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Tech: How to Create Your First Blog with Drupal

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By Emilly Parkerson

Drupal is one of the most powerful website building platforms available today. It is written in PHP and requires you to have a MySQL database to get started.

The basic installation of Drupal can be turned into many types of web pages. This is one of the key reasons why most people prefer the platform for their blogging needs. You can turn the Drupal installation into a content management system, forum, blog, newsletter system, picture gallery and a number of other things.

Building a blog is easy and fast when using Drupal. However, if you are considering this platform, it pays to understand the key advantages of using it. There are basically three reasons why developers go for this platform.

· Improved performance. When compared to pages built with other builders, pages that have been built with Drupal tend to load quickly and have a faster response time. The reason for this performance is the fact that Drupal is less resource intensive. It also requires less expensive servers or hosting setup.

· Highly customizable. The platform makes it easy to customize a web page. This is made possible by the availability of themes, plugins and a range of other configurable options. It is also possible to edit your root files directly; a great advantage for developers who wish to make significant changes.

· It is free. It is free to download and install the Drupal on any hosting server. This makes sense for new bloggers who are strapped for cash.

The three benefits are definitely enticing but how do you really get started. This post is a simple guide for creating a Drupal blog. Keep reading to learn how.

Get a domain name

The first step you have to take is that of getting a domain name. The domain name is a key element of a website; it can either make or break it. It will define your brand, affect SEO and impact the number of visitors your blog gets. The ideal domain name has to be:

· Concise. 6 to 14 characters long

· Long-term. Changing the domain name later in the future is very risky.

· Easy to remember and type.

· Avoid numbers and hyphens

Get web hosting

Now that you have a domain name, the next step is to get web hosting services. There are four very important factors you need to consider when choosing your hosting service:

· Uptime. The ideal service is the one that meets or even exceed the industry uptime standard of 99.9%. Uptime is the number of times your blog will be up and running.

· Page load speed. A good host is the one that loads at a speed faster than 850ms.

· Customer support. Quality and responsive customer support is mandatory.

· Price. Pick a reliable service that you can afford and one whose ratings are satisfactory based on the first three factors.

Download and install Drupal

Once you have the two steps covered, it is time to download Drupal. This is a straightforward process. There are step by step instructions on the Drupal.org website. Your hosting service will also have instructions on how to install Drupal.

Pick a compelling title

As aforementioned, creating a blog is easy and fast. However, it pays to take things slow as some of the information you provide during setup cannot be changed. When getting started with Drupal, the title is usually ‘My Site’. You need to replace this phrase with a compelling title. You can make the changes by going to ‘Configurations’ then to ‘Site Information’. Enter your preferred title in the ‘Site name’ field. Don’t forget to save the changes.

Choose a great theme

The visual appeal of your blog will have a part to play in luring visitors in. This is why you need to select an eye catching theme. Don’t rely on the default theme. To find themes, go to ‘Appearance’, select ‘Install New Theme’ then click on ‘Themes’. There are more than 2,300 themes to choose from. When searching for the ideal theme, you need to focus on the ease of customization, responsiveness, design vision and simplicity. There are so many themes that don’t require you to write any code.

Add information to the ‘About Me’ page

Your visitors will want to know more about you before they start reading your posts. You need to sell yourself on the ‘About Me’ page. To create an ‘About Me’ page, navigate to ‘Content’, select ‘Add Content’ then move on to the ‘Basic Page’. Add ‘About Me’ at the Title then add the relevant information in the body. For the ‘About Me’ to show, you have to select the ‘Provide A Menu Link’ check box under the Menu settings. You can change the order of item by going to ‘Structure > Menus > Main Menu’. You can move the items by dragging to a desired position.

Add Blocks

The Blocks are the boxes of content like ‘Who’s online’ or ‘User Login’. This can be displayed in the sidebar, header, footer or any other preferred region of the page. You can adjust the size, shape, and position of the Block on the page.

To add the ‘Recent Content’ Block, start by navigating to Structure Blocks and locate the ‘Recent Content’. Choose where you wish for the content to be located and save. To add content, you need to click on ‘Add New Content’, select ‘Article’ then add a title, fill the pertinent tags and then add your text. Save the article then navigate to the main site. The article will be shown together with the block with Recent Content.

These steps will give you a solid foundation for building your blog on Drupal. All in all, you have to understand that these points will not make you a pro overnight. Drupal requires patience in order to harness its power. It takes time to fully understand the platform. You have to keep learning and make use of the available tools and system. Never be afraid to work with a professional when setting up your blog for the first time.

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