I recently set up a new WordPress-based website, SFAuthor.net (the site you’re on now), in order to increase my visibility as an author. To assist other authors out there, I thought I’d do a post on the process I went through to set up this site.
The first thing I had to do was determine exactly what I wanted the site to do. I came up with the following list of requirements:
- Home page with basic information about me, including links to my books on Amazon and social networking links
- Integrated blog that automatically posts to Twitter and Facebook
- Links for sharing blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites
- Automatic posting to Twitter and Facebook
- Blog commenting system with spam filter
- No hand-coding and minimal maintenance
Getting a Domain and Web Hosting
First, you’ll need to register a domain and get a basic hosting package. (You can skip this step if you don’t mind using a subdomain on someone else’s site, e.g. RobertKroese.wordpress.com or RobertKroese.blogspot.com. If you’re short on money, that might be the way to go.) I use a company called MyHosting.com, which has reasonable prices and has been fairly reliable for me. I recommend going with a hosting company that uses the Parallels Automation tools. Parallels provides a simple web interface that allows you to upload files, install applications, and change settings for your website.
The process of registering a domain and setting up a basic hosting package through a company like MyHosting.com is pretty straightforward, so I won’t go into detail about it here. Just be aware that it might take up to a day for the hosting company to get everything set up. Once it’s set up, you’ll be able to log into your site control panel. You’ll see something like this:
(This is the Parallels web interface. If your hosting company is using a different service, it will look different.)
If you don’t have an email address set up for your domain (e.g. Stephen@stephenking.com), I’d recommend clicking on Add New Mailbox and doing that first.
Setting Up WordPress
After that, click on Site Applications in the Websites section. You’re going to want to click on the big +Install button.
You’ll see a list of applications you can install. Click on WordPress.
Step through the installation. You can just accept the default values for most things. One thing I would recommend changing is the default URL path. It will want to put WordPress in a /wordpress directory, which means that to get to your blog, users will have to go to that directory. This is useful if you want your WordPress blog to be just one part of your website, but for simplicity we’re going to manage the whole site through WordPress. That means users who go to yourauthorsite.com will see the WordPress content without having to go to yourauthorsite.com/wordpress.
To accomplish that, change this…
Step through the rest of the installation and you’re good to go.
Now if you click on the Site Applications link, you’ll see WordPress installed.
To log into WordPress, click the Login => link. Unless you’re happy with the default WordPress theme, I’d recommend clicking the change your theme completely link. Spend some time browsing the various themes. Remember that you want something that captures the feel you want for your author site as well as having a place for all the links and widgets you’re going to want on the page. I find that picking the right theme is the most time-consuming part of this whole process. You can change your theme later, but plan on losing any customizations you made to the previous theme.
Once you’ve selected a theme you like, you can make simple customizations by clicking on the big Customize Your Site button.
Next, you’re going to want to add some plugins. The first one you’ll want to add is the Akismet anti-spam plug-in. You may already have this installed, so check under Installed Plugins on the left nav menu first.
If you see Akismet listed, just click Activate to activate it. If it’s not listed, click Add New on the menu and search for “Akismet”. Install and activate it. You can also click Settings to manage how Akismet handles suspected spam comments.
OK, you’ve done it! You’ve got a basic WordPress blog set up. In part 2, I’ll show you how to integrate your blog with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as add links to your books from your site.