Make Extra Money, Part 6: Setting Up a Site

In this installment of the Make Extra Money series, I’m going to show you how to set up a WordPress site.   I’m going to show you exactly what settings, plugins, and themes I use.   I’m not going to get into writing posts today.  That will be next time.

I use WordPress because it makes it easy to develop good-looking sites quickly.   You don’t have to know html or any programming.   I will be walking through the exact process using Hostgator, but most hosting plans use CPanel, so the instructions will be close.  If not, just follow WordPress’s 5 minute installation guide.

Installing WordPress

Assuming you can follow along with me, log in to your hosting account and find the section of your control panel labeled “Software/Service”.  Click “Fantastico De Luxe”.

Fantastico

On the Fantastico screen, click WordPress, then “New Installation”.

Install WordPress

On the next screen, select your domain name, then enter all of the details: admin username, password, site name, and site description.  If you’ll remember, I bought the domain  http://www.masterweddingplanning.net.   I chose the site name of “Master Wedding Planning” and a description of “Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Wedding”.

Click “install”, then “finish installation”.   The final screen will contain a link to the admin page, in this case, masterweddingplanning.net/wp-admin.  Go there and log in.

Configuring WordPress

After you log in, if there is a message at the top of the screen telling you to update, do so.   Keeping your site updated is the best way to avoid getting hacked.  Click “Please update now” then “Update automatically”.  Don’t worry about backing up, yet.  We haven’t done anything worth saving.

Next, click “Settings” on the left.  Under General Settings, put the www in the WordPress and site URLs.  Click save, then log back in.

Click Posts, then Categories.  Under “Add New Category”, create one called “Misc” and click save.

Click Appearance.  This brings you to the themes page.   Click “Install Themes” and search for one you like.   I normally use Headway, but before I bought that, I used SimpleX almost exclusively.   Your goal is to have a simple theme that’s easy to maintain and easy to read.  Bells and whistles are a distraction.

Install a theme

Click “Install”, “Install now”, and “Activate”.  You now have a very basic WordPress site.

Plugins

A plugin is an independent piece of software to make independent bits of WordPress magic happen.   To install the perfect set of plugins, click Plugins on the left.    Delete “Hello Dolly”, then click “Add new”.

In the search box, enter “plugin central” and click “Search plugins”.    Plugin Central should be the first plugin in the list, so click “install”, then “ok”, then “activate plugin”.  Congratulations, you’ve just installed your first plugin.

Now, on the left, you’ll see “Plugin Central” under Plugins.  Click it.  In the Easy Plugin Installation box, copy and paste the following:

 All in One SEO Pack
 Contact Form 7
 WordPress Database Backup
 SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2
 WP Super Cache
 Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress
 date exclusion seo
 WP Policies
 Pretty Link Lite
 google xml sitemaps
 Jetpack by WordPress.com

Click “install”.

On the left, click “Installed Plugins”.   On the next screen, click the box next to “Plugins”, then select “Activate” from the dropdown and click apply.

Activate plugins

Still under Plugins, click “Akismet Configuration”.  Enter your  API key and hit “update options”.  You probably don’t have one, so click “get your key”.

Tools

The only tool I worry about is the backup.   It’s super-easy to set up.   Click “Tools”, then “Backup”.  Backup

Scroll down to “Schedule Backups”, select weekly, make sure it’s set to a good email address and click “Schedule Backup”.   I only save weekly because we won’t be adding daily content.  Weekly is safe enough, without filling up your email inbox.

Settings

There are a lot of settings we’re going to set.   This is going to make the site more usable and help the search engines find your site.  We’re going to go right down the list.   If you see a section that I don’t mention, it’s because the defaults are good enough.

Writing

Set the Default Post Category to “Misc”.

Visit this page and copy the entire list into “Update Service” box.   This will make the site ping a few dozen services every time you publish a post.   It’s a fast way to get each post indexed by Google.

Click “Save Changes”.

Discussion

Uncheck everything under “Email me whenever…” and hit save.   This lets people submit comments, without actually posting the comments or emailing me when they do so.  Every once in a while, I go manually approve the comments, but I don’t make it a priority.

Permalinks

Select “Custom structure” and enter this: /%postname%/

Click save.

All in One SEO

Set the status to “Enabled”, then fill out the site title and description.  Keep the description to about 160 characters.  This is what builds the blurb that shows up by the link when you site shows up in Google’s results.

Check the boxes for “Use categories for META keywords” and “Use noindex for tag archives”.

Click “Update Options”.

Date Exlusion SEO

Check the boxes to remove each of the dates and set the alt text to “purpose” or something.   This will suppress the date so your posts won’t look obsolete.

Hide Dates

SEO Search Terms 2

This plugin reinforces the searches that bring people to your site.   It’s kind of neat.  Skip the registration, accept the defaults and hit save.

WP Policies

Scroll to the bottom and click import.  We’ll come back to this.

WP Super Cache

Select “Caching On” and hit save.

JetPack

Across the top of the screen should be a giant banner telling you to connect to WordPress.com and set up Jetpack.  You’ll need an account on WordPress.com, so go there and set one up.   After authorizing the site, you’ll be brought back to the Jetpack configuration screen.   Click “Configure” under “WordPress.com Stats”.  Take the defaults and hit save.

Contact

On the contact configuration page, copy the code in the top section.  You’ll need this in a moment.

Contact form code

Pages

Now, we going to create a couple of static pages.   On the left, click “Pages”, then “Add new”.

Name the first page “Contact” and put the contact form code in the body of the page.  Hit publish.

Menus

Under Appearance, click “Menu”.   Enter a menu name and hit save.

Then, under “Pages”, click the box next to “Contact”, “Disclaimer”, and any other policies you’d like to display.  Hit save.

Widgets

Also under Appearance, click “Widgets”.   This is where you’ll select what will display in the sidebar.   All you have to do is drag the boxes you want from the middle of the page to the widget bar on the right.   I recommend Text, Search, Recent Posts, Popular Search Terms and Tag Cloud.  In the text box, just put some placeholder text in it, like “Product will go here”.   We’ll address this next time.

Posts

We’re not going to worry about getting posts in place, yet.    That will be the next installment.  However, the steps in the next installment could take 2 weeks to implement, and we want Google to start paying attention now.  To make that happen, we need to get a little bit of content in place.   This won’t be permanent content.  It’s only there so Google has something to see when it comes crawling.

To get this temporary, yet legal content, I use eZineArticles.  Just go search for something in your niche that doesn’t look too spammy.

Then, click “Posts”, then delete the “Hello World” post.  Click “Add new”.   Copy the eZine article, being sure to include the author box at the bottom, and hit publish.

To see your changes, you may have to go to Settings, then WP Cache and delete the cache so your site will refresh.

Congratulations!  You now have a niche blog with content.   It’s not ready to make you any money, yet, but it is ready for Google to start paying attention.    In the next installment, I’ll show you how I get real unique content and set it up so Google keeps coming back to show me the love.

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  • 5 comments

    Comments

    1. Thank you for this series. I’ll have to admit, though – it’s kind of like sipping from a fire hose! SO much to learn, see, and do. I appreciate the fact you labeled everything by steps. Maybe that will help me concentrate on things one at a time.

    2. Thanks so much for this series. It is so helpful. When I started my blog I hired someone to do a lot of this for me. I have learned some things since but I still need a reference. This will be great for when I start a second site.

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