Chapter 1: How To Set Up Your Blog
One of the first decisions you must make is whether to set up your blog on a hosted solution such as Blogger.com or whether to host it yourself on your own website and domain name.
The latter is often the best option for several good reasons...
The main reason is that a Blogger.com blog is never really your own, so if they come along one day and decide that they don't like your blog or that it breaks their terms and conditions of service in some way then they can instantly shut it down.
Imagine working on a blog and developing content for a couple of years and then lose it all!
Wouldn't be a good feeling would it?!
Hosting a blog on your own website means that you are in complete control and you really own what you've created.
There ARE good things about Blogger.com - it's very easy to set up and use etc - but then so is a hosted blog too, as I'll take you through now.
If you're going to install your blog on your own website (as I recommend) then it's a good idea to choose a hosting provider that gives you access to something called CPanel and Fantastico De Luxe because these make the whole process a breeze.
But before you worry about hosting the first stage is to register a domain name for your blog.
This needs to be something that reflects the contents/ subject of your blog and is pretty easy to remember (that's getting harder and harder nowadays though as good domains get taken)
You might want to incorporate your name into the domain name too...
For example joebloggsgardeningtips.com or joebloggsfishingtips.com
Doing this will make it easy to find a name that's available... Or if just your name is available then why not register that too. joebloggs.com etc.
A .com domain can be registered very cheaply from a company such as crazydomain.
Generally it is better to register a .com name but you shouldn't necessarily rule out another name such as a country specific name like .co.uk, although do be aware that doing so will limit the global appeal of your blog.
Be aware that some companies bundle a domain name with your web hosting but generally speaking it is often better to register them separately because this gives you more control.
Now that you've registered a domain name you want to sort out some web hosting.
As mentioned previously it is recommended that you choose a host that includes CPanel and Fantastico because these make it easy to install WordPress, which is the blogging platform we are going to be using.
You can buy hosting with a monthly or yearly fee, however monthly is by the far the most common, although yearly can work out cheaper if you're prepared to stump up the cash in advance.
The good news however is that web hosting is available pretty cheaply anyway. You can pick up decent web hosting for around $36 a year, so it really isn't going to break the bank.
Once you've sorted out your web hosting and a domain name then the next thing to do is to get them to effectively talk to each other by pointing your site to your host.
Don't fear - this is really easy to do...
When you signed up for your web hosting they should have given you your DNS details - and all you need to do is log into the place where you register your domain and enter those details into the DNS boxes.
A DNS information will look something like the below:
Ok - so you've registered a domain name, sorted out some web hosting and connected the two together...
The next thing to do is to log into your hosting and install WordPress onto your site.
Again this is really easy to do...
First of all we need to access your CPanel, so point your web browser to http://www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel (obviously replace 'yourdomainname.com' with the domain name you actually registered.
If this doesn't work then contact your web hosting provider to find out how to gain access to CPanel, but in the vast majority of cases the above will be the correct address.
You should then be asked for your login details - simply enter in the username and password you were given when you signed up for your web hosting. !
Once logged in, scroll down to the Software/Services section and click on Fantastico De Luxe
Once you have clicked that you'll move onto the following screen. Simply select the WordPress option in the left hand column and then follow the instructions to go through the installation.
Again this is really easy, although you will be presented with some options such as where you want to install your blog. For example, do you want it to be installed in your root (e.g. http:// www.yournamename.com) or do you want it to be installed in a separate sub folder (e.g. http://www.yourdomainname.com/blog)
Once you have installed your blog (should only take you a few minutes) then you can now login to your blog admin area.
To do this simply open your web browser and go to the location you installed your blog and then add wp-admin to the end of the url.
For example http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin You should then be presented with another login screen:
Simply enter the username and password that you chose during the installation and you'll be logged into the WordPress Dashboard where you can manage and make changes to your blog.