Open Source Software

HowTo: Setting up an ad-free blog on a budget in the UK

We’ve all seen them, those swish looking professional sites featuring regular updated articles that everyone is always linking to and which seem to attract all the traffic. Maybe you’ve a pile of content itching to be let loose with your creative juices or you’d just like to show your family what you’re up to without looking like an amateur – see Freddie the Magnificent for an example of that. Either way, here’s how to set up a blog that looks as professional as punch and will hardly cost you a dime. First thing is to decide on a domain…

Domains are where your internet address lives. Like or what have you. Your best bet, particularly if you want to optimise your website for UK search engines is to purchase a domain from a UK provider. It’s your only upfront cost, and all you need to be sure of is the ability to alter the nameservers. Here are a couple of providers of cheap domain name registrars:

Next up, we need to find a host to upload and manage all our content. In order to use blogging software, we’ll need the hosters to allow FTP, PHP and MySQL. You don’t need to know much about either of those technologies, just make sure the hosters allow them.

Web and MySQL/PHP hosting: ??29.99 p.a. (includes free domain) Free, with upgrades if your bandwidth goes over 200MB per month (which is a fair amount, once you’re over that you’re getting around 1000 unique visitors per month).

Once you’ve signed up to both of these, you’ll need to tell the domain to point to the hoster. You should get an email from the hosters telling you what to change the ‘nameservers’ to, so head back to the domain hosters and find out how to change the nameservers – it may be under ‘domain maintenance’ or ‘edit DNS settings’.

Once you’ve done this it takes a couple of days for the changeover to take place. In the meantime, it’s time to get our blogging and uploading software.

Software for uploading to your webhost
If your computer has a copy of Frontpage or Dreamweaver, then you’ll already have File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software available, but if you don’t then head over to Filezilla which is a small, ad-free application that does this with relative ease. Whichever way you choose to upload your files to the host, you’ll need to enter the address to send it to and the password and username you’ve set to access your webhost into the settings of the software. If you can’t find out how to do this, head to the help section and type in ‘FTP’ or go to ‘options’ then ‘FTP settings’.

Blogging software
Since it’s not ease we’re after, but cheapness and quality, the solution is WordPress. It consistently gets ranked as the best blogging software, and with a price tag of ‘please donate’, it’s a no-brainer. Once the nameservers are pointing in the right direction, and if your webhost has Fantastico (like 5quid), just head into the control panel, click ‘Fantastico, then choose ‘WordPress’. Done. Otherwise, start off by:

Downloading and unzipping the following file:
Create a database for WordPress on your web host, as well as a MySQL user who has all privileges for accessing and modifying it. To do this click on ‘My databases’ or ‘MySQL’ and then ‘Add database’ from within the webhost’s control panel. It will ask you to register a username and password.
Rename the wp-config-sample.php file to wp-config.php.
Open wp-config.php in your favorite text editor – Notepad or what have you – and fill in your database details (basically the password and username you entered in (2)).
Using FTP upload the WordPress files in the desired location on your web server:
If you want to integrate WordPress into the root of your domain (e.g., move or upload all contents of the unzipped WordPress directory (but excluding the directory itself) into the root directory of your web server.
If you want to have your WordPress installation in its own subdirectory on your web site (e.g., rename the directory wordpress to the name you’d like the subdirectory to have and move or upload it to your web server. For example if you want the WordPress installation in a subdirectory called “blog”, you should rename the directory called “wordpress” to “blog” and upload it to the root directory of your web server.
Run the WordPress installation script by accessing wp-admin/install.php in your favorite web browser. If you installed WordPress in the root directory, you should visit:
If you installed WordPress in its own subdirectory called blog, for example, you should visit:

That’s it! WordPress should now be installed. If you’re having difficulties installing WordPress, head over to the
Once it’s all sitting up there and pretty you should be able to see a simple admin screen, where you can change various settings and publish your blog. It should look a bit like this:

Wordpress admin page

One of the first things you’ll want to do is find a theme. Head over to for some great official ones, or do a search of the internet for some. You need to download them, unzip, then FTP them into the ‘themes’ directory on your website host. Then head to ‘Presentation’ in WordPress admin, and choose the theme you’ve uploaded.

You’ll also want some essential plugins. The first I grabbed was one to enable flash video from YouTube and the many other video hosting sites. Similar to adding a theme, you need to download the zip file from Anarchy Media, unzip it to your ‘Plug-in’ folder, then upload it via FTP. Once it’s uploaded, head to the ‘Plug-ins’ section in your site administration, scroll down to the Anarchy Media plugin then click ‘Activate’. Bingo.

There are stacks of addins, groovey themes and a multitude of options you can play around with once you’ve got the blog up and running, but we can leave that for another time.

If this is all simple too much for you, why not give me a call/leave a comment, I’ll try and rig something up for you.

All that’s left is to get down now and start creating some content!

3 replies on “HowTo: Setting up an ad-free blog on a budget in the UK”

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If your not concerned where your hosting is based you can save some money by setting up an account with FatCow through this website, They provide a $50 rebate on a year long hosting signup.

Of course the geographic location on your web host has been said to have effect on your organic ranking if your trying to rank on web sites like so if that is your intent your probably better off going with the local hosts mentioned in this post

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