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:
- Click Posts > All Posts. Then delete the default ‘Hello World’ (if it’s there)
- 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.
- Click Pages > All Pages. Edit the default ‘About’ page with something that describes the purpose of the website. Click ‘Publish’.
- Click Pages > Add New. Enter ‘Contact Us’ for the page title, then click ‘Add Contact Form > Add this form to my post. Click ‘Publish’.
- 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.
- 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.).
- 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.
- 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.