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Go Blog Yourself…

2 Oct, 2009 Phil Starting Up

Blogging.  Everybody’s doing it:  Celebrity blogs, personal blogs, executive blogs, pet blogs … the lot.  You name the topic, someone is blogging about it.   Jesus, this site is a blog.  But a blog can be your business website, after all, it can make you money.   Although blogs are non-subscription websites (you don’t pay to be a member of it), but high-traffic blogs generate income from advertising like Google Adsense and other banner ads.   If you’re blog is recieving 100,000 hits a day, then your going to make an income from page impressions and clicks on your ads.   This will be covered seperately in the future on my site. 

I don’t actually have ads on this site anymore, as I want this particular blog to be nice and clean.    Saying that, I do have other blogs and sites across the web that do have ads to generate revenue though.

Now I have a lot of friends and even family members who often ask me how to start their own blog, and I always enjoy explaining the advantages of using a blog over a traditional XHTML/CSS or CMS website.    I thought I would highlight  the process to make it easier to understand:

 

 

1. What’s your blog about?

There are a huge amount of blogs on the web already.  If you want to attract readers, you are going to need to establish your credibility as someone who has useful information, or someone who is an expert on the topic at hand.   Don’t just blog about anything and nothing – there’s nothing more infuriating than reading about some kid who went to the dentist or someone who just rants about attention from girls.   Dull, dull, dull.   Pick a topic you are are passionate about.   Something that you have lots of experience with, chances are, someone will also take interest and subscribe to your site, or start following it via RSS.

2. Decide on Hosting Method

When it comes to starting a blog, your biggest decision will be whether you want to host the blog yourself through a hosting account, or use a free blogging service that is hosted for you.   Pro’s and cons for each I’m afraid:  Self-hosting is great (what I do), as you get a true domain (www.) set up specifically for the blog so each page will be linked to the root directory.  You also have acces to more of the files associated with the blog so you have far more control to style and set it up to your exact requirements.  Downside to this is it can be a bitch to set up if you have no experience of ftp and permissions (there is a counter-plus to this though which I’ll mention in a minute).   Free hosting is good as it is set up for you already but you have limited access to change specific files and your domain will have the blogging company in it as well as their ads within your pages which you can’t change.  Yes, it’s free, (but nothing is really free is it?).  When you start a blog with a free blogging service, you don’t get your own domain.  You get something like mygreatblog.blogspot.com (where there are a million other blogs at blogspot.com) and you don’t actually ‘own’ the blog yourself.   So if you ever do decide to move to your own domain, you have no way to take your readers with you, because you have no control over the site.

 

3. Use Wordpress

This is by far the best – not an understatement – blogging program out there.   If you are going to use this and want to host your own – i highly, highly, highly advise checking out hosting companies that offer a 1-click setup for it:  GoDaddy.com, MediaTemple  etc, for your domain and hosting.   Reason why?  Once your domain and hosting are bought, GoDaddy have an add-on that you have available for free.  Fill in the blog name and description, click setup, and Bang! it does everything for you.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Within 24 hours, your blog is on the net waiting for your first post.   The first time I noticed this, I couldn’t believe it.   Now every blog I start, I use this, as it saves you loads of time – even if experienced with setting it up.   Consequently, I have recently noticed that a few advanced features are blocked with GoDaddy, such as mod_rewrite ability, so if your setting up a feature-packed blog full of javascript, jQuery or other advanced features, use someone like Mediatemple.   For a simple but standard blog, GoDaddy will do the job. 

 

4. Find a Domain Name

This is the most fun part – picking the name of the whole blogging process.   You know what your theme is already maybe, so now you have to find a good domain name.

 

How to Install Wordpress – without a 1-click install through GoDaddy.

Instalation Overview If you have experience with installing web applications that use mySQL, this could take as little as 5 minutes to do, and the 5 steps below may be all you need, however, I have further explained each step below for beginners.

