Inspired by my Word of the Month, I have been going over some ways to refresh your website and your business. The word subdomain can inspire confusion in many business owners and creatives. For those who don’t know, a subdomain is an extension of your domain name that can house an entirely separate website. http://shop.yourwebsite.com and http://courses.yourwebsite.com are both examples of subdomains. But why would the average business owner need to set one up?
Why do you need to set up a subdomain?
Sandbox for testing changes – imagine being able to try setting up that new Resource Library using Essential Grid without fear that you were going to screw up your site, or trying out a new blog theme or playing around with branding changes. With a subdomain, you can do just that and no one is the wiser. You can create an exact copy of your site on your subdomain and use that as a sandbox for any sort of change you want to make. You will be able to know exactly how it will look or function on your real site before you touch anything there.
Consistent branding for e-courses – For the most part, e-course websites have a vastly different purpose and function than a regular sales site. If you are looking to host e-courses on your website to maintain consistency and build on the trust that your main website holds with readers, try using a subdomain like http://courses.yourwebsite.com instead. By using a subdomain with a completely separate installation of WordPress, both of your sites can do exactly what they are intended to do, while keeping your branding consistent across the board.
Testing backups – It is not good enough to have a backup of your site unless you know it works. A subdomain is the perfect place to test out those backups and make sure that they work. Depending on the type of backup system you use, you might not need WordPress actively installed on the subdomain but you are definitely going to need a database set up for the backup to be written to.
How do you set up a subdomain?
*Hosting restrictions – most hosting plans allow for the free use of subdomains but some managed WordPress hosting plans limit their use. Make sure you know what your host allows.
Set up subdomain – In the admin section of your hosting account, find the domains tab, and click subdomains. From here you can add your subdomain name (i.e. subdomain.yourwebsite.com) and create a folder that will hold the website files (or in our case, the WordPress files) for our new site.
Install WordPress on your subdomain – Some hosts have One Click Installs of WordPress directly into the subdomain. If that is the case, then click Install and enjoy your brand new site! If your host doesn’t have One Click WP installs for subdomains, you will have to do it manually. Luckily, it is not nearly as hard or scary as it sounds.
- Download WP files – go to http://wordpress.org and download the latest version. Unzip the file folder and upload the contents of that zip file to your subdomain’s folder (only upload the contents of the zip folder, not the enclosing folder itself).
- Create new database for subdomain – Depending on host, go to My SQL Databases and click Create database and user. Make note of the server name, database name, username and password as you will need them in the next step If the server name is not specified, it is most likely “local host”
- Connect database with WP – Open up the wp-config-sample.php file and add in the information you wrote down in the last step. Rename the file wp-config.php.
Finish the install by entering your subdomain’s URL in your favorite web browser. Fill out all the information (clicking to discourage search engine visibility if you are planning on using this strictly for your private use) and click install.
Congrats! You now have a brand new WordPress site in your subdomain. Whether you use it as a playground to experiment with, a place to teach your people in, or the security blanket of knowledge that your site is backed up, this subdomain will be a valuable tool in your business arsenal.
Want some other quick and easy tips to refresh your website? Click the button below and sign up for my Website Refresh mini-course!
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