Building a Blog, Part I: Setting up WordPress

These days, everyone and his brother has a blog; not only are they an easy way to communicate with your customers, they’re an easy way for your customers to communicate with you.  Google often highlights cool things in the Official Google BlogMicrosoft has a blog, even McDonald’s has a blog…and now you can, too!  We’ll walk you through the steps.

 

The most popular blogging software these days is called WordPress, and it’s available in three flavors , all free – wordpress.com, which is the easiest and gets you a yourname.wordpress.com address,wordpress.org, where you download the files and install them on your own web server, and wordpress MU (multiuser), which allows you to administer hundreds or thousands of blogs.

Your blog will presumably be www.yourdomain.com, www.yourdomain.com/blog, or blog.yourdomain.com – in other words, for a business blog, you probably want it under your own domain, not a subdomain under wordpress.  Unless you’re planning to have your customers set up their own blogs on your site, wordpress MU is probably overkill.  So we’ll look at the process of setting up a wordpress.org blog.  For this article, we’ll assume you already have a domain name set up and have ftp and ssh access.  Not sure what those terms mean?  Not to worry – we’ll be posting about them in the near future.  (Of course, if you don’t want to mess with the technical stuff at all, it’s easy to hire someone to do it for you; us, for example! ;-) )

Installing WordPress is pretty simple.  First, download the files; if you want to do everything with ftp and you’re running Windows then you’ll want the .zip file, otherwise you’ll want the .tar.gz.   If you downloaded the zip file, go ahead and unzip it, then FTP into your account and upload the files.   If you have shell access you can upload the .tar.gz file, then ssh in and type tar -xzvf filename.tar.gz (where filename.tar.gz is the actual name of the file; at the time of this writing, it’s wordpress-2.9.2.tar.gz).  Alternatively, you can skip ftp completely and download WordPress directly to your server by typingwget http://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz, then open it as above.  Linux will extract the files into a new directory called (shockingly!) wordpress.

The next step is to go to your control panel and set up a MySQL database; you’ll get a screenful of useful information (specifically, database name, user name, password, and database host) that you’ll need for the next step.   Finally, fire up your web browser and go to www.yoursitehere.com/wp-admin/install.php; enter the information you just collected and a minute later you’ll be good to go.

Next time: configuring your blog