Step 3:Setting Up Your Blog

This entry is from my series: Starting A Blog Using WordPress and Dreamhost.

Now that you have the blog set up and its name should be propagated around the internet, its time make the blog yours.

Things to change:

  1. Initial WordPress welcome blog entry.
  2. The comment to the initial blog entry.
  3. Blog sub-title.

When you come to your new blog you will find it uses the standard kind of boring blue and white theme. We’ll talk about how to change that in the future.

Meta Links
Over on the right hand side of your blog is a column. In that column there are some links under the title Meta. If you haven’t logged in yet it looks like the image to the right. Click on Login and enter your username and password. If you have logged it it will have a Site Admin link, click that.

Now you will come to the WordPress Dashboard. Along the top of this page is the title of your blog and link to go back to it.

Right under that there are a list of words, the first being Dashboard, which is grey. Each of those words is the title of a page of commands. If you click one, it will become the grey one and you’ll get different content under it.

The Dashboard is kind of a summary page, with summary info to the right and WordPress current events in the middle. If you don’t see anything in the middle, that’s OK. It takes WP a while sometimes to get its info and it doesn’t want to make you wait.

We want to change our initial blog entry, so click the word Manage. When you do another list of words will appear under the commands and the word Posts will be selected. Under that you’ll see a list of posts already in your blog. There’s only one right now. Under than you’ll see a list of comments, and right now there is only one of those too.

At this point we could just delete the blog entry that is there and go create a new one. But instead we are going to edit the one already there. To the right of the post in the post list is a link called Edit. Click it.

You end up in the standard editing screen, but with the contents pre filled with the existing blog entry. The only two fields you need to worry about at this point is the Title and the Post fields. Edit them to be what ever you want to have as your first entry. Then click the Save button.

When you do this it will take you back to the list of posts. Hopefully the only post listed has the new title you gave it.

While we’re here lets take care of that sample comment. To the right of the comment date is a link that says “Delete”. Click it to delete the comment. You get an alert asking if you really want to do it. Click Yes.

Now that comment is gone.

Last thing on our list is to fix the sub-title of the blog. It is under Options at the top of the page, so click that link.

The thing we are looking for is in the General sub tag is is called Tagline. Change your blogs tagline to the right. For now don’t change anything else, unless you think you know what you are doing. Changing the Title is probably OK. Click the “Update Options” button at the bottom of the page.

Now we are done. You can click the View Site link at the top of the page to look at your improved blog.

I want to keep these post short so I’m going to stop now, but come back next time and we’ll talk about categories.

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Step 2: Installing WordPress

This entry is from my series: Starting A Blog Using WordPress and Dreamhost.

Check Step One’s Results
OK in the last episode we set up our domain. This means that we told the world about our domain, so lets see if that works. Go to your browser and enter the URL of you new blog. Do you get anything in the window? You should get a directory listing.

The other thing that should have happen was a new directory in your Dreamhost web directory should have been created. At this point you could fire up your favorite FTP client or SSH into you account and look to see if it exists. But if you got a directory listing from your browser we know there is a directory there.

Doing The Install
Now for the amazing Dreamhost one-click install of WordPress. Go to the Dreamhost panel -> Goodies -> One-Click Installs.

There is one-click to install but 3 steps.

The first is pretty obvious…select WordPress Weblog as the software to install.

Next select the domain name of the blog you want to install. Here things were a little weird to me. Since when I created my subdomain I didn’t uncheck for www.blog.photographerandmodel.com to work, that’s what is in the popup. May mean I have to make some changed after WordPress is installed. We’ll see.

Select your domain. Leave the field at the right blank.

Create a new database. I’m going to assume you are working on a clean install, so you need to create a database. Remember I said you need a one word tag for various things in the install? This is where I was talking about. These field are never seen by the world, but you need something you can tell at a glance what goes with what.

I’m naming my database, pmb_wordpress. “pmb” for Photographer and Model Blog, and duh _wordpress for what is going to be in the database. I’m using “pmb-wordpress” for the database’s subdomain because an underscore isn’t allowed. Make sure the popup is set to the correct domain.

I’m not going tell you either my username or password. The username can most anything and the password as well. Use something with both letters and numbers for you password.

Then you click the “Install if for me now!” button. An wah laa, you’ve installed WordPress. Or at least you’ve started the process. DH says it’ll take 10 minutes.

Dreamhost will send you an email to let you know when the install is finished. It will contain a link to take you to the page to finish you installation. Clicking on it will take you to a page where you enter the name of your blog and your email address.

Once this is done you’ll be told your password. Copy that password and log in as “admin”. Now you’ve got your blog!

In the next installment I’ll talk a little about posting to your new blog.

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Step 1: Creating a Domain

This entry is from my series: Starting A Blog Using WordPress and Dreamhost.

If you signed up via Dreamhost and got your domain through them this step is done. If not or if you are creating a new blog on a Dreamhost account follow along.

When you create a domain on DH two thing happen. You domain is entered into their nameserver so the rest of the world will find it and a folder is created in you account directory.

I’m going to create a subdomain off my empty photographerandmodel.com domain. A subdomain is the thing in front of a domain. Normally you expect this to be www, but you can make it anything. When I started my photography site, I made a subdomain of reactuate called photo. So if you enter http://photo.reactuate.com/ into your browser you’ll go to the photo site.

For photographerandmodel.com’s blog I’m just going to create the sub domain blog. So my blog’s url will be “http://blog.photographerandmodel.com/”

Step 1: Got to the Add Domain pane of the Dreamhost Panel.

