This is the first step to getting your own web presence. You need to complete this lesson so that you have the basic framework in place to begin building your website. This lesson shows you how to register your own unique domain and acquire your own hosting account. This is where all webmasters have to start.
But if you already have a domain and hosting account you can skip this lesson and go on to Lesson 2.
Before we begin, let’s get some definitions out of the way. A ‘web hosting company’ is an organization that runs a number of large, fast computers which are connected to the Internet and on which they rent out space to customers. So you, as a customer, pay them a few bucks a month or year as rent to ‘host’ your website.
A ‘server’ is one of the web hosting company’s super computers on which your website will be stored and which serves up your content when people visit your website.
So, this lesson is all about signing up to one of these web hosting companies so that you have somewhere where you can build your website and where visitors can come to view it.
As I’ve already stated, this is the first and only place in this tutorial where you will need to spend any money. Having a reliable company to host your website is an essential investment and it doesn’t cost mega-bucks. Once you have your hosting account set up you can forget all about the very complex communications technology needed to support your website because you’re paying somebody to provide it for you.
I will recommend the hosting company that I personally use because I think it is the very best option for those just starting out.
If you have never done any of this before and you’re a bit intimidated by all the jargon and tech-speak, don’t panic. There is a mass of incomprehensible gobbledygook associated with web hosting and Internet technology but the good news is that you don’t need to understand nor care about most of it.
Let me take you by the hand and in this lesson I will explain just what you need to do to get started. To coin a cliché, it’s not rocket science. Trust me.
When you’ve completed this lesson you will have taken your first giant leap into the on-line world of web-building.
Choose Your Domain
OK, to begin, you need to decide on a domain. Your domain name is your unique web address and it’s what people will type into their browser to reach your website. So it’s a good idea to make it a name that’s easy to remember and easy to spell and that tells people what your website is all about. So what sort of domain name should you have?
It is better to have a domain like ‘bigfastmotors.com’ rather than ‘xyz101.com’ because it spells out to the world precisely what your site is about. But your domain could be your own name or nickname, or your business name or maybe a slogan that describes your mission.
The.com extension is the most universally recognized extension to a domain name, but you could also have one of the other traditional extensions such as .net, .co, or .org, the latter especially if you are a non-profit organization. And there is now a whole new range of domain extensions which may suit your requirements: .cool, .buzz, .tips, .tools and many more. Plus, there are the country-specific domain name extensions such as.uk,.au,.de – it’s your call. As you can see, there’s plenty of choice available to you.
If you don’t already have a domain, you can register your chosen domain at the same time as you sign up for web hosting.
Sign Up For Web Hosting
The hosting company that I recommend you sign up to is called SiteGround.
If you visit www.sitehost.online you’ll get through to their WordPress page, which is where you need to start.
What’s so special about SiteGround?
- You get your domain free when you sign up
- They install WordPress for you so that you don’t have to do it yourself
- They have servers in North America, Europe and Asia and you can choose which one suits you
- They are manned by some serious WordPress experts and their technical support is excellent
- You’ll get invoiced in your own currency
Trust me, I’ve been around and I can tell you that there are plenty of web hosts that are nothing short of garbage and I don’t want you to get caught out by choosing the wrong one.
As you are starting out, I recommend that you go for the shared hosting SiteGround ‘StartUp’ plan.
This allows you to host one website and it is the cheapest option. You should be able to get this for under $5.00 USD (or equivalent) a month and there are often special offers making it lower than this.
If you know that you will want more than one domain and website on your account then go for the ‘GrowBig’ plan. But if you are not sure, then the best option is to start with StartUp and upgrade later.
With your credit/debit card at the ready, go to the SiteGround URL www.sitehost.online, click on ‘Get Started’ and follow the prompts to complete the purchase process.
You will get the option to register a new domain or transfer one that you have already.
Then you will be prompted to choose which server you want: USA, Europe or Asia. Experts usually advise that you select the server nearest to your home country. That way you’ll be invoiced in your local currency and there could be SEO advantages (see Lesson 17).
And, the next most important step, this screen will pop up to invite you to have WordPress pre-installed on your account. (If this screen does not come up immediately, look for the ‘WordPress Services’ tab and click down to find it).
This last step is important as it will save you time and, potentially, hassle. If you click on ‘Get WordPress preinstalled on this account’ then you can skip Lesson 2 because it’s all been done for you. Easy-peasy, eh?
When you’ve finished signing up, check your email. You’ll receive a message from SiteGround with your account sign-in and password. It’s a good idea to keep this email (or even print it out) so that you have a record of your hosting details.
Done it? Congratulations, you’ve taken the first big step and there’s no looking back!
In the remainder of this tutorial I’m going to take you through the creation of a WordPress website using my domain www.sarahmcharry.com as an example. I’ll start right at the beginning and you’ll watch the website unfold, lesson by lesson. If you work alongside me, you can build your own website (or blog) at the same pace.
Lesson 2 is for those who don’t have WordPress preinstalled on their domain. I’ll explain how to install WordPress with some of the common scripts that should let you do this with a few clicks of the mouse. If you’ve already got WordPress installed you can skip Lesson 2 and go on to Lesson 3.
I already have a domain that I registered with another registrar. Can I still use the domain with SiteGround?
Yes, but you must change your domain’s Domain Name Servers (DNS) to indicate where your website will be hosted.
This is necessary so that the domain name system (which drives the Internet) can translate your domain name into a specific IP (Internet Protocol) address that identifies the server that hosts your website. I admit that that sounds a bit technical but it’s really quite simple.
All you’ve got to do is change two fields on your domain registrar’s screen and you’re done. But read on to do things in the right sequence.
First, follow the instructions above to open a SiteGround account but instead of choosing a new domain, click that you already have a domain and tell them what it is. They will then create your account under that domain and install WordPress for you.
Second, you will receive a welcome email (or two) with all the details you need to get started. This will include details of name servers applicable to your chosen web hosting plan. This will be a pair of codes that look like NS1.xxxxx.com and NS2.xxxxx.com. You usually need to use both codes so make a note of them.
Finally, you will need to log into your account at the registrar you used when you registered the domain. Click through to find your domain properties and there should be somewhere fairly obvious on their screen labeled ‘Nameservers’, ‘Set your DNS’ (or something like that). Enter the two codes your web host supplied and save the settings.
The changes may take place immediately or you may have to wait several hours (or more) before you can access the domain at your hosting account. This is because the information has to propagate out to all the networks on the Internet that need to know where to find your website and this is not always immediate.
If you can’t find out how to change your DNS then try accessing your registrar’s FAQ page or knowledgebase. If all else fails, contact their Tech Support and ask them to help.
What about other hosting companies that I see recommended?
There are other web hosting companies that you could use if you don’t want to use SiteGround. I cover some of these on my website www.wordpress2go.com and you are welcome to check these out.
The .com domain I want is already taken. What should I do?
There are basically two options: 1) use the same domain name but choose a different domain extension, or 2) choose a different domain name under the .com extension.
In the case of 1) above then you should consider whether visitors could get confused between them. If you register tomsmith.net you wouldn’t want your visitors to mistakenly go to tomsmith.com.
The better idea would be to choose a different domain name, for example, tomguysmith.com. That makes it your unique domain.
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