Are you sick of not having control over how you want your layout to look and what content you can post? Do you want to stop using a long domain name that has WordPress or tumblr etc in the address? Are you tired of annoying ads appearing on your blog? Are you ready to set up your own domain and have complete creative control and ownership? Then you have come to the right place to learn how to set up your new online home using WordPress!
To start off, let’s break down some fancy computer jargon into something more easy to understand before we jump to the set up steps!
- Server: A computer responsible for storing files so that other computers on the same network (in this case the internet) can access the files.
- Domain: Space on a server, with an internet address like this: www.yoursitename.com.
- Sub domain: Space on a server that is part of a larger domain with an internet address like this: www.subdomain.yoursitename.com.
- Domain Name Server (DNS): This is a protocol that turns a user friendly domain name like www.youristename.com into an Internet Protocol (IP) address like 22.214.171.124 that computers use to identify one another on a network (in this case the internet).
- Internet Protocol (IP) address: A unique sequence of numbers separated by fullstops that identifies individual computers on a network using the Internet Protocol to communicate with one another e.g. 126.96.36.199.
- Web Host: Also known as a hosting company, provides the customer, dedicated space and bandwidth on a server. Sometimes hosting companies package up other products and services with your hosting plan like a free domain name, #winning!
- Domain name registrar: A company that registers a dedicated domain name like www.yoursitename.com to the customer, so no one else can acquire the same domain name.
- File transfer protocol (FTP): Internet data exchange protocol which allows one computer to transfer a file to another computer through the internet. You can download FTP programs to connect directly to your web host and upload images, pages, posts, plugins etc.
Phew, this list of definitions aren’t so scary now huh?
STEP 1 – Decide on a web host
Google ‘web host’ and you’ll discover that there are loads you can choose from. Here’s a selection of some web hosts I researched when I was deciding where to host my site:
Some things to consider:
Shared hosting vs Virtual Private server (VPS)?
- Shared hosting means you’re sharing a server with a bunch of other people.
- Despite having “private” in its name, it doesn’t mean you get your own server for the VPS option. All this means, is that you get ‘X’ amount of dedicated server resources allocated to your site, which means your site will most likely be more stable and be able to handle more traffic than on a shared host plan.
How much bandwidth and web space are you allocated?
- Bandwidth is the amount of data that your site is allocated (usually in a 30 day period).
- Web space is the amount of space (megabytes or gigabytes) that you have to store your data (images/pages/themes etc).
How many domains and sub domains are you allocated?
- What do you plan on having on your website? Will you be supporting a blog? A shop? Will you start up your own network of sites and open up sub domain hosting to others?
How many email accounts and email storage are you allocated?
- The number of email accounts and storage only really matters, depending on what you plan on having on your site, so think about the two in conjunction with one another.
How much does it cost?
- Generally plans are quoted as a $/month amount – annualise the amount to get a better idea how much it will cost you.
What technical support is offered?
- Does the company offer live chat? Phone support? Email support only? Are they available 24/7 or business hours only?
STEP 2 – Decide on a domain name registrar
Some web hosts bundle up hosting and domain name registration together, often providing a free domain name if the customer signs up for hosting. This can be a great deal and takes out the hassle of having another account with another company. On the other hand, some people prefer not to have “all their eggs in one basket”. There are many reasons for this, including incase your web host goes broke, your web host is down or you want to change web hosts but the contract you entered into locks your domain name with your web host etc. To avoid these problems, choosing a separate company for your domain name registration is a good idea.
If you take the first route (combine your hosting and domain name registration together – fantastic! Feel free to skip the remainder of step 2 and jump to step 3) For those who choose to separate the two, read on…
If you choose to have to have the hosting and domain name companies be separate, you need to change the name servers listed in your domain name registrar’s site so that it points to your web host. SAY WHAAAAT? Are you speaking English Monica?! Don’t worry! It’s actually really easy and a simple copy and paste job. Breathe! So let’s use an example to simplify the explanation.
E.g. Jane chooses to host her blog at dreamhost.com and registers her domain name (www.jane.com) with bluehost.com. The idea is to get her hosted space on dream host and www.jane.com to link up.
- Jane finds out what the name server is from the welcome email she received from dreamhost which is ns1.dreamhost.com and ns2.dreamhost.com.
- Jane then logs into her control panel at bluehost.com and clicks into domain list/domain registration (or something similar).
- Jane clicks on her domain name (www.jane.com) and then clicks on the name server tab.
- She then selects use custom name server and pastes ns1.dreamhost.com and ns2.dreamhost.com into the spaces and presses save.
Ta-da! Done! That wasn’t so difficult now was it? Don’t worry if you didn’t choose dream host or blue host as your web host or domain name registrar. The principles are the same no matter where you choose to host your blog. If you’re still stuck, try googling ‘modifying name server + your web host of choice’.
Name server changes usually takes 48-72 hours to point correctly to the host. This period is called propagation and is the length of time it takes servers across the whole internet to be updated with your blog’s DNS information. If www.jane.com doesn’t start pointing to the host after 72 hours, contact your web host’s technical staff to troubleshoot.
STEP 3 – Install WordPress
WordPress is famous for its famous 5 minute installation. Depending on who you have chosen as your web host, they usually offer some sort of script that allows you to install WordPress at the click of a few buttons inside the control panel. Let’s continue with Jane and her web host (dreamhost.com) as an example:
- Jane would login to her control panel, click on goodies > one click installs.
- Then she could choose WordPress from the list of programs
- She chooses her domain (www.jane.com) in which to install WordPress
- She then clicks “Install it for me now!” and DONE! :)
If your web host doesn’t offer a script for installation – no sweat! Here are the steps you need to take:
- Download an FTP client from download.cnet.com
- Download the latest version of wordpress from wordpress.org/download/ and unzip
- Connect to your web host using the FTP client by entering the server, username and password. This information should generally be provided in a welcome email you receive from your web host upon signing up
- Upload the entire WordPress folder to a folder of your choice on your server
- If you want to install WordPress in your root directory (upload into the “public_html” folder)
- If you want to install WordPress in a sub folder, make a folder called “blog” inside the folder “public_html”. This will mean your blog will be available at www.yoursitename.com/blog
- Depending on where you uploaded the WordPress folder, either visit http://yoursitename.com/ or http://www.yoursitename.com/blog and it should prompt you to follow the script for installation!
- Give yourself a high five (or find someone else to high five you, haha)
P.S. I hope this tutorial demystifies the whole domain buying, set up and WordPress installation process. If you have any questions or need clarification about anything in the tutorial, leave a comment below!
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