Getting Started with WordPress
As a home office worker, you know that streamlining your systems is just as important as maintaining a strong internet presence. You can use WordPress to create blog or small website, and you can customize it endlessly to get exactly what you want out of your site. Here’s how to get started.
Option Number One: WordPress.com
There are two ways to use WordPress: you can either go to WordPress.com and set up a site within their network. Your address will be www.mywebaddress.wordpress.com, with "mywebaddress" replaced by whatever you want to put there. Using WordPress.com is the quickest and easiest way to get started blogging with WordPress, and it is free, but it is also very limiting. You can’t do much customization with WordPress.com, other than changing the theme. You can take advantage of WordPress.com’s stats tracking and spam control, but you’re still not nearly as flexible as you will be with option number two.
Option Number Two: WordPress.org
You’ll have to invest a wee bit ‘o’ money to use WordPress.org; the software is completely free, but you will be hosting it yourself, so you need a domain name and some server space. I’ve been very pleased with the prices and customer service at godaddy.com, but you can do a little comparison shopping if you like and find the provider you like the best. Purchase a domain name and the smallest, simplest hosting package offered. You can always upgrade later. A domain name will run around $10 (for a year, with an option to renew); a simple hosting package can be anywhere from $5 to $20 per month.
Once you have your domain name and hosting space set up, you need to download the WordPress software from WordPress.org and then upload it to your server. I can’t give you a step-by-step on that, because it’s going to be a different process with each hosting provider. You can read the Famous 5-Minute Install instructions from WordPress.org, and that might be all you need. There are also more detailed installation instructions available on WordPress.org. Some hosting providers (godaddy.com is one of them) have some sort of system set up to do the installing for you, which makes the process really easy. Endure, even if it gets a little complicated. Everything will become much simpler once you have WordPress installed.
Setting Up WordPress
Once you have completed the installation (congrats!), you need to do a bit of set up. The way to access the "backside" of your website, which is how you will put in posts, photos, music, and other content, is by going to www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php, with "yourdomain" being replaced by, well, whatever your domain actually is. You will put in your user name and password, which you would have set up during the installation process, and this will get you into your WordPress Dashboard. Let’s get started:
- Go to the Settings tab (top right) and under "General," fill in the right information for the name of your blog/site, your tag line, your url (the same domain by which you access your Dashboard, but without the wp-login.php part), and the email address you want to use to receive messages from your website (telling you that someone has commented or registered). Be sure to hit the "Save Changes" button at the bottom of the page.
- You can review the other options under Settings for Writing, Reading, Discussion, Privacy, etc., but most of those are fine on the default options. Don’t change it if you don’t understand it.
- Click on "Write" at the top left; this will open a window that lets you write and publish a new post. Let the creative juices flow, and speak to the world. WordPress will save your drafts as you go, automatically. When you’re finished writing, click on Publish.
- You can also set up static pages with WordPress: these are pages that hold content, just like a post does, but they will stay at the same place on your WordPress site instead of moving down as new posts are published. Click on "Write" again, and then click on "Page." An About Me page is a good place to start: Give a brief biography, a few hobbies, maybe a little something about your family or career. Once you’re finished, click on Publish.
- Now visit your new site: At the top of the Dashboard, beside the title of your page, you’ll see a button that says "Visit Site." Click on that, and you’ll get to see what your site looks like to visitors. You should see your first post and, along the top, a link to your About Me page.
Customization, Here We Come
Of course, the next thing you will want to do is customize the look by getting a different theme, and you need to learn about adding plug-ins so you can get the most out of WordPress. Those articles are coming next! Stay tuned.