1.    Installing WordPress, Plugins And Creating Your First Blog Post!

Enough about WordPress introduction and getting started phases, it is time to install WordPress. I’m sure your intestines must be quivering with excitement! You can take a moment of silence. Go ahead and suck it all in – it’s one of the most highly anticipated moments. When you are done, you will find me waiting here… 

1.1.          WordPress Installation Guide – How To Install WordPress Through Your Hosting Account

Even though WordPress is easily installable through a manual download, I thought that it would be best to automate the process. Since you are a first time WordPress user, it is best that you try to install it in the easiest way possible. Later on, if it pleases you, you can always go to the official WordPress website at www.wordpress.org.

Their Word Press download screen will look like this:

Old WordPress Download Screenie - This is What it Looked Like

Actually, this is a screenshot from WordPress homepage. They always have the download WordPress link somewhere above the fold – this way everyone who’s interested in getting latest version of the program, can download it immediately.

Take a look at the Step by Step process of installing WordPress and the Prerequisite Requirements for it:

1.2.          Step 1 – Buying Domain Name

I usually buy my domains at NameCheap (www.namecheap.com). It’s a huge website where all kinds of domains are available for a small fee. At the time of writing this book, the price was $9.98. However, recently they sent an email notification to all their clients about a slight increase in ICANN fee.

Within a few days, all NameCheap domain prices will go up by a dollar and a few pennies. Nonetheless, it is not too much to ask for, considering that the domain name will remain valid for a period of one year, starting from the exact day the domain was registered.

NameCheap Homepage Screenshot

The NameCheap homepage will look something like what’s shown in the above image.  As always, they have a domain name search bar right above-the-fold, so that everyone can enter a random name and see if the domain with that name is available. Go ahead, enter a domain/blog name of your choice and see what comes up next.

Usually, in 99% cases, the name is already taken. If I enter “Weight Loss” as a domain name, I will get the following results:

Domain Name Results at NameCheap Website

There’s no need for you to be disappointed at this point. By the way, “Weight Loss” is an extremely competitive keyword and you have VERY slim chances of finding a domain with that exact name available. Those owners, who have already purchased this name, will probably sell it to you for over a couple of THOUSAND dollars! That’s right – a competitive keyword like that is always going to be hot in the market.

On the bright side, considering that you want to create a weight loss oriented website, just like the one that Lorrie is running, you can always give a little special name to yours. Let’s say your name is Scarlett, you can search for a domain name around weight loss, by typing in “ScarlettsWeightloss”. Good news is that the following image shows its availability on a large scale:

Another Screenie of NameCheap Domain Name Query Results

See! All you have to do is think about the name thing, and you will eventually register something worthwhile. Always take as much time as possible, to come up with a domain name. Granted that you will be running your blog for the next couple of years as a sole proprietor, getting its name right, is the first and foremost step.

Okay, right after you have selected a domain name of your liking in either .Com or .Org category, you can proceed to checkout. If you haven’t created an account at NameCheap before, they will prompt you for a quick 2 minute account creation process. Afterwards, you will be asked for your complete name, address, credit card/debit card number (or whatever mode of payment you have selected).

Make sure that you have entered all the information correctly, as sometimes a slightest mistake can lead you to a lot of trouble.

Side Note: If you are thinking that I have illustrated the example of NameCheap for promotional motives, you can always go to any other platform of your choice. The only reason I’m recommending this website is because of my personal experience with them. I have been NameCheap’s customer for over 5 years now. You can also try GoDaddy at www.godaddy.com or any other domain name registration website of your preference. 

1.3.          Step 2: Purchasing a Hosting Plan:

After registering a domain name at NameCheap, GoDaddy, or any other website, leave it be. For now, we are going to purchase a hosting plan at another hosting company website. It is always a good rule to subscribe for hosting plan at somewhere else, because at time of domain transfer, from one company to another, you will have to trouble.

For instance, NameCheap also provides hosting packages but I only purchase my domains from there. If I register for a hosting plan at NameCheap, alongside a domain name, I might have problems transferring that domain to some other hosting company’s servers. The transfer usually occurs when a person is not satisfied with a current hosting company’s services.

For hosting plan subscription, I would recommend HostGator. Their main website URL is www.HostGator.com. Feel free to sign up for your subscriptions at GoDaddy, Media Temple (very expensive but highly recommended!), Dream Host, Network Solutions or any other company. For the sake of giving you an easy automated WordPress installation tutorial, we are going to go ahead with HostGator.

One of the reasons as to why HostGator is recommended is because of their top notch customer service. Besides offering hosting plans at extremely affordable rates, the company is very excellent when it comes to serving their paying clients. You can always try their Live Chat feature to get a hang of everything.

By heading over to HostGator’s website, you will see the following homepage:

HostGator Homepage Screenshot

You can either click the “Web Hosting” link from the top menu, or “View Hosting Plan” in the image link. Either way, you are going to end up at the following screen:

Package Details for HostGator Offers

Purchase a hosting plan of your choice. For now, to keep you budget low and to immediately get you started on blogging, consider buying the “Hatchling Plan” for 6 Month period. Don’t worry about making any rash decisions here, as you can always request the company reps to upgrade or downgrade your hosting plan. They’ll issue you a custom invoice that will suit your need perfectly.