At the bottom of this panel you’ll see a field to enter the domain or subdomain you want to add. Enter the full domain, as shown, but no http or anythings that are URLs. Just the domain/subdomain.

Step 2: Pick a Plan

Once you do that you will be asked what plan to add it to. I’ve only got once choice and if you’ve got more than that you probably don’t need this tutorial. Click the radio button and click “Continue”.

Step 3: Setup Domain Hosting


This is the part that creates the folder for your stuff. That is if you pick the default settings, which is what we are going to do.

The only thing you might want to change is the Web Directory name. I’m just leaving is standard, but you could pick something shorter. If you are going to only have one blog something shorter would probably be nice. But I have a lot of domains and they should just look like their domains name.

That’s it for your domain set up. As the final page tells you it might take a couple of days for your domain to start showing up. Subdomains are a little faster, but it will still take hours.

You can spend the time you are waiting thinking about what your first post will be. Or writing your biography for your about me page.

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Mise en place: Picking a Name

This entry is from my series: Starting A Blog Using WordPress and Dreamhost.

Mise en place is a cooking term from the French “Everything in place”. What it means in cooking is you gather all of the ingredients for a recipe and measure them out into little containers before you start cooking at all. This insures you have everything you need before you start cooking and don’t suddenly find you need a cork screw when the wine needs to be added now.

So before we open up Dreamhost and start building our WordPress blog, we want to make sure we have all the ingredients we are going to need.

You need to ask your self a few questions before you start installing WordPress.

What is this blog about?

Are you going to have a very specific blog topic, or is this just a general personal blog. Reactuate is a general personal blog, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to create a new blog to go with a web app I’m building. It will be a development blog and a behind the scenes blog once PhotographerAndModel.com goes live.

Once you know your topic, you need a name.

What are you going to call the blog?

You can call it anything, and I personally like to either make the name about what the blog is about, something cute, or something totally made up.

Be aware as you start to come up with names, you are going to one day want a domain name, and most of the short domains that mean anything are already taken. So you might want to go to GoDaddy.com and try some names out.

What the Blog Is About It would be great if you were starting a digital photography blog and you could get the domain digitalphotography.com. But you can’t. You might be able to get something really long joeblowsdigitalphotography.com, but users might have trouble typing that whole thing in.

The biggest reason to use something about the topic is SEO, which we’ll talk about in the future, and ease of remembering.

Cute These work especially well if your blog is about you. Molly’s Head or Cranial Infusion are eye catchers. But probably not where someone will look for a new digital camera. Maybe a new rock band to listen to though.

Something Made Up Or you could just make up a name. Like Reactuate. These are easy to get domains. They are short so users don’t have to type much. But they may be hard to remember, and you will end up spelling them every time you tell someone about them.

I ended up with Reactuate because I wanted something that said “put in to action”. Which actuate did, but it was already taken. Then since I have a tendency to have to start over, I added re to it and got a domain that wasn’t taken.

And realize what ever you pick may grow on you. I liked Reactuate so much that when I started doing photography I used that name to. Now I have Reactuate Photography.

Picking a name is a topic that could go on forever, well just leave it here.

You Need One Word

When we get to the installing part we are going to have use one word to tag various things so pick something that can be used for those purposes.

You’ll need a Dreamhost account

If you are actually going to follow along and create a new blog, you’ll need a Dreamhost account. The $7.95 a month Crazy Domain account will work fine, and you’ll get a domain registration with it.

Go Ahead And Get A Domain

If you are going to get your own domain go ahead and register it. If you are signing up via Dreamhost, I’m sure there is a part where they will guide you through registering. If not I’d recommend using GoDaddy, because it is where I have all my domains and it is cheaper than Dreamhost.

Go Daddy will need to know what computers are going to be responsible for your name. These are called name servers. These are Dreamhost’s nameservers.

It can take a couple of days for a domain to “propagate” by we’ll be able to start installing before that.

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Starting A Blog Using WordPress and Dreamhost.

This series was inspired by ProBlogger’s series 31 Days to Building A Better Blog day 15. People had submitted questions they wanted to see answered and one of those was “How do I start a blog?”

On day 15 there were a couple of people who tried to answer this and they didn’t give, at least to me, the nitty-gritty step by step method of doing it. So I decided to write a step by step guide on setting up a WordPress blog using Dreamhost, my web host.

Why WordPress and why Dreamhost?

I decided on Dreamhost for two reasons. First they are the best web host out there. I’ve had a number and Dreamhost is the greatest. And second, Dreamhost has one click install for WordPress blog software.

Which brings us to WordPress. I personally I like it a lot, the only thing that would make it better would be if it were written in Ruby. It is easy enough the non-technical person can use it, and powerful enough the geek will love it.

And yes, if you click on Dreamhost anywhere on my blog and sign up, I’ll get a kick back. This is one of the reasons I like them. But their customer service and low-cost high-value are still there.

Series Structure

I was just going to go through the steps to technically set up a blog, but ran into the same things a new blogger will. The questions we have to ask before we start to set up the blog. If we don’t answer those, we’ll have to fix it later and that will be a bigger pain.

The second section will be the actual set up and install of WordPress on Dreamhost.

After we have it set up, well talk about tweaking and sprucing it up. Including themes and plugins.

These pre-install lessons I call Mise en place. Go on to the first one “Mise en place: Picking a Name” and find out why.

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