One of the most important moves a blogger can make is to take and maintain control of their property from the start. Although WordPress.com buy Woodland Café is an easy way to get started, it doesn’t take long before its limitations become painfully apparent: custom domains, themes, additional storage, plugins are all considered “premium features” some which require small investments of your hard-earned money as you build yourÂ self-publishing empire that ultimately remains out of your control.
Alternatively, for an average of fifty five dollars a year, you can purchase a shared hosting solution at companies like GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator The Bear movie or Hostmonster that allow you to install a full-fledged version of WordPress at no extra cost and that offers virtually limitless customization and expandability, not to mention as many email accounts based on your custom domain name as you could ever desire.
In this article I want to explore some of the additional benefits and features available in your own custom WordPress installation and how to optimize your setup so that you can get the most mileage from it at the outset.
First things First
Come up with a great domain name and register it.Â Any host provider worth its salt will offer the ability to purchase and register a new domain name right from its main interface.Â By doing so through your host provider you will save a number of steps so that you can jump right into installing your own WordPress.org installation.
You will also be the true owner of this domain name and the WordPress account and no one can take it from you. I will discuss how to choose a great domain name in a future article.
1. Getting started
Assuming you have purchased a shared server account with a host provider, installing WordPress is as simple as logging in to your administrative account which should bring up a page filled with options called your cpanel. From here you will find an option called Fantastico, or in some cases Simplescript. Click there and you will be faced with a wide variety of options for installing anything from ecommerce software, mailing lists to a CMS (“content management system”) like Drupal or Joomla, or blogging software like WordPress. Select WordPress, input the domain to which the installation should be attached (choose your domain, add-on domain or subdomain from the dropdown list), enter a title for your blog/site, select the option to create your own admin user name and password and then click install. Within seconds you will have a fully functional, properly installed blog via which you are ready to rule the world!
After the installation is complete you will see a page offering to show you your site right away. Let’s pretend it is called www.yourownWPblog.com.Â Alternatively, you can just type your domain name where you have installed your new WordPress installation into the browser. You will now see a standard generic looking WordPress page featuring an entry that reads “Hello World!” Nothing to write home about. But that will change fast.
2. Beyond the basics
To get inside your new home so that you can start renovating, you need to log in to the administrative backend of your blog by adding the following to the end of your domain name:
So using our example, it should look like this:
Enter the admin username and password you created during the installation set up and you’re in.
The very first thing to do, before anything else is to go to your plugins tab, and activate Akismet. This very important plugin is the standard SPAM killer for your blog and will prevent SPAMMERS from flooding your comment section with junk. Once activated, you will see a warning that you need to enter your Akismet key. If you already have an account at WordPress.com this should be easy enough: click the Request Key button
and after logging in with your WordPress.com account one will be automatically generated for you. If you don’t already have a wordpress.com blog, simply register a username and password there (it’s free) and you are good to go.
The next step is, in my opinion one of the most important steps you will take in ensuring that your blog is search engine friendly, easier to read and catalog, and future proof.
3. Permalinks are your best friend
When you create posts, WordPress will automatically create a URL for every entry you publish. This is great except for the fact that the way it does it, by default, is to reference the number of the article as listed in your database which will spit out something ugly like “www.yourownWPblog.com/?p=1″ where the number one means the very first post. The lack of elegance becomes more evident after you have been publishing articles for a while and links to those articles look like “www.yourownWPblog.com/?p=234″.
Search engines like real language a lot, and the language included in your URL can go a long way in helping them do their job effectively.
The way to remedy this is to go back to your Dashboard, down to the Settings area and then click Permalinks. You will now see a section on the Permalinks page titled “Common Settings.” Select the very last option: “Custom Structure.” In the text area to the right of it enter the following:
What this will do is to use the title of your blog articles in your URL by inserting dashes in between the words in the title. Now instead of your article “Best Cat Video Ever” having the URL “www.yourownWPblog.com/?p=234″ your article will be assigned will read “www.yourownWPblog.com/best-cat-video-ever.” This will make a lot more sense to the search engines and when people see the link they will know exactly what it is about.
Of course there is an art to creating strong, intriguing and catchy titles for your articles but that is something outside the scope of this introduction.
4. Learn by doing
Depending on your familiarity with this sort of thing, the above may seem a little daunting. The best way to learn it is to simply dive in and start tinkering around. You really can’t break anything, and there is no need to worry that the world will catch your mistakes as you get up and running. We would all love to believe that everyone was suddenly aware of our new site, but it takes a little time for the internet, let alone the world, to find new sites so you have time to get it right.
For now, rest assured that at least you have the technical stuff set up properly and you are on your way to being a true self-publisher on the internet. The rest is up to you and your imagination.