How to start a blog with WordPress
How does WordPress work?
I have no idea. I mean, I had no idea until some time ago. During the last year I faced up intensively with Danas blog and almost everything that has to do with it. So, I learned a lot a about photography, picture editing and blog marketing. But I had nothing to do with the blog itself – that has been all alone Danas part. My part was more like telling her what she could do better (preferably very quickly) to round out the total impression. Do this, do that, here’s something that needs to be changed, make it this way, make it that way… pretty mean!
oday I have do admit that I have great respect for how good she’s doing her work. Honestly, my respect grows from day to day, I raise my hat to her, bow to her over and over again, while I shrink and shrink and shrink…
If you decide for a self hosted WordPress blog, you should be aware of the fact that you really need to work your way into it first, especially into the backend. Backend? Sounds like the handsome soccer player. Well, similar. So what’s this backend? It’s the opposite of the front end. The front end is the part you see when you type in an address into any browser. So, the backend is the backstage part of your WordPress site where you get everything that can be seen in the front end ready. That’s not really difficult after all, but you need a little time and patience to understand how it works. But it’s worth it! And it’s kinda fun, because it’s like a Kinder egg, just without chocolate. What a pity!
But most of all WordPress has a lot of advantages against other weblog publishing tools.
Those of you, who already run a blog with any other weblog publishing tool, may notice over time, that the possibilities to configure the blog are limited. Meanwhile I know a lot of bloggers who would love to move their blogs to WordPress, but most of them are afraid of the work.
So, why WordPress?
There are many reasons to decide for WordPress. First reason is the almost unrestricted flexibility. WordPress is a software that allows to add countless functions by installing plugins. You can compare plugins to apps on your mobile phone. There a several plugins for several functions. And these plugins do crazy things, both in the front end and in the backend. And even if you don’t install any plugin, you’ve got a lot of functions to customize your blog at WordPress itself.
Another reason (and also requirement) is that you have your own webspace. If you like to use WordPress, you need to book webspace from a web hosting company. Sounds confusing? It is, if you’ve never heard of before.
A web hosting company is a company that offers webspace for the contents and databases from websites. Maybe you’ve already heard of Host Europe, Strato or All Inkl. You didn’t? No problem! You can again compare that to your mobile phone. But instead of anytime minutes and volume of data you book webspace for your blog from a web hosting company. So that’s the piece of ground where you can build your house / your blog. Don’t worry, that’s not expensive and you can book additional space at any time.
The combination of WordPress and booked webspace means boundless freedom. Free like a bird and that sort of things, you know!?
But let’s get back to the topic. What do I have to do to start my blog with WordPress?
How do I set my own WordPress site?
To me, that’s the most sensible chronological order (and I’m pretty smart):
- Find a name for your blog and figure out if your name (www.myblog.com) is available. Google is your friend!
- If your requested name is available, you can directly book it at any web hosting company.
- You can simultaneously book your webspace. Most of the web hosting companies have different packages for that. For the beginning one of the smaller packages should be enough. Dana and me both booked this package from Host Europe. That’s not too expensive and has (for most blogs) enough memory.
Now you need to fight your way through the backend of your web hosting company. Host Europe is very well-reputed, but it’s backend is a little tricky.It can happen that you miss the forrest for the trees. But since you’re a really cool hacker nerd right now, you can do that! Dana did that all by her own and I had a little help from a friend (because I had been too lazy). After your webspace got connected with your domain, your database got installed and you did set up at least one e-mail address, you’re ready for the next step.
- You need to download the current WordPress version at WordPress.org now. Don’t wonder that you get a ZIP file here. And watch out – don’t mistake WordPress.com for WordPress.org. Because WordPress.com is just another weblog publishing tool. That means with WordPress.com you aren’t free like a bird!
- If you’ve got the WordPress.org Zip file downloaded, you now have to install it. But unfortunately that works a little different from what you may know. Double-click doesn’t work. You need to get the files from your ZIP file into your database. So, in the backend of your web hosting company you need to set up a FTP access first. To get the files into your database you also need a FTP program – you can download one from the internet. I, for example use Cyberduck. Just imagine this FTP program js like a door to your database – after getting the files through the door, you’re almost done! WordPress is alive! And it has it’s own address – your domain. But for now, you are the only one that’s allowed to enter – that’s why you need to choose a password now.
- Now you can start to furnish your new house. First you have to choose a theme you like. That relates to the design as well as to the functionality. Not every theme has every functions. Of course you can change everything, but you need to have some program skills for that. That I don’t have. And that’s why I searched for my theme for days. But WordPress itself already has a lot of nice themes and you can easily install and test them. Maybe you already find something you like. They’re free and they work. I decided to search a little longer and finally I bought a theme at themeforrest.com. I only did that because I had an exact idea of how the theme should look like and didn’t want to make too many changes. After a lot of „Could be worse“ themes – Bingo! Whoopee!
- Your basement is done. But you’ll not get around learning the ropes of WordPress and it’s functionality. That could be a little confusing in the beginning. But as soon as you understand how things work you’ve got the power. The backend is your head quarter, your command center. Theoretically you can create everything you’ve seen on other websites or blogs before and soon you’re going to be able to program a little by yourself. I already notice that after some weeks of getting used to WordPress, although programming isn’t my cup of tea at all.
- Be patient and don’t give up! I didn’t manage to do so all the time and it almost took me three weeks now to get my blog started. And I must confess I had a little help. From my buddies Dana and Davor (yes, that’s a name). Davor totally has it when it comes to programming. He helped me so much with the installation and these kind of stuff. Dana especially helped me to find my way through the WordPress backend. I’m still bowing, I’m already buckled. What I’m trying to say: If you know anybody, who may know a thing or two about WordPress, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will make it a lot more easier for you. Because in the end, you’re here to blog, not to hack. Especially when it comes to the installation thing – you’ll never have to deal with it again. If you don’t know anybody, it could be also very helpful to engage a professional. Of course, you have to pay for that service, but going grey and needing to overdye it for the rest of your life probably is even more expensive.
And what’s next?
I have no idea, what you’re doing next. I’ll keep on working on new blogposts. Because I’m an absolute beginner in writing. In this category „Wordpress“ my friend Davor and me are going to alternate with writing blogposts. I’ll share my „beginner“ experiences with you here.
Davor will write some step by step tutorials for you from time to time, to give you a little help. But you can also contact him on his site blogpolish.de. He offers his services as a professional – for very friendly prices. I really can commend him highly! I don’t know any nicer person than this Davor with his strange name. :) Dana is the only one I like even more.
Are you planning to start a blog with WordPress? Or did you thought about moving your existing blog to WordPress? If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.