Setup A Blog In 5 Simple Stages

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing online, marketing, graphics, programming, I think you should always create a blog. If anything, at least to showcase your work. Which is what I’m going to talk about today!

STAGE 1 – Before you think about hosting, we need to acquire our very own domain, of which I’d go for YourName.com as I have mentioned before in another post.

In some cases it’s more appropriate to go with something else yes, sometimes a business name, even just using an existing domain!

STAGE 2 – Without any hosting, you’ll not get anywhere fast, although it’s not going to break the bank either. To start with, we just need some shared hosting. I’m sure you all know I use D9Hosting although another favourite is HostGator!

MySQL Database WizardSTAGE 3 – Now we need to go and create a MySQL Database, which stores ALL our information. So you first need to login to cPanel, or whatever your hosting service has, and make your way to MySQL Database Wizard.

You next just fill out the fields with whatever information suits best and continue onto the next screen. To which more details need filled in! On the screen after that you need to join the user to the database, before receiving a successful notice. And that’s that!

STAGE 4 – Download the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org to your desktop (Easier to work with that way!), and extract! Using the information you used to create the database, we need to insert that into the wp-config-sample.php file!WordPress ConfigurationYou then save it as wp-config.php allowing WordPress to connect to the database!

Time now to upload all those files either to the root directory or a sub-folder such as /blog/ if you’re using an existing domain?

So using a FTP Client such as FileZilla, enter the details your host will provide, and connect! – This allows you to upload files and even download them too!

Visit the location of the files you just uploaded, and WordPress will present you with an installation screen. Enter all the required information, then click next. In fact, if there was a problem to start with, WordPress would tell you about it!

Carry on with the installation as normal, and you’ll receive some default admin login details. That’s when you know WordPress is successfully installed!

STAGE 5 – Login, and start posting to your hearts content!

And there we have it, a simple tutorial showing you how to setup a blog in 5 simple stages, I hope it helped? Keep your eyes peeled on a followup post telling you how to modify the look of your blog! :D

Setup A Google Custom Search On Your Blog

And it’s nowhere near as hard as you may think!

Now as much as I love WordPress, there is one element that needs worked on. And that’s the built in search feature, which is why I decided to change the way a visitor could search my blog.

1 – What we do first is create a new page, giving it a title something like ‘Search’ but it’s completely up to yourself. I decided just to go along with that as I liked the clean look of /search/ as the directory! Yes I know it’s just as easy to change the permalink structure, but I still like it better.

Moving on!… Deactivate the comments along with pings, and publish. I know we’ve not added anything to it just yet, so don’t worry about that! Grab the URL for the new page, and save it somewhere for later.

2 – Visit Google’s Custom Search Engine and click on the ‘Create a Custom Search Engine’ button to get the configuration started. Like everything else with Google, you’re required to login to your Google Account, and if you’ve not got one then just signup. It won’t cost you a penny, as it’s free! :D

Once you’re in, just fill in the required details needed for your Search Engine.

  • Give the Search Engine a Name
  • Along with a Description
  • Insert some Keywords for your Search Engine
  • Choose which Language you’d like
  • Select ‘Only Sites I Select’ option
  • Insert your website URL
  • Select ‘Standard Edition’
  • Check the ‘Terms Of Service’ (If  you agree!)
  • Click Next

A new page will open and you can try out your new custom search engine.

So give it a bash, then click Finish when you are ready!

The following page will then appear!…

Google Custom Search Control Panel

Click on ‘Control Panel’.

3 – We’re going to style the Search Box that appears on our blog by visiting the ‘Look And Feel’ tab up the top. For the search results that are displayed, you can pick the colour scheme for that too. Choose the colour wisely though, and try to pick the same colours as you have on your site.

4 – If you feel like earning a little from your custom search, then everything you’ll need can be found under the ‘Make Money’ menu tab.

I don’t have an AdSense Account myself, and while my search page still shows the odd ad, I don’t get a thing or mind either. This option is still better than the built in WordPress search function!

