Many people in my circle have recently become interested in making a blog or website, so a few weeks ago I set out to document the process. This is the second of two posts on the subject. The first is geared toward those who are looking to quickly and easily set up a personal blog to share experiences or advice. This post is directed toward those who want to use the simplicity of a powerful blog format to help them easily create a website for their business or organization. Let’s get started.
For this project we’ll be using WordPress.com. The first step is to pick a name for your blog. Just like the first post I have chosen Bullfrog Song.
Success! The name I want is available. Save it using a password and register using an email address. (NOTE: no fake emails allowed. They will email you to verify you own the address)
After clicking “Sign Up” you have a fully-functioning blog, suitable for personal use. In this case my URL was http://bullfrogsong.wordpress.com.
Here’s what a brand new WordPress site looks like after you first set it up. Click the Login link (shown in red below) to start moving in…
Nothing special here. Use the username and password you specified in step 1.
WordPress welcomes you again after your first administrative login. Such friendly folks, there at WordPress.
In typical geek fashion I’m wasting no time in upgrading. These next steps allow me to become www.bullfrogsong.com instead of just bullfrogsong.wordpress.com. Not only is this easier for visitors to remember when they’re looking for me, it looks more professional (well, except for the silly name).
In this dialog box we specify the name we want. No need to add “WWW” to the front of it. No need to fret about upper or lower case. None of this is important to the Internet. If you insist that one way is right, go with all lower-case letters, because caps means you’re yelling… and really, that would be the Internet equivalent of yelling your order into the drive thru speaker at McDonalds. Unnecessary and unappreciated.
Nothing exciting or unexpected in the following example. You want services, they want money. You give them money, they give you services. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Everyone’s happy.
A yellow band of congratulatory text is your reward… that, and a brand spanking new domain name. This will advance you far beyond the Joneses next door and their unpersonalized blog about bullfrogs.
As they requested, I waited 60 seconds, changed the main name for my new blog to the new domain I just registered, and clicked Update Primary Domain.
SCORE! We have a domain name now and if we browse to www.bullfrogsong.com it works just fine, showing everyone our site… which is, alas, very plain and boring. We’d better log back in and set up some personalizations.
Let’s cruise this time down to the Themes section on the left side of the screen, and choose a new look for our site. You can search by keyword, color, features, and so on. WARNING: Theme surfing can be addictive and never-ending. There are thousands and thousands of themes from which to choose. Beyond that you can make your own theme from scratch, and you can buy them from places like themeforest.net. (Thanks to Dan the Man from work for hooking me up with this resource. Now can you not only search endlessly for free themes, you can pay endless amounts of money for non-free themes!)
I thought this one was nice, and the price was right.
Activate theme? check.
We’re looking pretty good. Now to get REALLY busy.
This is where the article ends and your creativity begins. Just a couple more screenshots of how to set up your widgets, but there is much more you can do. You may want to consider creating a few static PAGES (which differ from posts) and spend some time surfing through WordPress help to get a good understanding of what all you can do. WordPress manages to be a very flexible and robust platform while remaining simple enough for anyone to use.
Here we move to the Widgets section and drag a widget to our sidebar. This allows us to keep static elements on the sidebar. In this example I’ve added a place for visitors to sign up for email updates. Now they can get email updates every time I post something new on my site. This is really handy for when I’m selling something. Anyone who likes my business is instantly up to speed. Pretty simple to do, too. Just drag and drop from left to right.
Make any needed changes and click save.
And view the final result. Notice that we now have an email signup form on the sidebar.
In conclusion, I found this project to be very simple indeed. In fact, it took me significantly longer to write this post and add the images than to acquire and set up the blog.