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Installing a WordPress Blog

Read Time: 5 min

Yesterday someone asked me how they would set up a WordPress blog at their own domain. The simple answer is:

  1. Register a domain name.
  2. Set up a Web hosting account.
  3. Install WordPress (from WordPress.org or through your host).

I won't walk you through the process of setting up a hosting account or registering a domain name. Your host can help you with that, and the process will vary widely between them, depending on the control panels they're using. I recommend going with a host that uses Cpanel (Hostgator and Vivid Hosting come to mind). If your host has something called Fantastico available, the WordPress installation will be even easier, but I'm going to show you how to do a manual installation, so it's equally accessible for everyone.

Before Installing WordPress

You'll first need to make sure you have your domain name added to your hosting account (should already be done if it's the only domain on a new hosting account you set up - if you have an existing account, you may need to set it up as an add-on domain).

You'll also need to make sure the DNS (domain name servers) entries with your domain registrar are updated to point to your new hosting provider (I don't recommend registering a domain where you're hosting - too many horror stories about people losing domains if they cancel a hosting account and other such nonsense). Again, this process varies between registrars, and you'll need to get the nameserver info from your host.

Getting WordPress

The first thing you'll need to do to actually get WordPress up on your site manually is to download the program. You can get the latest version here from WordPress.org - by clicking the download link near the upper right corner of the page. The current version at the time of this posting is 2.5.1. They do have a tendency to do a lot of updates though.

Here is a summary of the steps you'll take to setup your blog. Please read below them before finishing the installation, as I'll walk you through a few of the steps in more detail. WordPress calls this their 5-minute install. It may be that quick for you, or maybe not for your first time. But it really is a pretty painless process - I promise.

  1. Click the download link and then click "save to disk."
  2. Find the zip file on your hard drive that you just downloaded, and extract it. For me, I just right-click the zipped folder and click "extract all." Depending on your operating system or software, you may need to do that a little bit differently.
  3. Set up a database and MySQL user for your WordPress installation (details on doing this below).
  4. In the folder you just extracted, there will be a file called wp-config-sample.php. Rename that to simply wp-config.php.
  5. You're going to upload the files from your WordPress installation to your Web host's server. You can do this via FTP. You can use FTP software, or if you're using Windows (not sure about Macs), you can simply do this in any Explorer window (screenshots below).
  6. Run the installation - Assuming you're installing WordPress on the main domain (not a directory like YourSite.com/blog/), type http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/install.php into your Web browser (substituting in your own domain name) to access the installation script.
  7. Throw yourself a little party, because you've just installed your new blog! You should be able to view it with the default theme at http://yourdomain.com, and you can access your new admin panel (where you'll write your posts, change themes that you may upload, etc.) at http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.

Setting Up Your Database

You need a MySQL database setup to run a WordPress blog on your server. The database will hold everything from your login info to your posts. Assuming you're using a hosting account with Cpanel as suggested, here's how you can do that (if you have a different admin panel, your host should have instructions for you).

  1. 1. Go into Cpanel - this will be for the primary domain of the site - something like this probably: http://YourDomain.com/cpanel The Cpanel dashboard will probably look something like this:

    cpanel

  2. Click on the icon labeled "MySQL Databases" - it's circled in the image above. On that page, look for a text box that says new database. It will probably look like the image below:

    New MySQL Database

  3. Choose a name for your database. Because I host several blogs on each account, I usually choose something that reflects the domain name. In my case, I'm installing WordPress on ProBusinessWriter.com. So I'll name mine "pbw". Click on "create database." You should get a message saying the database was created. Click "go back," and we'll set up a user tied to the database.
  4. You'll be back on the main MySQL page now. Look for the section like in the image below to create a new user. Choose a username and password, and click "create user."

    create user

  5. You'll get a message saying the account was created. Again, click "go back." This time look for the section of the page called "Add users to your databases." It will look like this:

    add users

  6. Choose your new database user account from the left drop-down box, and your new database name from the right one. Check the box under "privileges" that says "all." Click "add user to database."

That's it! You now have a new database, new user, and the two tied together.

Uploading Installation Files

You can use any FTP program to upload your installation files (just make sure you have your FTP login info from your host, if different than your main login). However, I prefer just using an Explorer window, which allows me to copy / paste the files as I would if I were moving files from my "my documents" folder to my desktop or anywhere else on my hard drive. To do it that way, try this.

  1. Open the extracted file folder from your WordPress download. Highlight all of the files and interior folders under that main folder, and copy them (right click or under the "edit" menu).
  2. Open "my documents" or any other similar window (you can even simply use the folder window you're already in if you don't want to use a second window). You should have an address bar at the top.
  3. Type in ftp://username:password@ftp.yourdomain.com/ and hit enter. If you've entered everything correctly, it should bring you to a screen that looks like this:

    ftp

  4. If this is the only domain on your hosting account, simply look for a folder called public_html, and paste your WordPress files directly in there. If, like me, your blog isn't the main domain on your account, open the public_html folder, and look for the folder based on your domain name. Post your WordPress files here. If your file transfers are stalling up, you may want to upload a few files at a time instead of trying to do them all at once.

Additional Help

If you're still not able to setup your WordPress blog manually, WordPress has a more detailed installation tutorial that may address specific concerns.

Do you have specific questions about what to do after WordPress is installed? Ask in the comments, and I may answer there or create a new post if it's a larger concern that you'd like to see addressed.

3 thoughts on “Installing a WordPress Blog”

  1. When I first started using WordPress it was such a hassle to figure out how to install it. Now that I’m done with that and I know better now, things are a lot easier. That’s for sure! Your guide is definitely going to help a lot of people.

    Reply
  2. People might could do a quick Google search with something like “(your hostname) install WordPress)” to find out if their hosts have a “one-click” type of install for WordPress. Both Yahoo and HostGator have that.

    I know how, but I think it would be helpful to talk about how to install themes. Especially since you’ve talked about where to find them.

    Reply

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