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, web 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 domains with endings like .photo, .marketing, .restaurant, .coach and much more. You can find a master list of all the available domain endings on Wikipedia.
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 might set up a competing site with your same name on the .net or the .org domains and this prevents that from happening. We’ve seen this happen before so we recommend you spend an extra $20 or so to register the .com, .net and .org versions of your domain.
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 there’s an excellent 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.
If this is your first website then we recommend you sign up for Bluehost. Out of all the web hosting companies we’ve tried in the past Bluehost is one of the best and they definitely make things easier for beginners.
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.
The rest of this guide will walk you through how to set up your hosting with Bluehost and install WordPress. You can install WordPress on pretty much any web host, the steps are just going to be slightly different from what you see in this guide.
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.
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 really 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. It’s based on the technical specs of the server Bluehost puts your website on.
Included Domains: Bluehost includes one 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 so don’t let this option influence your decision of which plan to pick.
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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 to transfer the domain in. You’ll have to unlock the domain where you have it registered, get a transfer code, verify some email addresses and then wait for the domain to transfer.
Each domain registrar is a little bit different but if you contact their support they should be able to help you.
It can take over a week to transfer the domain from wherever it’s registered to Bluehost though so we recommend that you just select a new one when you sign up to make things easier.
You can also keep that domain registered with the original company and still use it with Bluehost.
To do that you just have to change your name servers to ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com. The support at your register can help you with this and once the name servers are updated you can add the domain to your Bluehost account as an add-on domain. It’s a pretty simple process and Bluehost’s support can help you if you get stuck.
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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 make it easier by taking care of everything themselves.
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 also 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.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free open source website content management system that’s incredibly easy to use and awesome for many different reasons.
This entire website and community is built using 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.
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 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 but it doesn’t matter 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 or making pages!