In this article, we are going to walk through the steps required to set up a web server, domain name, website/blog, and all for under $100. By the end of this article, you will have fully functional web hosting, your own domain name similar to www.LearnToDev.com, and a fully functional WordPress website. This is the first step towards creating and running your own website or blog and can often be considered a somewhat daunting task. Follow this tutorials steps carefully and you’ll see that hosting your own website is much easier then you might have thought.
To properly follow along with this tutorial, you will need an active credit card and a good idea for a url. ex: mywebsite.com. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom.
How To Start A Website Step 1 – Choosing A Web Host
Choosing a Web Host provider can be a little overwhelming, if you aren’t familiar with the type of services offered. The import thing, in the beginning, will be customer service. When you are hosting your own website, unless you are familiar with system administration, you want to purchase web hosting that is 100% maintained by the provider. This means, if anything should go wrong with your server, the Web Host provider will fix it for you. This also means that the provider will perform regular maintenance on your server, with out requiring your request.
With that in mind, you can feel free to shop around for your ideal Web Host provider, assuming you have an idea of what you need from a host. For this article, we are going use the Web Host provider Blue Host. In our experience, Blue Host provides solid customer service, extremely affordable pricing, and typically a free domain when you sign up.
Once you hit the landing page, there will be a sign up button somewhere near the middle. It should look similar to this:
Click that sign up button and briefly read the next page. There should be two choices, 1) I Need a Domain Name and 2) I Have a Domain Name. We haven’t previously purchased a domain, so we will go with option number one, I Need a Domain Name. Enter your domain name into the text field, and choose the url type. Typically, people tend to choose .com for this option. If you have another url type in mind, feel free to choose from the list. When complete, go ahead and click next.
Once the page loads, you will either be prompted with a message indicating that your url is not available, or you will get a success message and a form to fill out. If your url is unavailable, that means someone else has already bought the url and you will either need to choose a different one, or choose a different url type from the list. When you’ve found a url that is available and get the success message, you’ll need to fill out your personal information, choose your package details, and enter your billing information. The options you choose are up to you, but for this tutorial, the basic 12 month plan will do and none of the extras are required. Submit your details and you now offically own your own Web Hosting.
Shortly after submitting, you will recieve a confirmation email from Blue Host. You can follow the instructions in the email and login to your new Web Host cPanel. Your cPanel will provice you with all the settings you need to manage your Web Site hosting and Domain names.
How To Start A Website Step 2 – Installing WordPress
Now that we have our Web Hosting set up, we need to install WordPress on our domain name. There are two ways that you can install WordPress on your domain. You can either manually install it via ftp, or you can install it using Blue Host’s nifty easy install feature. For this tutorial, we are going to use the easy install option, just to keep things simple. If you are interested in learning how to manually install WordPress on your server, subscribe to our rss feed in the upper right corner of this page. We’ll be covering this topic in the near future.
If you are not already logged in to your Blue Host account, go ahead and do so. Once logged in, scroll down to the Simple Scripts Install panel. It should look similar to this:
Once there, select the WordPress icon. On the next page, click the Install button near the bottom:
On the next page, you can leave the WordPress version to the default selected version number, and select your new domain name from the drop down as the install location. Unselect all the plugin and theme options, agree to the terms and submit. Once submitted, it may take a few seconds, but you should be presented with a Installation Complete! message. There will also be a few pieces of information for you to write down, including your WordPress login url, Username, and password. Don’t lose these, as they are your login credentials for your new website. Follow the domain link given or open up a browser tab and enter your domain name. You should see a blank WordPress website with only the bare essentials.
Congrats! You now officially have a fully functional web site.
How To Start A Website Step 3 – Finding A WordPress Theme
WordPress is what we call a Content Management System. It gives us all the necessary functions of a website and/or blog. WordPress uses what are called Themes to alter the way it looks to people viewing your website. Deciding what theme you want to use is entirely up to you. Some people will have professional Web Developers create a brand new theme for them, but it’s very rare that this is actually required. It’s also very expensive.
For this tutorial, we are going to purchase and install a Premium WordPress Theme from one of two locations. The first, which is my favorite, is called Thesis. Thesis is an extremely well made WordPress theme that provides it’s users with powerful features to create their website. It also provides you with multiple “skins” that you can use to change the way your website looks in a user friendly way. Thesis is slightly more expensive than an average premium theme, but the quality is worth the extra price. Head here and download which ever version you feel fits your needs.
Alternatively, you can visit a premium theme market place, such as Theme Forest. You’ll find hundreds of themes that you can choose from and the majority of themes are priced around the $30-$40 mark. Look through your choices and choose a theme that you would like to purchase.
How To Start A Website Step 4 – Install Your WordPress Theme
Now that we have our theme purchased and downloaded, we are ready to install it. In a browser, head to your WordPress admin login page. If you forgot to write the login page url down, you can find it by entering your domain name with the sub directory of wp-admin into a web browser. ex: http://www.mysite.com/wp-admin. Enter your login information from Step 2 and you’ll be brought to your WordPress Dashboard.
You should now be looking at your WordPress admin page, which looks something like this:
In the left sidebar menu, hover over the Appearance option and choose Themes from the sub menu. At the top of the page there should be two tabs. Choose the Install Themes tab. Under the tabs. you’ll see a few options to choose from. Go ahead and choose the Upload option. When the page loads, you should have an upload option. Use it to select the theme zip file you recently purchased and downloaded from either the Thesis website, or Theme Forest. Click Install Now.
Your theme should now be installed. Last but not least, we need to activate our new theme. Under the same themes page, under the Manage Themes tab, you should now see your new theme under Available Themes. Select the Activate link, and the theme should now be activated. View your domain url and it should resemble the basics of your recently purchased theme.
Congrats! You now have your very own WordPress website with your own theme installed. Although there are many ways to customize your new website, you have already saved your self hundreds of dollars by doing the setup all by your self.
If you had any issues along the way, suggestions, or questions, feel free to leave a comment.