If you’ve decided that you want a WordPress.org website and are ready to get started and set up your site for the first time, hosting and a domain name are all you need, and setup is fairly simple. If you’re not sure whether WordPress.com or WordPress.org is for you, or maybe you weren’t sure that there was a difference between the two, then go back and read Part 1 of my WordPress 101 series –WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Once you’re certain that WordPress.org is right for you then you can keep reading here to find out how to get hosting and setup your site.
What is hosting?
First, let’s talk about what hosting is. Your website needs to run on a server. A server is what puts your site on the web, and lets other people access it. So, to be able to get your website on a server, someone needs to host your site. So, when you purchase web hosting, you are essentially purchasing a little corner of the internet on that companies server, where you can host your website.
In addition to hosting, you also need a domain name to run your website. Your hosting is where your website lives, but a domain name creates an address so that people can find you there. A domain name is like www.melissacarterdesign.com, and is what people use to find my website. So together, when you buy a domain name and web hosting, you are buying somewhere to put your website, and an address people can use to find you.
Those two things together are enough to run a website if you know code like HTML and CSS which lets you build your own website. If you don’t know code, WordPress is a content management system that does the coding for you. You install WordPress onto your corner of the internet, so that it will manage your content, and build a framework for you to use to create your website.
How do I choose hosting?
There are hundreds of different hosting options. There are smaller niche companies that offer hosting and larger companies like Dreamhost. Many people will argue for smaller companies, but in this post I’m going to be discussing Dreamhost – since that is what I use.
The main reasons that I use Dreamhost are that it is reliable, well priced, they have a 24/7 chat that is super helpful, and they have an affiliate program. Ultimately you have to pick the hosting company that is right for you and your needs, so do your research and explore a few different options before deciding. To read more about why I use Dreamhost (and why you should too) you can read my post – Why I Recommend Dreamhost to All my Clients.
How do I set up my hosting?
Signing up for Dreamhost and setting up your WordPress account is very simple, and can all be done online. First, go to Dreamhost.com and buy your hosting plan. Sometimes they have sales, but on a standard day hosting is about $10 per month. You can choose to pay for 1 year or 3 years at once, or you can choose to pay monthly. The price will vary depending on the option you choose, but typically the longer the commitment, the better the value. You also get a free domain name with your hosting when you pay for at least a year.
To buy your hosting and set up your account just click ‘Get Started’ on their home page, and follow the simple steps to sign up. You want to use an email address you can rely on, since all the communication about your website will be sent to that address. Also make sure to write down your login details so you remember them.
How do I install WordPress?
You can also choose to install WordPress onto your site during the setup process. If you’d like to do that, you can just select that option, and WordPress will be automatically installed for you.
Once you have signed up and have your account fully setup, you will be logged in to your Dreamhost panel. This is where you can manage your domain names, your hosting plan, and everything else associated with your website. You should receive a confirmation email of your hosting and your purchase. It will include a date on which your hosting will expire. Get out your calendar app or your planner and mark that date down in it. Though Dreamhost will notify you when your hosting is about to expire, it’s best to keep track yourself as well. If you chose to install WordPress during setup, you will also receive an email with your WordPress login details.
If you didn’t install WordPress during setup, you will have to install it after your site is finished setting up from within your Dreamhost dashboard. To install WordPress, login to Dreamhost, then on the left side in the menu you will see a heading called ‘Goodies’. Click on that, and then click on ‘One-Click Installs’. Once you do that you will see a page with all the things that you can install onto your server. Click on the WordPress option, and then select the domain you want to install WordPress onto; if you only have one domain it will be the only option. Click Install, and then wait to receive the email with your login details.
Once you receive an email with your WordPress login details and are able to login, you will see your WordPress site. Right now your site will just have a few sample posts and pages and a premade theme, but you’re all set up and can start editing your site and adding content! Congratulations.
This post was originally publishing on April 5, 2015 and has been updated to better serve you!