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Checklist for site setup

This checklist helps you keep track of the steps you’ve completed in the book One-Hour Author Website. The book contains more complete descriptions of each step, with pictures, and additional material about customizing the look and managing the site.

Get a domain

Tell me your domain name (not stored, just makes the yellow-highlighted links work):

    • NOTE: This an affiliate link — I benefit if you sign up for service through this link. SiteGround is excellent, and it’s where I host my own websites, so I would recommend it regardless.
    • ALSO: I recommend pre-paying for the longest period they offer, to lock in the introductory pricing. I’ve never had a problem getting a prorated refund when canceling hosting.
  • Login to your hosting company and find your cPanel. For SiteGround, it’s under Accounts.
  • Find out your two “name servers”. For SiteGround, the information is displayed on the cPanel, left, near the top — e.g.
  • Return to, and find the DNS control for your domain. Use the Edit button to change your Nameservers setting to the server names from the previous step.
  • Return to your hosting provider. In cPanel, find the screen to request a “Let’s Encrypt!” SSL certificate, and do so. Don’t pay for an SSL certificiate.
  • In cPanel, find the WordPress icon. Use that screen to install WordPress to your domain.
    • Select “https” protocol (if asked).
    • Do not specify a “directory”.
    • Select an admin username which is hard to guess. Not “admin” or your name, for instance.
    • DON’T BUY ANYTHING. They try to sell you extra stuff here, but there is a way to do it free. You may need to uncheck for-fee services they add by default.

On your website’s dashboard

Once you complete the website setup, the installer program will show a link to your new site, and a link to the “administration” screen of your site. We want the latter. Login using the ID created in the previous step.

  • In the outline on the left, go to Settings > Reading. Check “Discourage search engines” and click Save Changes.
  • Go to Settings > Media. Uncheck “Crop thumbnail” and enter a Medium size Max Width of 250. Click Save Changes.
  • Go to Plugins. Note which plugins from the list below are already installed. Click Add New. Search for, install, and activate these plugins, if not already installed:
    • Jetpack
    • Smush Image Compression and Optimization by WPMU DEV
    • Mooberry Book Manager by Mooberry Dreams
    • Classic Editor by WordPress Contributors
  • Go to Plugins. Make sure the above plugins are present and “activated”. If other plugins are active, deactivate them. It’s not necessary to delete them, but you can if you like. You’ll need Akismet later, so don’t delete that.
  • In the upper right of the dashboard, click your login name to go to your Profile screen.
    • Near the top, set your default editor to Classic Editor.
    • Scroll down to the Name section. Enter your first and last name, or a “nickname” to display on your posts. Use Display name publicly as to select one of these names.
    • Save Changes
  • Click Jetpack in the dashboard outline. Select Set up Jetpack. This requires an account on Create one if necessary.
    • When asked to select a Jetpack plan, look for the free option. It’s small, near the bottom.
  • On the Jetpack screen of your dashboard, select Activate recommended features.
  • Go to Pages.
  • If there’s not an “About” page, click Add New to create one.
    • Title: “About (your name here)”
    • Contents: some placeholder text.
    • Click Add Media and add a picture of yourself (or of whatever you want). Upload it from your system.
    • Scale and position the picture as desired.
    • Just below the title, look for Permalink and click Edit button beside it. Change the permalink to “about” (instead of “about-your-name“)
    • Publish. (on the right).
  • If there’s not a page called “Blog” or “Posts”, create one. Make the title “Blog”, and leave the content area blank. Publish.
  • If there’s not a page called “Contact”, create it.
    • This page will contain a contact form that people can fill in to send you email.
    • First add any text you would like to appear above the contact form.
    • Click the Add Contact Form button to create your contact form at the text cursor location.
    • If you’re not happy with the default form layout, click it, then click the pencil icon to edit it. I prefer to delete the “website” field.
  • Select Books. Click Add New and fill in information about a book (yours, perhaps!).
    • Include a cover image (bottom right).
    • Publish.
  • Select Book Grids. Click Add New. Enter the title “All”. Click Publish.
  • Select Page > Add New in the dashboard outline. This page will display a grid of your books, and it will be the landing page of your site.
    • Title it “Home”.
    • Enter a sentence or two in the content area, which will appear above the book grid.
    • Position the text cursor where you want the grid to appear, and click Add Book Grid. Click Insert Shortcode.
    • Publish.
  • Go to Appearance > Customize.

In the Customize Screen

Customize screen outline controlsThis screen has an outline on the left, and a preview of your website on the right. Use the “X” at the top right to exit Customize mode, the “<” control to back up a level in the outline, and the Publish button to save your changes. The button text may vary; for instance, here it is disabled and shows “Published” because there aren’t unsaved changes.

  • In the outline on the left, click the “Change” button for Active Theme. Find the Twenty Sixteen theme and click its Live Preview button.
    • If Twenty Sixteen isn’t installed, click themes, search for and install it.
  • Back up to the first screen (use the < button) and click Site Identity. Fill in the fields as you desire. Observe the effects on the website preview.
  • Click Activate & Publish button.
  • Still in Customize, go to Homepage Settings.
    • Select “Your homepage displays: A static page”.
    • Select Home as your homepage.
    • Select Blog as your posts page.
  • Back up to the top level of the Customize outline and click Menus.
    • There may already be one or more menus listed. We want one called Main or Top Level or similar. If there’s one, click it to edit it. If not, Create New Menu.
    • Check the “Primary Menu” checkbox (at the bottom).
    • As you edit the menu, observe the effects in the preview area.
    • Use the Add items button, and drag to rearrange existing items, until the menu contains the desired entries.
    • To delete entries, click the twistie to expand them, and look for a Remove link.
    • Make the left edges line up; if some are indented, those become popup submenus.
    • Create menu entries for Home, About, Blog, and Contact.

For the Home menu, select the Home “custom link”, not the Home “page”.

  • Publish your customized site.
  • Still in Customize, back up to the top of the outline and go to Widgets. Choose the Sidebar widget area.
  • The sidebar may already have some widgets in it. Rearrange, add or remove to get the ones you want. I suggest Search, Recent Posts, and Categories.
  • If you want links to your social media presence, also add the widget Social Icons (Jetpack). Expand the twistie and fill in the URLs of your social media pages in the appropriate fields.
  • If you want to let people subscribe to your blog via email, add the widget Blog subscriptions (Jetpack). Fill in the fields as appropriate.
  • Publish and exit Customize mode.

You have completed the “one hour” setup of your full-featured website!


Use Customize some more to adjust the appearance. Maybe select a different theme, custom colors, and add a site icon, header and background graphics.

Write some content for your pages!


  • In your dashboard, go to Settings > Reading. Uncheck “Discourage search engines” and click Save Changes, so the world can see what you’ve wrought!.

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