This guide covers exactly how to set up a WordPress website from scratch, because here’s the problem: you are looking to start a website for your blog, business, portfolio, store, or forum – but the idea of messing with computer code, databases, or software sounds a bit daunting.
The good news is that doing self-hosted WordPress website setup is straightforward. While there is some learning curve, running it afterward is straightforward as well (see this guide to try it yourself). Unlike website builders, you own your site and it can grow as your site grows. Here’s how to set up a WordPress website step by step…
Domain – You will need a something for people to type into their browser to get to your website. You’ll learn exactly where and how to purchase it, and point it in the direction of your website.
Hosting – You will need somewhere for your website to live. You’ll learn exactly how and where to purchase it and set it up.
WordPress – Your website needs software to “power” it. And nothing beats WordPress nowadays. You’ll learn exactly how to set up a WordPress website safely, securely (with 1-click install!). Note that this is the free self-hosted WordPress software not the paid WordPress.com service.
Design + More Information – WordPress makes it easy to have a professional looking website – and has the ability to become whatever you want it to be. You’ll learn exactly where and how to learn everything you’ll ever need to know about WordPress and doing WordPress website setup.
How To Setup Hosting For WordPress Website + Domain
A domain name is simply what people type into their browser to get to your website (ie, www.shivarweb.com). A hosting account is simply a computer server where your website files live.
Here’s how to buy and setup both…
How To Purchase A Domain Name
Note – if you already own a domain name, you can skip down to How To Setup Hosting For WordPress.
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from companies, including the ones mentioned in this guide. My recommendations are based on my experiences as an independent paying customer. You can read my full reviews here.
To save money and make things easier for yourself in the future – I highly recommend purchasing your domain separately from your hosting. Hosting and domain selling are two different activities – and usually companies only do one well (and at a good price). When you purchase separately, you not only get better pricing & management, you also get the benefits of diversity and not having all your eggs in one basket so to speak.
I recommend NameCheap (see plans here) or GoDaddy (see plans here) for purchasing your domain name – but not hosting due to a host of technical reasons.
Namecheap has excellent service, good interface, and cheaper long-term prices. GoDaddyoffers excellent short-term promos (here), good service, and an ok interface.
Once you have your domain name, we need a hosting server to “point” it to.
(Note – you do not need to transfer it to your hosting company. I’ll show you how to “point” it).
How To Set Up Hosting For WordPress
Choosing a good web hosting company is critical for your website. Web hosting companies tend to make things way too confusing with useless feature overload, short-term discounts (then expensive long-term prices), and over-promising customer service. They also create confusing offers like “WordPress hosting” – even though you can run WordPress hosting on standard web hosting.
There at hundreds of web hosting companies on the Internet. There is no such thing as an “overall best” – only the best for you & your situation. Since you are reading this guide, I’ll make a few assumptions (ie, performance needs, budget parameters, etc). If you want to take a quiz – you can do that here.
Otherwise, here’s the 3 companies that I usually end up recommending to DIYers. You can also read my full hosting reviews, including ones for HostGator, InMotion & SiteGround if you’re interested.
- InMotion Hosting – Independently-owned with great customer service & 90 day money back guarantee. Well-priced plans (with some caps) that have great performance, and can grow as your site grows. This site actually uses a hosting plan with them. I’ll also use their site for screenshots. See their plans w/ 47% off discount here.
- HostGator – Very affordable all-around plans, especially if you plan on installing many small WordPress websites. Good customer service & performance for the price. I use them for my smaller, personal sites. See their plans w/ discount here.
- SiteGround – Independently-owned with good customer service & cutting-edge features. A bit pricey, but they deep long-term discounts and good performance. See their plans w/ current discount here.
The purchase & setup steps in this guide work for all three companies mentioned (and others), but will come from InMotion Hosting if you want to follow along exactly. HostGator has a few more ads/upsells but is otherwise the same. SiteGround is almost exactly the same.
Step 1. Choose the hosting plan that fits your current goals.
