Raise your hand if this sounds like you: You’ve been wanting to start your own website or blog for some time now, but don’t have any idea where to begin. The thought of dealing with domains, hosting (what the heck is that?), and anything ultra-technical just overwhelms you.
You’re not alone! While the initial setup process can seem a little daunting, we’re here to help and guide you through every step. Think of us as your new website BFF. On this page you’ll learn all about WordPress, web hosting, domains, and everything else you need to know about starting your own website. You can do this, girlfriend! Let’s get started…
What is WordPress & Why Should I Use it?
WordPress is a content management system that powers over 25% of the entire web. WordPress allows you to effortlessly manage your blog posts, images, videos, pages, menus, and every other aspect of your site, all from a central, easy-to-use dashboard.
Why is WordPress so popular? Because you can do just about anything with it. WordPress gives you endless design flexibility, full control over your website, access to plugins that can greatly extend the functionality of your site, and so many other priceless features. Learn more on WordPress.org.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
If you’re new to WordPress, you may not know that there are actually two versions of WordPress.
WordPress.org is also known as “self-hosted” WordPress, which means that you’ll need to sign up for web hosting with a hosting provider. 99% of the time when anyone talks about WordPress, they are talking about WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a free, limited hosted service owned by Automattic. WordPress.com places a lot of restrictions on users and doesn’t allow for things like themes and plugins, which are some of the best parts of WordPress! Our themes are designed exclusively for WordPress.org and will not work on WordPress.com, even if you have a paid account.
Step One: Domain & Hosting
What is a domain?
A domain is your website’s URL (i.e. 17thavenuedesigns.com). Think of a domain like the license plate on your car. With it, you can be located on the web.
What is a domain registrar?
A domain registrar is like the DMV of the web. A registrar will give you a “license” to use your domain for a certain period of time (one, two, or more years).
What is hosting, and what is a hosting provider?
Once you have a domain name, you need a place to park it on the web. Think of your hosting provider as your website’s “garage.” This is where your domain will be hosted and your website’s files stored.
Some hosting providers also let you purchase domains right through them – so you can register your domain and get hosting at the same time, like we’ll show you below. So easy!
Register a domain & sign up for hosting
Your first step is to find a reliable company that you would like to host your website. We love and recommend Bluehost. They have top-tier support, affordable prices, and your first domain is always free!
1. Visit Bluehost.com and click “get started now.”
2. You’ll be taken to a page where you can select a Bluehost plan. We recommend the Prime plan — this plan includes Domain Privacy and Site Backup Pro, both of which we encourage you to have on your site.
Domain Privacy keeps your contact information (like your home address) from being publicly displayed online. Site Backup Pro performs automatic backups for your site so you’re covered in case of data loss.
3. On the next page, type in the domain name you would like to use and choose a domain extension. We recommend a .com domain extension since it is the most common and recognizable, but .net will work in a pinch if your chosen domain isn’t available for .com.
If you have an existing domain hosted elsewhere, you can type your domain in on this page.
4. Bluehost will check to make sure the domain name you’ve chosen is available. If it is, you’ll move on to the account information page. Enter your account details and payment information. If you didn’t choose the Prime plan, we HIGHLY recommend that you add Domain Privacy to whichever plan you chose.
5. Once you have completed the signup process, you’ll be asked to create a password for your account. Then you’ll be ready to use your Bluehost hosting account & domain!
Step Two: Install WordPress
Now that you have a domain and you’ve signed up for hosting, your site is going to look pretty empty. The next step of setting up your WordPress website is to install WordPress software on your domain. Bluehost makes this super simple.
How to install WordPress software on your domain
1. Log into your Bluehost account.
2. After login you should be directed to the cPanel page. Scroll down and find the Website section.
3. Under Website, select Install WordPress.
4. On the next page, click Continue Installation.
5. Choose your domain from the drop-down list on the left. Leave “Directory” blank. You can uncheck both plugins, you won’t be needing them. Click Next.
6. Fill in your site title, admin username, admin email, and admin password. Be sure to use a STRONG password to help keep your site secure and protected from hacking.
7. Click Next. WordPress software will begin installing on your domain. It may take a couple minutes to fully install.
8. When the installation is complete, you can log into your WordPress dashboard by adding /wp-admin to the end of your domain. For instance, if your website is http://mywebsite.com, your admin login URL is http://mywebsite.com/wp-admin
Your login URL, username, and password will also be sent to you in an email from Bluehost.
Step Three: Choose a Theme
Here’s the fun part! It’s time to choose a theme and make your new website drop-dead gorgeous.
We offer lots of expertly designed WordPress Themes that can be easily customized to fit your needs and preferences. Our themes include many premium features, including mobile responsive design, WooCommerce integration, a flexible widgetized homepage, built in SEO, custom designer details, and much more. You’ll find a theme for every style in our shop, ranging from modern and sleek to classic and feminine.
Step Four: Set Up & Launch your site!
Once you’ve purchased a WordPress theme, you’ll receive an email with a link to download it. Unzip the file and follow the detailed installation instructions we provide to set up your theme on your website. Trust us when we say “detailed” — we will walk you through each and every step!
If you need any help, be sure to check out our helpful Support Center, where you can find tutorials, troubleshooting articles, and more! We also offer installation services if you’d like us take care of setting up your theme on your site.
When your site looks absolutely perfect, it’s time to launch and show your beautiful new design to the world. Pop the champagne and celebrate!