My Process for Setting up and Configuring a new WordPress blog in 60 Minutes or less

*UPDATE 2008*
My routine for setting up WordPress sites has changed a bit. Mainly because I now have so many WordPress sites that I’ve found better plugins to use, and some of the ones I used to love aren’t good anymore. In addition to that I’ve learned more about SEO and how to manage wordpress more effectively, which is why I started the series Managing WordPress More Effectively. For the purposes of this article alone it’s limited to what you can do to setup a blog in an hour or less. For more detailed instructions, please read the entire series! I’ve updated this article and republished it today because it’s one of the most viewed on this site (and it was getting a lot of activity this week).

I’ve setup a few dozen wordpress blog sites in the last year, and it’s led to developing a standard routine for getting it done in the quickest and most effective way. I decided to post this in an ordered list, and hopefully it helps someone – but this is also self serving as I can reference this myself if I don’t set one up again for awhile. These are tips I’ve learned from dozens of other sites, and it really gets the site ready for publishing in short order. It takes care of a little bit of seo, your feeds and stats, you’ll be ready for any kind of media upload or download tracking, you’ll have both comments and related posts, more control over your home page, better archives, comment subscription, rss by email, ready to add amazon affiliate links by drag and drop, sitemaps for both google and Yahoo, you’ll be ‘digg ready’ and more! This is the process I followed to setup this site, and I’m hoping that eventually we can get some great comments to add update and add even more value to this post. I’ve provided links to everything I thought you might need more info on. Of course all info is regarding a wordpress self-hosted web site. Here we go!

*UPDATE* I’m not linking plugins on this list anymore – just visit my WordPress Plugins Used page to get all the links you need after you read the checklist.

  1. Get the lastest version of WordPress, download and install
  2. Find a new wordpress theme with a good layout and upload
  3. Login for the first time and activate askimet module with API key. I also upload and enable WordPress.com Stats plugin using the exact same API key.
  4. Add first “welcome to the site” post, delete default post
  5. Delete first comment and “hello dolly” plugin
  6. Under “Options->Permalinks” enable “custom” /%postname%/ for clean SEO friendly url’s
  7. Click update to .htaccess file, if it fails make .htaccess writeable
  8. Update the list of ‘ping’ services in ‘options->writing’. Be default there only one, and you want to notify as many services as possible every time you post. Here is the the most up to date list of ping services I could find.
  9. Add third party plugins, this is my current list, but the ones here are the ones I favor most and “have to have” on each and ever default install. Get the links from the current plugin list page:

    • Aizatto’s Related Posts
    • Askimet
    • Author Highlight
    • Breadcrumb
    • Brian’s Threaded Comments
    • cForms II
    • Code Auto Escape
    • Commentluv
    • Comment Relish
    • Custom Smilies
    • Digg This
    • Digital Fingerprint
    • Dofollow
    • Enforce www. preference
    • Feedburner Feedsmith
    • Feedcount
    • Full Feed Text
    • Google Analytics
    • Google XML Sitemaps
    • Homepage Excerpts
    • RSS Feed Signature
    • Subscribe to Comments
    • WP-DB Manager
    • WP-PageNavi
    • WP-PostViews
    • WP-Print
    • wpSEO
    • WP-Amazon

    In no particular order:

