The first big jump to getting your web business going is setting up your website. This means getting a domain name and a place to host your site. This guide will walk you through starting a WordPress site by making these decisions and get you up and running quickly. Then you can spend your time building out your idea.
Choosing a Domain
The first thing you should figure out is what you’d like to use for a domain name. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name check out my article on finding creative blog names. If you have a domain all figured out then we can move onto the next step. I’ve registered my domains using Godaddy, which has worked well. If you haven’t purchased your domain yet, Bluehost will actually include a free domain when you signup for hosting. We’ll cover that below.
WordPress Web Hosting Solutions
When considering where to host your WordPress site you can get into a ton of complicated details. There are arguments all over the web about which hosting service is the best. I’m going to help cover the basics of why you might choose a particular host and what I’d recommend doing to get started.
If you’re just starting a WordPress site for a new business the most important things to consider are:
- how easy the web hosting is to setup?
- is the company is reputable?
Tons of web hosting companies have been purchased by a large hosting group called EIG. While the services from the companies they own are all slightly different, they are generally all very stable, cheap, and easy to get running for a small business. These may not be the best solutions if you want to deal directly with someone and have services that are customized for your specific needs, but that adds extra cost and is something to grow into.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have used all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are helpful and are companies that I trust.
Types of Hosting
There are tons of options you’ll see when selecting a hosting service for your site. The primary things you’ll see are:
- Shared hosting: This is where I’d recommend starting. You’ll be sharing a server with other smaller websites. This means the price is very cheap and this is extremely reliable. If you end up building a site that takes off, you’ll eventually need to move to a more expensive option.
- VPS hosting: This is a server that is split between multiple people as virtual servers. This is more expensive and you can do more to access the server (if you’re techie like that) and gives you more speed and dedicated resources.
- WordPress hosting: This is pretty much the same as VPS hosting, just with some added WordPress features such as automated updates, backups, or plugins. These often have limits on the number of visitors per month to get these additional features.
- Dedicated hosting: This option is much more expensive and gives you your own server. This is for very large websites, or people who want to customize their server.
I’ve always started with shared hosting. If you’re ok with some light setup work, I’d recommend you do the same. (And if you don’t want to setup anything and just want the basic blog with very limited options for future growth, I’d check out wordpress.com.)
When your site takes off and reaches a large audience then you can have your provider upgrade you to one of the other services. When you’re ready to upgrade it’s either a small fee or even free to change server types, so no big deal. Picking a reputable host like Bluehost means they deal with tons of websites and this process is pretty painless. Even moving to a completely new host in the future isn’t too difficult.
I started all my sites off on a shared plan to get going. I even kept them there for many years until the traffic got too high to stay on the cheap plan. When that happened, I moved my servers to a different host and have now landed at MediaTemple. I’m currently using a VPS solution for my larger sites that get 1 million views a month, but that costs me over $100/mo. If you’re in need of a larger host, I’ve been happy with MediaTemple.
You could also start off with a MediaTemple plan if you’d like. Those will cost more than Bluehost ($20/mo vs $3-7/mo). They have some custom technical services you can pay for and maybe the customer support is better/quicker. For a small site you probably won’t notice too much difference otherwise.
Alright, now that we’ve covered some details… let’s take some action and get started. I’d recommend using Bluehost to get going and starting out with a shared hosting plan. There are two plans I’d consider:
Basic: This is super cheap and they give you a great deal of $2.95/mo to start out (note: the cheapest prices are if you register for 36 months, you’ll pay a couple dollars more if you register for only 12 months). I’d choose this plan if you’re only going to have one website and don’t plan to email much using that account (5 max email accounts and 100MB email storage).
Plus: This is only slightly more at $4.45/mo to start out. The nice thing is you can have multiple sites there and you get unlimited email accounts and storage.
Pick whichever makes sense for what you’re planning to do. Click here, then click the green “Get Started Now” button to choose your plan.
Signing Up for Bluehost
Awesome, now you are all set with your hosting plan choice. Lets dig into the remaining steps you’ll need to get WordPress setup on Bluehost.
First off enter your domain name, this is where you’ll register a new name or just enter one that you’ve already purchased.
Then fill out your information to purchase your hosting plan. You’ll see here you have some pricing options. You can lock in the cheapest price if you pre-pay for 36 months, or pay something like a dollar more for shorter commitments. Not a huge deal, they just are looking for long term customers and willing to give a deal for that. I’d go with whatever you’re comfortable paying up-front.
There are a few more package options you can add-on. I generally don’t do this, but if you don’t want to have your name/address associated with your site (domain privacy), or are running e-commerce (positiveSSL) these can be useful.
Alright, you have hosting! Next step is setting a password. If you get an error message just wait a minute and then hit submit again.
Bluehost and WordPress
Now you’ll be in Bluehost’s control panel, which is really quite nice looking compared to many other hosts. This is where you’ll be whenever you want to do any customizing of your server. You can set up email addresses, install software, or add new sites.
Now, to setup WordPress you can follow the prompt that may pop-up or you can scroll down to the “website” box and click “Install WordPress”.
Choose the domain from the drop-down that you’d like to use for your site. I always use the one with www. The domain will work regardless, WordPress will just redirect all traffic to whichever one you use. I also leave the directory box blank. You would only fill this in if you wanted to only have WordPress running on something like www.yoursite.com/blog and something else running the rest of your site. (Again if you get an error here just wait a minute and select your domain again).
Finally enter the name of your site, the username you want to login with (I’d recommend not using ‘Admin’), and a strong password like the default one they will suggest. Make sure to write it down! Then click install. It’ll wait a few minutes and let you browse themes. When it’s installed you can purchase a theme from them (if you don’t know how to code, buying a theme is a great way to go) or you can go right into the WordPress admin where you can build your own theme or buy one elsewhere and install it.
Congratulations, on starting a WordPress site… you’re up and running with your new site!