Tag Archives: wordpress setup

The Easiest Way to Transfer from Blogger to WordPress (and keep your readers, links and rankings!)

There are lots of tutorials on migrating from Blogger to your own WordPress, but this is by far the easiest way to keep your traffic, rankings and subscribers. UPDATED 14 Jan 2013.

Also: check out my guide to setting up WordPress on BlueHost, an inexpensive, WordPress-recommended hosting company!

If you find this helpful, please consider signing up for BlueHost with an affiliate link. I get a percentage of any purchase made through my link.

Using a Custom Domain on Blogger? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Transferring from Blogger with Custom Domain to WordPress!

transfer from blogger to wordpress

I made the move from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress five years ago. At the time, I wrote the original ultimate guide to migrating, which I updated in 2009, but a few things have changed in the meantime. So I present the fully updated, all new, easiest ultimate guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress!

Be sure to check out my article on deciding and preparing to switch your domain. Once you’re sure you’re ready, then here are 10 steps to transferring your blog safely, completely and . . . well, awesomely. This method preserves your links, your subscribers, your comments and your content, and makes the move search engine safe.

Get the goods: a domain, hosting, and the WordPress software

1. Get a domain, preferably “yourblog.com.” Don’t own a domain? I use either GoDaddy or Bluehost (aff) for domain registration. Their prices are okay. I recommend three things here:

  • Get private domain registration. No junk mail, no strangers getting your address from your whois info.
  • If available, get yourblog.com, yourblog.net and yourblog.org. Sometimes GoDaddy offers a deal where you can get free private registration when you register 3 domains. (Then redirect .org and .net to the .com using account management. Select 301 redirects.)
  • If you go with GoDaddy, search for “GoDaddy coupon.” Click on the first result and use whichever coupon will save you the most money (calculate out the % to see which one that is if you have to).

2. Get hosting. I recommend Bluehost.com (I receive a commission off sales through this link, which costs you nothing); they came highly recommended and are a pretty good deal. I’ve used them for over four years and I’ve always been very happy. Also, they’re one of WordPress’s recommended hosts and feature a very simple install for WordPress.

3. Install WordPress. With Bluehost, just login to your control panel, click on Simple Scripts under Software/Services, select WordPress from the list, and click the green Install Now button (under Install on an existing server—even if you’re importing your old blog, you’ll be using a new installation of WordPress). Fill in the forms and you’re done. If your host doesn’t have a similar install, you’ll have to install manually. It shouldn’t be too hard; WordPress gives you instructions (and they claim it takes five minutes!).

Prepare to transfer your feed: you don’t have to lose any subscribers

4. Blogger enables you to transfer your subscribers seamlessly as well. I recommend using FeedBurner. If you haven’t already, sign up for a FeedBurner account (if you need a walkthrough to FeedBurner, check it).

Then, login to Blogger and go to Settings > Other > Site Feed. In the Post Feed Redirect URL box, enter your new FeedBurner address. This will help redirect your subscribers.

If you don’t want to use FeedBurner, you can also use this box to direct your old feed directly to your new blog feed by entering http://YourURL.com/feed (with any folders or anything else in your URL).

Prepare your new WordPress blog: with some fun stuff

5. Login to your WordPress (might take a little time for the installation to “take”). Select “Settings” then “Permalinks.” Select “Custom” and type this line in the box:

/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html

This is to match the post structure of your Blogger blog, to minimize the number of broken links and redirects.

Wendy Piersall has a few more steps to setting up your initial WordPress installation and getting it off the ground. All good steps!

Gidget at Homeschooling Unscripted made the move using the last edition of this guide this month, and she reports that “The SEO Blogger to WordPress plug-in allows a redirect even if you use a different permalink structure – and it also has a single step to import your photos so that the featured images in your theme work.”

To install the plugin, see the directions here.

Move your posts and comments

6. This is the easy part! In WordPress, go to Tools > Import. Select Blogger from the list. You’ll have to install the plugin. Once it’s up and running, enter your Google login information and grant access to your account. Click the “Import” button next to the correct blog and this should automatically transfer all your posts and comments for you. 😀

However, some of your links won’t work anymore because Blogger and WordPress convert post titles into URLs differently—Blogger leaves out stop words like “and” and “the.” You can fix this, too, with another handy plugin, Redirection. Upload it, activate it and you can use it to easily track and redirect individual broken links (for example, from “/this-best-post-ever.html” to “/and-this-is-the-best-post-ever.html”).