  10. Activate Amazon module, enter id in setup and choose setup options. This particular module is the best I’ve seen, once setup it allows you to search for amazon items directly from you ‘Write’ page in wordpress admin (in a sidebar) – and you can drag and drop the pics and link text right into your post. No more copy and pasting amazon affiliate code!
  11. Active google analytics module, enter id in setup choose setup options. If you don’t already have a google analytics account – get one!
  12. Activate google sitemap plugin and add entry in webmaster console
  13. Add sitemap url and feed url in Yahoo! Site Explorer console
  14. Add sitemap URL in MSN Live Webmaster Tools
  15. Create Feedburner feed and activate Feedburner Feedsmith to redirect RSS feed from your site directly to feedburner every time
  16. Activate Feedcount and add custom code to sidebar for subscriber count
  17. Activate Digg This plugin. You’ll never know this plugin is doing anything (unless one of your pages gets dugg). If and when it does – this plugin comes alive, detecting traffic from digg.com – it displays a link back to digg (to digg the post) and also emails the site’s admin that ‘you’ve been dugg’! Very handy – just in case! You have to add the code to your single.php file for everyting to work properly.
  18. Activate the Enforce www. plugin. Basically this is going to solve your duplicate content problems with www.site.com/page and site.com/page problems. The search crawlers could index the same page twice otherwise one with www. and one without.
  19. Activate the Subscribe to Comments plugin. How many times have you been to a post and found yourself going back to the page repeatedly to see the latest comments? Some sites have options for getting email when you post a comment, but what if you don’t post and still want to be notified when there are new comments? Solution – Subscribe to comments!
  20. Activate Aizatto’s Related Posts (no code to add, works automatically)
  21. Activate Author Highlight (highlights admin comments when you reply)
  22. Activate Brian’s Threaded Comments, and replace comments.php with the one supplied in the plugin
  23. Activate cforms II and create a contact form for the site and contact page to add it to
  24. Activate Code Auto Escape (if you will be posting code snippets for people to read)
  25. Activate Commentluv, which when people comment will parse their RSS feed for the URL listed in their comment and list and link the last post from their blog as a byline beneath their comment (very nice!)
  26. Activate Comment Relish and create a new message for the options page to be displayed to new visitors to your site
  27. Activate Custom Smilies and add the code to your comments form for them to display
  28. Activate Digital Fingerprint and on the options page add a unique text identifier that you can google to see if people are stealing your content or scraping your site
  29. Activate Dofollow (if you want dofollow throughout your site)
  30. Activate Full Feed Text (if you want your RSS feed to contain full posts instead of the default “more” provided by WordPress
  31. Activate Homepage Excerpts (if you don’t want every post on your homepage to be full. Be default I only have 1 full post, and 9 excerpts.
  32. Activate DBManager so you can backup and do maintenance on your database when necessary
  33. Activate PageNavi and replace the “previous” and “next” links in your page.php, index.php, and archive.php with the PageNavi code for MUCH better navigation options where visitor’s can see how many pages there are, and go to the beginning or end at any time
  34. Activate WP-Print to give your readers a printer friendly link for all posts
  35. Activate WP-PostViews so you can add a view counter to your posts and pages
  36. Activate wpSEO and setup complete SEO options for your site including meta descriptions, keywords, and defaults
  37. Create a robots.txt for specifically for WordPress. The reason for this is – you want to help the search crawlers out and avoid content duplication problems (again). You’ll come up better in search results, and keep the crawler from trying to follow permalinks, admin pages, includes, javascript and css files, your rss feed, and category pages. Do this before you post anything!
  38. Claim your blog in your technorati profile. This way you can see your blog’s popularity build and watch your authority factor grow.
  39. Add tags, badges, chiclets, and widgets. I usually add one to add to technorati favorites, and sometimes (for more established sites) the Yahoo badge for incoming links. I use the feedcount module, so I don’t need the feedburner chiclet. But I do setup my feedburner feed to list subscription, email, delicious, digg and stumble links to the feed itself. I also enabled the copyright footer (in the feed) in case someone tries to hijack or repurpose my posts. I added the custom code (from feedburner) to my theme to have the sub, email, digg, etc. links at the end of each post as well. Feedburner is awesome! I added the myBlogLog widget, and a buzzfeed one as well, because I like them both. Customize your blog with the ones that you like and that will service your visitors best!

Ok, now you are ready to write posts in your blog!! Post away, post every day, or at least regularly. Your blog is now going to work really hard behind the scenes for you, announcing your new articles via ping and sitemap, waiting for that fateful day when you get dugg, tracking activity in reports in bsuite, and much, much more. Choosing the right plugins that will do work for you, or better serve your readers is just working smarter, not harder. If you have something to add to this article that really works for you when setting up a new wordpress blog – please, please add it in the comments below. If I change my routine or learn something new, I’ll be sure to update this page asap!