5 – We now need to put it all together, by inserting the Search Box and the Search Results code. In the menu at the top of your screen, there should be a ‘Code’ link, so head over to that page. Select the iFrame option when the page loads, and you’ll see a couple of extra things appear!

Insert the URL of the page you’d like the search results to appear, you know that one I told you to save at the beginning of this post? Just copy it from wherever it was noted, and paste it into the text field.

Decide on the place you’d like the AdSense ads to appear and select the option you prefer. Personally I went for Top and Bottom, but again, it’s your decision!

If you scroll down, you’ll find the relevant codes you need to place on your blog. Talking of which, they can also be placed on your site too, you’re not just limited to the custom searches for a blog!

Copy the first code, and paste it were you’d like the search box to appear. Most of the time it’s the sidebar, you can see mine to the right of this post! – Under your Theme Editor, just add the code to the sidebar.php file, remembering to save the changes.

The second piece of code Google has provided you with needs to be added to the page we published earlier, so go into your admin area and find the particular page created. Click on the ‘Edit’ button, and switch over to the HTML View before you do anything else. (Top-Right of the page editor!)

Paste the code in and hit the ‘Update Post’ button to save the changes!

With that it all done, you can take it for a test-run. If you did everything correctly, then there shouldn’t be any problems, and everything works just fine!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it interesting. Don’t forget to comment! :D

How Far Do You Take Blog Security?

When it comes to blogging, more and more of us are doing it. Not only is it a great way to communicate with your readers, but search engines love them! And if everyone else can do it, then why shouldn’t you be able to join them too? – Keeping it updated regularly with new content is one thing though!

The other?… Security!

Because WordPress is Open Source, it means that the script is available to everyone to download for free, and this includes hackers! The developers work hard to provide a script with many benefits for people like ourselves. During the time I’ve used WP, there have been numerous security fixes, and also updates.

Just how many people think about how secure their blog is? Chances are that it slipped our mind, or we just don’t know what to do to make it secure?!

So here’s a few things that you can easily do, that will hopefully prevent any potential hacker from wanting to hack your blog. Don’t give them an easy way in!

1 – Remove The WordPress Generator Tag

If you’ve never taken a look at the source code of your blog, then why not go and do that now? Depending on what theme you are using, this could vary, but around line 10 you should see something like this?…

WordPress Generator Tag

Talk about making it easy for a hacker to see if you’re running on the latest version or not. However it’s easier than you thought to solve! – Just delete it!

In the header.php file of your Theme Editor just find the code, remove it, and hit save. Nothing will happen with the result of you deleting the code, as it says, it’s only there for some kind of stats?!

You’d think that was it, but you would be wrong. Go have another look at your source code and see if you can spot it? Now this IS going to vary, but for me at the time of writing, on line 34 I could see the same thing. The only difference this time was the fact it didn’t display the bit about stats!

Over in your themes functions.php file, we just need to add one line of code. At the end of the file, just hit return (enter) twice and paste the code in, remembering to save the changes.

<?php add_filter('the_generator', create_function('', 'return "";')); ?>

Go back to your blog homepage and view the source again. If you’ve done everything correct, then you should spot the fact that the generator tag has been completely removed. That can also be confirmed by doing a search in the file too!

While I know there are plugins out there, many in fact, that do the same job. What’s the point of having more active plugins and those extra files uploaded to your server. For example, a hacker might find a exploit in the plugin? It also means you have to remember and update it, if you ever find out it needs to be.

Yes, if you decide you want to change your theme, then you will need to make sure the new themes files have this code inserted. But what’s that if it takes you an extra 30 seconds?

2 – Change The Default Admin User

Unless you’ve used Fantastico to install WordPress, there’s a good chance you’ll need to modify the database. At least that what most would think. There are in fact a couple of other ways you can achieve the same result, or a similar one.

