Being able to set up and host your own WordPress blog is a great idea for many reasons. As a researcher/ethnographer/sociologist, it means that you get to ‘own’ a space in which to present your project. That space is controlled by you and has the potential to become a place for engagement and participation. It’s a way to connect and weave your work back into society – who knows, you could even create a community centered around your work. In addition, costs are minimal and the turn-around time is quick.

The first time I did this, I needed a lot of help. The second time I did it, I needed less help. What I discovered during both occasions, is that there was very little I could find on the Internet in plain English to help me if I had any questions (as a result, my poor friend John got the brunt of every frustrated phone call. Bless him). Everything I came across online seemed to be written by a guy who knew exactly what he was doing. As a result, information was missing, steps were glazed over and things just weren’t explained clearly and in the detail I needed. In addition, there is so much on the Internet, that you’re not really sure what you can trust either.

I do not have a background in Computer Science. I have BA(Hons) from Rhodes University in which my majors were Journalism and Psychology and am currently reading for my MA in Digital Sociology. While I appreciate that now, I have a far more substantial grasp on ‘tech stuff’ than the average Joe, I remember how tough it was for me. This is why I’m writing this post. I’ll go through each step. There’ll be pictures. There’ll be explanations. I’ll try and make it funny. And at the end of it all, you’ll have your own website.

Before we start, I’m working on Mac. If you’re a PC user, the basics should be the same. So don’t give up just yet.

Now that I’ve convinced you, here are some definitions:

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. And basically, you need this software so that you can upload files from your computer to the web-hosting server that will showcase your website to the world online.

Right, what’s a web-hosting server you ask? It’s a type of service that allows individuals (like you) and organisations to make their websites accessible and ‘live’ on the Internet.

OK. Let’s begin downloading.

I’ve got Filezilla downloaded on my machine. Why Filezilla? Because back in the day when I was utterly clueless, I was recommended it. And I can see why. It works well and I’ve never had any issues with it. It’s also free and open-source, so if there’s a bug, there’s a community of computer dudes who gather round their computers and fix it without you having to stress about code and the rest of it. Download Filezilla from their official site here.

There are two buttons on their website. This is the one you want to click:

Once you’ve click that, button, you’re going to be taken to a page that looks like this. Don’t freak out.

 If you have a PC, download this version:

If you’re a Mac user, click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen, and select ‘About This Mac’. You’ll get something that looks like this pop-up on your screen:

If like mine, it has the word ‘Intel’ in the ‘Processor’ section (most of the newer Macs do) then download this version of Filezilla:

If not, download this version:

 OK. You’re nearly done with this step. Once you’ve downloaded it onto your computer, install it by double-clicking on the link.

Follow the installation instructions: You’ll be asked to:

1.) agree to FileZilla’s general public license

2.)  then choose options. I recommend accepting all but two of the default settings: If other people have access to your computer, you may want to choose the option to make FileZilla available only to you (rather than anyone who uses your computer). For quick access to FTP, we also recommend that you select the Desktop Icon component.

3.) for a location for your FileZilla files. I’ve got mine saved in my Applications folder.

Once all that’s done, hit the ‘Install’ button to get it all up and running on your computer. Once it’s installed (it’ll tell you that it’s ‘Complete’) whack the close button.

And then make yourself a cup of tea. Step one is done. Boom!

Right. Step two. Getting yourself a URL (that’s the www.mysitename.com part), a place to host your files and a database. The great news is that you can get these all in one place. If you can download Filezilla, this is going to be a super easy. Love shopping online? Well this is basically the same thing. Except you’re shopping for stuff that’ll never be delivered to your door =)

Head to 1 and 1. Why them? Again, they were recommended, so I’ve just stuck with them because I’ve had no issues. You can also check out Go Daddy.I’ll be using 1 and 1 for this tutorial.

Once you’re on 1&1, scroll down till you see this:

OK. Super fun part. What would you like your website address to be? Think carefully, cause you can’t change it too easily once you’ve got it. There’s lots of people you make the assumptions when searching for things that it’ll end in “.com”. So that’s one thing to consider. However, if you’d like your site to have a more ‘research’ feel, then perhaps think about buying a “.org” or a “.org.uk” like mine. Many foundations, non-profits and research institutions have “.org”. It’s not life and death, but it’s something to consider.

