Creating a brand new website or blog can seem like a pretty daunting task but fortunately you only really need to take care of 3 things and it’s much easier than you think.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to set everything up and gets pretty detailed so no matter what your skill level is you should have no problem getting started.
Every website is going to need a domain, hosting on a server to store the website and some sort of system to build pages and manage all the site’s content.
1. A Domain Name
You domain name is the address on the Internet of your website. This is usually “yoursitename.com”. You can register whatever you want as a domain name as long as no one else already owns it.
Typically domains are registered for at least a year at a time and you pay every year to renew them. Usually domains cost around $10 to $15 to register depending on what company you’re using.
Your 3 most common types of domains are: .com, .net, and .org.
.com domains are the most common and were originally intended for commercial businesses. .org domains were originally intended for non-profits and .net domains were originally intended for networking companies. However the rules for these domains are no longer enforced and anyone can register a .com, .net or .org domain and use it for whatever they want.
You also have country level domains like a .ca for Canada or .co.uk for the United Kingdom. If you plan on making a country specific site you might want to register one of these.
In the last couple of years tons of new options have appeared and you can register cool things like .photo, .marketing, .restaurant, .coach and much more. You can find a master list of all the available domain endings on Wikipedia.
Side Note: You’re most likely going to register the .com version of whatever you want for your site. At some point if you’re serious about your website you should register the .net and .org versions of your name too. When your site gets popular someone else will set up a competing site with your same name on the .net or the .org domains and this prevents that from happening. I’ve had this happen to me before so now whenever I make a new website I always register the .com, .net and .org domains. Don’t worry about this right now though but keep it in mind.
2. Web Hosting
Web hosting is the space on a server somewhere that’s going to store all the files for your website.
When your website is fully set up all the files, pages, images, etc. will be stored on the web hosting company’s server and your domain will point people to this server when people type the address in.
3. The Website Itself
You’re going to need to actually build your website and have a system manage everything somehow. In the early days of the Internet you’d have to learn a programming language like HTML or PHP and actually build all the pages and everything yourself.
Fortunately today we can use an amazing piece of software called WordPress which will take care of all the complicated stuff and make building a website very easy.
How to Take Care of These 3 Items in Just a Few Minutes
Today it’s incredibly easy to set up hosting, register a domain and get a website set up.
What I recommend you do is sign up for Bluehost. Bluehost is a web hosting company that I highly recommend. I used them for my first website and still use them today.
Bluehost is incredibly affordable and when you sign up they’ll let you register a domain for free. They also have a very simple WordPress installation.
Disclaimer: If you sign up for Bluehost through the link on this page I will receive a commission. I’ve used Bluehost myself for years to host a lot of websites and I wouldn’t be recommending the company if my experience had been anything less than excellent. If you choose to sign-up through my link then thank you very much for your support!
Step 1. Sign Up For Bluehost
Simply click the button below to sign up for Bluehost.
You’ll see a page that looks like this:
Click on the big green “get started now” button.
This will take you to a Select Your Plan page.
Which plan should you pick? If this is your first ever website and you’re just making a blog or a simple website for your business you’re fine with the Basic plan. You can always upgrade later. I personally like the Plus plan because for a few more dollars a month you can get unlimited everything so you never have to worry about possibly running out of space or anything like that. I currently have a plus plan with Bluehost that’s hosting several websites.
Here’s what all the different options mean:
Websites: this is the number of unique separate websites you can have on your account.
Website Space: this is the amount of space you have to store all the files for your website. 50GB is a lot.
Bandwidth: bandwidth is the amount of data that is transferred from your website in a given time. When people visit your site it will consume bandwidth. Images will consume more bandwidth than text and video will consume more bandwidth than images.
Some website companies will give you a bandwidth cap and charge you extra if your website ends up using more. Fortunately no matter which Bluehost plan you choose you never have to worry about your bandwidth.
Performance: this is how fast your website loads and that kind of stuff.
Included Domains: Bluehost includes on free domain registration so you can pick whatever you want for your website.
