How to Add a WordPress Blog to Your Website on Dreamhost
If you’re looking to add a WordPress blog to your website, then Dreamhost is a great option. Not only do they offer a free domain, but they also provide you with all the tools you need to get started blogging – including backups (which you can restore to at any time). More details below.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is install WordPress on your web server. You can do this using the automated installer from WordPress.org (just click the link at the top of the page), or you can follow our detailed guide (which comes with a few bonus steps that the auto-installer doesn’t offer), below.
The first step in that guide is to visit WordPress.com and create a free account. Once you’ve logged in, click the Create New Blog button to create a new blog. A popup will then appear on the right side of the screen, with the options for your new blog.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll call our new blog “My Blog”. We’re going to use WordPress.com for all the steps in this tutorial, as it’s the easiest way to get started – meaning you don’t have to enter any detailed information to get everything set up. You can simply click on the Start Using button at the bottom of the screen to continue.
Install Theme Chooser (if you use a different one, no worries)
Depending on which theme you choose, you’ll either need to enter a lot of information or none at all. It’s usually better to just use WordPress’s built-in theme selection, which will take care of installing all the necessary plugins and integrating the theme with your web host’s software.
Go to Appearance | Themes in the WordPress dashboard and click the drop-down menu at the top. Themes are organized in a nice, clean list, which you can use to easily find the one you need. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll click on the first result, Twenty Eleven.
Once the theme has been downloaded and installed, click the Settings button at the top of the screen. In the resulting panel, you’ll see the option to “Set as Default Theme.” Make sure this is set to Twenty Eleven (or whichever theme you just installed) and click the Save Button at the top right of the screen.
Configure the Blog With Your Name And Email
When you installed WordPress, you were presented with the option to create a login for your blog. Click the button to create a new account and log in. You’ll then see the option to change your blog’s name and configure its display options on the right side of the screen.
Create Your Database
WordPress needs a database to function. A database is a collection of information stored in a structured format (i.e., it has rows and columns). To create a database, visit your web host’s dashboard and click on the Databases button. From here, you can create a new database or choose an existing one. If you have more than one database on your web host, you can navigate to the one you want to use with your blog from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
Set Up Your Site To Use SSL
An SSL (secure socket layer) is a protocol that allows your web server to communicate with your users’ browsers in a secure way. Essentially, it lets your site display secure information to users. Keep in mind: Not all secure information is created equal – some of it is more secure than others – but for the most part, an SSL makes all the difference.
To set up your site with SSL, click on the Settings button at the top of the screen and navigate to the Security section. From here, you can either choose the default option of “Standard” or you can choose “High” security. If you go with the higher option, you’ll need to purchase a premium SSL certificate from a trusted provider. Your web host can help you with this part.
Configure Auto-Complete For Your URLs
If you enter a URL without the use of auto-complete, then WordPress won’t be able to correctly interpret it. This can lead to broken links and other unexpected issues. To fix this, go to Settings | Permalink in the WordPress dashboard.
When you enter a URL without the use of auto-complete, you’ll see a box appear below the input field, offering suggestions as you type.
Auto-complete can be a helpful tool, but it also has the potential to do a lot of damage. Make sure you understand when and where you should be using it, as there are definitely times and places where it’s not recommended.
Go back to the Settings | Permalink screen and click the Update button at the top right of the page. You’ll now see the option to choose whether or not to use auto-complete for your blog’s URLs.
Install WordPress To The Root Of Your Domain
Your web host will usually give you the option of installing WordPress to a sub-folder within your domain. However, for the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll install it to the root (i.e., the very first sub-folder).
To do this, go back to the WordPress dashboard and in the Address bar, type in your domain name (e.g., “blog.tophatdesign.com”) followed by the forward slash (e.g., “/”). Click the Install Now button to continue.
Once WordPress has been installed to the root of your domain, you can use the Custom Menu functionality to create a navigation bar at the top of your blog’s home page. This bar will provide your readers with quick links to the most important sections of your site. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll call these sections: “About”, “Services”, “Portfolios”, and “Clients.”
To create these links, go to the settings screen in WordPress and click the Custom Menu button. Here, you can create a new menu with the four headings we identified above. Once you’ve created this menu, you can click on the + Add Screen button to add a new screen to your blog. Your blog’s home page will then display the new menu.
Set Up A Default Stylish Page Template
WordPress’s built-in theme selection already comes with a nice, clean, and modern look. However, if you want to add a bit more personality to your blog, then you can choose from 20 different page templates that come with the installation. These templates are located in the Appearance | Theme Options area of your WordPress dashboard.
To add a bit more personality to your blog, go to WordPress’s built-in theme selection and choose from one of its 20 different page templates. If you need inspiration, scroll through the list and click on any of the preview thumbnails to see a listing of the template’s featured elements.
If you find a template that you like, click the Install button to download it. Once the template has been downloaded, go back to your WordPress dashboard’s Appearance | Theme Options area and click the ‘Set Default’ button at the top of the page.
Now, whenever you create a new page in WordPress, the template you choose will be the default option. Pretty nifty, right?
Configure The Mailchimp Tool
If you use Mailchimp to collect email addresses, you can integrate its toolset with your WordPress site. This will allow you to send out promotional material (i.e., newsletters, etc.) to people who’ve expressed interest in your content.
To do this, go to the Settings | Writing area of your WordPress dashboard and click the drop-down menu at the top to access the plugins. Once the plugin has been displayed, click on the check box to the left of Mailchip and complete the setup process by entering your email address and selecting a password.
You can then click on the Update button at the top right of the plugin’s section in the WordPress dashboard to make sure everything is connected to the right email account.
This tool can be pretty useful when you need to send out email blasts to a group of people or when you want to send out personalized emails to specific individuals.
Just remember: Unless you have a valid reason for doing this (e.g., you need to enter a lot of information that WordPress doesn’t already have), it’s usually better to leave this feature disabled.