Setting up the technical core of your website seems daunting to the unfamiliar. But if you can set up an email address, you’ll quickly discover that it’s mostly clicks and filling in some blanks and you can totally manage it.
Setup Web Host
Your web host is basically the building where your website is stored. Think of renting an office when you start a business. Your host holds all the files that comprise your website and presents them to your readers. The way clients visit your office.
With a multitude of options available, it can be difficult to pick the best web host, or even know what makes one host better than others. The good news is, there is no best. There’s the right host for you based on the price you want to pay and the quality of speed and features they offer.
BlueHost is the web host that most people recommend, especially if you’re not particularly technical or haven’t built a website before. They offer an easy to navigate website, competitive prices, reliable up-times and good customer service. Pretty much everything you need when you’re starting a website.
We use BlueHost and definitely wouldn’t recommend them if they didn’t keep the site up and make it easy to build and manage.
Setting up BlueHost
First, you need the domain you setup. Simply type it into the “I have a domain name” field.
You’ll provide your email address, mailing address (a great reason to have a PO Box) and credit card information. When selecting a plan, the three year option is always going to be the least expensive overall. You will pay for it all upfront, which is the largest expense to set up your blog. It’s worth it though. And while I haven’t used it myself, I’ve read that BlueHost offers a refund any unused months if you decide a year or two in that this isn’t working for you.
As far as extras are concerned, you can get free plugins for site backup (which you absolutely need one way or another). I prefer plugins because then you don’t have to rely on your host to provide the backup. If BlueHost (or any host) were to ever completely fail than you can’t access your site OR your backups.
The search engine jump start may or may not be helpful, depending on how technical you are. There are tutorials to submit your site to Google and also plugins that can help.
Assuming you registered your domain with Google, your privacy is already covered and you can skip the privacy protection step. If you you decided to register your domain with BlueHost then you really want them to replace all of your personal contact information with BlueHost’s contact information.
You’ll get confirmation emails and set up a password. Once you log into your account for the first time you’ll get a helpful welcome pop up message that will walk you through some next steps and familiarize you with your account.
Linking Google Domains and BlueHost
When you choose Google for your domain registration then you need to link your web host to your domain. Your welcome email from BlueHost will have “Name Server” information.
Log into Google Domains and click “Manage my domains” at the top right. Click the little stacked boxes looking icon to the right of your domain and enter that name server information. Google also has a help page on changing nameservers. It may take up to 24 hours to sync up that connection but it’s usually much less.
If the web host is your office, then WordPress is the desks and computers and the basic tools to get work done. If you’re not sure whether you should use WordPress or SquareSpace, Ashley at NoseGraze has a comparison. She’ll help you sort all that out. If you decide on WordPress, come back and I’ll guide you through the basics of getting your blog setup simply and efficiently.
Not that I’m going to go through a super technical, step by step tutorial. There are plenty of those out there and, honestly, you kind of don’t need them. Installing things like WordPress, themes and plugins are designed to be simple and easy.
The first word you need to learn is “cpanel” which is where you access the innards of your website. You probably won’t need it often, but you’re a webmaster now, whether you like it or not (or unless you hired someone else to do all this for you but let’s pretend for the sake of this tutorial that you didn’t).
To access your cpanel just add “/cpanel” to the end of your domain like http://ilikecookies.com/cpanel. Your host will have provided you with a username and password to login. If you’re hosted with BlueHost scroll down to the “website” section of our cpanel and click the “Install WordPress” icon. If you’re not hosted with BlueHost, you still probably have that icon on your cpanel somewhere and the following steps are probably similar though possibly not quite exact.
It’ll walk you through several different screens. Select or fill out the information and keep clicking next.
Once the installation is complete you’ll have a WordPress dashboard. This is the primary way you’ll access and manage your blog, write posts, upload photos, all the fun. The cpanel will still be there to access files directly or administrate parts of your website other than the design and content of your blog.
To log into your WordPress dashboard add “/wp-admin” to the end of your domain, like “http://chocolateisawesome.com/wp-admin
When you log in the first time, WordPress is going to offer to show you a video that walks you through your dashboard. It’s not a bad idea to watch if you’re not sure about posts or pages or what in the world a plugin is (you will like plugins eventually).
Adjust WordPress Settings
There’s a lot of options in Settings on the left of your WordPress dashboard. Most are fine by default but there’s a few you want to review and adjust as you get started.
- General: Set Timezone and Date and Time Formats
- Permalinks: You most definitely want post name or a variation of that for SEO
- Discussion: If you get email notification of comments (great if you’re small, annoying if you get 500/day) and Comment Moderation.
The last step to create the infrastructure of your website are plugins. Since the web host is your office building, WordPress is the computers and desks than plugins would be your pens and paper and 6×9 notebooks (who doesn’t love a 6×9 notebook?!). They extend and support your website providing security, backups, analytics and other important functionality.
Work your way through our list of essential WordPress plugins and you’ll be all set to go.