Getting your WordPress blog up and running has never been easier.  Here I’m going to show you how to get started with WebMatrix, a free tool from Microsoft that you can download here.  I’m using WebMatrix rather than going directly through WordPress because I want to easily customize and publish to my own domain.

Suppose I wanted to start a food blog to share my recipes and food adventures, although the former would only be existent in an alternate universe where my cooking repertoire extends beyond oatmeal.  I don’t really want to deal with all the work required of putting together a blog from scratch.  Since I like the popular WordPress sites, I’m going to easily and quickly create, customize, and publish my WordPress site with WebMatrix.

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Yummy xiao long bao in Taipei

After downloading WebMatrix, start it up and select App Gallery.

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In case you’re wondering why this initial screen looks a little different, I’m actually trying out the WebMatrix 2 Beta released earlier this month, but setting up and customizing your WordPress blog is very similar in v1. 

Select WordPress and give your site a name.  Notice the sites are sorted by number of downloads.  You can also filter out the type of sites you want to use.

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A WordPress site requires a database, and the beautiful thing about WebMatrix is that it detects what you don’t have and automatically searches for and downloads what you need.

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In this case we need MySQL server, PHP, and the MySQL Connector.  You can even check out the direct download links.  Accept the end-user license agreement.

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These unique keys provide extra security for the passwords stored in your database.

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Notice the local URL for your site.  Click Run.  You can also try running it in other browsers by selecting the down arrow under Run.

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Set up the required information for your blog.  At this point you’ve had to enter a number of passwords; this one is for your WordPress site.  Remember the username and password you just typed, Install WordPress, and enter this information to get to your WordPress dashboard.

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Now you can see your dashboard.  Click on the site title, “my food blog” to preview your site.

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This theme doesn’t really fit my food theme very well, so I’m going to install a new them via WordPress.

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After searching for a food theme, I can install and activate one I find more appropriate.

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Notice the site is still running locally.

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Right-clicking on the IIS Express tray icon on the bottom right of my screen reveals my sites that are running.

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Now suppose I want to get a little more hands-on with PHP and customize my sidebar.  Here you can find some examples of customization from wordpress.org.  Let’s navigate to my installed theme

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I’m going to add some pages to put the title “Pages” in an H2 heading and the Pages in a list below the title.

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After I save and hit Run:

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At this point I’ve created a WordPress blog, customized the theme in WordPress, and customized my sidebar with PHP code.  Now all I need to do is publish my blog.

By clicking Publish at the top left next to Run, I get to the “Publish Settings” menu.  I can either use Web Deploy or FTP.  I’m going to use Web Deploy and import my publish settings.  If you don’t have a hosting provider, you can Find web hosting.  WebMatrix also makes it easy to Import publish settings.  I’m using www.antarescloud.com, where I have easily downloaded my publishing profile to be imported.

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Once your site is published you can check it out live on the web!

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