In 3 Easy Steps! I’m a big fan of easy step-by-step processes. They help you avoid mistakes and complete your tasks quicker. In this case, there’s three basic steps: pick and register a domain name, purchase and setup a hosting account, and finally install and setup WordPress.
Of course there are a few stages involved with each step, it wouldn’t be a very informative or helpful posting if I didn’t walk you through the full process and offer my personal insights for you, so that’s just what I’m going to do. Read on and lets get started!
1. How To Come Up With A Website Name
What is a domain name? There’s a good answer to this which goes deep into the technical weeds of how the Internet operates, but for 99.9% of people the answer is: the online identity by which people know you, your blog, or your business.
What makes a great domain name?
An excellent question with no easy answer. The truth is it depends what your goal is, and even who you talk to. The best I can do is give you my ideas on it based on experience.
For my money when looking at domain names for projects I look for all of the following criteria:
- It must be a .com TLD
i. The .com is and always will be King in the domain world
ii. Don’t be seduced by cheaper prices on other/genericTLD’s because almost nobody will find you on them
iii. If the name you really want is taken in the .com but the .net or .org is available, either attempt to purchase the .com from the current owner (and be prepared to pay a fair aftermarket price) or find another name to really want that’s available in the .com, you’ll thank me later
- It should be short
i. As in 13 characters or less (excluding the four “.com” characters)
ii. No more than two words – WeBuyAnyCar.com has done a great job in branding their four word domain, but they’ve spent a lot of time and money to get there
iii. No hyphens, ever
- It should be descriptive
i. At least one of the two words should define you or your purpose – i.e. if you run a small store that sells beds BedStore.com is way better than FredsDeals.com
ii. Thinking outside the box works here, if BedStore.com is taken (as it likely is) then DeepSleeps.com is a good alternative that fits the 4th criteria next:
- It should be memorable (brandable)
i. Sticking with the example from #3 above, BedStore.com is always better than FredsDeals.com because it describes your store that sells beds plainly, however a more memorable (or catchy) domain like DeepSleeps.com might be an even better option, this becomes a judgement call
A lot to consider I know, but spending a little bit of time getting it right before you start will save you tons of headaches down the road.
For some great ideas I created a Domain Name Generator Tool that I use myself when searching for domain names that match the above criteria and are available to register. I have now made it available here on my blog for everyone so give it a whirl.
The same four criteria hold true whether you’re launching your site as a personal blog or putting your business / latest venture online.
I bet if you asked Darren Rowse, one of the most successful and widely known bloggers on the web, he’d tell you that he’s glad he went with ProBlogger.com rather than DarrenSharing.com or RowseHouse.com back in 2004.
A rose by any other domain name, is not still a rose.
Best Place To Register A Domain Name:
In reality all of the well known Domain Registrars provide the same basic service.
If you’re heavy into domain investing and the buying and selling of domains on the after-market then there’s good reason to research them more thoroughly, but if you just need to register a domain for your site then the biggest factor is likely to be pricing and for that reason I recommend NameSilo.
Their pricing, specifically for .com TLD’s (extensions) is unbeatable. As an aside, I do a lot of domain buying and selling and I use a lot of different registrars; the support I’ve received at NameSilo is top-notch.
As for the process of actually registering your domain name it’s really easy and not very different from buying anything online, but to take away any questions or confusions I’ve included a quick video that walks you step by step through the process of registering a new domain at NameSilo for you to watch:
Do I Need Web Hosting For My Domain?
Services like these are intended to be easy-button solutions and while they aren’t technically web hosting services, they do in fact host your website and files.
The problem with services like this is two-fold. First, the only real easy-button they’re providing is saving you the last two steps of this simple three step guide. That may be of value but it does come at a cost of trading lots of control over your site and files and freedom to do as you wish with your website as it grows.
True web hosting is going to be priced about the same when you’re starting out as any of these types of services will, though if your website grows traditional hosting will almost always be more economical for you in the long haul, plus it’s going to allow you to build out your website in whatever way you want without restricting you in the design, features, and content the way that most of these easy-button solutions will.
You should look around, experiment, and find what’s going to work best for you. My advice is always to go with a true web hosting account and have full control over your website.
Since the topic of this posting is setting up a website on your own domain and with your own web hosting account, I’m going to continue from here assuming you won’t be using one of these easy-button services.
2. Getting Hosting
Hosting service can be pretty subjective, however it does happen to be a topic I know a good deal about considering it’s one of the web services my company offers to our clients (no I won’t be promoting my business here).
If you’ve looked around or read several other blog postings on getting started with a website, you’ve probably noticed one particular host being mentioned over and over.
I won’t say anything negative about anyone here but I believe it’s fair to mention that this one particular host pays one of the highest affiliate commissions to people who push their service in the industry. I’ve never used their service so can’t speak honestly on it.
A service I have used before many times with client’s projects of all sizes, is HostGator and I can whole-heatedly recommend their service without any hesitations.
A great value at their prices ($2.75 a month for the smallest plan at the time of this writing), all the features you could want or ask for in their account control panel, free SSL included with every account (this is vital), comprehensive web stats, and first-rate support technicians (and believe me I’ve put them to the test a time or two).
You can use any hosting service you want or prefer, and what follows in this posting will still be relevant and apply as long as they use the cPanel control panel (the vast majority of web hosts do), but if you want my suggestion again it would be HostGator, start with their Hatchling (smallest) plan and if your website grows you can always upgrade as needed.
Setting Up Your NameServers:
Once you’ve purchased hosting your hosting service will provide you with several (usually 2 or 4) NameServers to set with your domain registrar. This is an easy setting to change on your domain and I’ve provided a slider of screenshots here to walk you through it. Just login to NameSilo (if you registered your domain elsewhere the process will be the same but the screens and links will be different) and go to your account page, then follow along with these 3 slides:
Create An Email Account:
While not absolutely necessary it’s always a good idea to at least create a webmaster@YOURDOMAIN email account to have for installing WordPress and separating the technical admin from your normal user account on the site.
Here’s another quick video that walks you through the process of setting up an email account through your HostGator (if you picked another hosting provider this video may or may not be accurate for you depending which control panel software panel they offer) cPanel control panel and then accessing it online:
Install Let’s Encrypt SSL Through cPanel:
This won’t apply if you purchased your hosting from HostGator, they will have automatically setup the SSL certificate on your new account when it was created (one of their many perks).
But if you used any other hosting service hopefully it’s one that provides free SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt and you can easily create and install the certificate following the process displayed in this short video:
HostGator provides an easy-button approach to quickly installing and setting up WordPress on your domain that requires zero technical skills. Here’s a short video that walks you through the simple process with a Hostgator account. If you purchase hosting elsewhere then they may offer a similar installation process through a cPanel addon called Softalicious, but you will have to see if they do or not and the process will be slightly different from HostGator’s QuickInstall:
That’s it, you’ve now got a domain name, hosting and WordPress up and running.
Now you’ll want to login to your WordPress dashboard and select a theme (web design) to use, and install useful plugins to enhance your site with. These are topics for future postings here.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, run into trouble following it, or spotted any errors please comment below and let me know. I will respond to any comments or questions I receive.