How to Start a Self-Hosted WordPress Website – Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners (With Videos)
Almost everything these days requires a website. If we need a product, service or a piece of information the first place we turn to is the world wide web.
And where attention goes, money flows. Meaning that there is an abundance of ways to make money online. Take this website for example, through simple monetisation it earns me an income.
You’re probably thinking, “well that’s all well and good, but I don’t know how to build a website.”
No fear, I am going to show you how to get hosting, how to register a domain and how to start building a WordPress website, step-by-step. I have even prepared a full video course where you can follow me click-by-click.
Ready? Let’s go!
Where to start?
The biggest reason why most people never learn how to build a website is because they simply do not know where to start.
And I’m going to be honest with you, I think that starting the website can be the most technically complicated – especially for a newbie. But the good news is that you only have to do it the once.
Part #1 – Get hosting and a domain
First things first, you are going to need a domain and server to host your website.
The following video will walk you through how to do this click-by-click. Alternatively, you can follow along with the instructions in this post.
Domain: This is your internet address. Sometimes called URL. For example, my domain is roseannasunley.com
Server: Think of a server like a special type of computer. When you view a website, all the information that you are seeing (text, images, videos etc) have to be stored somewhere. Similar to saving a word document on your computer hard drive, you save all your website files on your server.
Hosting: Think of this as another term for the word ‘stored’. E.g Files are hosted on your server. When you see the term ‘hosting’, it basically means somewhere to store your website files, therefore meaning server space.
The company in which you choose to purchase server space from (to host your website) will usually also provide you with a domain.
You can purchase domains separately, but if you are a newbie, I would highly recommend getting them both at together at the same time.
Choose a company to host your website
There are lots of companies out there where you can purchase server space from to host your website.
Here are a few for you to have a look at and choose from
- WordPress – As mentioned in a previous blog post you can get your hosting and domain directly from WordPress for free. There is a little bit of a catch that you must have a subdomain of wordpress.com to get the free services. For example, I would have to have littlerozmoments.wordpress.com instead of just littlerozmoments.com. If you don’t want to have the ‘.wordpress’ in your domain, then you do have to pay (but it is only a few quid per month).
- SiteGround – I have used a few different hosting companies (although not all on this list) and SiteGround has been my absolute favourite that I could not recommend highly enough. I currently host all my websites with SiteGround and I shall be using SiteGround as an example throughout this step-by-step guide.
Others to consider…
Choose your hosting package
Once you have chosen a hosting provider, you then need to choose your hosting package and purchase it.
When you buy a computer, there are lots of different specifications. When buying a hosting package, there are also lots of different specifications. After all, the server that you are hosting your website on is just a special computer.
To give you a very brief summary, you will need to consider how big your site is going to be. How many files (photos, text, videos) will you be saving on your server? As this will determine how much server space you need – this is the same as saving files to your hard drive or USB.
You also need to consider how much traffic you plan on having to your site. The more people that are trying to view your website, or in other words, “access the files saved on your server”, the more powerful your hosting package will need to be.
Here is an example of the WordPress hosting options from SiteGround.
TIP: If this is your very first website, then I recommend just going for one of the basic hosting packages. Most likely, it will have everything you need and more to get you going. Your hosting provider will allow you to upgrade your package later as your website grows.
Get your account
Now you need to sign-up and purchase. So, click on the hosting package that you would like and follow the online instructions.
Firstly, it will usually ask you for the domain name that would like. Just type in the domain that you require, e.g. myfirstblog.com or awesomestuff.co.uk, and click proceed.
Please note that your domain must be unique and there is a chance that it might have already been taken. For example, you couldn’t have roseannasunley.com because I already have that. It needs to be a domain that no one else has registered.
TIP: Whilst setting up your account with SiteGround, you can choose your Data Centre. As mentioned, your website files are stored on a special computer (a server) and you can choose the location of it. If you are targeting users in the UK, then I would recommend choosing a data centre in the UK. The same applies to if you are targeting users in the US, then choose a data centre in the US.
Your account and cPanel
Now you’ve purchased your hosting you will be given access to your user account. You will also be given access to your cPanel.
cPanel: This is your control panel for your website, and is provided by most hosting companies. There are tools within the cPanel that are designed to make running and controlling your website easier.