Parked Domains: You can register additional domains. If you’re not using them for a website they’re “parked”.
You can forward these domains to others. For example if you register yoursite.com you can also register yoursite.org and yoursite.net, park them in your Bluehost account and redirect them both to yoursite.com so if someone types in yoursite.net it’ll automatically take them to yoursite.com.
You can also register extra domains that you think you’ll use in the future and hold on to them so no one else can register them. Domains cost around $10 to $15 per year so they’re pretty cheap.
Subdomains: subdomains are the little extra bit before your main domain, store.sitename.com for example. You can set up separate websites on subdomains and you’ll often see a main site on the actual domain and then a store or a blog on a subdomain. You probably won’t ever have to worry about setting up sub domains.
Email Accounts: Bluehost lets you set up email accounts using any domain registered with your account. This means you can set up emails like firstname.lastname@example.org which are way more professional than using free email services like Gmail or Hotmail.
You can access these email accounts through a couple of different webmail services in a web browser or you can set them up with email programs like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird
Email Storage: this is the amount of space you get per email account to store emails and attachments.
Marketing offers: Bluehost will include credits for online advertising services like Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising which you can use to promote your site for free for a little bit. Don’t worry about these for now. It’s not hard to get promotional codes for these services anyways and you can easily do so in the future.
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Once you select your plan you’ll be taken to a screen where you can register your free domain name.
If you’re completely brand new then under new domain go ahead and enter whatever you’d like for your site.
You can register a .com or one of several other different options like .net or .org and even things like .space or .website.
If the domain is already registered to someone else it’ll tell you and you’ll have to pick something else.
If You Already have a Domain Registered with a Different Company
If you already have a domain registered with another domain registration company under “i have a domain name” you can still use that domain with Bluehost.
If you choose to use a domain you’ve already registered with another service you’ll have a few extra steps to follow but they’re not difficult.
You’ll just have to log into the site where the domain is registered and change the name servers to ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com. Each registrar will be slightly different but if you can’t figure out how to do this every registrar should have phone or chat support and be able to help you or even do it for you.
Once Bluehost has verified the name servers you’re good to add the domain to your new account. It could take up to 48 hours though before your domain is good to go.
You do still get a free domain when you sign up for Bluehost so I recommend you just keep it simple and pick any sort of domain you’d like to register. You can set up the domain you’ve already registered with Bluehost later.
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Once you’ve selected the free domain you want you’ll be taken to the screen where you enter your information, select your options and enter your payment information.
You have several options that you can add to your account and some of them are checked by default so double check everything so you’re not charged extra.
Account Plan: the more months you pay for at once the lower the price is going to be. Paying for a large amount of months up front is how Bluehost is able to keep costs so low.
Constant Contact: this is an email marketing service. Don’t worry about this, there are other better email services and a lot of them have free plans when you’re starting out.
Domain Privacy Protection: anyone can look up the “whois” information for any domain which contains information like the name, address and contact information of the person who registered the domain.
If you don’t want people to know this information than check this and the address and contact information will be replaced with Bluehost’s own generic information. If you entered the contact information for your business and not you personally then you probably don’t need to worry about this.
Site Backup Pro: this will create daily backups of your site. If you’re concerned about screwing anything up and losing your data then this might be worth it.
There are other ways to back up your site but with this Bluehost will take care of it for you so you don’t have to worry.
Search Engine Jumpstart: this is a waste of money. Don’t ever buy SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services from anyone.
SiteLock Security – Find: this is just some basic malware scanning and some kind of B.S. business verification. You don’t need this.
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Select the options that you want, enter your billing information and click the big green submit button.
You’ll then set up a password for your account and you’ll be good to go.
Success! You just took care of setting up web hosting and registering a domain. All that’s left is to install WordPress, the software to manage your website.
Your next step is to log into your account and install WordPress. If you try to log in and you get an error that just means you were too fast and your account isn’t fully set up yet. Just wait a minute and try again.
Once you log in you might get a pop-up with an offer for Optimized Hosting or possibly something else. Just close and ignore that.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free open source website content management system that’s incredibly easy to use and awesome.
