How to Launch a Professional-Looking Blog on a Shoestring

10/2/09Follow @wroush

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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 »

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

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  • Huji

    Great post, thanks. Can’t help being sarcastic though: stealing the phrase from Despair.com (which in turn paraphrased the famous Churchill’s quote ) about blogging – “Never before in history so many with so little to say wrote so much to so few”

  • http://www.sudhani.com/blog/ Sudhani

    Even my blog is Antsocial theme. I really liked it. Great post for beginners.

    -Sudhani

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    @Huji — I believe the EXACT quote is “Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.” (http://www.despair.com/blogging.html). But yeah, point taken. I wouldn’t advise anybody to start a blog before they have something to say!

    @Sudhani — nice blog. How did you make the little thumbnail of yourself for the VCF card spot?

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  • http://www.newbreedmarketer.com/blog Andre Arnett

    I was not familiar with Woo Themes until now. I am a firm believer in WordPress blogs though. I find them very easy to work with. All of the other items are very helpful and I like that most are either free or inexpensive. Thanks.

  • http://lniteam.blogspot.com hottoh

    ^_^ good

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewkoyfman Andrew Koyfman

    @Wade – I think the real advice is to make sure you have a large audience when you launch a blog. Not saying much is not a problem (just look at our 24-hour news media).

  • http://www.onelargeprawn.co.za Onelargeprawn

    If you like Woothemes, then also have a look at Obox – http://www.obox-design.com/. I do like their designs a bit more.

  • http://www.dbriders.com DbRiders.com

    Great advise thanks

  • http://fearlessflyer.com Michael Soriano

    good article. although – most people wouldn’t want to go through all these steps. they just want to blog. and if they want to step away from the “cookie cutter” feel – then they hire a web designer like me.

  • http://www.sudhani.com/blog/ Sudhani

    @Wade Roush – I just replaced this image – wp-content/themes/antisocial/antisocial/images/icons/vcard.png

    -Sudha

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    @Sudhani — Right, I figured that part out. What I don’t know how to do is take a photograph and give it nice transparent, rounded, anti-aliased corners like yours. ;-)

  • http://www.onelargeprawn.co.za Onelargeprawn

    @Wade Roush – maybe this may help – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/rounded-corners/

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  • Arif chowdhury

    Thanks a lot, but i want to contact with you. how it possible?

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