T-Minus 1 Day – Blog Setup Part 2: Configuring WordPress

In my previous post, I talked about installing WordPress in a subfolder. This post will detail how I configured WordPress after installation.

Configuring WordPress for a subfolder installation

First, I followed WordPress.org’s instructions for set up on a pre-existing subfolder install. In the screen capture below, “WordPress address (URL)” is the location of the installation folder. However, I want to make sure that a user doesn’t have type in the subfolder name in their browser’s address bar in order to visit my blog, so I set the “Site address (URL)” field to http://www.thehobbyblogger.com.

WordPress General Settings
I won’t duplicate the rest of the instructions here. It’s pretty straightforward.

However, following those instructions created a problem with duplicate links. My blog’s homepage could be accessed from either www.thehobbyblogger.com or www.thehobbyblogger.com/subfolder. Some say this negatively affects your search engine optimization (SEO), whereas Google says there is no penalty. I say, why confuse people by having two possible ways to get to your blog?

The fix is to create what’s known as a 301 Permanent Redirect, and DailyBlogTips has a good tutorial on how to do that. I used the PHP Single Page Redirect. Basically, all I had to do is go to the WordPress install folder and edit the index.php file so that it only has the following code:

<?php
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
header("Location: http://www.thehobbyblogger.com");
exit();
?>

That’s all. Very simple.

Change default admin account

I’m all about making hackers jump through as many hoops as possible, and a great post on ProBlogger details how to quickly secure WordPress. For now, I only followed the post’s “Delete the ‘admin’ account” section, which shows how to create a new administrator account with a username other than ‘admin.’ This doesn’t make TheHobbyBlogger.com completely secure, but it does make the blog a bit harder to hack until I can take more comprehensive (and better informed) steps to protect the site.

Choosing a premium theme

When I was reading up on blogging back in July, I decided to purchase a premium WordPress theme. There are lots of free themes out there, but I decided to buy one for the following reasons:

  • Updates – Buy a premium theme from a reputable company, and you can rest assured that they will offer updates to keep it secure and compatible with WordPress updates.
  • Speed – Premium themes tend be better coded than free themes, helping to make sure your blog loads as fast as possible.
  • Security – Reading this post about free themes with malicious and spammy code convinced me to steer clear of them.
  • Support – If you have any questions about setting up or using your theme, most paid themes come with some way to help you out with problems.

After a little shopping around, I settled on StudioPress’s Prose child theme because I wanted a very clean, minimalist look to my blog. The other nice thing about the Prose theme is that, unlike the other Genesis child themes, you can control every little detail down to fonts and colors from a very slick design panel. So you customize your blog quickly and easily without having to know any CSS.

I tend to be a bit wary of software changes occurring without my permission, so I disabled Genesis’s auto-update feature. Automatic updates can be a good thing to help keep your theme secure. On the other hand if StudioPress rolls out an update that’s incompatible with another plugin, it could mess up your blog. It’s better not to be the guinea pig. You might want to update your theme and plugins manually after others have installed the updates without reporting any problems.

You can turn off automatic updates by going to Genesis > Theme Settings and deselecting the “Enable Automatic Updates” checkbox.

Genesis Theme Settings - Disabling Automatic Updates


Watch out for pre-installed WordPress plugins

I ran into a bit of a roadblock when playing with Genesis’s design settings. I tried to change The Hobby Blogger to a full-width format in the Genesis Theme Settings menu, but the change wouldn’t show up when I viewed the blog in a different browser. It took some time snooping around WordPress’s Dashboard before I noticed that the WP Super Cache plugin was installed and activated by default.

I understand that the plugin helps improve the apparent performance of HostGator’s service by speeding up page loads, but I wish they wouldn’t activate by default. It might frustrate new bloggers, as it did for me, and create more work for HostGator’s support team. WordPress.com’s Jetpack plugin was also activated by default. For now, I deactivated the plugins.

The curious thing is that when I installed WordPress for an addon domain, WP Super Cache and Jetpack weren’t even installed. I wonder why HostGator has two different WordPress installs?

Well, that’s everything I did to prep for my first post. It could have been simpler, but the little extra work I put in helped the blog start off a bit more secure and made my HostGator account more organized for adding my education blogs in the future.

With the installation and setup out of the way, I can start modifying The Hobby Blogger’s form and function. Stay tuned.

Disclosure note: After this post was published, The Hobby Blogger became an affiliate for StudioPress, the makers of the Genesis Framework. See my Disclosure Policy for more info.

Article by Bryan Kerr

I love breaking down the techie side of blogging into easy-to-understand tutorials. That's mostly what you'll find here on The Hobby Blogger.

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