Time and time again, I meet small business owners who want to set up their own website to get that internet exposure that is so critical. But, they have a small budget and can’t afford to pay a web development company. They need a site they will be able to set up themselves, and maintain themselves, but they still want something that looks professional. They want to get the most bang for their hard-earned buck. In the past, that was very hard to do. Either you had to invest a lot of time learning HTML and possibly CSS, and had to spend a lot of money on website software or you had to put up with the very poorly designed setups with very few options.
Today, that is all different, thanks to the FREE open-source content management system known as WordPress. It is an incredible, easy-to-use tool that allows you limitless options. Before we get started, you should know that there are two different versions of WordPress. WordPress.org and WordPress.com To learn more about the differences, please read my post here. For this post, we will be using WordPress.org, which means you will need to buy your own domain name and hosting.
Domain name – The URL of your site, for example www.yourdomain.com. I highly recommend buying a .com site. If you can’t get that with the name you want, think of a different domain name. No one will ever remember that you are .net and you will be sending countless people to your competitor. This usually costs about $10-15 per year unless you want a premium name. Most of you will be fine with a $10 domain name.
Hosting – This is the company that “hosts” your site. If you think of your website as a book you want people to read, and the internet as the library, hosting service is like the self your book sits on. You need to pay for that space. Hosting service usually costs $5-$30 per month and can run much higher depending on your needs. If you are a small business owner who needs just a few pages, the $5 hosting will be fine for you, but choose carefully. All hosting services are NOT created the same. You want to look for one that gets good reviews, has 24/7 support, and offers a cpanel and database. You will probably also want a few email address that go with your domain like firstname.lastname@example.org, so you want to make sure that your hosting company offers that. The hosting company that I recommend is SiteGround*. You can read about why I recommend them here.
If you use Siteground, you can buy your hosting and domain name together. Some hosts don’t offer domain names, but you can always get a domain name from GoDaddy, and have your domain name directed to your hosting service.
Note – make sure they direct your domain name to your hosting by changing the nameservers. You do NOT want them to simply forward your domain name. That takes up a couple extra seconds of time that are critical to your website loading quickly.
It is a good idea to make sure your host offers daily (or at least weekly) backups. However, if they don’t, we have ways around this. Most hosting services make purchasing hosting very easy, so I’m not going to walk you through that.
Note-For purposes of this example, I am assuming that you will not be storing any private information like SSNs, credit card numbers, etc on your site. If you do wish to do this, and I STRONGLY recommend that you don’t, you will need to purchase a SSL certificate at this time as well.
Once you have your hosting setup and your domain name directed to your hosting (this will be automatic if you buy both from the same company. If you buy from a separate company, it may take 24 hours for your domain name to be redirected. You will know this is complete when your domain name shows a note from your hosting company on the home page.), then you will be ready to install WordPress. If you’ve purchased hosting from a company that has a cpanel, that will be very easy. Login to your cpanel. (For the sake of brevity, I am not going into how to login to your cpanel. Your hosting company should have emailed you instructions on how to do that. If not, please leave a comment below and I will create a separate tutorial for that.) There are a number of options to use. From the cpanel, you can use Fantistco, Softaculous, and Siteground has a special WordPress Installer. Just look for the WordPress logo. Once you click on that, look for an “Install” button. Then you will get a page that looks something like this:
Choose Protocol Most of these things you will leave at the default. The protocol will be http unless you set up an SSL certificate, and then you will need the https.
Choose domain is only necessary if you have more than one domain with this host.
In Directory This you will leave blank unless you have a current site with this domain and are planning to replace it with WordPress. In that case you will probably need to create a new directory so you can set up your new site without touching your existing site until your new site is ready. But that is much more complicated and will not be covered in this post.
Database Name & Table Prefix You can leave at the default. There is no need for you to remember these.
Site Name Replace “My Blog” with the actual name of your website.
Site Description This should be your tag line or a quick description of what your site is about. Think SEO.
Enable Multisite (WPMU) Leave this unchecked.
Admin Username DO NOT USE “Admin”. This will make your site too easy to hack. You can change the name that shows on the website later.
Admin Password MAKE THIS STRONG. Do not use your children’s names, your birthday date, and especially do not use “password” as your password. Your password should be at least 9 characters and should use uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters. Write down both your username and password as you will need it every time you log into your site. Double check your password. You don’t want to get locked out of your own site.
Admin Email Make sure this is an email address that you have access to now. You can change it later.
You may or may not have these options:
Limit Login Attempts This is an excellent option to use, but don’t check it now. First you want to make sure you get into your site with no problem. Uncheck this for now.
Advanced Options If you have the opportunity to have automatic backups – take it! I recommend once a week if you have a blog and will be updating your site often. If you have a more static site, once a month is fine. You can leave the Backup Rotation at 4.
Once you have this all filled out, click the “Install” button at the bottom. Then wait a couple minutes and check your site at www.yourdomain.com. If you are using Siteground, they will send you an email of your login URL, but if not, you can find it at www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. That is where you fill in the username and password you just created. Hopefully, you will be able to login with no problem.
Congratulations! You have just created your website. Okay, now move on to my next post – Create Your Own Website Part 2 (coming soon!) to learn the basics you need to know about your new site.
If you’d like more detailed instructions, this is a great tutorial:
There are also lots of great video tutorials you can find just by googling “install WordPress”, so I won’t go into any more detail here.
*For full disclosure, I am part of an affiliate program with Siteground and do make money when someone uses my link to sign up for their hosting services, however, I have been recommending Siteground long before I became part of their affiliate program and use them for my personal hosting. I would never recommend them if I didn’t have full confidence in their services. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me.
Disclaimer: If you can afford it, I still recommend using a web design firm. They can offer you many more options and customization than you will be able to figure out on your own and can save you a lot of aggravation. Usually, they can also offer a lot of really great advice, that you would not know or think of on your own, that can make a big $$ impact – many times covering the extra cost of hiring them. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone you can call if things get screwed up or if you’re just stuck.