The easiest option by far is to create another user from within the admin area, and make sure you assign it with administrators privileges too. With that done, logout, and then log back in again with the new details.

What we are going to do is delete the other account with the username ‘admin’ that WordPress always seems to use by default?! I don’t know how they can’t just have a field in the setup, for the user to pick their own username. There must be a logical reason that I’m not aware of.

Moving on!… When you delete the old user, you’ll be asked what you want to do with the post(s) currently assigned to the user you are planning to delete. There is an option where you can say that you’d like them moved over to the other admin. Select that, and confirm that you wish the user be removed!

If you’d rather not create a new user then you can always use a plugin. As with any other plugin, you upload it to your /wp-content/plugins/ directory and activate it withing your admin area. When you go in to edit the user, there will be another field that allows you to change the username to whatever you like! – Once the changes have been made, you can deactivate the plugin and delete it from the plugins folder again.

3 – Overloading Your Blog With Too Many Plugins

I’m not going to dispute that having plugins on your blog can be great. Most of the time they are around to solve a feature that the script currently doesn’t have. I use plugins here on Mark-McWilliams.com which can sort SPAM out (Akismet) and also one for managing my Top Commentators you can see in the sidebar.

Some plugins owners decide they aren’t going to update it anymore, which is just asking for trouble. Hackers look for all kinds of ways to ‘get in’ and having an old plugin is just what they are looking for. There might be an exploit, and absolutely anything could happen to your site.

The point I’m trying to make is, if there’s any plugins you aren’t using at the moment, then WHY are they still on your server? While I know you might want to keep then for later use, what’s wrong with taking a note of it’s name, so that when you need it you can download the latest copy? – Just a thought! ;)

4 – Upgrade WordPress When A New Version Becomes Available

Whenever I see the notice in my dashboard informing me of a new release, I always make sure about upgrading as soon as I can. But before I do, I’ll read the post that is normally posted on the WordPress Development blog which tells us whats new and what’s not.

If I think there could be a problem with the new version working with my theme, then I’ll get the updates for it first, before I think about updating the blogging software. Sometimes I’ve waited a couple of days, but at least it’s done, and the earliest I could make it too.

Hackers are going to find ways in through things in older versions, and they’ll go searching for blogs that still run on that particular version. Then perform whatever they do, and move onto the next one.

5 – Install The WordPress Database Backup Plugin

As with other things in life, if a hacker is going to come and hack your blog then they will. (They will try their hardest to get what they are after!) This plugin is brilliant, as it can be setup to email you a copy of the database every day at a specific time.

Say for example something did happen to Mark-McWilliams.com and it couldn’t be sorted by re-uploading the WordPress core files, or just deleting the index.html file which they have uploaded, then at least I can resort back to the last backup of the blog.

This saves me all the hassle, and I don’t have to remember about doing it all myself. Just imagine how long it could take you to do it yourself, and how long it takes the plugin. I prefer the plugin, and find it very handy! :)

With this post, I hope it’s given you a little insight into thinking about your blog security. And how changing/editing some of the smaller things could just be what you need to deter a potential hacker from targeting you blog!… If you’ve got anything else to add, then please do in the comments section below!

Keeping Your Old Scripts Up-To-Date Is Important!

It goes without saying that ANY script out there is going to be upgraded over time, and while some might have minor changes, there will be others that have massive updates. After all, the internet is changing almost every single day!

Now if you know me, and why shouldn’t you, then you’ll know that I really am a big fan of WordPress and talk about it were I can. Well I bet you’re never going to guess what they released last night while I was tucked up in my bed? ;)

…Yip, you guessed that one alright!

Last night was the night were Version 2.7 was released, and at 9:30 this morning, I upgraded Mark-McWilliams.com so that we were running the latest version. (And this is one version that I couldn’t wait to start using here!)

