How to Set Up an Author Blog (Part 1)

wp_previewI recently set up a new WordPress-based website, SFAuthor.net (the site you’re on now), in order to increase my visibility as an author. To assist other authors out there, I thought I’d do a post on the process I went through to set up this site.

The first thing I had to do was determine exactly what I wanted the site to do. I came up with the following list of requirements:

  • Home page with basic information about me, including links to my books on Amazon and social networking links
  • Integrated blog that automatically posts to Twitter and Facebook
  • Links for sharing blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites
  • Automatic posting to Twitter and Facebook
  • Blog commenting system with spam filter
  • No hand-coding and minimal maintenance

Getting a Domain and Web Hosting

First, you’ll need to register a domain and get a basic hosting package. (You can skip this step if you don’t mind using a subdomain on someone else’s site, e.g. RobertKroese.wordpress.com or RobertKroese.blogspot.com. If you’re short on money, that might be the way to go.) I use a company called MyHosting.com, which has reasonable prices and has been fairly reliable for me. I recommend going with a hosting company that uses the Parallels Automation tools. Parallels provides a simple web interface that allows you to upload files, install applications, and change settings for your website.

The process of registering a domain and setting up a basic hosting package through a company like MyHosting.com is pretty straightforward, so I won’t go into detail about it here. Just be aware that it might take up to a day for the hosting company to get everything set up. Once it’s set up, you’ll be able to log into your site control panel. You’ll see something like this:

Parallels

(This is the Parallels web interface. If your hosting company is using a different service, it will look different.)

If you don’t have an email address set up for your domain (e.g. Stephen@stephenking.com), I’d recommend clicking on Add New Mailbox and doing that first.

 

Setting Up WordPress

After that, click on Site Applications in the Websites section. You’re going to want to click on the big +Install button.

InstallApps

You’ll see a list of applications you can install. Click on WordPress.

InstallWP

Step through the installation. You can just accept the default values for most things. One thing I would recommend changing is the default URL path. It will want to put WordPress in a /wordpress directory, which means that to get to your blog, users will have to go to that directory. This is useful if you want your WordPress blog to be just one part of your website, but for simplicity we’re going to manage the whole site through WordPress. That means users who go to yourauthorsite.com will see the WordPress content without having to go to yourauthorsite.com/wordpress.

To accomplish that, change this…

InstallWP2

…to this:

InstallWP3

Step through the rest of the installation and you’re good to go.

Now if you click on the Site Applications link, you’ll see WordPress installed.

 

InstallWP4

Configuring WordPress

To log into WordPress, click the Login => link. Unless you’re happy with the default WordPress theme, I’d recommend clicking the change your theme completely link. Spend some time browsing the various themes. Remember that you want something that captures the feel you want for your author site as well as having a place for all the links and widgets you’re going to want on the page. I find that picking the right theme is the most time-consuming part of this whole process. You can change your theme later, but plan on losing any customizations you made to the previous theme.

InstallWP5

Once you’ve selected a theme you like, you can make simple customizations by clicking on the big Customize Your Site button.

Next, you’re going to want to add some plugins. The first one you’ll want to add is the Akismet anti-spam plug-in. You may already have this installed, so check under Installed Plugins on the left nav menu first.

Akismet

If you see Akismet listed, just click Activate to activate it. If it’s not listed, click Add New on the menu and search for “Akismet”. Install and activate it. You can also click Settings to manage how Akismet handles suspected spam comments.

Akismet2

OK, you’ve done it! You’ve got a basic WordPress blog set up. In part 2, I’ll show you how to integrate your blog with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as add links to your books from your site.

3 comments for “How to Set Up an Author Blog (Part 1)

  1. June 26, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins
    to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying
    to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very
    good results. If you know of any please share.
    Many thanks!

    • Rob
      Rob
      June 27, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Someone just recommended the Genesis platform to me. I don’t know anything about it, but you could try checking that out.

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