.
Step 3: Download WordPress, Then Upload It
This is a straight forward process:
- Go to http://www.wordpress.org/
- Download the zipped file
- Unarchive (extract) it on your computer, you should be left with a folder called “wordpress”
- Open your FTP client. FileZilla is one of the best – free, open source and efficient
- Enter the FTP information for your website (given to you by your provider, usually found in the control panel)
- Upload the contents of the “wordpress” folder to the root directory of your website (you can upload the entire folder, in which case the installation would be at: www.yourwebsite.com/wordpress)
Now that WordPress has been uploaded to your server, and your database is created, you are now ready to go through the famous five-minute installation.
Step 4: WordPress Installation
Everything is significantly easier with WordPress, and the installation process is no different.
- Direct your browser to where the WordPress files had been uploaded (if in the root directory, then just go to www.yourwebsite.com)
- You will be prompted to create a configuration file, this is where you store basic information such as the database credentials. Click on the button
- Click on “Let’s go” to enter the information
- Enter the database information. You should have all of the details from when you created the database earlier. You can also change the prefix of the tables created in the database, but “wp_” will do just fine
- If the database credentials were correct, WordPress will give you confirmation that the tables have been created and the initial data has been added. In some cases, the configuration file is not writable, in which case you will have to manually edit the file to add the database information. You can follow the steps on the WordPress Codex installation guide
- Enter the title and email that you would want to use
- When all goes well, you will be given a temporary generated password that you will use to enter the administration control panel for the first time. Click on login and enter the credentials that you were just handed
Now’s the time to access the control panel and get ready to start blogging!
Step 5: Configure WordPress
The first time you enter the admin panel, you should change your password to something you can remember (you’ll be reminded to do so anyway). It’s also good practice to add another user to replace “admin” so that your alias appears with the posts. If you want to create another administrator account, click on “Users” from the menu on the left, then add, then enter the information. Don’t forget to make the user “Administrator”. Now that the user’s created, log out, and login with the new username and password. Feel free to delete the original “admin” user, now that the blog has a new administrator.
As any beautiful open source tool, there are tons of options that you could go for right after a fresh installation. Having said that, the following are the personal recommended additions/configurations after you’ve logged in for the first time:
- Enable Permalinks: This is by far one of the biggest advantages of WordPress; the simplicity of the process of controlling the URLs generated. If you’re a frequent blogger, choose year/month/day/title. Otherwise, year/month/title should do fine
- Enable Akismet Plugin: I’ve talked about this plugin in my post Essential WordPress Plugins where I’ve listed and discussed every single plugin used for this website. Akismet is revolutionary in how it automatically detects spam comments and places them in a separate queue that you’ll probably never need to check – it’s never mistaken
- Browse/Install More Plugins: You can check the list of the plugins I use, or you can simply browse the most popular plugins from the “Plugins” menu item on the left. You won’t lose anything in trying out plugins and disabling them if you’re not satisfied. Almost any website/blog could use popular plugins such as “All in One SEO Pack”, “Contact Form 7″, “Social Bookmarking RELOADED” and “WP Piwik” (here’s why you should be using Piwik instead of Google Analytics)
- Change Theme: As attractive as the default theme may seem at first look, it’s a good idea to go for a different theme. The new version of WordPress allows you to browse the different themes available as if installing plugins – very convenient. You will find the link to install themes under the “Appearance” tab. Otherwise, there are numerous websites dedicated to free WordPress themes that you can install, upload via Filezilla, and activate with the theme menu item
Now you’re golden. You’ve set everything up, and now you’re ready to start sharing your thoughts and ideas with the entire world.
Step 6: Start Blogging!
You can start by making a test post, just to get acquainted with the interface and features. After that, you may want to go through the following content-related options:
- Add a couple of pages where you will be displaying information that doesn’t change much (for example, “About Me”, “Contact”, or “WordPress Guides”)
- Decide whether or not you’re going to be using categories (best used for posts that are displayed on different parts of the website. Otherwise, stick to tags only). Create your categories from the “Posts” menu item
- Make links’ lists such as “Blogroll” or “Shout out to my people” where you can share various links with the visitors. The “Links” menu item is found on the left and is also very easy to use
That’s it, you’re done! As you can see, the entire process takes 20 minutes or so, and there are substantial amounts of resources for help and support flooding the net if you need them. Generally speaking, it is a straight-forward process and there’s very small room for issues and problems.
You’re Voice on the Web – Your Right
The most important aspect of yet another revolutionary product from the open source community is that it simply acts as a channel that facilities the communication and information exchange between people across space and time regardless of race or origin. It is very important to take advantage of your right as a member of the community of the World Wide Web, the current generations are the first in history to be granted such a privilege. Underestimating its power, or overestimating the technical skills required, is a shame. So get yourself a blog and write about whatever it is you want to blabber about, you have absolute freedom. Beautiful.