Setting up your Wordpress Site - Stevie Tee

Passive Income Case Study – Setting Up Your Site

Ok so this is the fourth installment of the Passive Income Case Study, in which I am showing you everything you need to know about how I go about setting up a niche site; from brainstorming for a subject idea to hopefully getting it ranked in the search engines, which in turn will bring in lots of traffic and consequently residual income.

If you haven’t read them already then you might want to check out these posts before getting to grips with this one:

Introduction
Niche Selection Part 1
Niche Selection Part 2

Before we start with this I have to inform you that some of the links to external sites in this post are affiliated (not all of them), so if you click through and ultimately buy anything then I will receive a commission. However rest assured, I have not posted any links to anything I do not have 100% confidence in.

So now we know that the niche I have selected is ‘Orient Express Day Trips’. I have registered the domain www.orientexpressdaytrips.net via Godaddy so whats next?

Well you need somewhere to host your site. The webhost that I use for my UK sites is CS New Media. I have tried various hosts over the years and can honestly say that Carl Sheperdson and his team at CS New Media are second to none when it comes to customer support. I have a reseller account with them which means that I can host up to 20 domains for around £11 a month (including VAT) However it seems they don’t offer that option any more and the minimum number of sites you can host on a reseller account is 25 for £14.95 / Month (Shows how long I’ve been with them!). The difference between these guys and the company I first went with, is like the difference between a trip to the beach and a heart attack. Choosing the right web host is essential so try not to be tempted by free offers and huge discounts. Where possible look for recommendations.

Once you have decided on your web host the next big decision is whether you want to use a CMS (content management system) or just build a few static HTML pages. Around the world the hands down, most popular CMS is wordpress, which recently announced that it was being used to power over 50 million sites around the world, and almost 20,000 people have stated that they make a living out of wordpress, so it must have something going for it! Personally I have used wordpress on all of my sites since late 2007. Typically I will install it manually, but if you are new (and you are hosted with CS New Media) then they provide some one click applications that will do it for you (and if you have problems then I’m sure the team will be more than happy to help out)

Configuring WordPress

The best thing about wordpress is that it completely configurable; the bad thing is that out of the box it needs a few tweaks before it is ready to go. The first thing you need to do is set your permalinks. In the admin menu you can access these from the settings menu on the sidebar:

Wordpress Permalinks.jpg

I would normally opt for a custom structure of the format /%category%/%postname%/ which will give you the same url structure you see on this site. Once you make these changes wordpress will attempt to update a file called .htaccess. Sometimes it may not be able to do this and you will be prompted to amend the file yourself. Click here for more details on how to do this.

The next thing you need to do it set your tag line. Too often I forget this step and end up getting a site indexed with the tag line “Just another wordpress site” – which is a bit naff. Change your tag line as follows:

Change tagline

WordPress Themes

Ok so you’ve got wordpress installed and the basics configured, but it looks a bit plain doesn’t it. Well here is what makes wordpress so great – WordPress Themes. There are thousands of themes out there. Literally. I couldn’t possibly recommend which theme you should go for, since it is bound to be a purely personal choice. There are free themes and there are paid for themes. I personally use both. The Orient Express site will be built using the Catalyst theme, which is more of a framework than a theme – and its paid for (I’ll go into more detail about this theme in a future post), but there is absolutely no need for you to pay for your first wordpress theme. For instance you could type ‘WordPress theme Steam Train’ into google to see if anything comes up (actually I just did and apart from a red train theme there’s not much choice). The best place to start is the official wordpress themes directory here. Once you find a theme you like you just download it or install it directly from within the wordpress admin interface itself. (Click here for Detailed Tutorials on how to do this)

WordPress Plugins

Now we come to the section of wordpress that makes it so flexible. There are literally thousands of different plugins available, written by members of the extended wordpress community to provide additional functionality which isn’t provided out of the box. Its difficult to come up with a definitive list of plugins that every site simply must have, since the needs of every site are naturally different. However, when I set up a new site I always go with variations of the following:

WordPress SEO by Yoast – There’s some debate over the best wordpress SEO plugins out there and to be honest there is little to choose between this, the All in One SEO Pack, and the Platinum SEO Pack, all do a very similar job which essentially allows you to optimise your post titles, meta-description and keywords. What I like about the Yoast plugin is the detailed analysis option which gives you a extended breakdown of the quality of your post with suggested solutions for any problems.

Sitemap Generator – There are 2 different types of sitemap, one for the bots which generates an XML sitemap (see below) and this one which will generate a page on your site with a route to all the posts and category pages on your site. It provides an easy route to your content from both the user and bot perspective. An added bonus is that it can replace your 404 page, so if a user arrives at a page which no longer exist this sitemap page will appear allowing the user to navigate elsewhere within the site.

Google XML Sitemaps – If you choose the WordPress SEO plugin then this comes with a built in XML sitemap generator and options to ping Google, Yahoo and Bing every time you make a post. But if you need a seperate plugin to do this then the Google XML Sitemaps plugin is the defacto plugin in this area. With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently.

WordPress Related Post Plugin – Now there are many different related post plugins, with the most popular being YARRP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) and WordPress Related Posts. Either of these will do an excellent job of adding a related posts section to the bottom of your posts. They both operate differently, YARRP does a form of heuristic analysis of your post and compares with the content of other posts to come up with a list of related content – this can be a little bit hit and miss if your content is a touch generic, so you might be better off with the ‘WordPress Related Posts’ plugin which simply matches posts based upon the associated post tags.

Fast Secure Contact Form – Depending upon how much you want to engage with your site visitors then you may want to consider adding a contact form. I haven’t added one to www.orientexpressdaydrips.net, but I have installed one here. This contact form plugin is simple to set up and provides anti-spam functionality via a captcha as well as being linked to askimet for automatic spam detection.

Google Feedburner Feedsmith Plugin – WordPress provides some great RSS functionality, which means your content can be delivered via a data feed and displayed in 3rd party readers, such as Google Reader. If you set up a feedburner account you can use the feedburner plugin to keep track of all your subscribers. This plugin is a great way to see keep track of how much of a following you are building up, although you can also keep track of that by opting to have your users follow you on twitter and facebook instead.

These final plugins also depend upon how much you want to engage with your user base:

Twitter Tools – Offers complete integration between your wordpress site and your twitter account. You can configure it to automatically send out a tweet every time you make a new post – I know I am missing a trick but by not having it installed on this site and I will be rectifying that as soon as I have finished this post! (btw you can follow me on twitter here. It can also be configured to work the other way and load your tweets into you blog – but that’s not something I recommend.

Wickett Twitter Widget – This plugin offers a simple sidebar widget that invites users to sign up to your twitter feed. It also displays your current number of followers.

So there you have my guide to setting up a new affiliate site using wordpress. I tried to be as uncomplicated as possible but if there is something you don’t understand then feel free to comment on this post or drop me an email, I’ll try to respond as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile if anyone else has any recommendations for must-have plugins, or other aspects of setting up a wordpress site that I have overlooked then feel free to mention them in the comments.

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