There are also some other plugins to do this automatically. To get these (or any) plugins, in WordPress go to Plugins>Add New. Search for the plugins by name or related terms. (Searching for “blogger permalinks” brings up some plugins that can help with this and some of the other technical stuff.)

Transfer your feed: keep all your subscribers

7. If you’re using FeedBurner, login, go into the feed and click on “Edit Feed Details.” Change your Original Feed to http://YOURNEWURL.com/feed/ .

8. In WordPress, you’ll probably want to use FeedBurner as well, and if so, there’s another plugin to integrate the two services perfectly, FeedSmith, owned by FeedBurner (which is owned by Google). (FeedSmith is still available. I promise. But you might have to download it and then upload it to the plugins page from your computer.)

If you’re using a plugin to handle redirection, you might also want to redirect your feed url: YOURNAME.com/feeds/posts/default to YOURNAME.com/feed/ .

Change over the URL: the final steps to move your blog

9. Back in Blogger, select Settings for the blog you want to transfer. Select Basic and scroll down to Publishing. Click the top link, “Custom domain.” By Blog Address, click on +Add a custom domain. You already own a domain, so you’ll want to Switch to advanced settings. Type in your new domain, www.yourblog.com, and save. (Getting Error 32? Check out the instructions in this comment.)

Now your links will transfer automatically to your own domain (though sometimes Blogger will show visitors a page to make sure they’re not being taken to a different site accidentally), but you’ll need one more step to transfer your blog home page over. Already using a Custom Domain? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Transferring from Blogger with Custom Domain to WordPress!

10. Alternatively, still in Blogger, go to Layout>Edit HTML. Place the following code anywhere after <head>:

<meta content='0; url=http://YOURNEWURL.com/' http-equiv='refresh'/>

This sends visitors to your blog homepage directly to your new URL, and, as Sebastian’s Pamphlets says, is a search-engine safe method of redirection.

Like the change in step 9, this can show visitors a warning page that they’re being taken to another domain. Some might think that it’s just as good to put a link to your new URL in your old blog and leave it up. However, it’s better for your search engine rankings to transfer it like this—if search engines see two copies of your content around the Internet, they may try to penalize one or both of your sites for “duplicate content.”

Be sure to test your main blog URL as well as some of your old post URLs to make sure everything is working, and of course, be subscribed to your feed to make sure that’s in order as well.

And you’re ready to blog on wit’ yo’ bad self.

Note: You might have to import your images to WordPress as well, but I haven’t. However, the last plugin listed in #5 can handle this too!

Feeling brave? There are other ways to transfer your blog from BlueHost to WordPress, but they are more technical. This tutorial seems to be the easiest of these. Good luck!

Also: check out my full guide to setting up WordPress on BlueHost, an inexpensive, WordPress-recommended hosting company!

If you find this helpful, please consider signing up for BlueHost with an affiliate link. I get a percentage of any purchase made through my link.

Disclosure: the Bluehost link is an affiliate link.

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The Easiest Way to Migrate from a Custom Domain on Blogger to WordPress (and keep your readers, links and rankings!)

It’s finally here! I’ve been meaning to put together this guide to changing from a custom domain on Blogger to “self-hosted” WordPress, and I finally sat down and did it. Hooray!

Also: check out my guide to setting up WordPress on BlueHost, an inexpensive, WordPress-recommended hosting company!

If you find this helpful, please consider signing up for BlueHost with an affiliate link. I get a percentage of any purchase made through my link.

If your Blogger blog is at http://www.YOURBLOG.com/, you’re using a Custom Domain on Blogger. I think that’s a smart move—but switching to WordPress can be even smarter if you’re up for it. WordPress offers greater flexibility and customization, but probably the best reason is that you’re totally in control of your layout and content. As you’re shopping for hosting, I’ve really liked my experience with BlueHost. I receive a percentage of sales make through this affiliate link, but I have been with BlueHost, a WordPress-recommended host, for over five years, and I’ve really loved them.

transfer from a custom domain with Blogger to WordPress

This guide is directed exclusively at people using a Custom Domain on Blogger (i.e. your blog is NOT on blogspot.com). If you’re on blogspot.com, I recommend my ultimate guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress. This guide will borrow heavily, because a lot of the basic process is the same, but there are some important differences to take into account.

