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Setting up WordPress on Bluehost

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Set up WordPress on BlueHost

For a while I’ve offered a free PDF on how to set up WordPress on BlueHost to people who sign up for BlueHost with my affiliate link. But now I’m going to spread the love: I’m publishing all of the PDF here in a series on setting up a WordPress blog on BlueHost! So if you’ve been waiting to put your blog on BlueHost because you were worried about the technical stuff, this might be the perfect time!

BlueHost is one of WordPress’s recommended hosts and I’ve been with them for years. I definitely recommend BlueHost as a hosting company—and setting up WordPress on BlueHost just got easier. Disclosure: While I am a paying customer of BlueHost, I am also an affiliate for them. I receive a small percentage of any hosting purchase you make after clicking on the links to BlueHost in these articles.

Initial Setup Steps

If you did not register your domain through BlueHost, you will most likely have to set your nameservers. If, for example, you used GoDaddy to register your domain, login to GoDaddy. Click on the domain name you’re using with BlueHost. Once you get to the domain page, there is a button for Nameservers—click on it. A popup window will appear. Select “I host my domains with another provider.” The nameservers are set to something like “NS46.DOMAINCONTROL.COM.” Set the name servers to BlueHost name servers:

NS1.BLUEHOST.COM

NS2.BLUEHOST.COM

Each of these name servers should be on a separate line. There should be no other name servers. If your confirmation email from BlueHost listed other name servers, use those instead. Select “OK” to save your selection.

Once the nameservers have been set, it may take up to 48 hours for these settings to propagate around the web, so you may have to wait until you can access your website.

Login to BlueHost

Once your name servers have taken effect, you’ll be able to login to BlueHost from http://www.yourdomain.com/cpanel using your username and password. If you didn’t set your username to something specific, your user name is usually the first eight characters of your domain. You can also login from BlueHost’s homepage using your domain name and password. (All of this should be included in the information that BlueHost sent you when you signed up.)

This should take you to your website’s control panel or cPanel:

Once you’ve logged in to your cPanel, you will want to complete the Getting Started Wizard that pops up if it’s your first time in your cPanel. This will help you understand many of the ins and outs of BlueHost and the cPanel as well as set up your first e-mail account(s).

Set Up WordPress

Once you’re into the cPanel home, look under Software / Services to find Simple Scripts.

Click on Simple Scripts, which is an auto installer that vastly simplifies using many applications. (You can also use the Find box in the upper left hand corner—just type in “Simple Scripts” and it will show up in the right panel.) On the Simple Scripts page, there’s a list of software that it can install for you. Under Blogs, click on WordPress (circled in red below).

This will take you to a page with information about WordPress. Click on the green Install button to begin your new installation. (Even if you’ll be importing a blog from another platform, you don’t want to use the Import an Existing Installation option.)

Note that the right hand side of the page also has screen shots of a few steps in WordPress.

After you click Install, you’ll go to the first step of the installation.

Under Step 1, select the most recent (highest number) version with (Stable) beside it. For Where would you like your WordPress installed?, if you have more than one domain or subdomain on BlueHost, select from the pull-down menu. The second box is for if you want a your blog to be in a directory. I advise against this if your blog is the main portion of your site. In fact, WordPress has the ability to create pages and subdirectories to maintain the look and feel throughout your site. Unless your blog is truly tangential or not a significant part of your site, I recommend installing your blog in the root directory. To do this, leave the second box empty.

Under Step 2, click on Click here to display>

This will let you set options including the name of your website. Note that these can also be set or changed from inside WordPress.

Under Please give your new site a name, type in the name for your website. The site name is automatically set to “My Blog,” but you’ll probably want to change this. If your blog has a name or general title, or if you’re renaming your blog (especially to match your domain name), put it here. This title will appear in the header (both coded and visual) of every page of your blog.

Leave the next checkbox unchecked. Set the username and password to something you can easily remember. You may use your name or pseudonym as your username. This is what you’ll use to log in to WordPress, so it’s important to keep this information handy.

Leave the checkbox by Automatically create a new database checked.

Under Step 3, read the terms and license and check the checkbox. Then click the green Complete button.

You’ll go to a set up screen, which you can close if you want. If you stick around, you get the success message as well as links to your WordPress login:

Your site URL is what you set it to in Step 1, and your username and password are what you set them to in Step 2. The Login URL is your site URL with wp-admin added to the end (for WordPress administration). If you just barely set your name servers, it may take a while for them to be set; otherwise, you’ll be able to log in to WordPress using the address, username and password listed there. This information is also emailed to you.

