WordPress-Explore Strange New Worlds


Part I-Explore Strange New Worlds

This is the first of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.  Be sure to join me each Monday for the next four weeks to learn how to set up a WordPress site.

*See Definition of Technical Terms

Have you seriously entertained the idea of having a blog*, but start to shake at the thought of having to learn yet more computer stuff?  Do all those tech words leave you glary-eyed at just the thought of really having to comprehend them?  Then you are certainly not alone.  I felt this way for quite some time before deciding that my business was pushing me to move forward, to go, as the Star Trek phrase puts it, to “the final frontier…to explore strange new worlds”.  The thought was both scary and exhilarating at the same time!  I told myself, “I can DO this”.  And so I did, and so can you.

*Blog-Web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.

First I’d like to write a word about where to blog.  If all you really want/need is something simple, then I understand that Blogger might be perfect for you.   I say understand because personally I have not used it, but rather went directly to WordPress to start my website, as I read it was more customizable.  I also was really hopeful about adding some e-commerce, or online selling to my site, and wanted software that would be powerful enough to handle that facet of my business.  I knew that even if I was not able to include the e-commerce portion, that I wanted to be able to add it at a later date.  And so my research began.

There are two types of WordPress sites, those created on WordPress.com and those created via WordPress.org.  WordPress.com sites are hosted* on their server*, and are free.  Free, however, does have its limitations, including the fact that you are limited to the amount of storage you can have, and you will be unable to fully customize your site.  There are also rules about having ads on your blog.  The second option, and the one I chose, was to use WordPress.org, which meant I would have to pay a third party to host my site on their server at about $5-$10 per month,  and would have to purchase my own domain* name for about $10 a year.

*Host/Server-the business of providing various services, hardware, and software for Web sites, as storage and maintenance of site files on a server.
*Domain- a unique name, corresponding to one or more numeric IP addresses, used to identify a particular web page or set of web pages on the internet

So What’s in a Name?

Everything, really!  In my case I had actually reserved a domain name several years earlier, so had that part taken care of.  You will need to find a host for your site, and can make your purchase of a domain name through them.  There are many good host services out there.  My site is hosted through IX Web Hosting (http://www.ixwebhosting.com/).   I did a little research on good host sites, and read nice reviews on this one.  I must say I have been very pleased with them.  I have been able to phone them 24/7, which is so important when you are learning and need great support from the company that will be hosting your website.   Their staff members have always been extremely pleasant, no matter how ridiculous I’m sure some of my questions have been to them.   Whatever company you decide to go with, make sure they have good customer service.

If you already have a business, you might be surprised to find your business name already being used as a domain name, in which case you will need to choose a different, perhaps similar, name for your website.  A great place to check for domain names, as well as social media names, is Name Chk.  It’s probably also a good idea to look online at http://tess2.uspto.gov/to make sure your chosen domain name is not currently being used as any type of trademark, because you don’t need any kind of infringement issues.   If you don’t have a business but just want to create a blog, you should have more options for a domain name that is not already registered.  Be prepared, either way, to go through several name choices before finding one that is available.  The problem here is that there are folks who purchase domain names to later sell them, which can make finding a good name more difficult.  Be patient if your first choice is not available, there are still lots of good domain names out there!  If you are just doing research now and don’t want a website until later, you might want to at least register a domain name you like – if it’s currently available – so that you will have it at a later date.  That’s what I did several years ago.

So now that you have a domain name and a host, it’s time to install WordPress to your host’s server and select a theme.  We’ll discuss that next week in Part II of this series.