There are many reasons as to why people don’t upgrade old scripts. The main reason I’ve seen, and heard, is that they can’t be bothered and it’s too time consuming! Because of the new features in WordPress 2.7 I had to edit a few styles in the stylesheet, and change a .php file that incorporated the new coding. Now I do appreciate the fact that not everyone can do things as quick as I possibly can, but even if it took you 20 minutes to upgrade your blog, then is it not time well spent?

Out of all the script’s I’ve ever upgraded, they are either for bug fixes of because the owner has introduced some new features. It doesn’t matter if the script is free or not, why wouldn’t you want to make sure that the version you are using is functioning as it should, but also take advantage of anything new?

I keep saying it over and over again, but it really is important these upgrades get done, as soon as you possibly can. Why would the developer release a new version of the script, if it wasn’t fixing something of better? :P

It was only a few days ago that Sam (From DLGuard) sent me an email to say that there was a new version in the members area ready for me to download. A new payment processor had been added, and also a few bugs sorted out too.

Moving back to something I mentioned earlier about not being bothered, well why not see if you have a friend that wouldn’t mind doing the upgrade for you, or even asking the script owner?! But if neither of them sound right, you could always hire a freelancer from a site like ScriptLance.

So have you got a WordPress blog of your own?… (Well is it running on 2.7 yet?)

What kind of person are you when it comes to upgrading? Let me know in the comments below, and as a little challenge, see if you can spot one of the new 2.7 features!

WordPress 2.7 And A Demo From Matt Mullenweg

Just a REALLY quick and short post from me today. You see I’ve just come accross a video from Matt, co-founder of WordPress, were he gives us a little demo of the new version which is due to be released/launched in November!

When I started this blog, I’m 99.9% sure that we were on version 2.4 – Now that just shows you how quick WordPress is evolving, and my blog isn’t even a year old actually I just spotted it is! – Just were do you think they will be in 5 years time, even 10 years?!

There are a few ‘big’ changes in this version, one of them being the fact you can have Threaded Comments. A few people had developed plugins for earlier versions, but WordPress is finally making it a default thing. From what I believe, you can decide if you do want this enabled, and/or decide WHO can actually use the ‘threaded’ part.

I guess all will be revealed when they launch the new version. :D

Enjoy the video!…

WordPress Is A Machine, So Use It’s POWER!

When I first got started with WordPress, back when this blog was first started, I really didn’t know what many of the functions were or even what they did than what I do now! If I think about it though, it was because I was just a ‘newbie’ and was just getting started with WP. I would still say that I’m a ‘newbie’ even though others might think otherwise! (There was a lot of trial and error used, and I’m pretty good at learning from any mistakes made!)

I bet most of you would be shocked if I was to say that WordPress doesn’t just run a blog! There are many more things that you can do, and blogging probably isn’t even half of it! After visiting many different sites over the past 6+ months, it’s amazing to see what can be done! – One person I enjoy watching is Brian Gardner!

So what about the other things you can do with WordPress?…

  • You can turn a normal site into one that’s managed with WP. Means you can easily ‘add’ a blog, but manage it all from the SAME WordPress installation. That in itself is pretty cool, and there are more and more internet marketers doing this kind of thing. (I’ve seen it!)
  • Create some kind of community were you have many authors publishing content for your readers, informing them, and helping them. There is no need to setup multiple blogs for each author, all this can be managed from inside the one installation as well!
  • Install, and activate some plugins in which you can turn a blog installation into a Review Site. You could even turn it into an article directory if you liked, people create these kind of plugins for the simple reason that they love working with WordPresss and want to do MORE with it!
  • Plus many others!…

Are you starting to see the bigger picture here? This amazing content-management system really does live up to everyone’s expectations. It continues to be updated, and it’s always for the better. Many people have requested some features, and the WP developers are providing us all with them. Each time a new version is released, I look forward to seeing what new has been added. (Did I say I love WordPress? LOL)

In a matter of a few days, maybe even a week, you could see a site go from absolutely nothing to something all because of WP. Google loves seeing new content, but I also believe that they like WordPress. So are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Proudly Powered By WordPressLook at it this way, I’m happy enough to display that picture here on my blog! For the simple reason that it does what I want it too, and more!

