In the very first post of this series, I talked about how to plan ahead in terms of finalizing what your blog stands (main theme) for and then get a blog space and a domain name. Once you are a proud owner of your own domain and hosting space you can immediately start preparing your domain and the hosting account for installing WordPress. Even if you registered for your free blogging space at WordPress.com,
the number of steps to follow (except for setting up of email accounts etc) will be much the same. So let us talk about this particular phase of the blog that is just about to be born.
Phase 3. Preparing your hosting account
Most hosting providers have excellent dashboards such as cPanel to help you with configuring, managing and maintaining your hosting account features such as email accounts, MySQL databases, sub domains, installables etc. One of the basic things you need to setup up front is your primary email account for the use of your wordpress
account as well as for the related sign up in the future. Setting up other features is not in the scope of this post as you may easily do it using the custom tools in your hosting account.
It is ideal to use your own domain’s primary email account for any official communication related to your new blog as well as for registering with WordPress . This makes sense as this email account is required only as long as your blog hosted under the same domain name exists. You may however need to use other permanent email accounts for certain other registrations common to all your web usage. Also, you may need one or two temporary email addresses (either within the same domain or otherwise) to sign up with potentially spamming services (I will talk about it later)
Phase 4. Registering and installing WordPress
To register and install WordPress you may visit WordPress.org. Always make sure that you install the latest stable version of the platform. WordPress has one of the most effortless installation procedure ever which should not take more than 5 minutes. For installation help, you may check out this link which you must be already having by now. In my case my web hosting service has an excellent one click installation using their tool called ‘Fantastico’ which made things look so ridiculously easy. I had to do just a single file configuration after that.
Once you installed wordpress on your hosting directory, you might want to install another copy of wordpress in your local hard disc at home . This is very important as you may be playing around with your installation for the first couple of days to figure out which is what and could spoil things in the process. So all your experiments henceforth can be in your local disc. One needs a little bit of expertise to configure wordpress at home because you need a webserver such as Apache, PHP and MySQL database to be installed and configured to setup WP at home. If you feel technically challenged here, you may skip this step but then you need to be (1) very careful with
making changes live on your wordpress blog and (2) need to take backup before every single change.
Choosing a theme
Wordpress comes with couple of default themes, but you want something cooler. So you may download themes from one of those free wordpress themes sites such as Daily Blog Tips or WP Theme Designer or 100s of other sites – just Google them out. You can play around with different themes until you finalize on one that matches the best with respect to your site’s contents.
Actually, there is a lot more than just the looks of the theme. You might want to pick a theme that is modularized very well  so that it can accomodate your various contents and extensions in the future. You must have read a lot about ‘adsense ready’ plugins etc but what you need to really think about is not just adsense but the possibility to easily plug in scrips or a piece of code or an image easily in the future or ease with which blocks can be reorganized. I downloaded the theme that I am using from DailyBlogTips and I did some – in fact quite some – customizing to it. Before you finalize on a theme template, make sure that you run it once on the popular web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera  to see that it really looks fine and almost the same on all those applications (How to upload a theme, how to switch themes etc are not in the scope of this post)
After finalizing your theme you can spend some time to customize it. Unless you are an expert in PHP, HTML and stylesheets, you may refrain from doing any changes to the theme except for probably changing any images related to your branding. If you can’t do it yourself, get some help from the professionals.
Never ever edit the images for your theme in applications such as MSPaint which will spoil the image quality. Beautifying the theme is a job that you can do anytime but according to me, making a theme compliant for future expandability is the main job!
Basic Plugins and widgets
Regardless of the theme that you are using there are a number of minimum plugins and widgets that you need to get the basic blog up and running. The following is the list of widgets and plugins that you may need to enable using your WordPress ‘Design’ tab, ‘Plugin’ link or even download from the web.
- Recent Posts
- Pages – If you want to support pages along with posts
- Akismet – This is a widget in your free blog account at wordpress.com and it gives protection against comment spam
MUST HAVE Plugins to begin with
- WordPress Database Backup – For me, this is the very first plugin to be activated and configured  as data is the most important thing. You may download this plugin here. Configure this for a daily database backup to be sent to your email account. Please note that this plugin takes the backup of only the content and not your theme folder etc.
- Akismet – The comment spam plugin in your wordpress installation
- XML Sitemap Generator – Will be a bare minimum requirement for creating sitemaps for your blog. We will talk about sitemaps later but you may download this plugin and keep it without activating for the time being.
There are other things like RSS feed plugins, blog rolls, various comments plugins, ad plugins and many others that you could explore later. To get your initial content loaded, seen and tested, the above-mentioned plugins are more than sufficient.
I wanted to actually skip through the procedure of setting up wordpress pretty fast so that we can spend more time discussing other interesting things. In the next post I shall talk about ‘Creating base contents or pillar posts‘. Please provide your feedback…