Over the next few weeks I am planning a new series on my blog – a number of tutorials on using WordPress for your artists’ blog and website. Or at least, how mine is set up, which is what I know! There may be other ways to do it, but I will walk you through some of the various styles I have had on my blog as well as the very basics of installing it in the first place.
First of all, why move to WordPress?
Tara Gentile has written a great blog post about this, called WordPress: Setting Fire to your Burning Questions. One good reason to use WordPress on your own domain is that you are in control, it is your own webspace, and especially if Blogger goes down dramatically, as it did a week or so ago, your site is unaffected! Do read Tara’s blog post, because she explains it a lot better than I can.
I like WordPress because I have found that I can integrate my website with my blog easily. It has what it calls pages (as opposed to posts, which are the normal blogging type entries) and these remain static. The reason started to use WordPress for my website is that, as well as being able to make the style consistent, it is easy to update pages, add photos of recent work, etc. To do this with my old website, I had to rewrite the html and re-upload it to my webhost, or go to the Control Panel on my webhost and rewrite it there. Which meant that often my site didn’t get updated because I couldn’t be bothered to do it! Now I can just go to the familiar WordPress admin site and do it from there, without bothering with html.
What I plan to do for this series is to start up a new blog and take screenshots of each page, to explain clearly step by step what you need to do (and in fact when you get to the bottom of this post you’ll see that I’ve done just that!). If anything isn’t clear, please feel free to ask – there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
First of all, you need a webhost. This is basically a company which will host your website on its servers. You usually pay them per; it is fairly inexpensive. The webhost I use is Bluehost. (affiliate link.) I have used the company as my webhost since I started with WordPress at the end of 2005 and have found them to give a pretty good service, and the price was especially good a few years ago when we were getting two dollars to the pound here in the UK! Whenever I ask a question on the help page, they get back to me quite quickly – especially a few weeks ago when I upgraded my version of WordPress and something went wrong. I had a panicky half hour thinking I’d lost my blog but they fixed it without me having to do anything.
If you want to run WordPress, it is best to choose a webhost which has Simple Scripts or Fantastico as part of the Control Panel. Simple Scripts is better, I think, because when an upgrade is released it brings it out very quickly – Fantastico used to be a few versions behind so I moved to Simple Scripts. It installs WordPress for you in a couple of clicks so you don’t have to worry about all the complicated instructions on installation on the WordPress website.
Anyway, here goes with setting up the blog! I’ve logged into my Control Panel on Bluehost and this is what I see. (Control Panel is software used by many webhosting services). It says ‘SimpleScripts Installations’ at the top there because I already have several, but if you are just starting out you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Under Software/Services, the first icon on the left is the Simple Scripts one. Click on this.
On the page you come to, scroll down to where it says ‘Script List’. Under ‘blogs’ you see the WordPress icon. Click on this.
You see my two blogs listed there. To start another blog for the purposes of this series, I’ll click on the green Install button at the bottom. If you want to know more, click on ‘Creating a Website using Simplescripts’ at the bottom.
This is the page you come to next. The default installation is the recent version of WordPress – it is important to keep upgrading to the latest version as soon as possible after they are released because often they fix security bugs which stop people hacking into your blog (I will show you how to do this via SimpleScripts when a new upgrade comes along). Then it asks where to install WordPress, ie. what to call the new directory it will create on your webhost’s server. The www.lizplummer.com is my domain name so that was already filled in. I typed in ‘wptutorial’ into the section after the forward slash so you will find the new blog at www.lizplummer.com/wptutorial.
I clicked to expand the Advanced Options, called the blog ‘Wordpress for Artists Test blog’ and chose a username and password after I took the screenshot. I ticked the terms and conditions box, and then the green Complete box.
I then got a page with ‘Installation Complete’ on it and showing the admin details so obviously I won’t be putting a screenshot of that page on here! An email with the username and password will now be sent to me. I will need those details to log into the WordPress dashboard, which is where you make changes, write blog posts, etc.
Here is a screenshot of the new WordPress blog which I just created at www.lizplummer.com/wptutorial
In the next tutorial I will walk you around the WordPress dashboard and start customizing the blog.