In case you’re new to WPLearningLab (welcome!), you should know that WPLearnignLab is all about doing awesome stuff with WordPress.
But before you can do awesome stuff with WordPress you need to have a WordPress website up and running.
That’s what this post is all about.
Whether you want to build a simple blog, a business website or a full-blown online eCommerce store the first steps are always the same.
Here’s an outline of those first few steps:
1. Buy a domain name and hosting account
2. Install WordPress with One-Click Install
3. Log into WordPress for the first time (and bask in the glory of your first WordPress success!)
4. Find a nice theme for your new site
5. Learn how to create posts and pages with text and images
In the post below I’m going to show you exactly how to do each and every one of those action items step-by-step and at no cost. The only caveat is that domain names and hosting accounts are not free, but luckily our friends at HostGator are offering you a steep discount (thanks HostGator). More on that later. 🙂
If you’re ready, let’s dive in!
Buy a domain name and hosting account
Let’s get some of the jargon out of the way first.
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. For example, Google has the domain name Google.com. The website you’re on right now has the domain name WPLearningLab.com.
A lot goes into picking the perfect domain name for your business. If you already have a business name then that normally becomes your domain name as well. I’ll explain how to register a domain name shortly.
A hosting account is a place where all of your website’s files and database live. It’s a hard-drive accessible by anyone with an internet connection. There are dozens and dozens of hosts with a wide range of prices.
The host I recommend when you’re starting out is HostGator because they are good at what they do and very affordable. I’ve had a HostGator account since 2008 and I still host some of my websites there.
So even when you’re great at WordPress you may stick with them.
HostGator gives you the ability to buy a domain name through their website along with hosting, so we’ll do both right now.
First, click here to open Hostgator in a new window or browser tab. Then click on Web Hosting to see the three options shown below:
The biggest difference between Hatchling and Baby is the number of domains you’re allowed to have.
If you are learning WordPress to build websites for your self or clients you need to get the Baby plan because you can build as many websites as you want!
Being able to build unlimited websites is also handy for practicing. You can’t become great at anything without practice and you don’t want to practice on your main website. Practice sites, also called development websites, have been critical for me over the years.
If you have a business and you simply want to build a single website for your business you probably just need the Hatchling plan.
Once you’ve decided on the plan you want, click on Sign Up Now!
On the next page, you can register your domain.
Where it says “Enter Your Domain”, type in the main domain you want to be associated with your HostGator account.
HostGator will let you know if the domain you’ve chosen is available. If it’s not available (as in the example below) you will need to try a different one.
When you find an available domain, Hostgator will sometimes show you other domains that are the same or similar or with different endings (called Top Level Domains or TLDs). In the example below, mydomain3434.com is available. The “com” is the TLD. Other available TLDs are “club”, “site”, “net”, “online”, you get the idea.
Since you are probably just registering one domain to begin with let’s skip all the domain recommendations.
If you already own a domain, you can click on the “I Already Own This Domain” tab and enter your domain there.
Directly after choosing your domain you will be asked if you want Domain Privacy Protection.
To explain what this means first I have to explain what the WhoIs.com database is.
Using the WhoIs.com database you can find out who owns any domain on the internet. Including the full name and street address of the person who registered the domain.
The “Domain Privacy Protection” option replaces your information in the WhoIs.com database with HostGator’s. So when someone looks up your domain they will see HostGator’s information, not yours.
Decide which option is right for you.
My rule of thumb is if you want privacy and you are using your home address and real name to register the domain name then get the privacy.
But if you are registering your domain as a business with a business name and business address you may not want to hide that information.
Next, we make sure the hosting plan you chose is correct and change the duration of the plan.
By clicking on the “Billing Cycle” drop down you will see options for how long you want to have your hosting account. You will see, the longer the duration the larger the discount. Choose whichever is best for you.
Fun Fact: I buy my hosting by the year.
The username you enter next is for logging into your HostGator billing account. The PIN you choose will be requested whenever you contact HostGator support. Make sure you choose ones that are memorable for you.
But don’t sweat it too much, you’ll get an email with a copy of the information as well.
