So you’ve decided to take the leap and create your first self-hosted WordPress site. The problem at hand is you’re not sure what to do next. In this article, I will show you the steps necessary to setup your site from the beginning. So, let’s get started!
Registering A Domain Name
The first major step in setting up a new website is identifying what domain name you’re going to use and finding out if it’s available. If you’re not sure what exactly a domain name is, it essentially the common name that everyone will know your site as rather than the numerical one that the computer world uses.
Domain names can be registered separately from your hosting account which we’ll cover next, or purchased along with your hosting account. I always suggest that the two be kept separate just in case something happens to your website host. If something were to happen, accessing the records for the name don’t get lost forever as well.
The two most prominent domain registrars are GoDaddy.com and NameCheap.com. Either one is good for registering names.
However, many hosts offer domain names as part of their hosting bundle. Usually if you purchase the middle plan or higher, the host will throw the first year registration in for FREE. Lower priced plans will allow you to register the name for an additional cost.
Purchasing a Web Hosting Plan
The next step in the web site building process is to sign up for a web hosting plan. There are many options available for hosting from inexpensive to premium hosting. For most starting out, I recommend starting with a budget WordPress oriented host. These hosts usually offer a plan for around $12.00US per month or less, depending on your needs.
The hosts which I typically refer clients to are the following based on price point.
- SiteGround.com (least expensive)
- Flywheel (intermediate, but very good)
- Kinsta (intermediate, but very good)
- WP Engine (Expensive, but Excellent)
The decision for hosting should be based on how dependent your business is on the website. If it’s just a simple site or blog, the SiteGround would be fine, however, if we were talking about a major organization or ecommerce site with a lot of traffic, I would not hesitate to go with Flywheel or WP Engine.
Your host will then send an email with instructions on accessing the back end as well as WordPress (if it was pre-installed during setup). White glove hosting solutions like Flywheel and WP Engine have more customized dashboards than standard web hosts like SiteGround, Blue Host or HostGator.
Picking a Theme
WordPress, by default, comes with a theme pre-installed. Without a theme, WordPress is like an engine without a car body to give it style. The next step is to search for and modify a theme that bast suites the brand of the business or idea that we’re building the site for.
There are thousands of themes available from which to choose. Some are free and available for download from the WordPress repository. Others, are premium and require manually installation.
To keep things simple, we’ll search for a theme which is done in the theme area under Appearances which is located in the left hand column. Here one can get lost in the endless suggestions. However, I suggest a certain few which are below.
What makes these themes unique is that they are designed to be used with page builders. Page builders are a relatively new concept for WordPress, but allow for dynamic drag and drop page construction without the need for coding. (I’ll introduce this next when I talk about plugins. Also, see my post on creating pages and posts with Elementor.)
Customizing Settings in the Dashboard
The next task is to tweak a few settings in the Settings panel. Click on settings in the left column. A submenu will pop out.
- In General, by tag line, either delete the default tagline or enter your own tagline. Various themes use this element and Google picks it up.
- Down from the tagline is the admin email address. This is the email that WordPress will use to send you notifications. Make sure this is a valid email address.
- In Reading, make sure that the box next to Discourage search engines from indexing this site is unchecked.
- In the Permalinks screen, select Post Name. This reduces the address and makes it easy to remember and share.
The reason WordPress is so popular is because it is extendable with plugins. They allow for the addition of functionality to the core of WordPress. There are thousands of plugins available in the WordPress repository which offer just about any feature you might be able to think of including crowd funding. Some of the most common plugins installed are to achieve the following:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- URL redirection
- Form creation and management
- Page building
Cleaning Up the Install
There are a few pages and posts that are created automatically when WordPress is installed, Sample Page under Pages and Hello World in Posts. These two entries should be deleted once you’ve learned the anatomy of a WordPress post and page. Just click on Trash and they will be moved to the trash bin. (Just remember to go to Trash and delete everything in trash by selecting Delete Permanently.
Setup is Now Complete
At this point, the basis install of WordPress and the basic adjustments are done. The next steps are to begin why you decided to start the website, to publish content on what you’re passionate about.
In the next article, I will go into the actual publishing of content on your site. See you all there!