Welcome to Part 1 of 8 of my series on Kick-Ass WordPress Optimization! This is the Getting Started chapter outlining things you will need. Ideally this is for basic users, but hey, even if you're a 30-year veteran with punch-card experience, this probably can't hurt as information or a plain-old refresher.
So you want to take the necessary steps to optimize your WordPress blog? Well, let's get started! You'll need a few things in order to get moving. This tutorial is for EVERYONE with skills ranging from beginner to advanced, so don't bail on me just yet!
If you don't have it already, you'll need a domain name. I highly recommend GoDaddy as they're super easy to work with and (at the time of this writing) you can get $0.99 Domain Names. Can't really beat that. Additionally, as I cover working with your domain name to set up your server, and optimize WordPress, I'll be referencing GoDaddy screens to illustrate some of the changes you'll need to make.
For the sake of our Search Engine Optimization section later on, you'll want to make sure your domain name contains the word(s) in your topic of blogging or at least something clever that you're willing to work hard on. If you want to talk about beer all day long, perhaps try beerfiend.com or beerinator.com or some phrase containing "beer". Ideally it's best to have your target keyword first, but hey, the way things are going these days as long as you are genuine, follow the steps here, and give love and care to your content, the people will come!
So, before you move on, get a domain name!
Many of you have blogs hosted with WordPress.com (so have a domain name like: mykickassblog.wordpress.com or something like that), but we're going to fix that so you can take advantage of some of the bleeding-edge optimizations we're going to get into. We're going balls deep my friends... While WP-Super-Cache and the like claim super speed on your site, we're going to destroy that performance metric and put you in the big leagues without the big-league cost.
Let me be very clear: I'm only going to recommend stuff I use to you because, well, I know my stuff works! That said, you, my adventurous blogger, need a server you can work with. That's right: We're going command-line. You feel the need for speed? Then this is where we're going. Fortunately for you, this is not Star Trek and many have gone here before! So... YOU CAN DO THIS!
If you don't already have a server (and if you're at wordpress.com, you don't) or are spending way too darn much on a server, head on over to the kick-ass guys at Digital Ocean and make yourself an account! As I understand it, if you go through our site (click here), you'll get a $10 credit which ought to give you a good solid 2 months of FREE hosting using the methods I'm going to show you here. You really need a lot less than you may think, and I'm going to make sure you get this done as cost-effectively and economically as possible. After all, getting a blog up and running is HARD WORK and the last thing you need to worry about is cost.
Before you move on, make sure you you have a server you can already access or get an account at Digital Ocean.
A Sense of Humor (and probably a case of beer)
Server maintenance is... an inexact science at best, but really, it's more of an art. It can be greatly rewarding, but I've also spent many nights, learning or being schooled on what I am about to impart upon you, banging my head on a wall or smashing a keyboard on the ground like a scene out of office space. Rest-assured, I've done this research for you and what you'll be getting here is a narrow and guided tutorial on how to set up, optimize, and maintain your WordPress installation. If you follow these instructions, we'll get you set just right. If you want to deviate from said instructions, well I'm always available for consulting or assistance.
Once you have these three things, let's move on!
Next Steps: Setting Up Your First Server