Tag Archives: blogs

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How to install WordPress easily

In the last blog post, I suggested that…

If you’re new to blogging, register a free WordPress.com website (e.g, www.brummiedave.wordpress.com), dive straight into blogging and posting regular content and managing the website.

Once confident with your own blogging abilities and the direction of your site, purchase your own domain (e.g. www.brummiedave.com) and hosting space, and then transfer everything over. This will provide you with greater flexibility along with a more professional-looking website (e.g. no ads, your own web address, etc.).

So, let’s unreasonably assume that in the 24 hours or so since the post was published, you’ve become reasonably confident in your blogging abilities, and you’re now ready to move onto the next step; moving your wordpress.com site onto its own web domain with a ‘WordPress.org’ installed site. Here’s a good explanation of the difference between the ‘com’ and ‘org’ versions of WordPress:

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Installing a WordPress.org site will mean you have your own URL (i.e. ‘www.BirminghamEastside.com‘) and have the freedom to transform the site into pretty much anything, by installing whichever themes and ‘plugins’ you feel like.

To begin with though, all websites need the following:

  • A registered domain; to provide your website’s web address (e.g. 123-reg.co.uk)
  • A hosting server; a website is basically a big folder of files (like your My Documents folder on a PC), so a hosting server (e.g. BlueHost, GoDaddy, etc.)
  • A content management system (CMS); e.g. WordPress

Historically, domain name and hosting providers were separate, and fiddly settings had to be fiddled, and files uploaded using something called ‘File Transfer Protocol’ (FTP software)  in order to get everything to speak to each other, and work.

However, these days such companies tend to offer everything, and include automated methods for installing WordPress as a single package.

WordPress.com in fact allows users to simply upgrade their plan for their own domain name, and some of the features a self-hosted system offers, but it lacks the flexibility for you to ever install your own themes or ‘plugins’ to give your site extra functionality.

Now, my original plan was to show you how to setup separate hosting and domain name providers, install WordPress, and publish your site, but doing so, will involve fiddling with ‘.php files’ and ‘Advanced DNS’ in various settings pages, which seems to run contrary to the whole ‘introductory-level’ nature of this blog post.

So, I’ve tried to keep things relatively simple and non-technical by showing how to do everything through a single example, GoDaddy.com, whilst avoiding often unnecessary additional services they’re keen on selling to you.

My super-short guide to installing WordPress with GoDaddy

  1. Go to GoDaddy.com
  2. Search and ‘Add’ the web address you’d like, choose ‘Domain only’, proceed to checkout.
  3. Choose Web Hosting [only] and the package that suits your website plans/budget.
  4. Check the durations are suitable for your needs, don’t add the ‘search engine optimisation’ offer, and complete the purchase of your site.
  5. On the next screen, click the option to ‘Install WordPress’, and enter a username and password for yourself. GoDaddy will automatically install WordPress for you.

That’s it, it’s installed. You’ll now have a basic WordPress website if you go to the URL you set up. Next up – assuming you’ve started your blogging life with a wordpress.com address, let’s transfer all your old content to the new site.

How to transfer your posts to the new site

  1. Login to your old WordPress.com Dashboard, then go Tools > Export
  2. Click the basic ‘Export’ option (however appealing the Orwellian ‘happiness engineers’ sound).
  3. Select ‘All Content’, then ‘Download all content’ to download a file ending ‘.xml’ to your computer.
  4. In a new tab, open the Dashboard for your new WordPress website, then go Tools > Import > WordPress, and ‘Upload and import’ the file you’ve just downloaded (you have to click through a few steps to install a plugin first).
  5. You should now have all the pages and posts from the old site on your new domain, however, the site theme is likely to be different to the one you’ve been using. So either Google the previous theme or choose a new one based on recommendations (e.g. search for ‘best responsive wordpress themes 2013‘ for a ton of well-informed  recommendations).
  6. Download your chosen theme (e.g. Gridly is a free download here), then on your new WordPress dashboard, click Appearance > Themes > Install Themes > Upload, then upload the theme you’ve just downloaded as a ZIP file.
  7. Once installed, activate the theme.
  8. Unfortunately, you’ll now need to replicate some of the work done when you set up the wordpress.com site to tidy up any formatting issues, etc. So it’s probably best to follow my WordPress setup checklist.