Anyway, as soon as you are done with the hosting plan purchase, you will receive an email with links to your Control Panel (the back end where all the magic happens!), billing page and Webmail accounts if any. It is highly recommended that you DO NOT purchase a domain name at HostGator at the time of your hosting plan registration.

Most of the hosting companies provide the option of buying a domain name, alongside a hosting package, but it’s not a good choice. First of all, these domains are difficult to transfer. Secondly, they are a little bit expensive than the ones purchased at other websites.

1.4.          Step 3 – Installing WordPress Through HostGator Fantastico

Okay, it is time for you to log on to the HostGator control panel. Known as CPanel, this is the main access page, which can be used for controlling all your website/ blog related administration activities. This is where you can access databases, MySQL folders and tons of other stuff that will come handy to you in near future.

For the purpose of blogging, we are going to use Fantastico Deluxe feature in the CPanel page. But before doing that, it is highly important that you open you NameCheap account and direct your domain/ blog name towards HostGator servers.

Just imagine that your domain name is a little lost and you need to show it the “right way”. All you have to do is enter two lines and that’s about it.

  1. Open NameCheap Account Page
  2. Open Your Domain Name

Configuring Domain Redirection in NameCheap CPanel

*The only important thing in the above image is the ‘Transfer DNS Back to Us’ link. It is circled in Red for your quick viewing. Do know that since my domain name is already registered and parked at my HostGator account, this is why it says ‘Transfer DNS Back to Us’. First timers will see ‘Transfer DNS to XXXXX Location’ Link – Where ‘XXXXX’ is just a random value that I put in.

  1.  In the next screen, you will be asked to enter DNS address of the server where your domain name needs to be transferred. Usually, HostGator’s DNS addresses are:
  • ns3093.hostgator.com
  • ns3094.hostgator.com

They could be different in your case. Feel free to ask a customer service representative at HostGator Live Chat portal about your DNS address.

  1. Enter your address in the first two required fields in NameCheap Transfer DNS interface. Press Okay/ Save and you are good to go.

Now go to your HostGator Control Panel page. Scroll all the way down to the ‘Domains’ section.

  1. Click the ‘Addon Domain’ link. (I have circled it in RED in the appended screenshot: )

Adding a Domain in Your HostGator CPanel

  1. The next screen will be like this:

AddOn Domain Screenshot in HostGator CPanel Window

Just enter your blog name, the one you registered at NameCheap, in the ‘New Domain Name’ field. Select a FTP username of your choice and leave the ‘Document Root’ field empty. Enter a password, confirm it and click the ‘Add Domain’ button.

That’s it. You have finally added your NameCheap blog name/domain name to your Webhosting account.

  1. Head back to the CPanel main page and scroll all the way down to the ‘Software Services’ section.

I Usually Prefer Fantastico Deluxe WordPress Installation

The ‘Fantastico De Luxe’ is a simple service that lets users install any script of their choice. They have a wide variety but we are going to stick with WordPress because it is the hottest platform for blogging. Click ‘Fantastico De Luxe’ and head over to the next screen:

  1. The main ‘Fantastico De Luxe’ homepage will be something like this.

Inside the WordPress Fantastico Deluxe Installation WebPage

At this point, simply click ‘WordPress’ go to the next screen. For privacy concerns, I have blacked out my website URLs. As you can see, I have been blogging for a while now – managing 5 blogs is a lot of fun and excitement J

  1. In the next screen, click ‘New Installation’. Fantastico will then take you to a WordPress installation window that will look like this:

Time to Install WordPress

Simply select your domain/ blog name from the drop down menu. This menu is right next to ‘Install on Domain’ field. If your blog name was transferred properly, you will see the name in the menu. Select it and then fill all the information below.

The ‘Base Configuration’ sub menu deals with login information for your blog’s WordPress admin section. Carefully enter a nick name of your choice. This “nick name” will be your Admin login name. Enter your email address and Site Name in the next two fields.

  1. Click the ‘Install WordPress’ button and wait for a few seconds until the installation is complete.

Finally, you have installed WordPress on your blog. The next question is to find your blog, as at this time, you will be wondering where it is.

1.5.          First Blog Post Creation in WordPress 

Assuming that your blog’s name is ‘MyNewBlog’, and you registered it with a .Com extension, its URL will be www.mynewblog.com. In the URL section of your browser screen, enter the following URL address to access your blog’s WordPress back end.

–          www.mynewblog.com/wp-admin

Once again, it is my duty to remind you that ‘My New Blog’ is not the name of your blog/ website. It is just being used as an example. To access your blog’s back end in WordPress, you will have to enter its exact URL, followed by a ‘/wp-admin’ wording.

Your website’s WordPress back end login screen will be very simple. It will look like the image in the following screenshot:

WordPress Website Back End Login Screen

Enter your username and password to continue. The next screen is where WordPress is waiting for you impatiently. This screen will show you the entire menu, alongside all the options and stuff that needs to be tinkered with, if needed.