Note: WordPress periodically releases updated versions of its software. To update an installation, go back to Simple Scripts. Your installed scripts are listed above the Script List, and you’ll have the option to update them. Click on the Upgrade Available link to update your blog. There is a potential for this to cause some problems with your blog or to reset some settings, so do backup your blog before updating. Because Simple Scripts’ upgrades are incremental, you may have to repeat the process if your installation is very old and you want to update to the latest version. Always deactivate all plugins before updating your WordPress installation.

Your blog is now set up. If you go to your website, you should now see the default template for WordPress. Naturally, you’ll probably want to select or commission a custom theme. (Next week!)

Ready to take the plunge? Sign up for hosting with BlueHost and set up your WordPress blog today!

WordPress on BlueHost: Themes and Plugins

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Set up WordPress on BlueHost

We’re continuing our series on setting up WordPress on BlueHost. Today we’ll look at choosing a theme—the visual appearance of your site—and adding cool functionality with plugins. This post is based on WordPress 3.1.3.

Finding a New Theme

When you set up a blog, you want to have a design, color scheme and layout that helps to convey your blog’s theme, genre, purpose and features. There are hundreds of free WordPress themes that can help you do that. Additionally, you may want to commission a custom theme, which can vary in price from $25 to $1000 and more. You can learn more about working with a blog designer or going it alone in our blog design series.

Things to keep in mind as you select your theme:

  • How many columns do you want? Traditionally, most blogs have 2 or 3 columns, with the column displaying your posts much wider and the other one or two narrower columns featuring navigation and other information.
  • How do you want the columns laid out: posts on the right, left or in between the narrower columns? Some themes let you move around the columns.
  • What colors are you looking for? Again, some themes come with several color schemes to choose from.
  • What kind of graphics are you looking for—clean lines, rounded edges, etc.?
  • Do you want a navigation bar above or below your header (or both)?
  • Is the theme easy to read, navigate and understand?
  • Does the theme match your blog’s topic?

WordPress can help you find free themes for your blog in the Appearance menu, under Themes. At the top, select Install Themes.

On the Install Themes page, you have options to search for a theme. Check the box next to each option you want to search for, then click Find Theme, or you can search by keyword if you know the name of a theme you want to use.

The search will return all the themes that meet your criteria. Here, we checked pink, two columns and right sidebar. The search returned two themes:

To see what the themes look like full size, use the Preview link below the theme. This brings up a popup window with an interactive preview of the theme:

(You can close the preview by clicking the x in the upper left.)

If you like the theme or just want to try it out on your blog, click the Install button below the theme. This brings up another popup window. Click the Install Now button.

This automatically transfers the files of the theme to your website. Once the transfer is complete, you can click the Activate link from the transfer page to turn the theme on for your site. (You can also activate themes from the Appearance page.)

In the Appearance menu, you can see all the themes you’ve uploaded and change your theme. Under Available Themes, you should see the theme you just uploaded. Click on that theme to enable it for your blog. Be sure to check your site to make sure the theme is functioning properly.

Frequently Asked Questions on Themes

  • Should I only use a widget-ready theme? Probably. If you’re planning on using a lot of widgets, a widget-ready theme is a useful tool. It is ready for you to customize your sidebars and post layouts using an easy drag-and-drop style interface. But if you’ve got enough confidence and experience to get into the code yourself, you’ll be fine without one.
  • What are fixed and fluid width? Fixed width means that no matter what size screen people use to view your website, it will always be the same number of pixels wide. This can be a problem if your blog layout is designed to be wider than most standard screens (the smallest resolution is 800 pixels wide, but not many people use that resolution anymore. The most popular resolution right now is 1024 pixels wide).

    Fluid width means that the blog layout is designed “resize” itself to maintain its proportions no matter how wide the viewer’s screen is. If you have a fluid layout and your posts column takes up 50% of the width of the screen, the posts column will take up 400 pixels on an 800×600 resolution screen and 960 pixels on a 1920×1200. Generally, these are considered more user-friendly, but a fixed width theme will work just fine, too.

  • Can I adjust the colors of my theme? If the background of your theme is an image, you should edit the image on your computer. If the colors are set via CSS, you can edit the CSS file before or after installing your new theme. Many themes now come with options pages that let you use a custom header image and/or colors.

Installing Plugins

Plugins are bits of code designed to customize and enhance your WordPress installation. Plugins can be installed in the same way that themes are, using the WordPress internal installer to find and install plugins.

You’ll find plugins in thee second set of left-hand menus of WordPress, under Plugins (if there’s a red circle with a number in it, that means you have that many plugins to update.) When you find a plugin that you’d like to implement in your blog, you can use the installer to find and automatically install it. The installer is at the bottom of the Plugins menu page, or you can click on “Add New” under the Plugins drop down menu.

