Finally, the long awaited (and long overdue, sorry ’bout that) instruction manual has arrived! For those of you “stuck with blogger”, “sick of blogger”, and who “want a real blog”, this is all the information you need rolled up into one tidy little post. If I forget anything, I’ll update it. If you know something I don’t know, tell me, and I’ll update that, too.
PICK A BLOGGING PLATFORM
- What is a blogging platform? It’s the software that organizes your blog into posts, in date order, yadda yadda. It is exactly what it says, the platform you use to blog. How many are there to choose from? Lots. For the purpose of this instruction manual, I’m recommending WordPress, it’s the most efficient free blogging platform that you install and control yourself. If you know of others, speak up and I’ll add them.
SELECT A HOST
- The blogging platform you use will give you a list of requirements that the program will need to be able to run on any server. Here are the requirements for WordPress. These are the basic requirements in order to have a successful installation of WordPress. Whatever platform you choose, find and check the requirements against the hosting provider you select before you even sign up with them.
WordPress has a list of highly recommended hosting providers, here. However. Proceed with caution if you’re looking at hosting with Yahoo – there are several issues with Yahoo that may cause your scripting and plugin use to be limited. For limited use, you get a cheaper price. Better to pay a couple dollars more and have unlimited capabilities with your blog, I say!
My personal and professional recommendation is HostMonster, for (currently 2/10) $5.95 a month you get fantastic service, someone who actually picks up the phone without waiting 20 minutes, and they have top notch people who will stay with you until you have the answer you’re looking for.
CHOOSE YOUR DOMAIN NAME
- Yes, you too can have your very own domain name. Pick one, anything you want! You can purchase a domain throughGoDaddy, or any number of domain name registrants. You can keep typing in names until you get one you want, add it to your shopping cart – go through the checkout process, and own your own domain name.
Please, please, please. Hang on to every stick of e-mail you get confirming your purchases, logins and account information. Do. Not. Ever. Delete. It.
- Once you have selected your host and chosen and purchased your domain name (so far you’ve spent about $10, not too shabby), you’ll want to actually sign up with the host. Once you have confirmed and purchased your hosting account, you’ll receive confirmation information that will give you instructions on how to point your domain to their servers (aka Nameservers).
POINT YOUR DOMAIN TO THE RIGHT SERVERS
- You need to get the nameserver information from your new host and log back into the account where you registered your domain, and change the nameservers to the ones your host gives you.
- It takes some time for the new domain, nameservers, and host to all get resolved. Once everybody starts talking to eachother, you’ll be able to get things all set up!
- You can usually perform the installation easily through your CPanel, most hosts have Fantastico Script section that has an automatic installation process for many programs, including WordPpress.
TRANSFER/IMPORT YOUR STUFF
- WordPress has a very efficient import tool right in the administration panel. From MT to LiveJournal to Blogger, WordPress has an extensive list of systems that makes automated import easy peasy.
- If you’re looking for an outstanding and professional blog designer who knows how to whip up a design that will keep your readers happy in whatever browser they use, here are a few of my own personal favorites:
Still, only spent about $10 to do everything so far. All you need to do now is blog, find your way around the WordPress Admin panel, and save up for a whole new look. You can install plugins right from within your admin panel plugins page (there are hundreds of neat little program “add on’s” that you can add to your blog to have all kinds of neat functions), you can hire someone to install them, you can change your theme, download from hundreds of free WordPress themes, the possibilities are endless with WordPress.
Keep in mind, too, that you’re in charge of your blog when it’s on your domain. You are the one with ultimate control over every single thing that happens to your account, the only thing your host is providing you is space to keep your stuff on their servers, which you rent on a month to month basis (or annual, depending on the package you choose). That being said, it’s up to you not to break it. If you want to fiddle with stuff, make a backup copy before you fiddle – then have at it – and if you break it, restore it. Otherwise you will be charged to have someone else do it for you.
Leaving Blogger means no more waiting. No more frustrating and weird server lag time and sluggish posting. No more complete loss of everything you’ve ever posted for no apparent reason. You don’t have to host your images with Flickr, or have a separate account. Your images can be uploaded right through your own admin panel and they’re stored on your server. If your host’s server goes down, it’s a rare thing – because they’re getting paid to keep them up and running whereas blogspot is not. No more comment verification, because WordPress has a backend spam plugin, Akismet, and you’ll never need anything else. No more problems – just a really cool and super flexible program that will do whatever you want it to do. Want a photoblog? Yep, it does that too. A group blog where a bunch of people can post? You can have as many authors as you want, each with their own login and password, and you set the authority. You can see from all of my own projects- my dream blog, this blog here, my gallery (which is done with one single installation of WP), my weight loss blog – and the recipe section on that blog. All powered by WordPress.
Questions? Comments? Additons? Recommendations?
Updated 1/11/07: Read How to Market your blog here.