Go to InMotion Hosting’s plans, and view their ‘Shared Business Hosting Plans’. Then select the plan you want. The Launch Plan is great if you have just one or two website ideas. The Power Plan is good if you have several you want to run, plus maybe some test websites on subdomains. The Pro Plan is good if you want no limits.
Step 2. Purchase your plan & select your hosting options.
Confirm your plan and fill in the checkout page fields. The Max Speed Zone determines whether your website physically lives in California or Virginia (which can shave a little bit when you are updating the site), but the default selection should be correct.
The Content Management Installer can be faster, but I’ve found it better to select “No, Thanks” and install it after purchasing the hosting product (which we’ll be doing). The reason I always recommend the full process regardless of host is that if you do it once, you’ll understand way more about how your account works than if you do the auto-install. It’s a high learning payoff for 5 extra minutes.
Next, fill in your domain name and continue.
Then fill out the payment form, review & place your order.
Step 3. Access your account & technical details.
It takes a couple minutes for your account to get ready. When it’s ready, you will get an email from InMotion Hosting that looks like this…
Once you are in your account management panel, head to the Account Technical Details.
Scroll down, and you’ll see two “Nameservers” – copy them. These will “connect” your domain name to your hosting server.
Step 4. Add Nameservers to your domain name & confirm the connection.
Copy the 1st and 2nd Nameserver, and go log in to where you bought your domain names.Then navigate to your Domain’s DNS area. Then, replace the current DNS with the ones provided by InMotion (or your preferred host).
In GoDaddy: Go to My Account –> Launch Domains –> Manage Domain –> select Set Nameservers –> Select ‘I have custom nameservers’ –> Paste in 1st and 2nd Nameserver provided by InMotion.
In NameCheap, Login –> Manage Domains –> Select Domain –> Select Manage –> Under NameServers, select Custom and place your nameservers there –> Save Changes.
That’s how to setup hosting for WordPress! Now all that remains is to Install WordPress, which we will cover in the next section. It can take up to 24 hours for the Domain Nameservers (DNS) to switch over completely, but it usually goes fairly quickly (usually less than 10 minutes if you’re in the USA).
How To Install and Configure WordPress
So now that we have an address and a place for our website to live, we can dive into how to setup a WordPress website on the server. WordPress is going to be the software that powers your website. But before it can power your website – it needs to be installed on your hosting server.
Here’s how to install and configure WordPress…
Installing WordPress With QuickInstall
While you can certainly install WordPress manually, InMotion (and others mentioned) has an excellent, free, secure tool to quickly install WordPress onto your new hosting account.
Step 1. Access your hosting control panel (cPanel).
Head back to your InMotion Account Management Panel. Click the link to go to your cPanel(control panel). It should automatically log you in to cPanel.
And yes, there is a link to “Install Popular Software” – that link just ends up going to cPanel anyway through a different login screen. Easier to go directly to cPanel.
Step 2. Find the WordPress installer script.
Now that you are logged into hosting cPanel – you’ll need to go looking for an icon called “WordPress” and/or “Softaculous” and open it. You’re looking for this:
Step 3. Run the WordPress install script.
Open the WordPress auto-install script opened and then continue.
Step 4. Enter website information into installer.
Now you will just fill out your information, and click Install. Be sure that your email address is correct. Leave the field after / blank – that is for only if someone already has a website on the main domain that they want to keep running. Enter your Blog Title – you can change it once you’ve installed WordPress.
Step 5. Confirm installation and log into WordPress Dashboard!
After a few seconds… Congratulations! You’ve got yourself a new WordPress website – and now you know exactly how to set up a WordPress website on your own server.
Be sure to copy your username and password in a safe place (it will also be emailed to you).
And go login to your new WordPress site at http://[yourdomain.com]/wp-admin! You can also check your email to get links & login information.
Be sure to check out my guide to Getting Started with WordPress here to continue. You’ll learn how to build out your design, add content, and add functionality to your new site.