WordPress CPanel InfoGraphic

  • Home:
    • This is the main dashboard area. Clicking Home from any other menu, will take you back to the above screen.
  • Updates:
  • Posts:
    • Yaaay… This is the make Post section for your blog. You can hover your mouse over the ‘Posts’ button to see sub options, such as;
      • All Posts – Shows a list of all the posts that have been made in the past.
      • Add New – Takes you to a blank page for creating posts.
      • Categories – Takes you to a page with a list of categories and option for creating new.
      • Tags – As mentioned before in early chapters, Tags are sort of like bookmarks for your viewers. This is where you view your old tags and create new ones if needed.
  • Media:
    • For creating your own image and video media library, this is where everything is created and uploaded.
  • Links
    • This option will show you Link categories of your Blog.
  • Pages
    • If any pages have been created in the past, they will be displayed in the next page after you click this link.
  • Comments
    • Obviously, this section is for battling spam comments from your readers, approving good ones and editing anything that’s using curse words ;).
  • Appearance Settings
    • Clicking this link will take you to the Appearance page for Widget Control and etc.
  • Plugins
    • Plugins are the essence of WordPress. Without them, your website will not be efficient, and it’ll probably look dull.
  • Users
    • If you are thinking of adding Authors/Users to your blogging website for guest posts, this is the place where you can create users and assign them unique passwords. You can also set their privileges so that no one else, besides you can mess up your website.
  • Tools
    • All the tools for editing WordPress coding sections.
  • Settings
    • General settings options are available here. You can set privacy, permalink structure, display and many other WordPress back end related options here.

Over the course of the last few years, WordPress has undergone a lot of version upgrades. Its developers have tried their level best to connect efficiency, security and accessibility with nifty new features that weren’t there in previous editions. At the time of writing this book, WordPress is at its latest version. However, you may find a few differences here and there in your version of the program.

1.6.          Time To Write Down My First Post!

I have seen different internet entrepreneurs, who claim to teach people everything in a matter of few hours. Even though WordPress is extremely simple to set up, it takes a month at most, to master its basic. Over the next few weeks, you will know what I am talking about.

For instance, you may need to refer to another guide to fix category system of your blog. Sometimes, for some reason, people don’t like how their blog looks. For instance, there was a time when I used to confuse categories with pages. It’s kind of a similar concept but you will notice that categories and pages don’t work the same way.

Anyway, for the sake of creating your first blog post, I am going to let you in on a very basic tutorial. Here’s how you create a post in WordPress:

  1. On the ‘Posts’ link in your blog’s WordPress admin panel, you click on ‘Add New’. The next screen will looks something like the following screenie:

Writing a Random Blog Post in WordPress Website BackEnd

You see, in the above image, I have already written some “nonsensical gibberish”. It was just a warm up post. As soon as you will click the blue “Publish” button at the right side of this screen, your post will be published. The question is where is it going to be published and how am I going to be able to see it?

Simple enough; you remember the name of your website, right? I quoted the example of www.mynewblog.com . In your case, you will have to type down the name of your blog, followed by the extension, in the new browser window pane. Lets say, your blog name is, ScarlettsWeightloss, so you just type down www.scarlettsweiightloss.com to see what your first post will look like.

The following image shows a glimpse of the blog post that I just created. “This is an Introductory Post” is the title of my new blog post.

Salutation Theme WordPress BackEnd Screenshot

Quick Exercise:

Here at this point, I want you to do a quick exercise. It will help you know different things about WordPress from a closer perspective:

–          Change your WordPress Theme!

  • Hint: It’s right there in the Appearance Tab. Just click Appearance button from the Dashboard menu, and go to the Manage Themes option.

Play with different themes for a little while. By default, your WordPress will only have “Twenty Eleven” and “Twenty Twelve” themes. They are great for new bloggers. Apply both of them one at a time and see how your post actually looks like.

–          Examine Different Dashboard Options

–          Go through All the Buttons in the ‘Add New’ menu.

–          Checkout The Settings Tab and See What Different Options Have to Suggest

In a nutshell, go through as many options, links and things as you want. NEVER ever think that you are going to “mess” up your WordPress or website. Well, actually, you can mess it up but WordPress is so user friendly that it only takes a few minutes to restore everything back to normal.

That’s it for this chapter. If you are interested in getting to know more about WordPress or WordPress custom theme installations, you can contact me anytime at techguy@infinarium.com

Recommended Books/Articles:

–          ‘Net Chunks’ has got a list of To p25 WordPress books. You don’t have to read them cover-to-cover as a rough reading experience will give you a gist of what this amazing Blogging engine is all about.

–          The ‘Net Chunks’ 25 Bes Books For WordPress Bloggers post can be found at http://www.netchunks.com/25-best-books-for-wordpress-bloggers/

–          At their official website, WordPress admins have got a Hot post about recommended reading material. Follow this URL to see what it’s all about: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/are-there-any-recommended-books-to-help-build-new-websites-using-wordpress

By the way, WordPress has got the largest dashboard so far. Compared to TypePad and Blogger, WordPress comes with a list of extensive tools and plugins that make it easier for a savvy blogger to continue with her blogging adventures.