When it comes to starting a blog, be it personal, professional or business related, there are a lot of different platforms that you can choose. But when it comes down to it, there is one that stands out because of it’s customisation and sheer power to be moulded into whatever you need; WordPress.

The issue is, unlike the alternatives (such as Blogger), WordPress can be rather daunting when it comes to setup. Whilst you could choose a hosted blog on WordPress.com, it is far better than run a self-hosted site because you get access to the full version of WordPress, rather than a very limited one.

So, when it comes to actually setting up one of these blogs and getting started, what do you need to do? This guide is here to help answer that question!

1. Domain And Hosting

The first thing you need to look into is hosting and a domain name. To start with, you need to choose a domain name (web address) that suits your brand name and is memorable. For example, the brand name of this blog is That Marketing Punk, so it seemed only fitting that the domain name be 16bitdad.com, especially since I am in the UK.

Think carefully about your domain name! If you want to know about what you should consider when choosing one, then I recommend reading my post on Domain Name Considerations here.

Once you have decided on a domain name, it’s time to purchase it and a hosting service. Now, most hosting providers offer a free domain name with their hosting packages, so I highly recommend going for one of those packages. They are usually cheaper than buying the two separately as well. I would recommend 1&1 or One.com if you want to purchase the domain and hosting together.

2. Installing WordPress

After purchasing one of these packages, you’ll be emailed a set of login details. Use these the access the “CPanel” of your hosting(the hosting admin area). Within this CPanel, there will likely be an option for WordPress or “One Click Install” with a WordPress logo.

By clicking on this, your hosting provider will automatically install all of the files and create the database needed to run WordPress.

If this option is not available, then you’ll have to do it manually. To do this, you’ll need to go to WordPress.org and download the files. These will come in a zip folder, which you’ll need to extract and then upload to your hosting. These can either be done using the File Manager within CPanel or an FTP application like FileZilla.

If you need to use an FTP client, you’ll be able to find the various details needed for the application to connect to the hosting within the CPanel, likely under the option “FTP” or “FTP Access”.

Whichever way you do it, you’ll need to upload all of the extracted files by dragging them into the hosting’s root folder.

Following the upload of these files, you need to visit your website. Doing so will bring up the setup wizard. Here you’ll need to name you blog, choose the admin user name and password, and also choose the prefix for the database.

Now, that last bit may sound scary, but it really isn’t. Basically, it is something for your WordPress site to use to know which parts of the database belong to it, specifically. That’s purely so that if you decide to install a second WordPress site, like on a subdomain, each installation will be able to find it’s own sections of the database. For the first installation, the defalt wp_ prefix is fine. If you are installing a second WordPress site, then you should change it to something else that is unique to all other installations you have on that server.

You’ll also need to put the database password and user name into the wizard. These can be found within the CPanel, under either “Databases” or “MySQL”. Once you have everything put in to the wizard, keept going through it until it asks you to log in using the admin username and password.

3. Security

The next thing you are going to want to sort out is security. Whilst you could start installing loads of plugins and themes straight away, I would say this should always be your next point of call! So, you’re going to need to go to the Plugins section of the Dashboard and click on Add New. This will bring up the installation area for plugins, where you can either upload one that you got somewhere else, or search for free ones that can be installed automatically.

My recommended security plugin is All In One WP Security because of its tiered layers of usage. This allows you to choose and activate different security options based upon your knowledge of WordPress. It’s worth noting that the most important security options are all easy to activate, needing just the click of a button.

To install it, the easiest way to do it is the use the search bar on the Add New plugin page and search for the title. This will bring it up in your current window with a blue button saying Install. Click this and then, when the new button becomes available, click on Activate.

From here, you’ll find a new menu item within the WP-Admin main menu (the long one on the left) saying WP Security. Go into this section and make your way through the different pages, selecting the options you want to activate.

4. Design

The next step is to install a theme. There are two ways to do this, and it works the same way as choosing plugins; you can upload one from somewhere else, or you can choose one of the free ones to be automatically installed.

Whichever way you choose to go, once “installed”, it will appear within the Appearance->Themes setion of WP-Admin. So navigate to that area and click on Activate for the theme you chose. This will switch your blog’s design to that of the theme.

You can then use Customise to change various theme options, but as this post is about the setup of the site and not the design, that’s something I’ll cover in a later post. Anyway, once you’ve clicked Activate, you’ll have changed the design and style of the blog in one, easy move.

5. Recommended Plugins

Okay, so you’ve got WordPress installed and a theme you like activated. The next step is to sort out the functionality of the site. Now, by standard, WordPress comes with all the base-level functionality a blog would need. But there’s always more to add to it in order to make your site your own! So, here are some recommended plugins to install.

  • MailChimp for WordPress
    • A mailing list is a great thing, so get this plugin installed and get ready to build one!
  • Jetpack
    • This allows you to connect your site to your WordPress.com account, automatically share any new post you right, and much more!
  • Disqus
    • This is the comment system I use on That Marketing Punk, replacing the default system used by WordPress.
  • Yoast
    • This is the king of SEO plugins, showing you everything from readability to keyword density. On top of that, it allows you to choose what gets indexed by Google and what doesn’t, as well as sorting out things like Page Titles and canonical tags.

6. Good To Go

Once you’ve got those installed, then it’s time to hit the ground running! Start writing posts! Unless you were already hosting your blog on a WordPress.com free hosting plan, at which point you need to “Export” the data from the account and import it into your new site.

To do this, you’ll need to visit the Tools -Export page and download the file. It’s pretty simple!

Then, once again, if you are moving from free hosting to self hosting, you’ll need to import it all again, assigning the content to the relevent author.

And that’s all they are really needed to do. So, I hope this post has been useful! If so, then please feel to leave a comment or subscribe to That Marking Punk via bloglovin!

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