Build Your Own Author Website—Step 5: Administration Panel

Build your Author Website: Administrative PanelThis is the day you log into your WordPress.org Administration Panel.

For those of you who’d prefer instead to stick with WordPress.com, we part ways here, and I leave you with the following message: WordPress.com is a hosted service, which means that you don’t have to deal with finding a web host or downloading and installing the WordPress software. All is done for you. So I don’t blame you if you choose to start with a casual blog through WordPress.com rather than self-host a complete management system (CMS) through WordPress.org.

If you choose to go with WordPress.com, as I initially did, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the service it provides as you familiarize yourself with the world of blogging. Perhaps you’ll be so happy that you’ll never feel the need to expand your reach—or your control. I wish you the best.

For help in getting started with WordPress.com, I again urge you to purchase WordPress for Dummies, which covers all you need to know. I have also written posts about blogging (developed through the publishing platform Blogger), starting here: Setting Up a Blog, Part 1. Or you may choose to follow some of the excellent videos and information online. As I mentioned in a previous post, creating a hosted blog on WordPress.com (or Blogger) is amazingly easy. So go for it! And have a ball!

If you’re still undecided about which version of WordPress to use, here is yet another site offering an unbiased, well-researched comparison between the two: WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide for 2015.

For those of you who have decided to plunge ahead with WordPress.org and have successfully installed its software onto your preferred hosting server, as outlined in Building an Author Website Step Four, join me for step five in building your author website where the fun begins:

Logging into and out of your WordPress.org Administration Panel

  • Type the “log in” URL sent to you by Bluehost via email into the address box of your Web browser.
  • Your “log in” URL should look something like this: http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php, except your own domain name will replace the section that says yourdomain in the example.
  • You will be directed to a WordPress.org sign-in form like the one you see to the right.180px-login_form
  • Type your username in the username text box and your password in the password text box.
  • Check the “Remember Me,” box because you’ll be coming back often.
  • Then click “Log in” and the door to your new website home opens.
  • Yes, you’re in your very own, as-yet-unfurnished home, with your username and password serving as the entrance key.
  • When it’s time to log out, all you have to do is hover your mouse over where it says “Howdy” at the top right corner of the screen.
  • Click “Log Out” on the drop-down menu and you’re out the door.
  • Don’t forget to keep your entrance key (username and password) in a safe place for next time.
  • If you happen to lose your password, enter your username and email into the sign in form that you used to log into your site and click the “Lost Your Password?” link, where you’ll be asked for your username and email. Instructions for creating a new password will be then emailed to you.

Now, on to a quick peek at your website’s control room, otherwise known as the Administration Panel.

Welcome to your very own WordPress.org Administration Panel

Administration PanelLet’s start with a look at the vertical menu that appears along the left side of the screen under “Dashboard,” where you access the guts of your website.

Hover your mouse above the word Dashboard and you’ll see a menu listing pop out to the side with links to Home and Updates. When you click Home you’ll have access to all the things that are currently going on in your website. If there are any updates of WordPress, you’ll see a number next to Updates. Click Updates and then “okay” and the update will overwrite the version you’re currently using. This will also be the place where you’ll find updates to the theme and plugins you’ll be using for your site. For more information about Updates, click here.

If you want to see what your site looks like as the world sees it, hover your mouse over your site’s title in the top left corner of the screen and click Visit Site. There won’t be much to look at yet. But later, as you start to customize your site, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Yes, your website is live, but don’t panic and start rushing the website building steps in fear that someone will see your house out of order. Unless you start handing out business cards with your new website address on it or share a link to your site on social media, chances are few — if any — people will stop by for a visit.

Later, when I introduce you to WordPress Plugins, I’ll tell you about a plugin called WP Maintenance Mode that adds a splash page to your site that lets visitors know your site in down for maintenance. A perfect spot for a “Coming Soon” page.

Now, click the back button to get back to the password-protected Administration area that only you can see.

Go ahead and click the other menu items at your leisure, as though performing a walk-through of your new home. Make a check list of any questions and observations you’d like to address later as you delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of your Administration Panel. Believe me, there’ll come a time when the menu in your cyber home becomes as familiar to you as the electronics and appliances in your own home.

Before we continue with some necessary Administration Panel housekeeping, I need to ask you to make another important decision.

You can either use one of WordPress.org’s free themes for your author website or purchase a theme customized for authors.

In a later Building an Author Website step, I’ll introduce you to BookSnapper and share the reasons I think it’s a better theme than some of the generic themes available for free.

In the mean time, check out some of the free themes available:

  • Go to Appearance on the vertical menu under “Dashboard.”
  • Click on Themes.
  • Once there, click Add New.
  • In the search box, write Author themes. 
  • You’ll find at least 98 free author themes to choose from. Confusing? Yes. But also lots fun to preview if you have the time.

Next week, I’ll provide a link to a “How to Create a Website or Blog” video to review all the steps we’ve taken so far before we move on to some administration panel housekeeping.

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About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In December 2015, Margaret launched BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.
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2 Responses to Build Your Own Author Website—Step 5: Administration Panel

  1. As an author, I’m high on creativity and lower on technical and marketing skills, even though I’ve researched, taken webinars, etc. and applied myself to these tasks which are part of the all round picture of what it takes to be an author in today’s world. Your series is so practical and helpful Thank you, Margaret!

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    • I know the feeling, Jodine. My family used to make fun of me, saying I needed help just to turn on the computer. My mother had a Facebook account before I did. And I still own a flip phone, That should give you an idea of how much I fight technology. But when I hired a professional to create my author website, I realized that the only way to get it done the way I visualized it in my mind — without breaking the bank — was to do it myself. This turned out to be another case of going in blind. As with writing my first novel, I had no idea what I was getting into. And, as with writing, I’m now glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and forced myself to learn something new. Each bit of technological knowledge I mastered built on the one before it until I learned more than I considered myself capable of. Building my own website, taught me skills I was able to apply to other areas of my author platform and the marketing of my books. It also added to my sense of power over my work and how it’s sent out into the world.

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