Right. Next thing is to check if that domain is available. If it isn’t 1&1 will give you some options, select the one you like or go back and try out a new name.

So here I see that yourocktheparty.co.uk is ready and waiting for me to buy it. Click ‘Continue’.

 

Then you’ll get taken to a page that looks like this.

Here’s the thing: it’s not going to be enough for you simply just to buy the name of the website. You need the whole package deal. But don’t fret, you don’t need anything too hectic. Even if you plan on uploading lots of video and images – there’s ways around this. You can use YouTube or Vimeo to host your videos and Flickr to host your pictures and then just copy the embed code into the WordPress backend. If this little piece of information has gone totally over your head, don’t sweat. There’s a how-to on this too. Right, back to the task at hand.

Click on ‘sign-up’ for the 1&1 Standard Package. For the first year this is going to cost you £2.49 and then after that it’ll be £4.99 a month. That’s a pretty great deal I think. Once you’ve hit the ‘Sign Up’ button you’ll get taken to a page where they’re going to try and flog you more domains to buy. Click on ‘No thanks, continue without selection’. Then they’re going to try and sell you something else, once again, click on ‘No thank you, continue order.’ From here on out, it’s a standard online shopping experience: check your order, input your personal information, create a password for your account (IMPORTANT: WRITE THIS DOWN), insert your payment details and then check out.

You’ll then receive an email from 1&1 with an account number and a contract number. Do not lose that email. Save those two details.

And with that, it’s official. You own the name of a website and hosting space. Well done, you! Now let’s get this baby up and running!

WordPress. It’s an absolute beast. It’s really powerful and so convenient and in terms of basic use, the back-end (also known as a CMS or content management system – essentially a fancy name for the place where you’ll type in content, upload photos/videos and it’ll whack out looking like a proper webpage) is really self-explanatory. If you’re a little more advanced and you can get your head around coding, then there is SO much you can do.

The next thing that you need to know about WordPress is this. WordPress.com is the ‘hosting’ side. On this side, you can buy a domain name and pay to use their hosting. It’s pretty expensive coming in at just over $100 for hosting and buying a domain. Great news, you don’t have to worry about this because you’ve just bought all this stuff. The other side of WordPress is WordPress.org. This is the open-source, web software side of WordPress. The one that you’re going to use. This is where you can download all the software, upload it to the Internet using your FTP software and get it live.

Super. That’s basically what we’re going to do next.

Head to WordPress.org and click on the orange ‘Download’ tab or the blue ‘Download WordPress 3.4.1′ button.

Then you’ll get taken to another page telling you that there are two links to click on to download the software. Click the blue button.

Download it. And then double click on the file to unzip it. Let that folder be for the moment.

Right-eo. This next part is as complicated as it’s going to get. But before you get nervous, I’m here to guide you through it. You’ve made it this far. The next few steps are just the finalising part. And they’re the BEST part because after this, you’re going to have a website!

Pulling it all together:

Open up that email that 1&1 sent you. Go to https://order.1and1.co.uk/. Click on ‘Customer Login’ on the top right of the website:

Ensure that the Control Panel tab is highlighted in light blue. Put your Account number (you got this in the email that 1&1 sent you. Right at the top. First thing you see when you open the email) in the box that says ‘Customer ID’ and then put your password, the one you used when you created your account during the sign up and payment process, in the ‘Password’ box.

Once you’re signed in, you’ll enter your control panel, it looks like this:

 

Once you’re in, click on ‘FTP Account’ that’s in the ‘Access’ box and make a note of what your username is. It’ll be in a light blue box, written in white font, underlined and under the heading ‘Username’. Click on it and create a password. You’ll be required to enter this password twice. Don’t worry about filling in the box that says ‘Description’. Then click on ‘OK’.

 

Once you’ve done that, click the big ‘Start’ button on the top left hand corner of the screen, and it’ll take you back to the control panel.

Now, fire up Filezilla. Open it up and then click on the below button which can be found in the top left hand corner of the Filezilla opening screen.

It’ll bring up a screen that looks like this (host, user, password will all be blank… no orange bars will be there. This is to protect my own site information).

