How to Launch a Professional-Looking Blog on a Shoestring

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choose from, serving a range of Web publishing needs: straight personal blogs, photo or art portfolios, small-business sites, even full-on news magazine sites. When you buy a WooThemes theme, you get not only the template that dictates where posts will show up on your home page and how to navigate between them, but also a variety of custom plugins (software scripts compatible with WordPress) that you can use to add extra functionality.

I fell in love with one of WooThemes’ newest creations, a personal blogging theme called Antisocial. Contrary to its name, it’s designed for people like me who basically live online and make extensive use of social-media tools. (Although maybe that is being antisocial, on some level.) Among its features is a column of colorful buttons down the left side of the page that lead blog visitors to your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, your Flickr photostream, and the like. There’s also a built-in VCF business card so that visitors can download your contact information directly into their address books.

Cost: $70. (WooThemes has a two-for-one sale going on, so Antisocial’s real cost was only $35.)

2. I set up a Web hosting account at Fused Network. This Toronto, Ontario-based Web hosting company came highly recommended by the folks at WooThemes. Like most hosting providers, they provide shared space on their servers, free access to basic Web publishing tools like Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and WordPress, and up to 10, 20, or 30 gigabytes of transfers (i.e., Web traffic) per month, depending on the package you choose. Unlike most hosting providers, Fused is inexpensive. You can get started there for $9.95 per month, compared to $20 per month at MediaTemple. Other services provide higher monthly transfer limits, but unless you think your blog is going to be inundated with traffic, 10 gigabytes a month is plenty.

One thing I like about Fused is that—in contrast to some hosting providers I won’t name here—it seems to be a fairly small and responsive company run by real people. I signed up for an account on a Sunday morning. I got unreasonably impatient after a couple of hours went by and I still hadn’t received my account details. I sent Fused a support request asking what was going on. I got back a charming note saying that everyone had been away at church. (My account details followed soon after.)

Cost: $9.95 per month. (If you buy a theme at WooThemes, you’ll get a coupon code that makes your first month of hosting at Fused free. So my real cost here was zero, at least until next month.)

3. I installed WordPress at Fused and uploaded the WooThemes Antisocial theme. The tools at Fused include a program called Installatron that lets you install free, open-source software like WordPress on your shared server with just a few clicks. The next step is to replace the basic theme that comes with WordPress with the custom one you purchased. For this, you need … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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