From the Install Plugins window, you can search the WordPress plugin directory for your plugins.

Enter a term in the Search box to find a plugin, or navigate using the tags. Here we’re searching for a search plugin. This takes us to the results page, where the results look like this:

Details below the name generates a popup window with more info about the plugin—what it does, how popular it is, whether it’s compatible with your version of WordPress, etc.

Select the plugin you want and click on Install below the name. WordPress automatically installs the plugin.

Once the plugin is installed, if you want to use it right away, click Activate this plugin.

To work with your plugins later, go to the Plugins menu. You will see a list of all your uploaded plugins. The default WordPress install comes with two plugins: Akismet, a plugin to block spam comments, and Hello Dolly, a plugin to display lines from the song “Hello Dolly” in your WordPress admin screens. Once you’ve added your other plugins, these should also appear here. You can click the Activate link to activate each plugin individually, or you can use the checkboxes to activate, deactivate or delete more than one plugin at a time.

Note: WordPress will always deactivate all plugins before updating a WordPress installation.

Many plugins add menus to your WordPress so you can configure the options in them. Different plugins integrate into WordPress in different ways. The most common method seems to be for the plugin to add a submenu under the Tools or Settings menu. A few plugins add submenus to the Plugins or Dashboard menus; fewer still add another box to the left-hand menu bar all to themselves.

Some plugins don’t have menus in this way. Some plugins don’t have configurable options at all. Other plugins require you to edit the text of the plugin itself to configure the options (these are getting more and more rare). Study any documentation (the plugin author’s website or a readme file) to find these. Sometimes an explanation is included in the description of the plugin.

If you need to edit the plugin file itself which you should almost never have to do, you can do so by going to Plugins>Editor. The plugin files you have uploaded (active and inactive) will appear in a list on the right-hand side of the screen. Select the plugin you want to edit and follow its instructions. Be sure to save your changes. WordPress recommends deactivating a plugin before editing it and never editing an active plugin.

Most plugins come “widgetized,” packaged with drag-and-drop widgets to place in your blog layout so you don’t have to mess with the code, but rarely, some plugins will require you to insert a bit of code into your blog template to get them to work. To edit your theme’s files, in WordPress go to Appearance>Editor. There will be a list of files in your theme on the right-hand side of the screen. Select the appropriate file and follow the plugin’s directions carefully.

Note that it can be easy to “break” your blog (or a specific plugin) by editing its code. I recommend setting up a test blog on a subdomain to practice with these plugins to make sure that your blog will still function./p>

Ready to take the plunge? Sign up for hosting with BlueHost and set up your WordPress blog today!

WordPress on Bluehost: the Post page in depth

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Set up WordPress on BlueHost

Last time we covered how to make posts and pages. This time we’ll look at a few more features of the Add New Post or Edit Post page.

Posts are the basic unit of a blog. They are not to be confused with Pages, however. Pages are usually where you place special “timeless” information such as your About page, your Contact page, etc. Your posts are generally for chronological or “regular” blog entries.

To write a post, go to Post>Add New, or click on the New Post button on the top bar. The top text box below “Add New Post” sets the post title, which appears at the top of the post. If you don’t set a post title, it will be published without a title. Once you input a title and WordPress autosaves (or you click the Save Draft button), a field appears below the title box with the URL the post will have, including the “slug”: the URL name for this post (highlighted in yellow).


If you don’t give the post a title before you save the draft (or WordPress autosaves one), WordPress assigns the post a number. Every post in your WordPress blog has a number, of course. Saving a draft of the post with a title will replace the slug.

If you’d like to change the slug yourself—to make it easier to remember, shorter, or more friendly to search engines—click on the Edit button. The slug portion of the URL turns into a text field. Be sure to save your changes.

Below the title box is the post box. In the box, you type the content for the post. At the top of the box are the buttons to upload media: image, video, audio, or other media (we’ll talk more about adding pictures and media next time).

Most of the buttons above the post window are fairly intuitive. From left to right, they are:

  • Bold
  • Italicize
  • Strike through (a popular convention in blogging)
  • Bulleted list
  • Numbered list
  • Blockquote (indents text; also may add some styling depending on your theme)
  • Align left
  • Align center
  • Align right
  • Create link (only an option if you have selected text)
  • Unlink (only an option if you have selected linked text)
  • Split post with More tag (creating a Read more. . . link on your blog homepage and feed)
  • Spellcheck (with pull down for languages)
  • Toggle fullscreen mode (makes the post box take up the whole browser window)
  • Show or hide advanced toolbar (“Kitchen Sink” they call it):

Clicking on the last button adds a second toolbar below the first.

