Setting up WordPress

WordPress has become the blog engine of choice these days as it’s super easy to set up, unbelievably flexible, and best of all, free. I’ve set it up for myself, clients, and friends probably over 30 times. Each time I get a bit faster at it, and each time I try and make sure I remember all the little, simple things you can do to make the most of your new blog. Here is my quicklist of don’t forgets. (for this tutorial, I’m assuming that you’re hosting your own blog, and it is not a hosted solution.)

1. Get yourself some hosting. I use
(aff) because it is amazingly quick to get started, they are super cheap, their sites run very fast, and they’re incredibly responsive whenever I have a problem. They also give you a free domain for using their service, so you don’t even have to pay for your domain…

2. While bluehost(aff) offers 1-click installs, I always recommend people just go and download the newest version of the software from WordPress. You’ll get the most recent version with any security issues patched. Download it here.

3. The installation really is painless, and they’ve already got the 5-minute installation instructions written out, so read them here.

4. Now that you’ve got it installed, the first thing I always do is change my password. From the Admin, go to Users, then on the right, find your user and choose Edit. At the bottom right you’ll see the password fields for changing your password.

5. Now, I create pretty URLs. Go to Options > Permalinks. I use the date and post name, but I try and limit the amount of nested folders my URLs appear to have, so I modify the code to look like this /%year%-%monthnum%-%day%/%postname%/. This makes URLs that appear like This means that my keywords from my post are only one subfolder below the root of my domain, and that it is pretty much impossible for two posts to have the same slug (portion of the URL that changes). Also, it’s easy to remember, spiderable by the search engines, and has your keywords right in the URL and page title.

6. Next, I use .htaccess to rewrite my site to always redirect to using vs. This eliminates a duplicate page for each page of your website. If someone links to or visits your site using, they’ll be redirected to Google only sees one page, and all the link equity goes to that one page.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^(.*)\.examplesite\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

Note: this only works on servers that have the Apache Mod-Rewrite module enabled. (which Bluehost does). For more information, check out John Chow, who wrote up a great article on this here.

I still hold off on the theme for a few more steps.

7. Now, I turn on the most important plug-in for WordPress ever: Akismet. You’ll need a WordPress API key to use it, but it is well worth the 1 minute it will take to get. Go to, sign up for an account, and log in. Click My Account on the top right, and choose Edit Profile. Your API key will be just underneath the navigation menu. Grab that and then go back to your new blogs admin page. Choose Plugins > Akismet Configuration page in your admin panel. Then, enter your API key into the text box, and click on the “Update API Key” button. You’re done.

8. Now choose a theme. Ways to do this are look around at other people’s themes and see what you like, or go to I won’t go into the details of setting up a theme since it can change based on the theme, and almost all have fantastic directions included in the download.

9. Now, you have a theme, a blog that is protected against spam, you have the basics set up to make it search engine spiderable, so, write your first blog.

I’ll be going into a more detailed discussion on how to set up more plugins, choosing the ones that will make a difference and some common pitfalls to be avoided.

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