Ok so you’ve got your hosting account, you’ve set up WordPress and followed all my instructions so far. Now it’s finally time to get started setting up your blog. Before we can get into creating the actual pages, there are several important steps to configuring your WordPress site that you’ll need to do every time you set up a site like this.

Upload Your Theme and Plugins

If you haven’t already gotten the WordPress Elements you need, make sure to do that. Upload all of the plugins you need to your /plugins/ folder, and upload the WP Commerce theme (or whatever theme you want to use) to the /themes/ folder.

Update WordPress

You’ll probably want to make sure your WordPress version is current for no other reason than following along with this tutorial. I’m currently using WordPress 2.7.1. The easiest way to update WordPress is with the WordPress Automatic Upgrade Plugin. You really don’t have to update WordPress for any other reason than following this tutorial, but the auto update plugin makes it really fast and easy, so why not?

Update Your Permalinks

This is an absolute must. Permalinks are basically the way your URLS are configured. For example, the default WP permalink structure URLs look like this: https://shabbychicbedding.net/?p=1. We want our URLs to look like thisย  https://www.shabbychicbedding.com/pillows/. This is very important mainly for SEO purposes – search engines definintely take URLs into consideration, so take a minute and make this update:

  • Go to Settings -> Permalinks
  • Click the radio button next to “Custom Structure” and type in the following: /%postname%/
  • Click Save Changes

This should be all you need to do. Bluehost is already configured so that you don’t need to make any changes to your .htaccess file, and I believe most other hosting companies also can support this function out of the box. I’ve had problems getting this to work in GoDaddy before, but I haven’t tried to set up a WP blog on GoDaddy in a long time so it may be easier now.

Update WordPress & Blog Address URLs

You don’t really have to do this, but I always do. Go to settings -> General, and update the WordPress and Blog Address URL fields to have the www. at the beginning of the URL, so instead of shabbychicbedding.net being URL, it will be www.shabbychicbedding.net.

I’m not sure if there is any real reason you would want to do this one way or the other, but I always do it.

Delete Default Install Data, Set Up Home Page and Blog Page

WordPress automatically adds the token Hello World post, About Us page and comment from Mr. WordPress. You’ll want to delete these for sure. I’ve come across a lot of blogs that haven’t deleted their Hello World or About page, which basically means there’s a ton of duplicate content out there and by leaving it on your site you’re running a small risk of being penalized by search engines.

To delete this sample data, first go to Edit Posts, and delete Hello World. The comment will go away along with it. Then, go to Edit Pages and delete the About page.ย  Stay there for a second so you can do the next step.

Add Home Page and Blog Page

We’re not really adding content yet, but we do need to have a home page and blog page set up to finish the configurations. First the home page. Under the Pages drop down menu on the left, click Add New. Call the page Home, and don’t worry about adding any content for now. Then, on the right under Attributes, select the Home template from the templates drop down, image below. Then click save.

The Home template is a template I created to accompany this theme. Basically it is exactly the same as the regular template except I’ve removed the code that automatically inserts the page title at the top of the page. that way, you won’t have a big heading that says “Home” in the middle of your home page. Instead you can add your own tag and put in a keyword which will help with search engines.

Next, create the blog page. Click Add New again and put Blog in the title field. You need not do anything else but publish the page.

Set Default Home and Blog Pages

This is a critical step that will make it so that your Blog page is in it’s own separate area of the site instead of being the home page. I will explain more on setting up your posts and pages soon, but just trust me that it’s important.

  • Go to Settings -> Reading
  • Under “Front Page Displays” heading, choose the “a Static Page…” option.
  • Under “Front Page” select Home from the drop down list.
  • Under “Posts Page” select Blog from the drop down list.
  • Click save

Activate Plugins

Now that you’ve gotten the basic WP setup out of the way, you’ll need to activate your plugins. I’ll pretty much assume that you can figure that out on your own.

Set Up The Theme

This is where it will differ a little if you’re using a different theme than my WP Commerce theme. WP Commerce Steel has 3 sidebar positions. These all must be configured correctly or your theme won’t display properly.

After you’ve activated WP Commerce Steel, go to the Widgets manager. The first sidebar you see should be “sidebar-top”. This sidebar position was specifically developed for use with the Search-2-Post plugin. If you’ve got that activated, add it to that sidebar and save. I’ll provide a tutorial on configuring it soon. You can also place a regular search widget in this area, a Google Custom search bar, or a blank text widget and leave it empty.

Next, select “sidebar-left-1”. This sidebar position is the upper left sidebar that is enclosed in a blue background.ย  It is intended for placing your “store” navigation here. The only widget you need in this sidebar is the Flexi Pages widget, but you can also add additional widgets below if you choose. I will provide additional information on configuring the Flexi-Pages widget in an upcoming post.

Last, check out “sidebar-left-2”. I like to use the PHPBay Sidebar widget in this area to show a “featured product”. You can add whatever you like in this area.

What’s Next?

You’ve got all the basic configuration set, you’ve uploaded all the plugins and theme that I’ve recommended so far, and configured the sidebars according to my specs. If you’ve followed everything the right way up to this point, your site should have a normal appearance, and be ready for content. In my next post, I will cover configuring PHPBay in depth. After that, I’ll go over the difference between pages and posts, and how to set up your product pages. Last, I’ll cover configuring the Search-2-Post widget. Once we’ve gotten through all that, we’ll talk about optimizing your site for SEO, then go into some marketing strategy. Stay tuned, it’s sure to be interesting.

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