Getting Started With Bring the Blog and WordPress

This library of videos provides step-by-step screencasts to help you start your blog right. We endorse the WordPress blogging platform for its overall awesomeness and HostGator as a reliable, great-value blog hosting company. By way of disclosure, Bring the Blog is a compensated affiliate of many domain name registrars and web hosting companys. GoDaddy and HostGator are our favorites in a crowded field.

Note: If you already have a WordPress blog, you can skip to Step 6. You don't need a new WordPress blog to use Bring the Blog.

Step 1 : Register Your Blog Domain Name With GoDaddy (0:44)

Your first step is to register your very own domain name for your blog. Use this link to GoDaddy.com -- it has a built-in coupon code for you.

Here's some tips for grabbing an amazing domain name:

  • Keep your domain name short
  • Include your brand name in your domain name, if appropriate
  • Don't use hyphens in your domain name
  • Don't use numbers in your domain name unless it's a phone number
  • Less than 20 characters is the ideal length for a domain name
  • You want a .com domain. Do not settle for .net or .us
  • Decline all of GoDaddy's "upsell" efforts.

Bring the Blog recommends GoDaddy because it's cheap and because GoDaddy has excellent customer service for when you need technical help.

Step 2 : Register To Host Your Blog At HostGator (0:50)

Now that you've registered a domain name, you need to select a web hosting company for your blog.

The most important criteria in selecting a web host are three-fold:

  1. Web hosting should be their primary line of business
  2. Server "uptime" should be 99.9% at minimum
  3. Techies should be available by phone or email 24/7/365

Resist the urge to host your blog with a friend, or with your corporate "tech guy". Spend the money to do it right.

Bring the Blog recommends HostGator. HostGator is well-respected in the blogging space and it leases server space for less than $10 per month. Plus, if you use this link, you'll get a discount off HostGator's already inexpensive rates.

Step 3 : Linking GoDaddy To HostGator (0:37)

With your domain name registered and your web server built, it's time to link the two. Here's why we can't skip this step.

  • Web servers don't come with easy-to-remember names. They are assigned numerical addresses on the internet called an IP address (e.g. http://192.168.1.1).
  • Domain names don't get an address on the interet. They are "nicknames" meant to make web server IP addresses easier to remember.

So, when we link GoDaddy to HostGator, we are tying your easy-to-remember blog domain name to your web server's numerical address.

Clear as mud, right?

Step 4 : Creating A Database On Your HostGator Server (0:32)

WordPress blogs don't store data in "files", per se. Instead, WordPress uses a secure database called mySQL for storage. The good news is that once your mySQL database is in place, WordPress knows what to do with it.

In this step, we will use the HostGator Database Wizard to create a mySQL database for our WordPress blog.

  1. Login to your HostGator Control Panel
  2. Find and click "mySQL Database Wizard"
  3. Give your database a name (i.e. blog)
  4. Create a user for your database (i.e. admin)
  5. As prompted, grant all privileges to your user

Write down your "database name" (i.e. btheblog_blog) and username (i.e. btheblog_admin). You will need it for Step 5.

Step 5 : Installing Your WordPress Blog On Your HostGator Server (2:34)

Installing WordPress on your HostGator web server is suprisingly simple and there's two ways to attack it. Take the easy way out -- Let HostGator help you.

  1. Recommended: Watch the HostGator How To Install WordPress video which requires no technical programming whatsoever.
  2. Watch the Bring the Blog video at right with well-explained, but somewhat technical instruction

HostGator has an excellent customer support desk so if you have trouble with this step, reach out to HostGator's online support center. The help desk there does WordPress installs thousands of times each year.

Step 6 : Basic WordPress Configuration (1:37)

Now that WordPress is installed and "live", there are some basic settings you'll want to tweak for better performance.

Login to your WordPress dashboard at http://yourdomainname/wp-admin/ and make the changes as shown in the video, specifically including:

  1. Enable Atom Publishing Protocol and XML-RPC. Once activated, Bring the Blog can post to your blog on your behalf each day.
  2. Edit permalink structure to /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html

The updated settings as shown in the video will help you get the most out of your Bring the Blog membership. We don't consider any of them optional.

Step 7 : Changing Your WordPress Theme (1:40)

WordPress designs are called "themes" and, with 1-click, you can change the look-and-feel of your blog.

  1. Search by release date or popularity
  2. Search by theme layout (i.e. 2-column, 3-column)

WordPress doesn't limit the number of themes you install so test as many as you'd like. Activate your favorite by clicking "Activate".

There are literally thousands of WordPress themes and nearly all of them are free. Use your dashboard's Theme Search feature to locate and identify look that works for you.

Step 8 : Installing WordPress Plugins (3:12)

WordPress blogs can be enhanced using small pieces of software called "plugins". Plugins are free and give your blog additional capabilities.

  1. Publish blog posts to Twitter and Facebook
  2. Automatically optimize blog posts for search engines
  3. Make blog posts "mobile phone"-friendly

There's a plugin for every imaginable feature you'd want your blog to have.

The video highlights some of the more essential WordPress plugins. And once you see how easy it installing a plugin can be, we're sure you'll find some more.