Module 1 of my very comprehensive guide: How to Build a WordPress Website in 2 days. There are 4 modules and each one is pretty long but spaced out with images and sub-titles.
Lesson 1 – Find Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your new WordPress web address. I’ll be honest with you, unless you are using your own name, it is very hard to find a domain name that is available. So you’ll need to do some digging.
Here is what you’re looking for
- should be short…like 2 words
- choose a .com extension
- should be memorable
- should NOT have hyphen or numbers
- should NOT be hard to pronounce
- could be misspelled, a friend of mine used catzstuff for hers
- ask friends and family for their feedback on your list of potential names
IMPORTANT: Don’t buy your domain with your hosting
Why? Because believe me you would regret it in the future if you have to switch host and yes it will probably happen to you at least once. And the headaches and process created by the fact that your domain is ‘attached’ to your host is not worth it.
All hosting companies will offer to include your domain with your hosting for free…don’t get fooled by this. It’s only for the first year and a domain costs $15.00 per year and as I’m writing this, at https://godaddy.com, there is a special of $2.99 per year when you register for 2 years or more.
Best Site to buy a domain
So one of the best places to go verify availability of the domains on your list and buy one is https://godaddy.com so get on over there now.
Don’t pay attention to all the different slides with other services they want to sell you. You don’t need them. Here is what to do:
The next window will let you know if the domain is already taken or if it is available. Go through each name on your list and take note of the ones available. From those, decide which one you want to buy. And if by any chance, you love 2 that are available, you might want to buy both.
Something else to consider
You might want to buy your name as a domain to use now or at a later date, you just ‘park’ it at GoDaddy. Why?
Because it happened to me. A long time ago, I had bought my name lisegalipeau.com and I didn’t use it for years, so at some point I decided to not renew it.
Big mistake…a year or 2 later, I wanted to use it again but when I went to buy it, it was not available! What the heck? who out there was using my name, unless someone else was also named Lise Galipeau.
Well it turned out some outfits on the internet buy domains that have been expired and use them to just create a page full of ads!
I closely watched the domain and when it became available again I bought it and will never ever let it go again.
Ok back to your domain. Click on Continue to cart button. On the next window, they have added the privacy but you don’t have to, just select No Thanks in the dropdown menu. Continue to cart.
You will see on the next window what’s in your cart. Again do not select anything else they suggest, you don’t need them. You can change the term to one year instead of 2 here. When you click on proceed to checkout you will be ask to set up an account which is free. Don’t forget to keep track of the password you have used to set up the account.
Congratulations, you now have your own domain.
Lesson 2 – Sign up for a Hosting Account
You now need a hosting account. Your host is where your website resides. Every site needs a host to live on the internet. Otherwise, nobody would be able to see it.
I’ve had a website or 2 or 3 for the last 16 years, before Google existed, OMG! and I started using WordPress at the very beginning of its existence. So I’ve had a few hosts along the way.
Why would someone switch host? Well in my case, with the last one, Bluehost, support got really bad, had to wait sometimes 40 minutes before someone answered the chat, and prices kept going up. I had enough and went on a search for a better host.
I read tons of reviews for different hosting companies and finally I liked what GreenGeeks had to offer and I have been with them for 2 years now and couldn’t be happier.
Their online chat is always answered right away, their support ticket system by email is also very quick and can’t beat their prices.
My previous host was charging me $178.US for one year. GreenGeeks has a special for first timer of $142.56 for 3 YEARS!
Which will revert to $178.US for 3 YEARS after the initial 3 years.
That’s why I strongly recommend you go with them. Go HERE and click on Web Hosting in the top menu. On the next page, choose the section: I want to use an existing domain and enter your new domain you bought at https://godaddy.com and continue to finish setting up your account.
You will receive by email all the details of your account, including info you might need at some point in your blogging journey, like your CPanel. But for now, just keep that email safe somewhere.
You are now ready to connect your domain to your hosting account.
Lesson 3 – Set up Nameservers
Now that you have signed up for your hosting with your new domain name, you need to connect the two, so that your site is viewed by all. To accomplish that, you need to set up nameservers on your domain at https://godaddy.com or wherever you bought your domain.
If your host is GreenGeeks (same as mine) the nameservers are:
NS1.GREENGEEKS.COM and NS2.GREENGEEKS.COM
If your host is different, you will have to find their nameservers somewhere on their knowledge pages, as each host uses different nameservers, just like an address.
Now equipped with that info, you need to login to yourhttps://godaddy.com account. If you bought your domain somewhere else, separate from your hosting, you will need to go there to set up the nameservers.
If you got your domain with your hosting, then you don’t need to do this.
Once logged in to your GoDaddy account, you will see this page:
Click on Manage button in line with domains. Click on the domain for your new WordPress. You will see details of your domain here as shown in the picture below.
Click on Manage in the Nameservers section. A new window opens as shown below.
Change the radio button to Custom and the info will change and click on the link Enter custom nameservers. A new window opens like the one below.
Just type in your host nameservers in each space, they will usually always be the same except one has NS1 and the other NS2 – so make sure you have both. Click ok.
In the next window, make sure it looks like this image below and hit the save button.
You’ll be taken back to the domain settings page with a message in the right top corner telling you it will take a few minutes for changes to take effect – so wait 2 or 3 minutes and refresh the page, you should now see your host nameservers listed there.
Now we can go and install WordPress on your domain.
