WordPress – Your Site’s Foundation
If you’re going to work online from home, you’re going to need a place to do business. Once you’ve found a marketing niche, a domain name and a hosting company, you’ll need a Website, and a WordPress installation can be done in a snap. Years ago, building a Website required learning HTML and creating the pages manually by writing all of the code in a text editor, such as Notepad. It could take hours to create a single page. A few years later, software developers came up with What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors that had a drag-and-drop interface and worked like a word processor. These programs, such as Dreamweaver, Front Page and NetObjects Fusion, ruled the Web for nearly a decade before WordPress was developed. Released in 2003, WordPress is an open source blogging platform that’s configurable as a blog, Website or pretty much whatever you want it to be.
A WordPress installation is easily done manually, but since most people won’t have to do that, I won’t get into the details. There’s a great five minute WordPress installation video here if you want to see how to do it the hard way. The hard method of WordPress installation, as it happens, only takes about five minutes itself, but there’s an even faster way to get a WordPress installation. Most Webhosts today include a program called Fantastico in their Web hosting packages, and Fantastico allows you do your Wordpress installation in about sixty seconds.
WordPress Installation Overview
Once you have your hosting account set up, you need to log into your Cpanel account. Your hosting provider should have given you instructions regarding how to do that. From your main dashboard, you need to scroll down to Software and Services, and look for the Fantastico icon. The Fantastico logo looks like a smiley face. Fantastico is a piece of software that is going to make your WordPress installation smooth and easy.
Clicking on the Fantastico icon will take you to the page that lists all of the software that Fantastico can install for you. In the left-hand column, click on the word WordPress.
On the next screen, select “New Installation.” This will take you to the page where you set up your site. The manual WordPress installation (the hard way) requires you to create a database, and a database user and assign privileges and a lot more. Fantastico does away with that. On the next screen, you simply need to fill out the form as shown. If you only have one domain on your Cpanel account, your domain should be in the first field by default. If you have more than one, you’ll have to select your domain from the pull-down menu.
99% of the time, you can leave the “Install in directory” field blank. You only use this if you’re installing WordPress in a subfolder of your domain. If you don’t know what this means, just leave it blank. In subsequent fields, add an administrator username and provide a password. Be sure to remember both. For Admin nickname, you may use the same name you used for administrator or you may use your full name. Add your e-mail address to the next field, as WordPress may occasionally need to send you messages related to your site.
Finally, put the name of your site in the Site Name field. This is the name of your site, rather than your domain name. If your domain name is bluewidgets.com, you will type in something like “Blue Widgets” or “Your Blue Widget Headquarters.” For Description, a single line that describes your site goes here. Something like “A fine selection of blue widgets.” Both the site name and the description will appear on the pages of your site and visitors will see them, so you might want to spend a minute or two thinking about that, though you can change them later within WordPress.
When you’ve filled in all of the fields, click the “Install WordPress” button. This will take you to the next screen, where Fantastico will tell you the name of your domain and the name of your database. Click “Finish Installation, and you’re done.
Now you can type your domain name into your Web browser and WordPress should load and display the default home page that looks something like this:
You can log into WordPress by going to http://www.your_domain-name/wp-admin. There you will type in your administrator name and password, and you’ll be taken to the dashboard. Your dashboard will have a menu down the left hand side that allows you to configure WordPress to suit your needs
Clicking on Settings will allow you to change your site name and description. Plugins will allow you to add functionality to your WordPress installation by adding features via third party apps, called plugins.
Clicking on Appearance will allow you to change the look and feel of your site by changing the site’s theme. WordPress has a default theme that is relatively boring, and your installation may include some additional themes that have been provided by your hosting provider. There are literally thousands of themes available for WordPress that can make your site look anyway you want – silly, professional, mysterious, and more. Trying doing a Web search for “wordpress themes” and you’ll get a good idea as to what’s out there. Some themes cost money, but there are many which are free. You can use one of the themes that come with the program or find another one that suits your taste. It’s up to you, since this is your Website.
Adding WordPress Plugins
There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, and some will be useful to you and others will not. Some cost money, but others, like themes, are free. Many of the free themes are available for download directly from WordPress. Just click on the Plugins link on your dashboard and on the plugins page, click “Add New.” On the next page is a search window, and you can type in the name of the plugin you’d like to install. Then you can simply follow the prompts to install and activate the plugin.
Here are a couple of plugins that may be helpful:
1. All in One SEO – All in One SEO will add forms to the bottom of your page or post editor to allow you to add descriptions, titles and keywords. This plugin is helpful to ensure that the search engines know what your site and pages are about.
2. Google XML Sitemaps – this plugin automatically creates a list of all of the pages on your site so that the search engines will know about every page on your site.
3. Pretty Link Lite – If you’re engaging in affiliate marketing, you’ll be given affiliate links that look rather awkward, such as http://rdlfs98752208ljfskfjsd.blah.blah.com. These are awkward looking links that will make visitors suspicious. Also, Google doesn’t particularly like affiliate marketing links and Pretty Link Lite will turn that ugly link into one that looks like it’s going to another page on your site, such as http://www.yourdomain.com/productpage.
4. Sociable or Feather Share – Either of these plugins will add buttons to your site’s pages that allow your users to share your posts via social media, including Twitter, Facebook and more.
I could write for days about setting up and using WordPress, but you’ll find that there’s a ton of information on the Web about how to use and configure the program. That’s one of the reasons that I like using it. I’ve literally built thousands of Websites with WordPress over the years, and I’ve never encountered a problem with the software that I couldn’t find a solution for by just doing a quick Web search for the error message.
WordPress Installation Summary
This might seem rather complicated, but you’ll find that a WordPress installation isn’t that difficult. The first time takes the longest; after that, it goes pretty quickly.
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