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Card Creator & Photographer at EileenDreams
Eileen is making the world a kinder place one card at a time. She studies graphic design and languages of the web but mainly she practices making people feel better with old school snail mail cards that feature photos of this beautiful world and kind and inspiring messages.
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For Total Beginners

Keep calm and ask me questions

What if you have a small business but you think you cannot afford a website for your

business – But you also know that you cannot afford NOT to have a website?

An effective alternative is a WordPress site. Many large companies use WordPress including the Wall Street Journal, Nike, and Sony. If you Google “How to Start a Word Press blog” you will get instructions to start at WordPress.com. I would not suggest this. WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same. You can host your site on WordPress.com but your URL will always be yoururl.wordpress.com. This is a fine website address for a hobby blog but a bit cheesy for a legitimate business. Besides, as a business you want your website to look like a website not a blog. If you go to WordPress.org they suggest you do a WordPress download with their “famous 5-minute installation” Not!

If you don’t don’t how to set up MYSQL. Trust me – it is not 5 minutes. I agonized for hours over this one. You have to set up a desktop server which for a regular person (AKA not a geek) is flaky and frustrating. Let your web-hosting company take care of the technical stuff. I think some geeks like to say things are easy just to make us feel stupid.

First, Get yourself a domain. If you don’t know how to do this ask me and I will help. Or call a trusted web-host service. For every geek friend you have, they will all give you a different answer. I use 1and1.com as my web-host service provider. (No I don’ t receive affiliate kickback.) Choose who you like, just make sure they are reputable and that they support WordPress.

Even though you can get free WordPress hosting on WordPress.com or Blogger.com you can’t upload plugins and it is a pain to switch over if you change your mind later. (Plugins are valuable additions that I will explain in a later post.) Again, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are different. The .org site is useful for updates and information. WordPress.com also has some good getting started articles which are geared more towards what and how to write your blog.

The easiest way to get started is with a web hosting company that supports WordPress. Most do. Just make sure it is a large enough web hosting provider that they have multiple servers and 24 hour technical support. Don’t cheap out on your hosting service provider and don’t choose a host that doesn’t support WordPress. Not all internet service providers are the same and you get what you pay for. Read the home page and advertisements carefully. Typos, layout inconsistencies, poor quality or stock graphics are all red flag warnings to choose a different ISP (Internet Service Provider).

What Do You Need to get started?

1. A Domain Name (For example www.yourbusinessnamehere.com)
2. A Web Host (For example1and1.com)

Read This Before you set up your WordPress site!! (I’m adding this a bit early for those of you who don’t read instructions all the way to the end):

When you set up your site for the very first time – do not use the default username: Admin. Trust me on this. For security reasons make your user name unique but that you will remember. There are bots that search for WordPress sites with Admin as the username and you do not want your site hacked.

Do Not use Admin as your user name

3. Themes:

The next thing you should familiarize yourself with is Themes. The theme is the framework of your site. Your Theme is what decides the basic format of your WordPress site. If you are just starting out – simpler is better. The most important feature for your theme is that it be responsive. “Responsive” means that it will change according to the device it is being viewed on. In other words, your site will adjust for viewing on a computer screen, cell phone, or any mobile device. You can spend money on Themes, parent themes, child themes, and theme builders. Don’t waste your money unless you know exactly what you want and you can’t get it with a free theme. There are free themes supported by WordPress.org that are completely functional. Choosing a Theme depends on what you need in a Theme. For example, a shopping cart or image slider.

Spending time choosing your theme is time well spent. Three years ago I chose Twenty Eleven for my blog. It was free, it isn’t fancy, and it works. However, there are many more Themes to choose from. Choose according to your needs. Basic styling options like colour and fonts are easily changeable.

Think of your theme like the “ 2x4s of your house”. Your fonts and colour options are how you choose to paint your walls, Your banner is the designer artwork, and your widgets and plugins are the furniture in your house.

Check back next week and I will tell you how to get your WordPress site set up as a website. Or email me with questions if you can’t wait.