The good news is that your migration can be even more seamless—so let’s get you moved!

Get the goods: a domain, hosting, and the WordPress software

1. Unlock your domain. Yes, you already own your domain, but right now, it points back to your Blogger blog. If you purchased your domain separately (i.e. not through Blogger), you can skip this step. If you purchased your domain through Blogger—most likely, through enom or GoDaddy via Blogger—you need to be able to control the domain to point it to your new hosts. Often you’ll have to turn off domain privacy, then unlock the domain.

Here’s how to unlock your domain. For more on managing your domain from Blogger and exactly how to unlock it, check out this post and the comments. Once your domain is unlocked, you can edit it or transfer it if you choose. You can keep it the current registrar, too, as long as you can edit the nameservers to point to your new host (see step 2), telling web browsers (via the Internet’s DNS) that your URL now points to your new hosted site.

Transferring the domain isn’t too hard. When you unlock it, the registrar will give you am EPP verification code, which you’ll need to enter at your host when you try to transfer the domain. You can do this when you sign up for hosting (step 2). For step-by-step help with with transferring a domain from Blogger to BlueHost, check out this post.

2. Get hosting. I recommend Bluehost.com (I receive a commission off sales through this link, which costs you nothing); they came highly recommended and are a pretty good deal. I’ve used them for over four years and I’ve always been very happy. Also, they’re one of WordPress’s recommended hosts and feature a very simple install for WordPress.

When you sign up, you can transfer your domain as part of the registration, as long as you have that unlock (EPP) code from step one. You do not have to transfer your domain—some people recommend keeping your domain ownership and your hosting with separate companies, but personally, I like having everything in one place. If you do not transfer your domain, however, they’ll probably try to convince you to put up another domain. Hosting has to point somewhere.

If you decide not to transfer your domain, change your nameservers to point to your new host. Transferring your domain may or may not change your current nameservers—meaning that it might shut down your blog for the present. It’s difficult to move without some down time, so plan accordingly. (To minimize that as much as possible, you might consider using a “test” subdomain, like beta.YOURDOMAIN.com, to get your layout, etc. ready.)

3. Install WordPress. With Bluehost, just login to your control panel, click on Simple Scripts under Software/Services, select WordPress from the list, and click the green Install Now button (under Install on an existing server—even if you’re importing your old blog, you’ll be using a new installation of WordPress). Fill in the forms and you’re done. If your host doesn’t have a similar install, you’ll have to install manually. It shouldn’t be too hard; WordPress gives you instructions (and they claim it takes five minutes!).

Prepare to transfer your feed: you don’t have to lose any subscribers

4. Blogger enables you to transfer your subscribers seamlessly as well. I recommend using FeedBurner. If you haven’t already, sign up for a FeedBurner account (if you need a walkthrough to FeedBurner, check it).

Then, login to Blogger and go to Settings > Other > Site Feed. In the Post Feed Redirect URL box, enter your new FeedBurner address. This will help redirect your subscribers.

If you don’t want to use FeedBurner, you can also use this box to direct your old feed directly to your new blog feed by entering http://YourURL.com/feed (with any folders or anything else in your URL).

There will be another step dealing with transferring your subscribers later, and you need to do both (and especially the later one).

Prepare your new WordPress blog: with some fun stuff

5. Login to your WordPress (might take a little time for the installation to “take”). Select “Settings” then “Permalinks.” Select “Custom” and type this line in the box:

/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html

This is to match the post structure of your Blogger blog, to minimize the number of broken links and redirects.

Wendy Piersall has a few more steps to setting up your initial WordPress installation and getting it off the ground. All good steps!

Gidget at Homeschooling Unscripted made the move using the last edition of this guide this year, and she reports that “The SEO Blogger to WordPress plug-in allows a redirect even if you use a different permalink structure – and it also has a single step to import your photos so that the featured images in your theme work.”

To install the plugin, see the directions here.

Move your posts and comments

6. This is the easy part—and another spot where Custom Domainers have to do something a little different. In Blogger, go to Settings > Basic > Publishing. You must turn off the Custom Domain to transfer the posts, so edit this setting and move back to a Blogspot.com address.

