Project Base 1: Setting up your website

The first step toward your projects in this class is setting up your own website. You’ll be purchasing your own domain for $30 from Reclaim Hosting. This website is yours for the next 12 months, so after this course you can transform it into anything you like and keep it up and paid for, or you can let it expire at the end of 12 months.

Why are we doing this?

  • It’s 2021! Almost every college graduate needs a professional Internet presence. Just a presence on social media isn’t going to get you the jobs you want, the connections you want, or the image you want.
  • On social media, the company that owns the media controls the content. It can remove your content at any time; it can flag it; it can collect data about you. But on your website, you can control what people see and know about you; you can get across your message; and you can give people a place to contact you that you control.
  • Creating a website using a content management system is a skill that is extremely marketable. Creating a nice-looking, content-rich website using a content management system is a skill that puts you at the head of the pack, no matter what profession or career you’re interested in.

How to set up your own website

You can watch this video for instructions, but I’ve also written out the instructions below.

Step 1: Buy your domain.
  • Go to Reclaim Hosting.
  • Click on “Sign up.”
  • Sign up for the personal ($45) option. Fill out all the details of the forms Reclaim provides.
  • Once you have received a confirmation/welcome email from Reclaim, be sure you click the link in the email to activate your domain.
Step 2: Set up WordPress.
  • On Reclaim Hosting, go to Client Area Login. Use the login info provided in your welcome email to sign in.
  • Go to cPanel, and then click on WordPress in the “Applications” section.
  • Click “Install application” to open up a settings panel.
  • Leave everything exactly as is, except scroll down to “Settings.”
  • Under “Settings,” change the administrator username and password to something you’ll remember.
  • Change the blog name and tagline to something more personalized than the WordPress generic language.
  • Then click “Install” at the bottom.
Step 3: Access your WordPress site.
  • In the Installatron, you should now see a tab that says “My Applications,” and under “My Applications” you should see your newly installed WordPress instance.
  • The key link you need there is the one that ends in “wp-admin.” Click on that to get to the back end of your WordPress site. You should bookmark that link so that you don’t have to go through the Reclaim cPanel every time you need to get to your website (which will be often).

Additional tasks

Now that you’ve got your WordPress site up and running, here are a few more things you should check. First of all, go click around in the interface to find out where things are and what they do.

  • If you’ve never used WordPress before, you may want to watch this video explaining all the different parts of the interface.
  • If you want to customize how your site looks, rather than just using the design that comes with it by default, check out themes.

You also need to get rid of the boilerplate in your site. Boilerplate is things like “hello world” blog posts, fake addresses for a fake business, or even a generic WordPress comment.

To make sure you’ve gotten all the boilerplate, you should visit your live, public website address (that domain that you purchased earlier) and click around to everything. Make a note of where you see that filler, and then go back into the admin side to remove it. If you need help figuring out where in the interface it is, ask!

Demonstrate your mastery

In order to demonstrate your mastery of this base project, you’ll need to write a blog post! Bear in mind that what you’re writing on this blog is going to be visible for the public.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Read this article by Daniel Immerwahr in the Washington Post. If you need help accessing it because of a paywall, let me know.
  • Respond to the article by writing a 4-paragraph blog post. In your response, tell me your initial reactions, what you think Immerwahr is right about, what he’s wrong about, and how this article might relate to our course about antebellum military history.
  • Publish your post!
  • Post a link to the public post in the Google Form for project submission, which you can find here.
    • It should look like this:, not this: (just the general website), and not this:, which is the editing link.)

How this project will be evaluated

Remember, there are no “points” in this class; only completed work. So if your project falls short on any of these markers, we’ll ask you to revise it and resubmit it.

These are the criteria we will assess your work on.

  • Does your website exist at your own domain?
  • Did you install WordPress properly?
  • Did you remove all boilerplate/filler from your site?
  • Did you write a blog post that can be accessed from your front page? (You may use a static front page, like our course website does; if you do, make sure there’s a link to your blog page in a menu somewhere!)
  • Did you respond to Immerwahr article?

If you pass all these checkpoints, you’re done, and we’ll let you know that you can move on to the next base project.