This site is built with WordPress.
Because WordPress is open source tons of amazing coders and designers have created a huge library of themes and plugins (many of which are free) that you can use to create your ideal website.
Thanks to WordPress the days of having to learn complicated programming languages and spend a huge amount of time to make a site are over!
Step 2. Install WordPress
Log in to your newly created Bluehost account and don’t get intimidated by what you see here. I’ll cover what all these different options do in a future post but for now you don’t have to worry about any of them.
If you see some kind of notification about the page being deprecated just click on the link to go to the updated dashboard.
Look for the Website box and click on Install WordPress.
Next click on the big green install button near the top of the window.
Don’t bother paying for them to install it for you like they suggest further down this screen. Installing WordPress is super easy and you’ll be done in a couple of minutes.
The next step is to choose which domain you want to install WordPress to.
You most likely only have one domain in your account but you get a choice if you want to install WordPress to www.yoursite.com or yoursite.com without the www.
This will have a small impact on your site’s search engine optimization, I’ll cover that in a future post but it doesn’t matter which one you pick.
I prefer the non-www version but it’s up to you and it makes no difference which one you pick.
Ignore the little grey box that says directory. What this will let you do is install WordPress to something like www.yoursite.com/something instead of just www.yoursite.com.
A quick note about the file structure of your website: your website is organized much like the files and folders on your computer. Think of the domain (yoursite.com), as the first folder in the hierarchy. Within this folder you’ll find all the files required to run WordPress, you’ll find all the pages and posts of your site and all the images and media of your site. If you install WordPress to a directory you’re essentially installing WordPress to a folder inside the folder of your domain and you’ll be able to access this new install of WordPress which is really a brand new website by going to www.yoursite.com/directory. All the files, pages and media for this site will be saved in the folder “directory” inside the base folder of your domain.
There might be a time in the future where you want to test something without affecting your site so you might make a new WordPress installation in a directory like this.
Today though we’re just going to leave this blank.
Click on the green “Check Domain” button and wait a few seconds while it checks the domain.
The next screen you’re going to see looks like this:
First click on “Show advanced options” to see everything.
Site Name or Title: enter the name of your website, whatever you want to call your blog or your business. You can change this later so don’t worry too much about it.
Admin Username: this is the username that you’re going to use to log in and manage the website.
Admin Password: this is your password to log in and manage the site.
Make sure “Automatically create a new database for this installation.” is checked.
Check off “I have read the terms and conditions of the GPLv2”.
Finally click the green “Install Now” button.
A pop-up will appear saying it’s installing WordPress. It’s going to try to sell you on some WordPress themes but don’t worry about it and close the pop-up.
The progress of the installation is at the top and it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to finish.
Once it’s complete click on the “View Credentials” button at the top.
You’ll see a little notification center box with an alert saying “Your WordPress install is finished!”. Under the action column click on view.
Under “Step 1. Access your New WordPress site” you’ll see some important information. Save this information somewhere safe.
URL: this is the URL of the site. If you go to this URL in your browser you’ll see your brand new website although right now you’re going to see a “Website Coming Soon” page.
Admin URL: this is where you log in to manage your site. It’s always www.yoursite.com/wp-admin. If you go here in your browser you’ll see a login page where you can log into your site.
Username and Password: these are what you’ll use to log into your website.
Congratulations! You’ve officially set up hosting for your website, registered a domain and installed WordPress. You now have a fully functioning website and you can go ahead and start blogging!
Visit www.yoursite.com/wp-admin and log in. You’re now looking at the welcome screen of the WordPress dashboard. I’ve covered everything about the WordPress dashboard in a post called: Welcome to WordPress, Here’s How Everything Works go ahead and read this next to learn how everything works.
Or if you want to get started click on “Posts” in the menu on the left and then on “Add New” to start writing your first blog post!
This post appeared on the Realty Digital Marketing Professional Community here: How to Set Up Web Hosting, a Domain and a Simple WordPress Website