Having a Blog is an essential part of your overall marketing strategy. Yet, many small business owners don’t know how to create a blog. In this post, I try to provide instructions on how to create a blog using free WordPress software from scratch.

Some web hosting providers have an Installation Center that will install the WordPress blog with one button click. Check with your provider to see if they have it.  iPage has this feature. If you need to do it on your own then follow the process below.

 First, there are a few preparation steps that you need to complete:

A. Obtain a domain name for you blog (see my post Registering a Domain Name for your Website) and a web hosting provider. Popular choices include 1and1.com (I use them), bluehost.com, iPage and godaddy.com. 

B. Have access to a file transfer/ftp program. Many of the web hosting providers have a way to transfer files. I used a free file transfer program (FTP) called FileZilla. You can download FileZilla Client from http://filezilla-project.org/ .  This is an optional step if you don’t have other program to transfer files.

 Now you are ready to create your blog.

The overall process of creating a blog includes the following 6 steps:

 1. Using your web hosting provider’s Control panel, create an FTP directory for the WordPress files (Step 1a), create an FTP user account (Step1b) and create  MySQL database (Step 1c).

 2. Download current version of WordPress software file from http://wordpress.org/  to your local drive.

 3. Update WordPress configuration file wp-config-sample.php with your MySQL database information.

 4. Transfer WordPress files from your local folder to your web hosting FTP directory.

 5. Install your WordPress blog.

 6. Customize your WordPress blog.

 I hope you are on your way creating your first blog.

 Happy Blogging!

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Below is the detail description for each step above:

 1. Create FTP Directory, FTP user account and MySQL database

Login to your web hosting account. Using your web hosting provider’s Control panel, create an FTP directory, an FTP user and MySQL database. I use 1and1.com so the instructions use their menu options. Other Control panels might have similar options.

 1a. Create an FTP directory for your blog on your web hosting provider server. You will later copy the WordPress software files into this directory.

On Control Panel choose Domains menu option
Select you domain and choose Edit Destination
You will see a screen where you can create a new destination. You want to choose Domain Type – “Home Directory” and create a new directory. I typically use the same name as my domain name (for example – /startnetbiz if my domain name is www.startnetbiz.com)

 1b. Create an FTP user account

On Control Panel choose FTP Account option
Enter user name and password
Select FTP directory previously created in step 1a.

 1c. Create a MySQL database

On Control panel choose MySQL Administration
Select New Database Option
Enter description and password and create the database
After the database is created you will receive a screen with database information. Keep this screen open. You will need to enter this information into WordPress configuration file.

 2. Download current WordPress software to your local file from  http://wordpress.org/ . The download is provided as a zipped file. You will need a zip software like WinRAR or other to unzip it and extract it to a local folder on your drive (like C:\Documents and Settings\your name\Desktop\wordpress).  

At the end, you should have a WordPress icon on your desktop.

3. Update WordPress configuration file with your MySQL information from step 1c.

 Click on the WordPress folder and locate a file wp-config-sample.php. Change the extension to .txt and edit the information in DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, DB_HOST as provided in the MySQL screen in Step 1c.

 // ** MySQL settings – You can get this info from your web host ** //

/** The name of the database for WordPress */

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘xxxxxxx’);
/** MySQL database username */

define(‘DB_USER’, ‘xxxxxxx’);

/** MySQL database password */

define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘xxxxxxx’);

/** MySQL hostname */

define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘xxxxxxx’);

Update and save the information and rename the file to wp-config.php.  

 4. Transfer WordPress files from your local folder to your web hosting providers FTP directory previously created.

 Using FileZilla or your preferred FTP method you can copy the WordPress files to your web hosting FTP directory.

In FileZilla, click on the Site Manager menu icon (first icon on the left) and create a new site. Update General Settings as following:

Change Logon type to Normal
Enter ftp account user and password as created in step 2
Enter Host – your domain name without the prefix www. (for example startnetbiz.com)
Click Connect to connect to the site or click on Site Manager menu icon.

 On the left side of the screen (i.e. your local site) click on the Desktop and locate your WordPress folder. Click on it to get the list of all the files in the folder (you can see it in the bottom section). Select wp-admin file and all the files beneath it and drag them to the right section. This action will copy these files from your local drive to your web hosting directory.

5. Install your Blog

In your internet window type www.yoururl.com/wp-admin/install.php(for example www.startnetbiz/wp-admin/install.php)

And click Install. This will complete the installation of your WordPress blog.

 6. Update Settings and Add Plugins to your WordPress Blog.

Login to your WordPress account (by typing http://yourdomain.com/wp-login.php) and customize the settings for your blog.

I like to add the following plugins – Akismet – to prevent spam comments posted on your blog, All in One SEO Pack – for SEO optimization and Google Analytics for WordPress to monitor traffic to your blog.

If you are a 1and1 user and having a problem with installing Plugins there is a fix available on http://wordpress.org/support/topic/auto-upgrade-fix-for-1and1-users .