The advanced toolbar buttons, from left to right, are:

  • Preset formatting styles (drop down menu)
  • Underline
  • Align full (justified)
  • Select text color
  • Paste as plain text
  • Paste from Microsoft Word
  • Remove formatting
  • Insert/edit embedded media
  • Insert a custom or special character (letters with accents, etc.)
  • Unindent (only an option if the paragraph you’re editing is indented)
  • Indent
  • Undo
  • Redo
  • Help

Other capabilities on the New Post page:

  • Drag and drop the individual boxes to customize the page so you can find all the things you use commonly. Just click on the title bar of a box and hold to drag.
  • Toggle each box open or closed for clutter/cleanliness. Just click the down triangle on the title bar of the box (shown at right, it appears when you hover over the box).
  • Assign a post a category—be sure to check the box beside the category name in the Categories box at the right, below the Publish (this may also be below the Tags box). (If this box is ‘closed,’ click the triangle at the end of the box to ‘open’ it.)

  • Add a new category—click +Add New Category. (See also Creating Categories.)
  • Add tags to a post (topics addressed in a post which are not as central or important to your blog as topics covered in categories)–use the Tags box. This is on the right side below the Publish box. After typing the tags, click Add. To remove tags, click the x next to the tag.
  • Disable comments and/or pings (links back from other blogs that link to your post)—use the options in the Discussion box in the main column.
  • Select a different author for a post—use the Author box. (If this box is ‘closed,’ click the + sign by the title of the box to ‘open’ it.)
  • Set an optional excerpt—type a short summary or cut-and-paste a section of your post into the (Optional) Excerpt box. This is included in the code of your page and may be used by search engines to display info about the page on the search engine results page.
  • Send a trackback (a comment-like notification to another blog post that your post includes a link to it)—put the URL of the linked post in the Send Trackbacks box. However, WordPress can also be set to automatically send trackbacks to any link included in your post by checking the first option under Settings>Discussion which reads “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article (slows down posting.).”

WordPress on Bluehost: Posts & Pages

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Set up WordPress on BlueHost

This post originally appeared in March 2010 as part of the Getting Started with WordPress.com series.

We’re continuing our (last posted so long ago you’ve probably forgotten) series on setting up WordPress on Bluehost. This week to look at the basics of posting and creating pages.

When you set up your blog, you can how to create your first post immediately—but there’s a lot more information and options on the post page. To get to the edit post or add new post page, you can use your dashboard or the gray bar at the top of your screen when you’re logged in to WordPress. The Posts menu is on the left-hand side:

The Edit option takes you to a list of your posts (click to enlarge):

Here, the posts you’ve saved as drafts, published or scheduled on your blog are listed in chronological order. You can click on a post title to edit it individually. When you hover your cursor over the title of the post, you get additional options below the title: Edit (which does the same thing as clicking on the post title), Quick Edit (which lets you change things like tags, categories, title, and date right in the Edit Posts page), Trash (which moves the post to your trash, where you can salvage it later if you want), or View (to see what it would or does look like on your blog).

On the same line as each post title, you can also click on the author name to only show posts by a certain author, or the category name to narrow your view to posts in that category. Each post’s viewing stats and comments are also accessible from here.

You can also edit multiple posts from this screen. Check the boxes next to the posts you want to edit and use the drop down menu labeled Bulk Actions to edit or delete multiple posts. This is waht it looks like when you choose to edit multiple posts (again, click to enlarge):

This way, you can change multiple posts into different categories, add tags to multiple posts and change whether they can have comments or are even published—many of the same things you can do for a single post in Quick Edit.

The next option on the Posts menu is Add New. (You can also add a new post by clicking on the New Post button on the top gray menu bar.) We looked at how to create and publish a post last time; this time we’ll look at the rest of the post options on this page.

Below the post text box, there are three boxes for more information: Excerpt, Send Trackbacks, and Discussion. For the most part, these are pretty self-explanatory—especially since they include an explanation 😉 .

To the right of the post box, there are three more boxes with options: Publish, Post Tags and Categories:

The Publish box has the Save Draft, Preview and Publish buttons. (Once you’ve published a post, these buttons are replaced with a Preview Changes button up top and an Update button on the bottom).

This box also has more options: You can click Edit by Draft to change the status from Draft to Pending Review (for drafts you’ve completed but aren’t ready to schedule). Once you’ve published, Published is added to this option list. Clicking Edit next to Visibility allows you to set a post as public, private or password-protected (by a password you set). Also under this option, you can set a post to always remain on the front page of your blog, such as a short post describing your blog or perhaps inviting visitors to introduce themselves.

