WordPress is a great content management system because the system itself is free and there’s a community of people also creating free layouts, plug-ins, and helpful tutorials (like this one). It’s powerful enough to manage most individual and organizational website needs, yet simple enough for everyone to use. I don’t mean to oversell WordPress, but it does make it possible to start a website with minimal effort and upfront expense.

I’m writing this post as a resource for my clients and to encourage more people to start blogs on their own.

Why have your own blog?
For those tuning into this post just wanting the nuts and bolt of a WordPress install on cPanel, feel free to skip ahead. I felt like this section should be in here because some people reading this post will be installing WordPress because they heard from trusted sources that they should do it, but they may not understand why.

In the spirit of being as complete a resouce as possible, the first thing you should know is that WordPress is primarily used to power blogs and blogs are a communication tool. They are intended to be a forum for an individual or group to publish information on a recurring basis. Blogs originated as online journals and the name blog itself comes from the mash up of Web+log. Blogs have been traditionally valued for their informal, chrnologically-based structure because it frees writers to write with their flow. Blog posts differ from traditional articles because they are supposed to be personally biased and shared for the purpose of conversation, which is carried out through comments left on the post. They are a great way to gain search engine traffic because search engines like website with frequent content additions. Blogs also foster relationships because of their conversational and opinionated nature.

Secret #1 – You don’t need to install WordPress
In fact, you don’t even need WordPress to have a blog. Places like Blogger, MySpace, and LiveJournal offer free blogs that simply require completing a short sign-up form. Social networking sites, like MySpace, not only offer blogs, but they also have over 100 million people in their network available for you to promote your blog.

You will still be interested in a WordPress blog if owning the site is an important part of your blogging goals. Owning your own site means you have full control over the site’s design and functionality. It also means you can decide about whether or not to have advertising, and if you do opt for it, then you make the money from the ads. Running your blog on your own website also lends credibility and prestige to your message. And, while this is a helpful resource for installing a WordPress blog, you should know there are hosting companies that offer website and email hosting with WordPress pre-installed or with a push button installer. In fact, WordPress has a great list of hosts on their website that offer just such packages. So, if you want the legitimacy that comes from owning your own domain, hosting, and blog software offers, but you don’t want the hassle of setting it up, those hosts have packages starting at $4.95 per month. If you do opt for this route, then just skip to the end of this post for some WordPress first tips.

Before we get started
If you’re a designer looking to expand your skill set or just an interested student of the Internet, then learning to set-up a WordPress blog could be a handy thing to know. In light of that, you will need a few things before you can install WordPress blog, such as:

A domain name
Compatible hosting:
Linux operating system
Apache web server
PHP server side scripting
MySQL database
A text editor, such as Notepad or TextEdit
FTP software
If you have a PC and no FTP software, I recommend Filezilla, which is free.
If you have a Mac and no FTP software, I recommend Transmit, which at least has a free demo.
If you don’t know what FTP software is and would like to know more, read the Wikipedia article on FTP software.
If you have those things, then all you’ll need is your FTP login information, which includes a server address, user name, and password. If you don’t have any of the above, then you’ll need to acquire those things. You can buy domain names and compatible hosting from a variety of suppliers. My recommendation is to find on that offers a graphical, web-based server control panel. The two most popular control panels are Plesk and cPanel. This tutorial contains a step-by-step process for setting up the database on BlueHost, a hosting company that offers cPanel for managing your server. A resourceful person should be able to use the information below to install WordPress on Plesk or another brand of control panel as the basic concepts are the same.

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