My guide to setting up your own blog


I’ve done this so many times I thought I would document the process for the benefit of others! So here it is – my guide to setting up your own blog.

What do I mean by this? Well firstly I’m not talking about an automated process – this is a full installation in your own hands so that you control everything. This means that it’s an install on your own domain name, which has lots of benefits for search engine optimisation over hosting on a sub domain as is typically the case for a blog.

I’m using WordPress, the worlds favourite blogging platform. It’s free to download and install. The set up is possibly the most complicated process in the whole job as you need a database connected to run WordPress and setting this up is fiddly. However there is a great guide on the WordPress site that they reckon can be followed in just 5 minutes.

Hosting is the other consideration. You’ll need a package that allows database use (one will do).

So what are the costs?

Well unbelievably the price of everything has come down so much that cost just isn’t a factor any more. Domain registration is as low as a few pounds a year. I use freeparking.co.uk and registered my new domain (www.brianaldiss.co.uk) for just $15 for 2 years!

I’ve hosted websites for 10 years and check out new providers all the time and right now I’m using Server Centre who will do you Linux webspace (good for WordPress) that includes the databse use you need for just £25 a year! Awesome.

And that believe it or not is it! Those are the only costs other than your time. Themes for your WordPress blog are free – you can pay if you want a fancy one or to upgrade.

Steps to setting up your own blog

Once you have registered the domain name and paid for the webspace you will need to let your domain registrar (freeparking.co.uk are mine) know what the Domain Name Servers (DNS) are for your web hosts (Server Centre are mine). For Server Centre Linux web hosting they are as follows:

Primary DNS: ns1.hu-dns.com
Secondary DNS: ns2.hu-dns.com
(you’ll need both)

Set them in the admin interface at the registrars. This connects the domain name to the web space.

Next stop is WordPress.org where you will see the download link clearly labelled. Download the latest version of WordPress here for free.

When you signed up for your web space you should have received a confirmation email that will have a whole bunch of other detail in there that you need to hang onto.

In there will be FTP details. FTP stands for file transfer protocol and you need it as you are in control of the files that are uploaded to your site. You’ll need an FTP client too. If you don’t have one you can download one of many good free options here. I’m a Mac user  and find Transmit does the job I need.

Stick you FTP details in; connect to your webs space for the first time; locate the public html folder where your files will reside, and upload the WordPress installation that you downloaded.

Now comes the tricky bit – the WordPress database set up

While those files are uploading you can go ahead and set up your database. I’m using Server Centre so obviously your access details will be slightly different with another provider. They’ll be a Control Panel URL somewhere in that email you received.

It will take you to a log in screen so you’ll need to details for this too (they are usually the same as your FTP details).

Find the SQL Server Database Wizard…

…and follow these steps:

1. Create a new database – any old name will do. Write it down somewhere along with the username and password. Click next

2. Create a new database user – any name will do. Write it down somewhere along with the username and password. Click next

3. Give that user full rights (you’ll need one admin account and this does need all rights).

Your’re done!

Finishing the WordPress installation

By now all of your files should have uploaded to your webspace in your FTP client. At this stage you don’t need a theme – the default will do. You can follow the steps on the WordPress site if you like, but it’s nice and simple:

1. Locate the wp-config-sample.php file in your local WordPress folder. Change the file name so it is just wp-config.php. Open the file (notepad will do). Add in your database parameters that you wrote down… you did write them down didn’t you?! DB_NAME, DB_USER & DB_PASSWORD need to be changed, the rest stay the same. Upload the file;

1. Go to your new domain name in a browser and you will see a config prompt. Click the button.

2. You’ll now be prompted to get your database ready to talk to WordPress. Click next.

3. Add all those details you wrote down. Leave Database Host and Table Prefix as the default. Click submit

4. The nest screen is a prompt to say that you can delete the config file for security after installation – it’s worth doing. Click ‘try installing now’

5. This is the final screen. Fill in all details. Make a note of the username and password again. Leave the default check box checked to allow your site be indexed in search engines – an importnat step in this whole process… Click install

Hopefully WordPress will install and you’ll be prompted to log in on the next screen. If not it’s always those access details that are wrong – check your config file,  that’s usually where the problem is…

Well done! You’re in! This is what your dashboard should look like:

And this is what your homepage should look like with the default theme in all it’s glory:

Good luck . Hope this helps. Plenty of other WordPress tutorials online to get you going from here. happy blogging 🙂

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