Next, we enter our billing info. Pretty self-explanatory and no different than any other order form you’ve encountered online.
Next, you will see a list of OPTIONAL services that to add to your account. All of them, except for the SSL, come at an additional cost. I normally uncheck all of them because I do the exact same things at no cost through my WordPress website once it’s online. I can show you how to do it as well, it’s all on my YouTube channel.
With this coupon code you get your first month for just one penny. You can copy and paste it from here:
Thanks to HostGator for being so great to offer this one-penny coupon!
Once the coupon is applied you will see a billing total similar to below if you are paying month-to-month. If you choose a year or more you will still get the discount, the totals will just look different.
Take a minute to review your order to make sure everything is correct.
Keep in mind that HostGator also offers a 45-day money back guarantee on hosting and the domain privacy. They also have 24/7 support if you need any help.
Once you’re happy with what you see check the box that you agree with the HostGator terms and click on Checkout Now! button.
If you choose PayPal as your payment method you will now log into PayPal to pay. Or if you choose Credit Card, your payment will now be processed.
Make sure you don’t click the Check Now! button more than once because you could be charged more than once if you do.
HostGator will promptly refund the additional charges if you contact their support, but it’s just annoying to have to do the extra work…
Once the payment is processed you will land on a confirmation screen that looks similar to this one:
You will soon receive two emails with login information and that takes us to the next step in how to create a WordPress website:
Installing WordPress with One-Click Install
The two emails that HostGator sends are quite important, so make sure you keep them in a safe place or print them out.
One of the emails contains information on how to access your billing account, which is handy, but not what we need right now to install WordPress. But that email is important when you want to contact HostGator support.
The second email contains your cPanel login information and looks similar to this one:
I’ve redacted all the information that could be used to log into my HostGator cPanel. By the way, cPanel login information and it’s where we manage our website(s).
Let’s head over there and install WordPress 🙂
First, click on the link following “Your Control Panel:”. It will look something like this: https://gator1111.hostgator.com:1111
That will take you to a login page where you enter the username and password that you will also find in that email.
Click Log In after you’ve entered your login details.
Soon you will arrive in the cPanel dashboard. All of the options can be overwhelming, but luckily you only need to use a couple of them and I show them all to you in this tutorial.
Look for an icon with the title “Build A New WordPress Site” (outlined in red in the image above). When you find it, click on it. You will be taken to a page that looks like this:
From the dropdown choose the domain you want to install WordPress on. Leave the “directory” field blank and click on Next.
Next, fill in the fields. This is some basic info for your new WordPress site.
- Blog Title
- Admin Username (shown publicly on site)
- First & Last Name
- Admin Email Address
Before you continue, make sure you check the box beside “Automatically create a new database for this installation” so that WordPress will be installed properly.
Then check the box beside “Terms of Service Agreement” and click Install.
After a few seconds (yes, really), WordPress will be installed and ready.
Log into WordPress for the first time
Next, you’ll be presented with another set of login credentials (yes, there are lots of different logins).
This information shows:
- Our domain URL (which is the one we bought or transferred earlier)
- The username we just setup for the site
- A temporary password
This information will also be sent to you via email.
To keep this information on the screen while you log into your new site, check the box beside “Terms of Service Agreement” and click Install
On the next page you will see one of two things:
The one we want to see is the login, but we don’t always get what we want. At least not right away.
If you have the login form go ahead and use the username and password from the installation confirmation page to log in.
If you get the error you will have to wait. Yep, that’s it. There’s nothing to do besides wait.
This error happens because you just bought a domain or transferred a domain to HostGator and that process isn’t finished yet. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours to complete. So grab a coffee, or tea, or lunch and come back in a bit.
When you come back you can refresh the page and then you’ll more-than-likely see the login screen.
Once you log in you will see the WordPress dashboard in all its’ glory.
This is a great time to take a minute and pat yourself on the back! If you’ve followed along this far, then you have your own website online! And it’s 100% live and online.
That’s no small feat, so good work!
Go ahead and can call your Mom or your best friend and have them go to your URL to see your site.
But don’t take too long of a break, we have work to do.
Right now your site looks something like this:
Now you need to make it yours…