So, you should now have a self-hosted website/blog with your old site’s content and its own theme. Unfortunately, the only (user-friendly) way to automatically redirect old users from your old blog to the new one and keep any SEO you’ve built up is to purchase a WordPress Off-site Redirect for a year or two, which will redirect users for a fairly low annual subscription.

Have you found this post useful? Leave your comments below.

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How to set up your first blog or website

Looking to set up your own professional website or blog with your own domain name but have little technical knowledge?

The easiest-to-find guides on the web to installing free website platforms such as WordPress, emphasise words like ‘simple’ and ‘easy’, yet many are not and often plunge newbies into a complex world of managing databases, editing ‘.php’ files or push them to purchase unnecessary services.

So, here’s the first part of my little guide to getting started with blogging – or setting up your own news, events or other website for that matter (interestingly, 69% of surveyed WordPress  users  use it primarily as an all purpose ‘content management system’ rather than a blogging platform), if you’re completely new to it.

What I’d suggest

  • If you’re new to blogging, register a free WordPress.com website (e.g, www.brummiedave.wordpress.com), dive straight into blogging and posting regular content and managing the website.
  • Once confident with your own blogging abilities and the direction of your site, purchase your own domain (e.g. www.brummiedave.com) and hosting space, and then transfer everything over. This will provide you with greater flexibility along with a more professional-looking website (e.g. no ads, your own web address, etc.).

WordPress to do list

Got yourself a free blog at WordPress.com now? Good.

In this post, I’ll cover a few basic things you should do once you register a WordPress blog. First of all, make sure you’re in the ‘Dashboard’ view of the site (you can reach it by going to ‘[yourblogtitle].wordpress.com/wp-admin’), then:

  1. imported postsClick Posts > All Posts. Then delete the default ‘Hello World’ (if it’s there)
  2. Click Settings > General. Then edit the Site Title and Tagline so they’re how you’d like them to appear (potentially) at the top of the homepage.
  3. Click Pages > All Pages. Edit the default ‘About’ page with something that describes the purpose of the website. Click ‘Publish’.
  4. Click Pages > Add New. Enter ‘Contact Us’ for the page title, then click ‘Add Contact Form > Add this form to my post. Click ‘Publish’.
  5. Click Appearance > Themes. Browse the themes and choose a theme that suits your website’s purpose and its target audience. Fiddle with the various theme options and layouts if you feel confident.
  6. Click Appearance > Widgets. Depending on your theme click and delete any ‘widgets’ you don’t wish to appear in the sidebar to the left part (e.g. Search, Meta, Archive, Recent Comments). Then click and drag any widgets you want to appear in (e.g. Facebook Likes, Twitter Timeline*, Follow Blog, Gravatar, etc.).
  7. Go to Settings > Sharing. Connect every social network that you have an account for. Doing so automatically shares your posts to these networks and improves the chances people will see your post.
  8. Click Posts > Add New. Write and publish a blog post (for instance, a short post about why you’ve just set up the blog).

There you go. You’ve now got a website with all the basic foundations in place, and it didn’t cost anything, nor did it require looking at or changing any code anywhere along the way.

If you try blogging for a while and find it isn’t for you, you’re not tied into paying for a domain name or hosting subscription for 2 years, and you haven’t lost anything besides the short time it will have taken you to do the above checklist.

Next, I’ll be posting a short guide to the next step, transforming your WordPress.com website into a proper, ‘self-hosted’ website with its own hosting and domain name.

*To set up a Twitter Timeline, you’ll need to set up a Twitter widget first.

What Makes a Good Blog Post?

I ran an ‘Introduction to Blogging’ training session for some staff at Birmingham City University yesterday, so thought it might be worth sharing their findings on what they thought did or didn’t make for a good blog post, based on a number of samples I provided.

First – my misspelling of ‘authoritative’ aside – here’s what generally tended to work well in the blog posts they read:

Things that don't work quite so well in blog posts, according to my blogging trainees.
Things that generally worked well in blog posts, according to my blogging trainees.

….And now for the elements that didn’t work so well in the sample blog posts they read:

Things that generally worked well in blog posts, according to my blogging trainees.
Things that didn’t work quite so well in blog posts, according to the staff trainees.

*N.B. The ‘Blog Connected to Social Media’ post-it is attached to the wrong page. It should obviously be on the ‘what worked well’ page*

Are there any they’ve missed/couldn’t fit on the A3 sheet? Give your thoughts on what makes for a good blog post in the comments below.