Click on the button, below left, that says ‘New Site’. Give it a name – the name of your site. In the ‘Host name’  box on the top right enter the address of your site without the “www” or the “http://” so for instance: yourocktheparty.com

Select the option that says ‘SSH File Transfer Protocol’. Logon type is ‘Normal’. In ‘User’ input the username you made a note of in the FTP step above. And in the ‘Password’… yip, you’ve got it. The password that you just created in the FTP step above.

Then click the blue ‘Connect’ button.

It’ll bring up a screen that says ‘Unknown Host Key — server’s host key is unknown….’, don’t stress. Everything will be fine. Just click ‘OK’.

Now your Filezilla will look something like this, except the part where the orange arrow is pointing to, will be blank.

Quick explanation of this screen:

‘Local site’ means your computer. ‘Remote site’ means the server – that is the 1&1 hosting space that you bought earlier. Pretty neat hey! So now you can upload files from your computer and transfer them to your hosting space.

Now. Remember you downloaded and unzipped that WordPress folder? OK. Now you’re going to double click on the folder and copy all the files and folders in there and paste them into the blank empty space where the orange arrow is pointing to. Holding down the “cmd” button press “A” on your keyboard to select all the files, and then drag all these selected files into the Filezilla section.

While that’s copying and pasting, let’s create a database. WOW! Look at you go. Whoop whoop!

Right, head on over back to your control panel at 1&1. And click on the underlined bit that says ‘MySQL Administration’.

Now click on the button that says ‘New Database’. Again, you can type in a description if you like, but it’s not necessary – so you can have for instance ‘You Rock’ – written in there. Type in a password. Right it down and keep it super safe. Then click ‘Set Up’. This will then take you to a screen with some details.

Make a note of: the database name, the username and the hostname. The database will take about 5 – 10 minutes before it’s live and read to be used. This database is the place where all your WordPress files are going to live on your server. Think of it like a big folder.

By now, the WordPress files and folders should be moved across and populated the section in your ‘Remote Site’ of Filezilla.

Now Filezilla should look like the screengrab I posted above =)

OK. Get those database details ready…

One of the files that you just uploaded to Filezilla is called ‘wp-config-sample.php’. Find that guy, right click on it (single click on it, then while holding down “ctrl” on your keyboard, press you keypad) and then “View/Edit”. It’ll open up a text file.

Look for the part that looks like this and then in the DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, MySQL hostname, type in all the details that you made notes of. Make sure that you type the information out correctly, just one digital wrong will not make things work. Also you must type all the details between the single quote marks:

// ** MySQL settings – You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘YOUR DATABASE NAME GOES HERE’);

/** MySQL database username */
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘YOUR DATABASE USERNAME GOES HERE‘);

/** MySQL database password */
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘YOUR DATABASE PASSWORD GOES HERE‘);

/** MySQL hostname */
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘YOUR DATABASE HOSTNAME GOES HERE‘);

/** Database Charset to use in creating database tables. */
define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8′);

/** The Database Collate type. Don’t change this if in doubt. */
define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);

 Now save it: hold down the ”cmd” button press “S” on your keyboard. It’ll ask you if you want to re-upload the file, click ‘OK’. Now single click on the ’wp-config-sample.php’ file, hold the “cmd” button down and click on it again. You’ll see that this allows you to change the name of the file. Change the name of the file by deleting the ‘sample’ bit so that it looks like this:

And guess what? The hardest part is now all done!

Now head on over to your site! Open your browser and type in the name of your site forward slash wordpress. So: www.yourocktheparty.com/wordpress

You should land on a page like this:

Fill out all those details and then hit “Install WordPress”.

Then log in with those details on the next screen that will look like this:

You have just logged into the backend of your site – the place that you’ll create posts and pages! Well done!

One more step left!

The back-end now looks like this:

 

Along the left-hand side, you’ll see a tab called ‘Settings’. Hover over that and you’ll see a section called ‘General’. Click on that.

You should see something like this:

Make sure that WordPress Address and Site Address have your URL in them without the wordpress bit attached at the end. It mustn’t look like this: http://justtrustme.org.uk/wordpress, but rather how mine looks now in the picture. Click the blue button at the bottom of the page called ‘Save Changes’.

Now sit back and give yourself a round of applause… because you’ve just done it!

Well done.

PS. To learn how to add a theme to your WordPress blog, click here. If you want a great selection of themes, WP Shower have some really nice ones to choose from. Visit their site here.

pic credit for thumbnail: wordpress.org