To access your cPanel from SiteGround, first log in, then click ‘Accounts’, and then ‘Go to cPanel’. It will ask you to ‘Access cPanel Securely’, click ‘Proceed’.
It will look very similar to this…
Part #2 – Securing your Website (optional)
By using this service you will be able to secure your website so that it loads over https:// instead of http:// – to explain this a little bit more and to show you how to take advantage of this free service, please watch this short video below.
TIP: If you ever plan on taking payments via your website then this step MUST be completed and you must have a secure website.
Part #3 – Installing WordPress
Okay, so let’s have a quick recap. If you have made it this far you have…
- Chosen a hosting provider
- Purchased a hosting package and domain name
- And you can log into your account and access your cPanel.
We now need to install WordPress on your server.
To help explain this, let’s go back to our computer analogy again. All the above bullet points are like purchasing a computer, turning it on, creating an account and logging in. Installing WordPress onto your server is like installing Microsoft Office onto your computer.
Microsoft Office will allow you to create documents easily and save them on your computer. WordPress will allow you to create a website easily and save it on your server.
I hope that makes sense.
Here is how to install it…
You can follow along with the video or the instructions within the rest of this post.
From inside your cPanel, find the section that is titled ‘Autoinstallers’, and click on ‘Softaculous’.
Softaculous will automate the install of WordPress for you.
Once Softaculous has opened, hover over the WordPress application and click install.
You should now be on the software set-up page.
It starts to get a little bit technical here, but don’t worry too much about it. As I said in the introduction to this post, you only have to go through this once.
TIP: Most of the time, the fields that you must fill out have already been pre-populated. You just need to check them and change them if you want. Don’t worry about doing anything wrong, your website hasn’t been created yet, so you can’t break anything.
To keep it simple, here is a breakdown of some of the fields that you need to fill out, what they mean, and what I recommend that you enter.
- Protocol – If you followed Part #3 of this blog post and secured your site, then you need to choose https://. If you did not, then you need to choose http://.
- Domain – This is the domain you registered when purchasing your hosting, and it should be pre-populated or available in the drop-down box.
- In Directory – I recommend leaving this blank.
- Site Name – Pretty obvious, what is your site called? Mine is called Roseanna Sunley. Don’t worry too much about this as you can change this later if you want to.
- Site Description – This is your tagline. For example, mine is ‘My Personal Blog’. Again, you can change this later if you want to.
- Choose Theme – You can pick whichever theme you want here, it’s not important as you can change this later after you have installed WordPress. (I have a video on how to change your theme here)
Important bits that you must remember…
- Admin Username – This will be the username that you use to log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- Admin Password – This will be the password that you use to log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- Admin Email – Be sure to put an email account that you will always have access to – like a Gmail or Hotmail account. Don’t use your website or work email address because if you get locked out of your WordPress dashboard, this will be the email address where your reset email will be sent.
Then click ‘install’ and let it do its thing.
Congratulations! You now have a WordPress website!
To view your website, just open a new web page and go to your domain, e.g. yourdomain.com, and there it is!
It may look a little un-inspiring to start off with, but don’t worry, they all look like that in the beginning.
Part #4 – Editing your website
To add pages, menus, text, pictures etc to your website, you need to login to your WordPress Dashboard – this is the place where you will spend most of your time building and tinkering.
To get to your WordPress dashboard, just add “/wp-admin” at the end of your domain. For example, mydomain.com/wp-admin
It will ask you for a username and password. This is the admin username and password that you set for yourself when installing WordPress (the ‘must remember’ bits above)
Once you have logged in, your dashboard should look a little bit like this…
Go and have a little play with your new website. Change stuff in your dashboard, then go back to your website, refresh it, and see what changes have been made.
TIP: It is much easier if you have at least two tabs open in your internet browser. One tab showing your website, and the other tab showing your dashboard. You can then move between the two very easily – remembering that if you make any changes in your dashboard, when you go back to your website, you must refresh the page for any changes to be seen.
Don’t be worried breaking it, and don’t be worried about hundreds of people seeing it – trust me that only about 2 people will find your website (until you start promoting it).
For more information on how to edit your website, please follow along with my free video course on YouTube.
If you get stuck or have any questions, please comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.