The Post Tags box is used to add tags to a post. These are usually listed on your post and can let your users see all your posts on a particular, narrow topic. Tags are generally more specific than categories (the next box down): if you blog about knitting, for example, you might have a category for all your Projects, but tags for Finished Objects, Sweaters, Cardigans, etc. When adding tags, be sure to hit the Add button (or the Enter/Return key) AND save the post/draft to save them. (You can remove a tag by clicking the x next to it.)

The Categories box lets you categorize your posts by the broader topics of your blog. You can also add a new category from right inside this box—just click +Add New Category and you’ll get a text box to name your new category.

Note that the Add New Post page can be customized: you can drag and drop all six of these boxes to rearrange the page however you’d like.

Also on the Posts menu are pages to manage all your tags and categories. The Manage Tags page (click to enlarge):

From here, you can add new tags, as well as edit the descriptions of existing tags. Once you’ve published posts with tags, your most used tags appear under Popular Tags. Also, an alphabetical list of the tags, their descriptions and the number of posts using those tags will appear to the right. As with posts, you can use the check boxes to select multiple tags to delete, or you can edit individual tags (such as to add a description) by clicking on the tag’s name. Clicking on the number of posts using them gives you a list of posts (on the Edit Posts page) using that tag.

The Categories page is very similar (click to enlarge):

The most notable difference here is that “categories, unlike tags, can have a hierarchy.” Tags are all one level, but Categories can be “parents” or “children”—you can have one category broken up into multiple subcategories. With our knitting blog example, maybe under the Projects category, you have three subcategories: Cardigans, Pullovers and Socks.

(Why use subcategories instead of tags? If a topic is really central to the purpose of your blog and something you’ll be posting about frequently, but falls under the purview of a broader subject of your blog, a subcategory might be the perfect fit—but only you can decide what should be a tag and what should be a category.)

In addition to Posts, you can also have Pages on your blog. Posts are the temporal stuff—the day-to-day news updates, the regular content on your blog. Pages are for important information not tied to time, like your About or Contact pages. The Pages menu is further down on the left-hand side of WordPress:

The two options, Edit and Add New, lead to pages almost identical to the Edit and Add New Posts pages.

The biggest difference in creating pages is that, like categories, you can have subordinate pages—for example, your About page might have child pages on your Biography, your Portfolio, etc. This is set in the Attributes box below the Publish box on the Edit or Add New Page page:

You can also use a custom template (if you dare) for certain pages—a different layout for a particular page, for example. The page Order determines what order your pages are displayed on your menu bar on your blog. If it’s not set, the pages are listed by date published.

Whew! Everything there is to know about the Posts and Pages menus on WordPress!

Making WordPress search-engines friendly for beginners

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Set up WordPress on BlueHost

This post is aimed at beginning WordPress users. More advanced users are welcome to share tips in the comments as well. I worked in search engine optimization and Internet marketing for five years and continue to keep up with best practices.

WordPress is not bad for search engine visibility right out of the box, but there are a number of plugins that can help to enhance your blog’s search engine visibility. Several of these plugins are combined in the All in one SEO Pack plugin.

The management menu for All in one SEO Pack is located under Settings>All in one SEO. The plugin is designed to work “out of the box” for new installations of WordPress, but if you want to customize some of the aspects listed on the options page, you can do so here. Most of the boxes here are self-explanatory: click on the link (such as “Home Title”) to display an explanation of what you should and can put in each box.

Another important detail in optimizing your site is creating “canonical” URLs. This means that each unique page of your site should have only one URL that leads to it. If http://www.mydomain.com/this-is-a-post/ and http://mydomain.com/this-is-a-post/ both lead to the same page, this can confuse search engines (and users). To set a “canonical” version of your domain, you can use the Redirection plugin.

The management for Redirection is located under Tools>Redirection. Go to the Modules menu. Next to WordPress, click edit:

Next to Canonical, you can choose Leave as is, Strip WWW (yourdomain.com) or Force WWW
(www.yourdomain.com). If you want all your URLs to have the WWW, choose Force. If not, choose Strip. (Note: Strip Index is also a good idea, especially if you’re using custom permalinks.)

Finally under making your WordPress search-engine friendly, it’s a good idea to customize your permalinks (URLs). If you’re going to import a blog, be sure to set the custom permalinks before you import your old posts. Under Settings>Permalinks, set the permalinks to either date and name based or custom. Be sure to include the tag %postname% somewhere in the custom box if you select that option. For more available custom permalink tags, see WordPress’s documentation on structure tags.