WordPress: Site Set-Up Made Easy

Cedar Waxwing, copywrite Ellen Wilson

Transformed from the cold of winter, spring has finally arrived.  And so has my new blog.  From the soil of Blogger, I have sprung like a lily into WordPress.   Let me give you the low down on my transformation, and how you, too, can easily change blogging platforms in a few easy steps.

How I Picked this Berry-of-a-Blog

First of all, I could find no easy how-to-guides for setting up a site on WordPress (WP).  I even bought WordPress for Dummies, which proved to be…exasperating.  Though it is full of good information, it has no clearly ordered steps to follow.  I like clearly ordered steps; I will follow them, one foot at a time. I don’t want to jump all around putting the puzzle together.  I started to feel like Bones on Star Trek:  Damn it, Jim! I’m a writer/photographer, not a magician!  But, eventually, the tenacious pug in me put it all together.

Themes

Before you jump into the logistics of your transformation, you might want to start perusing the thousands of WP themes that are out there on the Internet.  You can find a multitude of free themes that will suit your needs.  Start asking yourself some questions about layout and design.  What is important to you?  What do you absolutely want/need on your site?  What’s it all about anyway?

Play around in template heaven.  You will be glad you did.

Important!  All files that you download from WP are zipped.  You will have to unzip them in order to upload them to your site.  You need a program to do this for you.  Check your hard drive to see if you have such a program, if not, get one.  I purchased WinZip, because I figured I would be using it for awhile, but you can also download the program for a 45 day free trial.

First, I had a basic site set up for free by some nice people at WP. I did not want the basic theme the nice people set up, so I then uploaded the Ngatini theme, by Narudin Jauhari.  I like this theme because you can change the header (top picture) into anything you want.  I can now upload any picture I want into this area.  Great for a photographer.  This theme also has numerous widgets that you can use in your sidebar.  Once you choose a theme it will be listed at the bottom of your site page, as mine is.

Step 1:  To Domain or not to Domain?

That is the question.  If you decide to post on WordPress.com, you don’t need a domain.  It’s free.  But you are limited to what you can upload on your site.

There are many hosting sites to choose from.  I chose Hostican (update: now called Jumpline and I DO NOT recommend them) because it was advertised on WordPress’s site.  Your host site will give you your domain.  The benefits of obtaining your own domain is that you own it.  No one else does.  And for a business, that’s important.

Search engines also put at the top of the heap when you get your own name.  And you want to stick out, don’t you?  Of course you do!  You are a writer/photographer, damn it!  You live to get noticed.  Let us be perfectly clear about this, and not hide behind a bush.

Think about it, people associate you with your brand.  And your brand is reflected in your domain name.  So spend some time thinking about your name.

Step 2:  Oh, Our FTP!

WTH?  Yes, FTP is an affectionate acronym for file transfer protocol.  You will be able to upload your WP template via whatever system your hosting site uses, but using FTP may prove much quicker.  I use Filezilla.  Filezilla is the Godzilla of file management.  I truly like this monster management system.  Filezilla quickly picks up the files on your hard drive in its huge jaws and neatly drops them into the database of your domain.  Best of all, Filezilla is free to download and use.

Check out this great tutorial on Filezilla.  It really helped me understand how to use this program.

Step 3:  Plugins

If a WP template is a blank canvas, plugins are the paint that brings your canvas to life.  There are hundreds of free plugins out there on the Web.  Discover them!  This site uses Yet Another Photoblog (YAPB), designed by Johannes Jarolim.  It is simple to install and easy to tweak.  I can now download a new picture for each post.  Plugins are uploaded the same way a WP template is.  Make sure you read the readme txt file directions for each plugin before you attempt to upload it; every one is a little different.  Unfortunately.

Last but not Least…

WordPress also transfers all of your posts from your old blogging platform into your new database.  If this an important consideration for you, make sure that WordPress supports the transfer of your old platform’s posts.

Really, it’s not too hard getting started, if you follow the steps that I’ve laid out for you.  I think I’ve included all the basics.  The bare Bones.  Transform yourself!  You, too, will be saying, “Damn it, Ellen – I am a magician!”

Happy site design everyone.  Drop me a line when you have your new site up and running so I can come over and admire it.

Update:  For excellent tips on site design please visit these sites:

Men with Pens

Chris Garrett

Darren Rowse 

Photo Credit: © Ellen Wilson

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