Of course, you want to use a WordPress blog. It’s the most popular platform out there and with good reason. The site is malleable, quite easy to pickup and generates great results. That means that it’s used by millions of bloggers. Not only that, but it’s used by some very big companies as well. For example, Techcrunch, BBC America, and Variety all have WordPress sites (If you’re interested, here is a longer list).
The advantages don’t just end there. Because it is such a frequently used platform it means that there are thousands upon thousands of apps out there that you can add to your site to make it do whatever you want. That’s fantastic – particularly if like me you couldn’t code a knot in a piece of string.
The question is not if you want to use WordPress, but how you can set it up to use it to best effect. That’s what we’re going to focus on for the rest of this article. You ready? Then grab your credit card (to pay to host your site) and make sure you’ve got a bit of time ready. That done, follow the steps below.
What will your domain name be and where will you host it?
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Every website needs an address. Otherwise, people won’t be able to find it (and it won’t really be part of the internet). The question then is, what will your domain name be? You’ve got to take some time to actually think about this. You want something memorable and relevant to what you plan to write about.
What you’ll also need to decide is where you plan to host your site. In the interwebs, unlike the real world, your address and your location are not the same things. You address can point to two entirely different locations from one day to the next.
The hosting site is where your website will actually be located. Now, there are millions of hosts out there, so there is a lot of choices to be had. Here’s a list of 500 different hosts, but that really is the tip of the iceberg, so don’t be afraid to look around a little to find something that seems like a good deal for you. Note that you generally pay per month and that generally, it shouldn’t be more than a few dollars. Also make sure you check out some unaffiliated reviews, to find out how quick they respond and if the site ever goes down.
It sounds intimidating, but it isn’t. Heck, on many hosting sites WordPress has already been pre-installed. Even if that’s not the case often it will only take a few clicks to get it setup. That’s the advantage of using something that is the biggest fish in the sea – rare is the hosting site that will make it hard to install WordPress (and if they do, just go somewhere else!).
No, not the theme song. Yes, it would be cool if you had some kind of tune like the A-team to arrive your uber cool arrival (‘A-team’ and ‘uber cool’ don’t really go together, do they?). Still, this theme is pretty damned cool as well, because it decides what your website will look like.
There are thousands of themes out there to choose from. Some of them you’ll have to pay for, while others are absolutely free.
Now obviously, you want something that is really pretty and really fits your design and what you’re trying to do, for example, if you want to help people get academic help, influence macroeconomic decisions or gives people counseling, you’ll probably not want some theme with happy apples and bouncing beans.
Still, that’s only one aspect of the theme you’re selecting that you need to pay attention to. Here are some other aspects you need to consider:
- How fast does it load? Some themes are really pretty but take a long time to load. As long load times can cost you, visitors, that isn’t always desirable. So when you’ve found a theme that you like, go and check out how it’s reviewed online.
- How robust is it? Can you knock it down with a feather or could your website survive a DDOS attack? That too is important. After all, one day you’re hoping to have thousands of visitors. When that happens, you don’t want your website to fall down every time there are more than 10 on your site, do you?
- How safe is it? Some themes are like Fort Knox. If you aren’t welcome, you’re not getting in. Others are more like sieves. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know the password, if you know what you’re doing you will still be able to do whatever you want. Obviously, you want the former and not the latter.
So, when you’ve found a theme you like, go online and check out what the reviews are. Again, you want to look for a website that doesn’t have a conflict of interest where if you buy a certain product, they’ll end up making money. Sure, some of these are still going, to be honest, but you just won’t know which ones these are. So find something unaffiliated instead.
When you’ve found your theme and your ‘child theme’ as well, which is just jargon for ‘layout’, go ahead and install it. That’s again ridiculously easy. Just go to ‘appearance’, click on ‘themes’ and hit the ‘install themes’ button. Select your zip file, choose your child theme, and Bob is your uncle.
Get the right plugins
The really great part of WordPress, as I mentioned before, is the apps or ‘plugins’ that are available. These are little programs that allow you to do special things on your website, from build cool galleries to make it easier to optimize your content for search engines.
The bad news is that there are thousands (upon thousands) of apps out there for you to try and no doubt some of the best ones languish in obscurity. Still, as I said you only needed a few hours, let that be for now. Instead, go onto the interwebs, type in ‘best WordPress blogging plugins’ and read a couple of the posts that come up.
Then select the ones that you like best and go ahead and install them. Go ahead and experiment. Try out different things. See what plugin really has what you need and which ones don’t end up being that useful. Just make sure that at the end of your tryout period you get rid of those plugins that you don’t actually need. You see, extra plugins make your website slower and also make it more likely that a hacker finds a point of entry. And you don’t want that.
Here we go…
You can start writing right away. Wasn’t that easy? Yup, it was. Setting up a blog nowadays really is child’s play. The hard part is getting your blog in front of readers and building up a readership that comes back time and again.
That, however, is an entirely different topic that falls way outside the scope of this article. And besides, you can’t do that second part until you’ve done what I’ve outlined above. So there is that!
In other words, good luck and go for it. It’s cheap, it’s easy and even if you don’t get famous right away, at least you’ll know how to set up a WordPress blog. And that has to count for something.