In this installment of Blogging for Expats, the tutorial series to help you develop a portable income from a blog, let’s go back to WordPress itself and finish setting it up.
You’ve already accomplished a lot in getting your blog started. You have
- Found and set up a webhost
- Reserved your domain name
- Installed WordPress
- Tightened up security on your blog
- Chosen a theme
- Added some plugins to improve functionality, appearance and increase your blog’s visibility in social media
Log in to your WordPress Dashboard. On the left you’ll see a tab labeled Settings. Click to expand it if it’s not already open.
In the Settings dropdown list you’ll see
If you followed my previous advice and installed the Secure WordPress plugin, you’ll see it listed as well. Other plugins may add to this list, but for now we’ll just discuss the ones that are part of WordPress itself.
The General Settings tab lets you tell WordPress some of the most basic information about how you want your website presented.
This is your website’s name — not its domain, but its name. This site is Future Expats Forum. It’s the name you want people to see immediately when they arrive at your home page, usually found on the left-hand side of the header.
- The German Way Expat Blog
- The American Resident
- Diary of a British Expatriate in Finland
- Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua
Your blog title should have a close relationship with your domain name to help with SEO (search engine optimization), which we’ll discuss later on.
This is the short, descriptive phrase that often follows the site’s title. You don’t absolutely have to have a tagline, but most of us do.
My tagline is “Create an Untethered Life Overseas.” Taglines for the sites I listed above are
- Discussing Expat Life in German-Speaking Europe
- Parenting. Homemaking. Living. Overseas!
- Discover Finland
- Life is a beach on Ometepe Island
WordPress Address (URL)
This is the actual URL for your blog. The default is http://yoursite.com/wordpress. Don’t change it.
Site Address (URL)
The default is the same as the WordPress address. Leave it alone for now. Later we’ll discuss whether you should consider changing it.
This is the email address you want WordPress to use to send you notices. When you set up your hosting, you can set up email addresses for your domain, and you should do so. However, here I recommend using an email address that is not associated with the domain. There are plenty of free ways to get email if you need it — GMail, Yahoo, MSN and Hotmail are just a few.
Best to leave this box unchecked, for now at least.
New User Default Role
If you don’t permit memberships, no need to bother with this either.
This is self explanatory. Find your proper time zone in the drop down box and select it. Then double check what shows up on the screen to make sure it’s showing the right time for where you are.
Date Format, Time Format, Week Starts On
Pick your personal preferences for each of these.
All done? Remember to Save Changes!
The Writing Settings tab sets up the back end of WordPress to accommodate your preferences in creating and uploading content to the blog. We’re going to leave everything set to the defaults for now.
The Reading Settings tab determines how WordPress will serve your content to readers.
Front Page Displays
You can choose whether you want your home page to look like a regular blog page or not.
If you want your homepage to show your latest posts, select Your Latest Posts. If you want to set up a homepage that’s unique and doesn’t show your latest posts in a blog style, select Static Page.
If you choose a static page, you have two additional choices to make.
Blog Pages Show at Most and Syndication Feeds Show the Most Recent
Here you choose how many posts you want to show on a page, and how many feed items (think, tweets or RSS links) you want to show. The default is 10.
For Each Article in a Feed, Show
Do you want the entire blog post to show on the home page? Or just the first few lines with a “read more” button or link? Choose full text to show the entire post, summary to show just the beginning.
Encoding for Pages and Feeds
The default is UTF-8, no need to change it.
Hit the Save Changes button, and move on. . .
The Discussion Settings control who is able to comment on a post and how you’re notified about it.
The first thing you should decide is whether you want to allow comments at all. If you do — and, frankly, one of the benefits of running a blog is the ability to interact with your site visitors — here’s where you set the rules.
I’m not going to tell you what to do here. Every blog topic and audience is different, after all. But you should familiarize yourself with what’s on this page, because you may find later you want to change the way people comment on your site.
Most themes will override the settings for thumbnails. (Thumbnails are the images that WordPress displays at the beginning of the post.) We won’t do anything with them right now.
Look at the Embeds section, though. Usually you’ll want this checked off so that video and audio files will “live” on your page.
Use the defaults for Uploading Files, and check that you want files organized by year and month.
Save your changes. . .
This tells WordPress whether you want search engines to access your site. Eventually, of course you do, but for now, select “I would like to block search engines.” You’ll go back and change it when you’re ready to launch your new blog.
Permalinks tell WordPress what kind of URL you want each page of your site to have. It’s an important decision, because it will make it easier (or harder) for people to type a page URL into their browser window.
Some web pages have a lot of funky numbers, question marks and other symbols in their addresses — not very friendly. Others use actual words and are much easier for readers to type and other websites to link to.
You can change your permalink style later, but you risk irritated readers and dead links if you do so.
You can find a more thorough explanation of permalinks here.
Here’s my recommendation for most blogs: choose custom structure and type in
Save your changes.
Next time, we’ll start adding content!
If you’ve missed any previous installments of Blogging for Expats, you can find them here.