  1. Make sure your host meets the requirements.
  2. Make sure you have a database ready with proper username and password.
  3. Download and unzip wordpress.
  4. In the wordpress folder, find and make a copy of wp-config-sample.php. Rename the copy to wp-config.php and fill in your database details. Save the new file. details
  5. Upload all the files to the directory in your webhost where you want the blog to live – details
  6. Run the installation file. install-folder/wp-admin/install.php. details

 

To run WordPress, your host just needs a couple of things:

  • PHP version 4.2 or greater
  • MySQL version 4.0 or greater

You can usually do this in your hosting control panel. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your hosting company. After you have set it up, you should have 4 pieces of information about the database.
1. Database Name – The name of your database.
2. Username – your databse user name.
3. Password – Your database password.
4. Host name – This is going to be a host name. It might be something like mysql.mydomain.com, or just localhost.

 

Without these 4 things, you won’t be able to set up Wordpress period. Again, contact your hosting company’s tech support if you have any trouble with this. It’s one of those things: once you’ve done it, you’ll know how to do it again, but the first time (as mentioned before) can be a bitch.  If I remember correctly, I spent hours trying to do it, and just about cancelled the whole thing when miraculously it started working.   Get used to that when it comes to websites.
This bit is easy:  Just go to wordpress.org/download/, and download the current version. You have a choice between the ZIP file or the TAR.GZ file. I think the TAR.GZ file may be smaller, but I have always downloaded the ZIP.
Uncompress the Wordpress ZIP file – Again this is easy.
Open the Wordpress folder and rename the file wp-config-sample.php to just wp-config.php. Now open it and insert the 4 pieces of information about your database into the 4 fields below.

Change:

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘wordpress’); // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username’); // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password’); // … and password
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’); // 99% chance you won’t need to change this value

to

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘yourDatabaseName’); // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘your-username’); // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘your-password’); // … and password
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘your-hostname’); // 99% chance you won’t need to change this value

If you want your wordpress blog in a separate directory of your website, like “yourdomain.com/blog”, then rename the “wordpress” folder to “blog” and upload it to the root directory with an ftp program.

If you want your blog to be in the root directory of your site, meaning the blog will be located at “yourdomain.com”, then just open the wordpress folder and upload all the files and folders into your web root. If you already have a file called index.html, or index.php, you’ll need to rename it or get rid of it before you uploading everything.

 

In a browser, go to the domain where you uploaded wordpress, and then to /wp-admin/install.php, and follow the simple directions there.

You will be given a username and password. Save it in a safe place.  Don’t lose it like I did.  If you do, watch a few hours of your life go missing like a sock in the washing machine.

 

That’s it. You now have a new blog. You can now log in with your username and password, and start writing.

Download a Wordpress theme
This is the fun part. Picking a wordpress theme. There are millions of places to find Wordpress Themes . When you find one you like, just download it and unzip it just like you did with the Wordpress ZIP file.

Add Your Theme
You can do this after you upload, but it’s probably easier to just do it now.

Look for the themes folder. It’s in the wordpress => wp-content => themes.

There should already be 2 theme folders in the themes folder, “classic” and “default”.  These are pretty dull to be honest so you’re gonna want to change to a better, more normal-looking one.

Simple yeah?  Honestly though, it’s pretty straight-foward.  My best advice, do the Go-Daddy route (and no – i’m not an affiliate for them).  Before long – you’ll be a blogger too.

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About Phil

Phil is creative director at PSM Digital but also freelances with web design and SEO in Manchester, UK. He researches and studies online business, along with the latest technological advances and development in design, SEO and social media.

2 Comments

  1. nice share, good article, very usefull for me…thanks

  2. thank! for this news it’s a good infomation !

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About The One Man Mission...

Hi I’m Phil. Welcome to my blog, where you’ll find useful information on web design, development and online business advice.  I’m a creative director for a digital agency in Manchester, UK and I also freelance web design also.  Currently setting up and developing a new online business, I am here...

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