Instantly change the look of your site, and give it a unique style, simply by clicking on a few buttons. While the basic one is as it sounds, with a little time you can have your site looking just as it would have if you decided not to use WordPress! For me, that’s a big plus, and therefore means it’s less to worry about.

So if your not using WordPress, then I ask you why not?! All it takes is for you to try it out and you’ll be hooked instantly. Well at least thats what I would hope happened, it basically did with me!

== >> Download WordPress, And Give It A *Try* For Yourself!

Go do it now, then come back and let me see what you have done! Just post a comment, and I’ll get something nice sorted out for you! You never know, you could be starring in my next post if you act quick enough. I absolutely love WP, and want you to as well! :D

Always Remember To Back-Up Your Files!

This topic crops up more often that not, and we always seem to read about it every other day! So if you haven’t gathered what I’m talking about yet, then it’s to do with backing-up your files and folders.

I learned the hard way yesterday when I was working on my new blog theme! I was in the middle of editing the stylesheet and must have accidentally deleted most of it without ever noticing a thing! So I carried on as normal, and clicked the ‘Update’ button and then refreshed the screen (Ctrl + R) to take a look at the changes, and boy did they look a little strange this time!

So at first I wondered what on earth had happened and went back to undo the change I’d just made in the stylesheet. (At that point, I thought that changing the ‘padding’ had caused the problem!) I scrolled down and then it hit me, at least half the stylesheet was missing! :(

Sorting this problem was going to take me a good few hours, and possibly even more. I spent the time getting things back to normal (Although some parts still need work done on them today!), and I refresh the page once again hoping that things are back on track. But NO there was still a problem somewhere and I just couldn’t find it. I was almost ready to call the experts in because of it!

It got to the point were I had to start from the top, and work my way down. I remembered that I was doing something in the header.php file and so I checked there first. BANG! – I found the problem in 2 mins flat! It turned out that I had an extra </div> tag were I shouldn’t have. (Talk about bad luck?!)

The main point I’m trying to make is if I’d had a back-up, then I could have just re-uploaded that and been able to get on with my modifications. Instead I had to get this sorted. (While I’m here, the new theme will be with us pretty soon. It all depends on when I get it complete. HEHE)

I learned the hard way with this, but imagine if you lost EVERYTHING in your hosting account or even your Aweber signups! I can guarantee now, that it wouldn’t be a very nice sight!…

So spend 10 minutes now and go back-up your files and folders! :D

Have You Taken The Wordpress 2.5 Plunge Yet?

It’s been around 2 weeks now since Wordpress released their latest version (2.5) of the blogging software! Now as first, it can be quite daunting when you go to upgrade your older version…and some people keep holding off and off. But have you thought what could actually happen if you DON’T upgrade?!

Look at it this way, you’ll have some people with nothing better to do with their time (mainly hackers) who will take advantage of your old WP version and you could run the risk of losing your blog completely!

I bet that’s NOT what you want, is it?!

As soon as I found out that Wordpress 2.5 had been released, I upgraded straight away! Some people did have the odd problem with incompatible plugins (and the odd theme I think) as this was a completely new version, but I’m glad so announce nothing bad happened here and the upgrade was done in less than 5 minutes. (If your unsure what to do, you can follow their instructions that come included!)

Now as Lee McIntyre mentioned this morning (On his blog!), you could quite easily head over to RentACoder or whatever freelance site you use and get someone who knows what they are doing to do the upgrade for you in double quick time.

You could also ask one of your Internet Marketing ‘friends’ if they could possibly upgrade the version for you, and an experienced person should manage it no problem. (I’m sure most would say yes!)

I really like the *BRAND NEW* design of the admin panel in v2.5, and find it easier to move around. Things are easier to find out and you can change the colour scheme if you like as well, just by the click of you mouse!

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