CAREER ADVANCEMENT / JUL. 31, 2014
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How to Set Up a Blog Using Wordpress

When it comes to blog and website content management, Wordpress is the undisputed champion. There are challengers, but none really come close to offering the functionality, user interface, and customization available with Wordpress. Over 60 million people use it to manage their blog or website, and that number continues to grow.

There are actually two different choices available. Wordpress.com provides a free but basic system to create and manage a blog. They provide free hosting (up to 3GB of space), 286 themes to choose from, but don’t provide plugins. You are able to select a personalized name, but your web address will be yourname.wordpress.com. Everything is hosted on the Wordpress servers. This option is fine for personal blogs, but not ideal for a company.

In terms of a business blog or website, you’ll want to use Wordpress.org. The program itself is free to download, install, and use, but you will need to spend some money on hosting and perhaps even a professional theme. Wordpress.org allows for unparalleled customization, a domain name without the .wordpress.com tag, and tens of thousands of tools and tweaks called plugins. You can truly make your blog your blog.

As Simple As 1-2-3

Wordpress.org lists three steps to get up and running:

1. Find a host

2. Install Wordpress

3. Read Documentation

Hosting is the storage space for your files, images, and posts. It’s a place to keep everything so that it can be accessed online whenever someone goes to your web address. While there are many hosting companies out there (2014 Web Hosting Review), Wordpress recommends three:

·         Bluehost ($2.75/month) 1-Click Install and free domain name

·         DreamHost ($3.95/month) 1-Click Install and free domain name

·         Laughing Squid (starting at $6/month)

You will need to select and register a domain name (yourname.com, or yourname.org, or yourname.net, or whatever is actually available). It’s best to simply use your company name, and if it’s not available, try looking at different tags (.ca, .org, .net, .mobi, .co.uk, etc.) beyond the usual .com. Domain registration typically costs about $5-10/year depending on the tag you select, although many hosts - Bluehost and DreamHost included - will often throw it in for free.

If you go with a big name provider like Bluehost, installation is a breeze. In fact, it’s 1-click (simply follow their instructions). If your provider does not offer 1-click, you’ll need to work a bit harder. Wordpress provides a handy guide for installation, and they claim it takes no more than five minutes.  

Once installed - either 1-click or the “harder” 5 minutes - you can browse through the documentation centre on the Wordpress website. There, you can familiarize yourself with everything you’ll need to know.

Presto! According to Wordpress, you’re done. 1-2-3. Of course, stopping here would give you a bare bones blog. There’s a bit more to do.

Select a THEME

A Wordpress theme is the window dressing. It determines how your blog will look (colour scheme and layout), and some of its functionality. There are thousands of free themes available. The Wordpress.org theme directory lists 2623. A Google search for “free wordpress themes” will deliver thousands more.

Even better - especially for a company blog - are third-party theme vendors. These cost money, but you get what you pay for. They look great, integrate flawlessly and easily with Wordpress, and provide a slew of functions and upgrades you won’t find with the free options. Some of the best vendors include:

·         Studiopress

·         Woo Themes

·         Elegant Themes

Pick a theme and get customizing!

Install a Few Crucial PLUGINS

Plugins are tiny additions to your Wordpress toolbelt. They can add, change, remove, or alter its functionality in countless ways. The Wordpress.org plugin directory currently has 32,470 plugins, covering everything from social media sharing, to overall speed and mobile accessibility. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to plugins ... as a general rule, try and keep them to a minimum (the more you install, the slower your site might become). A few essential plugins to include:

·         Akismet (spam blocker)

·         Wordpress SEO by Yoast

·         Jetpack by Wordpress.com (multiple tools)

·         WPtouch Mobile (mobile website)

You can read up on plugins - including which ones people claim are crucial - online. Check out The 35 Best Wordpress Plugins as a good starting point.

Connect Your Social Media Accounts

Wordpress makes it easy to connect your blog (company or otherwise) and your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so forth). Make sure that you do...not only does it make sharing easier, but it also helps with search engine optimization. On the Wordpress dashboard (available at www.yourname.com/wp-admin/), go to Settings-Sharing to connect all your accounts. You just need to enter your username and password. Simple.

Find a host. Register a domain name. Install Wordpress. Select/install a theme. Install a few essential plugins. That’s it. Wordpress says three simple steps, but it’s actually five. Still simple, though. 60+ million people use Wordpress to power their blog or website for that very reason.

Photo Source: Wordpress

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