This guide is perfect for beginners who want to set up their first WordPress website in mere minutes! Follow these simple steps to get a domain, set up your hosting and install your first WordPress site!
Whether you need to create a website for your small business , or you simply want to set up your own blog, this guide will provide everything you need to know to get going. It’s easier than you think!
1. Register your domain name
If you already have a domain name registered, skip ahead to step 2.
What’s a domain name?
A domain name is the registered web address of a website (to put it simply). For example, the domain for this website is nickpierno.com, my name. There are many considerations when choosing a domain name, but for the sake of brevity I’ll assume you know which domain you want.
Where do I get a domain?
The most popular registrar (for now) is GoDaddy, but ever since they came out in support of SOPA I can’t recommend them any more. Their womanizing marketing approach doesn’t gain them any favour in my book either.
I personally use and recommend Namecheap. Most registrars work in much the same way and all have comparable pricing, but I do appreciate the free domain privacy offered my Namecheap. I’ve been using them for a few years and have had no issues whatsoever.
I recommend heading over to Namecheap and doing a quick search to find out if your desired domain is available.
If the one you’re after isn’t available, try variations! For example, if website.com isn’t available, perhaps web-site.com is! You can also try other domain extensions, like website.ca or website.us. Or even experiment with other extensions like webs.it.
Once you have your domain(s) selected and confirmed their availability, go ahead and follow through with registration.
The rest of this guide will assume you have chosen Namecheap as your domain registrar.
So you’ve registered your new domain name with Namecheap and you’re ready to proceed. So far so good! The next thing you’ll need is somewhere to point your domain to!
2. Get some web hosting
What kind of hosting do I need? (Shared hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting)
Unless you are hosting a 100,000+ user website, I recommend an affordable shared hosting plan with a reputable provider. Your other options are VPS servers or dedicated servers, but these are required more for advanced operations. This website is hosted on a shared hosting plan. Also note: You can host many websites on one hosting plan.
Choosing your web hosting provider
Choosing a good web host is crucial. If you are going to put any amount of effort into building your website it will give you great peace of mind that you are investing your time into a place you’ll be staying awhile.
Choosing hosting is a lot like buying a house. Sure, you can always get a new one, but how much do you like moving?
I recommend Hostgator
For me the answer has been the same for three years now. My sites are hosted by Hostgator and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. They have a long-standing reputation for quality and service, and their 24 hr. support is absolutely phenomenal!
Hostgator also makes installing WordPress an absolute breeze, so for the purpose of this guide I will assume you’ve chosen them for your hosting.
Setting up your account
Go ahead over to Hostgator.com and select a hosting plan for your website. I recommend the Baby Plan. Once you’ve chosen your plan you may enter the domain name you registered with Namecheap (under I already have a domain) and then enter your billing and contact information.
Once you’ve ordered your hosting plan, you will receive an email containing your account credentials. Keep this email somewhere safe for future reference.
Next you need to point your new domain to your new hosting. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds
3. Changing your Nameservers from Namecheap to Hostgator (Pointing your domain to your hosting)
What is a nameserver?
A nameserver essentially controls where a given domain is pointing to on the internet. Since we want our new domain to point to our new Hostgator server we simply have to log into our Namecheap account and change the nameserver record. Again, this is much simpler than it sounds.
Changing the Namecheap Nameserver entry
1. Log into your Namecheap account
2. In the Main Navigation, mouse-over the Domains Menu and click Domain Management
4. Click on your new domain in the Your Domains table
5. Under General, on the left side of the page, select Transfer DNS to Webhost
6. Next you’ll see a page with fields for your nameservers. Make sure Specify custom DNS servers is selected.
7. Refer back to your confirmation email from Hostgator and place the nameservers from the email into the Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2 fields. And click Save Changes!
Your nameservers may take anywhere from 30 seconds, to a few minutes, to a couple hours to propagate. You can check by visiting your domain name in your web browser! If it shows a Hostgator page it’s all set! If it shows a Namecheap page just give it awhile and it will be ready shortly!
You don’t have to wait for the domain to propagate to install WordPress though, you can do that right now!
4. Installing WordPress (I know, finally)
All your hard work is about to pay off because installing WordPress is extremely simple if you have Hostgator hosting. Also, in case you didn’t know, WordPress is and always will be COMPLETELY FREE!
1. Log into your Hostgator control panel by clicking the temporary address in your confirmation email (once your nameservers resolve to your hosting, you can access your control panel via yourdomain.com/cpanel)
2. Once you’re in your control panel, scroll down to the Software/Services box and select the QuickInstall Program
3. Under Blog Software on the left, select WordPress. (We’re getting close now!) Press Continue, when prompted.
4. Just leave the Application URL to the default (your domain) unless you want to install your new site in a subdirectory like yourdomain.com/yoursite.
5. Supply your email, the title of the website (this can be changed later) and your name and click Install Now!
You have just installed WordPress and created a new website!
The QuickInstall program will send you an email with a generated password you can use to log into WordPress for the first time. Make sure you keep this email, at least until you change your password.
By now, your site may be available at your domain. If not, just be patient and check it every hour or so.
Once everything has propagated, you will see the basic WordPress template on your very own self-hosted installation of WordPress! At this point you can log in to the WordPress backend via yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
Login using the information sent in the email you received upon installation and change your password to something you can remember using the Users menu on the left hand side.
Enjoy your new WordPress website!
You’ve setup WordPress on your server – Now what?
Now your website is up and running. WordPress by itself requires almost no additional effort to be a top-notch blogging platform, so if you wanted to build yourself a blog – you’re good to go! Click on ‘Add New’ under the posts tab on the left side of your dashboard and write your first post!
However, if you are planning on using this as a traditional business or personal website, stay tuned for my next article on how to use WordPress for business or personal websites!
If you’d like to make your site look amazing in mere minutes, there are thousands of WordPress Themes online. For premium themes that make everything effortless, I highly recommend WooThemes.
I’ve also got an ever-growing pile of posts listing my favourite WordPress themes out there. Check it out!
For a huge selection of less advanced WordPress designs check out WordPress.org’s collection here: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/
To learn more about WordPress, and how to make it bend to your will, you can read the excellent documentation that the organization has put together here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
Also, Google is your new best friend. If you have a question, try searching it. There are an astounding number of tutorials and guides out there for almost every possible scenario involving WordPress.
Thank you for reading!