Blogging Help

SYWTBABB? Part 2 – Setting Up the Blog

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I know, I know, I said at the end of Part 1 that this post would be about themes and recommended plugins, but I fibbed. I forgot, you’ll need to set that blog up first!

Blogger

To set up your blog on Blogger, you’ll need to go to blogger.com and sign in using your Google/Gmail account. If you don’t have a Google/Gmail account yet, you can create one. Don’t worry, your blog URL/Title won’t be what your email address is, so if you did something funny or weird for your Gmail address, it’s OK.

A screen shot of what Blogger might look like for you when you log in.

Now my Blogger dashboard might look a bit different because I have some blogs saved in the reading list and it defaults to my reading list, because I don’t have any blogs. But if you look in the upper left corner, you’ll see a link that says “Create Blog” – you’re going to click there to create a blog.

The title creation screen on Blogger.

This little popup window will show up, asking you to choose a name for your blog. Just put the name you chose in the previous step here and click “Next”.

Choose your URL screen.

On the next popup, you just type in the URL you want for your blog. This can be whatever you want, although something at least close to your blog title is preferable. If the URL you want is taken, try changing the spelling a bit or adding something to it to make it unique to you. I changed keep on booking to keep it booking for the URL for this one. Click “Save” and you’re done. Your blog is created!

Your shiny new blog dashboard.

We’ll talk about adding a theme other than the default one in next week’s post. But for now, you’ve done it! You’ve created your blog! Congrats!

WordPress.com

So if you’ve chosen free hosted WordPress, you’ll go to WordPress.com, and either sign in (if you’ve got an account so you can comment) or you’ll create an account. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll get the following screen:

The domain selection screen.

Type in what you want your URL to be – like for me, I typed keepitbooking and it gave me options to choose from. You can choose to purchase a domain through WordPress.com, but be aware that you’ll have to purchase an upgraded plan – you can’t use a domain via WordPress.com with a free plan.

If you just want the free plan, scroll down and you’ll eventually see available blog URLs – one of them should be a free wordpress.com URL – so for me, keepitbooking.wordpress.com. Select that one if you want the free plan and you’ll get the following screen:

The plan selection screen.

Here you’ll select your plan – you can start with the free plan (you can upgrade whenever you want) or choose one of the paid plans. I suggest starting with the free plan since you can upgrade whenever you feel ready. They do require you to pay for your plan annually, so be prepared to pay by the year for your plan. When I paid for a WordPress.com plan, I did Personal – it allowed me to use a domain name and have a few of the paid features of WordPress.com. However, the free plan is fine as well for those just starting out and wanting to see if they can gain a following – trust me, there are plenty of people on free plans who have popular blogs.

Once you choose your plan and provide payment (if you chose a domain name/paid plan), WordPress.com will build your blog for you. You’ll get some extra steps that are part of a checklist, shown in the following image:

Site Setup Screen

Once you go through these steps, your site is ready to go. You don’t have to launch your site yet, you also don’t have to get the WordPress app if you don’t want to. But your blog is ready at this point. I’ll show you how to change your theme and customize it in another part of the series, most likely Part 4.

Self-Hosted WordPress/ClassicPress

I’m going to combine the instructions for setting up WordPress and ClassicPress because ClassicPress is an off-shoot of WordPress and the way you’d install them is pretty much the same.

First, you’ll need a hosting account with a reliable server, as well as a domain name. I use Namecheap (affiliate) for my domain registration and my hosting. However, you can use GoDaddy, SiteGround, Site5, Bluehost, HostGator, or whoever you like, as long as they support using WordPress or ClassicPress.1Note that some hosts may have different types of servers, and some of their servers may support WordPress/ClassicPress while others do not. Please make sure the hosting account you sign up for can use PHP scripting and that WordPress is supported on their servers.

Once you’ve acquired your hosting and domain name, you’ll log into your cPanel and find the software installer. Namecheap uses Softaculous, but there are others and while not all of them have ClassicPress, most of them should have WordPress. On my cPanel, I find the Softaculous software installer toward the bottom of the page.

This is what Softaculous looks like in my cPanel, yours may look different.

If yours doesn’t look like this, try just clicking on the words or icon for Softaculous. You should end up on a screen that looks similar to this:

Softaculous Home Screen

If you’re going to install WordPress, you’ll click where it says WordPress. If you want to install ClassicPress, look on the left side and find the CMS heading, then click in and look for ClassicPress.

The installation screens look very similar, so I’m going to show the one for WordPress, and that’s it.

Installation Screen

You’ll choose which version of WordPress/ClassicPress to install (the default version will always be the latest version Softaculous has available), then choose what URL you want to install it to. It defaults to the domain attached to your hosting – mine is thespookybookshelf.com, so that’s what it defaults to. If you only have one domain, that will be the only option. You can choose to install your blog to a directory, such as thespookybookshelf.com/blog if you like, but I find it easier to just have it be hosted in the main directory.

Add your site name and description. The description is like a tagline – mine is “The Life & Times of a Bibliophile”. It won’t let you leave it blank, but you can just say “Book Reviews & More” if nothing else strikes your fancy.

Scroll down a bit and it will ask what your admin name is going to be – default is admin and it is highly recommended you change it for security reasons. This is your username to log in to the WordPress/ClassicPress dashboard – pick something you’ll remember, but others might not guess because knowing your username is half the battle to hacking into your blog.

It will then ask you for the admin password. Softaculous will suggest a secure password, but you can create your own instead – just make sure that bar under it shows green so you know your password is secure.

The admin email is the email address you want any WordPress emails to go to – this is the email address that will control your Gravatar (that will be explained later) and where a lost password request will be sent if you lose your password.

You can choose the language you want your blog and dashboard to be in – the default is English, but that may be different where you live – if the default language isn’t the language you want to use, change it to the appropriate language.

On my Softaculous I can choose to install the Limit Login Attempts plugin, which limits how many times a person can attempt to log in with the incorrect password before it stops them, and the Classic Editor plugin. The Classic Editor plugin is going to stop being developed or supported at the end of 2021, so I wouldn’t install that one unless you are just dead set against using the block editor. However, if you’re concerned that someone might try hacking into your blog, the Limit Login Attempts plugin is a good idea.

Ignore Advanced Options, there’s nothing you need to mess with in there unless you’re really interested in naming the database table and table prefixes yourself.

If yours shows it like mine does and you want to, you can go through the carousel of themes and choose one that will the theme your blog installs and uses. If you don’t want to pick one, the default theme, Twenty Twenty will be installed instead.

Scroll down and click Install. It will install WordPress/ClassicPress for you and if it gives you an error, it will generally tell you what you need to fix to make it work correctly. When you finish installing, it will give you a screen that gives you the URL to your WordPress dashboard – save that URL, you’ll need it to log in to the dashboard to create posts, pages, etc.

So there you have it – that’s how you set up your blogs on Blogger, WordPress.com, and Self-Hosted WordPress/ClassicPress. I know, I didn’t do a tutorial on LiveJournal and that’s mostly because I don’t use it and don’t think it’s particularly conducive to book blogging. But if you want to use it, their setup is pretty straightforward and user-friendly last I knew.

Next week, we’ll go over picking a theme for your Blogger blog. These theme/customizing posts will probably be long, so I’ll go over them individually.