What Do You Need to Set up a WordPress Blog?

I’ve found myself answering this question a lot lately, so I figure I should just turn it into a blog post so I can point people to it.

So, you’ve decided that you want to host your own blog with WordPress? Great. Here’s what you need to make that happen.

1a. A web host that supports PHP/MySQL. Most web hosts do, but be sure to check before you pay. Personally, I use MediaTemple.net for my blog hosting, but there are many many hosts that are perfectly capable of hosting a WordPress blog.

1b. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s nice if they allow .htaccess editing. Not all do. Without that, you can’t create human friendly post URLs, so your URLs will end with something like .com/?p=386 rather than .com/post-title-humans-understand/

2. A domain name. Something that’s easy to spell and memorable is generally a good rule of thumb, but that’s for you to decide. After buying your domain, you’ll need to update the DNS records to point to your web host’s servers.

3. A Theme. WordPress comes with a handful of pre-installed themes to choose from, but they’re not spectacular. You can build an entire theme from scratch, but you may find the free themes available here valuable as starting points for your design. Plenty of designers can help you customize one of those themes or help you create something that’s entirely unique.

4. Plugins. You can customize the functionality of your WordPress site using Plugins. For example, you may want to allow commenters to subscribe to the comments of a post and receive emails when others reply. There is a plugin for that and hundreds of other things.

5. An FTP program. You’ll need this to upload WordPress, themes, and plugins. Personally, I use CuteFTP, but there are dozens of choices – both free and paid – to choose from.

Those are all the tools you need.

Other tools that can be helpful include:

– An HTML editor like Dreamweaver, for editing themes.
– An image editor like Photoshop for editing themes and images for posts.
– A stats program like Google Analytics for tracking traffic to the site.
– Using Feedburner to track RSS feed subscribers.
– Using the ScribeFire extension for FireFox to make blogging more efficient.

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