Next, in WordPress, go to Tools > Import. Select Blogger from the list. You’ll have to install the plugin. Once it’s up and running, enter your Google login information and grant access to your account. Click the “Import” button next to the correct blog and this should automatically transfer all your posts and comments for you. 😀

However, some of your links won’t work anymore because Blogger and WordPress convert post titles into URLs differently—Blogger leaves out stop words like “and” and “the.” You can fix this, too, with another handy plugin, Redirection. Upload it, activate it and you can use it to easily track and redirect individual broken links (for example, from “/this-best-post-ever.html” to “/and-this-is-the-best-post-ever.html”). This plugin comes in handy for fixing the broken subscription link.

There are also some other plugins to do this automatically. To get these (or any) plugins, in WordPress go to Plugins>Add New. Search for the plugins by name or related terms. (Searching for “blogger permalinks” brings up some plugins that can help with this and some of the other technical stuff.)

Transfer your feed: keep all your subscribers

7. If you’re using FeedBurner, login, go into the feed and click on “Edit Feed Details.” Change your Original Feed to http://YOURNEWURL.com/feed/ .

8. In WordPress, you’ll probably want to use FeedBurner as well, and if so, there’s another plugin to integrate the two services perfectly, FeedSmith, owned by FeedBurner (which is owned by Google). (FeedSmith is still available. I promise. But you might have to download it and then upload it to the plugins page from your computer.)

8b. If you’re using a plugin to handle redirection, you might also want to redirect your feed URL from inside WordPress: YOURNAME.com/feeds/posts/default to YOURNAME.com/feed/ . Some of your readers might subscribe to your blog through your old name with the RSS file name on Blogger, and this makes sure they’ll move to the new RSS file name on WordPress.

Change over the URL: the final steps to move your blog

If you’ve always (or almost always) used a Custom Domain on Blogger, GO TO STEP 9A. If there might be some links to Youroldblogname.blogspot.com still floating around on the Internet, GO TO STEP 9B

9A. Turn off search engines to your old blog. If search engines see two copies of your content around the Internet, they may try to penalize one or both of your sites for “duplicate content.” While this “penalty” has often been made out to be a bigger deal than it really is, if you want to be extra careful, go into Blogger and go to Settings > Basic > Privacy. Click on Edit. For the question “Let search engines find your blog?”, select “No” and save changes.

I only recommend this if you’ve been using Blogger’s Custom Domain. This is because existing links to your blog should use the custom domain already, so they’ll go straight to your new blog. They won’t have to go through your old blog to work. (People using a .blogspot.com address need the redirects to work for existing links to work. However, Blogger is working very hard to break that capability.) YOU’RE DONE!

9B. Back in Blogger, select Settings for the blog you want to transfer. Select Basic and scroll down to Publishing. Turn back on your Custom domain. (Continue to step ten.)

10. Alternatively, still in Blogger, go to Layout>Edit HTML. Place the following code anywhere after <head>:

<meta content='0; url=http://YOURNEWURL.com/' http-equiv='refresh'/>

This sends visitors to your blog homepage directly to your new URL, and, as Sebastian’s Pamphlets says, is a search-engine safe method of redirection.

Like the change in step 9, this can show visitors a warning page that they’re being taken to another domain. Some might think that it’s just as good to put a link to your new URL in your old blog and leave it up. However, it’s better for your search engine rankings to transfer it like this—if search engines see two copies of your content around the Internet, they may try to penalize one or both of your sites for “duplicate content.”

Be sure to test your main blog URL as well as some of your old post URLs to make sure everything is working, and of course, be subscribed to your feed to make sure that’s in order as well.

And you’re ready to blog on wit’ yo’ bad self.

Note: You might have to import your images to WordPress as well, but I haven’t. However, the last plugin listed in #5 can handle this too!

Feeling brave? There are other ways to transfer your blog from BlueHost to WordPress, but they are more technical. This tutorial seems to be the easiest of these. Good luck!

Also: check out my full guide to setting up WordPress on BlueHost, an inexpensive, WordPress-recommended hosting company!

If you find this helpful, please consider signing up for BlueHost with an affiliate link. I get a percentage of any purchase made through my link.

Disclosure: the Bluehost link is an affiliate link.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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