This post lists some resources to help someone who has good web skills but does not know a lot about blogging and wants to set up a blog as part of, or an adjunct to, a business website.
I’m putting the list of links together tonight, following a conversation with a colleague in the web marketing business who rang tonight and asked me for some guidance. For what he had in mind, a WordPress.org site seemed the most practical way to go. (Note: not a WordPress.com site).
I said there were a lot of resources available for WordPress.org and a very large user base. I offered to send him some links.
So, he asked very politely, could I do that by tomorrow morning?
Oh sure, why not?
That was a few hours ago. What I thought I had at my fingertips has in fact taken some searching, sorting and sifting to put together for the required purpose. It’s been a good exercise to do and I hope some people find the information helpful.
So what am I sending?
- some information on the basic process of setting up your WordPress site
- how to find a theme
- some indication of setup costs if you don’t want to do it all yourself
- a great offer on packaged guidance and support from an excellent teacher
- a good site for troubleshooting
- suggestion about joining groups such as LinkedIn Bloggers
Setting Up Your WordPress Site
If you are a very thorough person and like to do everything by the book, you may want to start with the very detailed approach provided by WordPress on their New to WordPress – Where to Start page.
The WordPress Codex provides a very good step by step installation guide, including how to set up your database (including how to do that with different back end control panels)
There is a good, basic video on installing a WordPress.org site at the Optiniche blog. It won’t work as a stand alone guide because it does not explain how to set up a database: for that, you need to watch the companion video tutorial on setting up a database (using CPanel) – or see the WordPress onsite guide as above.
Where possible, I like to use Fantastico for setting up a WordPress site. It automates some processes which can be daunting the first (and maybe second or third) time you do a manual install. Optiniche again have a good video explaining how to do one-click install with Fantastico. If your web hosting service provides Fantastico and has a reasonably current version of WordPress installed, that can be a very good way to go.
There are so many themes (what we used to call templates, but what WordPress insists on calling themes) available for WordPress that you can spend a lot of time ploughing through demos to pick one you want, or you could pay an experienced designer to design an original theme for you. It needs to be understood that designing a WordPress one-off theme is a non-trivial task and you should expect to pay accordingly. It’s not just a graphic thing – a professionally designed theme has to have all the correct coding in place to be effective.
There are many good to excellent themes which are either free or relatively quite economic (as in less than $100). After many hours looking at themes and much experimentation over the years, I would currently recommend with confidence a couple of sites with themes I like and expect to function well: Brian Gardner and Daily Blog Tips.
An Idea of Setup Costs
Many of us do our own setting up of WordPress sites. Of course, that’s not really free, assuming we value our own time, but there is a level of satisfaction in knowing how a site is set up and having sufficient knowledge to fix minor problems without having to call on someone else.
There are many companies and individual specialists who will provide various services, from a full setup of your WordPress site, to functional and styling integration with your website, to promoting your blog and helping you build traffic.
As an indication of basic costs, my friend and colleague Sarah Lewis knows her WordPress onions and offers a range of services, with indicative pricing, starting with a basic blog package setup at US$650. That seems very reasonable to me (I know how much time you can spend on these things).
Packaged Guidance and Support
Last year at BlogWorld Expo I had the good fortune to sit in on a presentation by Sherman Hu. What he covered was in a sense basic information for me, but remembering how bamboozled I had been originally and for a long time at that, by WordPress and a lot of the intricacies of blogging generally, I was tremendously impressed with Sherman’s facility in taking what I had found complex and making it simple. The point of that little anecdote is that Sherman has put together a set of WordPress tutorials. I haven’t seen them but I have, as I say, seen him in action and I can only assume they will be good. The videos come as part of a membership site package, which costs $75 a quarter, or $250 for a year, with various resources, including videoconferences, teleseminars and podcasts. Has to be good value.
As a non-technical person, I have spent more hours than I care to think about in looking for information online to help me solve problems with WordPress. One of the clearest, most reliable resources I have found, especially for tricky exercises like restoring a backed-up database, is the Tamba 2 WordPress Guides by Podz site.
Join Groups Such As LinkedIn Bloggers
One of the ways to gain knowledge and get guidance and help without it costing you a lot of money is by joining an online group of bloggers. The question is, how do you find such a group? And a related question is, how do you know whether that group will be helpful? It’s really a matter of trial and error.
One group I can recommend confidently is a group of which I am one of the moderators, LinkedIn Bloggers. There are over 900 members and many of them have a lot of expertise with WordPress, as well as with other aspects of blogging. One very successful blogger said to me recently that whenever she is looking for the answer to a question about blogging, the first place she thinks of asking is LinkedIn Bloggers. It’s free to join. You do need to be a member of LinkedIn and basic membership there is free too. One thing to remember is that will not approve membership if you don’t provide at the time of applying, your LinkedIn profile link, which we ask you to put in the comments box on the Yahoo Groups application page. If you have a challenge joining or don’t hear back from us, contact me via the contact form here.
Further suggestions, as always, welcome.