Lesson 4 – How to Install WordPress
Now that we have a host and a domain and they are connected, we can go and install WordPress. Don’t panic, it’s so very easy…
Go to your host cPanel, you should have the link in the email you received from your hosting after it was set up. On GreenGeeks, once you are logged into your account, and you are on your dashboard, at the bottom you will see your domain listed and a blue button cPanel login, so click on it.
You’re going to see a whole bunch of icons, go to the bottom and find Softaculous Apps Installer. If you are on a different host, they might call that section differently, what you’re looking for is the installer for the Scripts, and you should see the WordPress Icon.
Click on the WordPress icon and you’ll get to the installer section. In the top menu, click on Install and this is what you’ll see. So fill up the info as per my red arrows and text.
IMPORTANT: change the username, never never use admin
Change it to something not easy to replicate, doesn’t have to be long like a password but should not be a word that makes sense and no space, just one word. I mix it up with capital letters and small letters and some numbers or the signs above the numbers, whatever they are called.
Choose a password, make it a strong one, again mixing big and small letters and signs. And of course, make sure you write these somewhere you will remember.
DO NOT select the plugin and leave the advanced options section closed and close the select theme, because you won’t need one. You can also send yourself the installation details to your email, below the install. Now hit the install button.
DO NOT LEAVE THE NEXT PAGE UNTIL IT’S ALL INSTALLED AND IT’S BEEN SUCCESSFUL
It will take a few hours for the domain to propagate through the internet, so we’ll wait to go check it out and login. It might take up to 8 hours but I found that it usually takes about 2 hours.
Lesson 5 – How to Login & Explore your WordPress Dashboard
Once your domain has propagated through the internet, you can login and explore your WordPress dashboard.
You will always use this url http://yourdomain.com/wp-login or wp-admin (which is what I use) to do so.
You will get to the login page where you are asked for your username and password that you set up when doing the WordPress install.
You will next get to your dashboard and it looks like this image below.
We are going to clean it up a bit.
the top section: Welcome to WordPress, you will not need, so click on the dismiss in the top right corner.
the Quick Draft section: I never used it, so I hide it, just click on the little arrow on the right. If you ever want to use it, just click on the arrow again and it will reappear.
the WordPress News: I do the same, I don’t need all this in my face every time I login, so do the same as above.
I keep At a glance and Activity sections open.
Let’s examine what we see
The top black bar
– Starting from left, you see the WordPress logo and if you click on it, a dropdown menu opens up and if you click the About WordPress link, it will take you to a page telling you which version you have. The other links might be useful at some point to get to the forums or documentation. For now, let’s ignore those.
– Then a house icon and site name which is also a link to your site home page. Whenever you use this link, let’s say to see the changes or customization you did, use right click on your mouse and choose open link in new tab.
– Next 2 icons are to edit comments and add a new page or new post, you have the same links in the sidebar, so I never use those either. You can of course use them but I find that always going one place (the sidebar) for all the links I need is best.
– All the way on the right of the top bar is your username and your gravatar (explained in Module 3).
Let’s go down the sidebar to see what is there.
home: which is the link for the dashboard.
updates: which will have little numbers beside it when you have updates to do.
– all posts – you will see here all your posts listed and this is where you would go to edit one.
– add new – this is where you will write a new post, this takes you to the editor (will show you how later).
– categories and tags – you set up different categories and tags here (will show you how later).
– library – where all your images will be listed.
– add new – this is where you add a new image (will show you how later).
– all pages are listed here and this is where you would go to edit one. – add new – this is where you will write a new page, this takes you to the editor (will show you how later).
comments: – if you have comments to approve, a number will appear beside it and you click it to see a list of all the comments.
– themes – this is where you will upload a theme and you also see all the themes loaded but not activated.
– customize – this is where you will go to customize a few things on your themes.
– widgets – the sections you can add to your home page and sidebar.
– menus – where you will create menus and edit them.
– header – where you can upload your logo.
– editor – where your css codes and functions for your blog exist. Do not touch anything here.
– installed – a list of your installed plugins.
– add new – to find and add new plugins.
– editor – do not touch.
– all users – a list of users, for now you are the only user and are the admin.
– add new – if you decide to add users, you will assign them a role. There are four roles that can be assigned: Administrator . Editor . Author . Contributor and each have a limited tasks they can do.
1. Editor – An editor can view, edit, publish, and delete any posts/pages, moderate comments, manage categories, manage tags, manage links and upload files/images
2. Author – An author can edit, publish and delete their posts, as well as upload files/images
3. Contributor – A contributor can edit their posts but cannot publish them. When a contributor creates a post, it will need to be submitted to an administrator for review. Once a contributor’s post is approved by an administrator and published, however, it may no longer be edited by the contributor. A contributor does not have the ability to upload files/images
4. Subscriber – In your comment settings, if you’ve selected “Users must be registered and logged in to comment”, once they have created an account, they will be given subscriber role. Subscribers only have the ability to leave comments. NOTE: subscribers are more likely nowadays to be subscribed through an email list, using a 3rd party, such as mailerlite.com
– your profile – click on your Profile and on that page, change the Nickname to your first name and then under display name publicly as, choose that nickname and go all the way to end of page and click on the button Update profile. Now your first name will appear beside your gravatar at the top right of black top bar and when you respond to comments, this name will appear instead of your username, which should not be visible to anyone.
tools: available tools (I never used ever),import & export are used when you move your blog to another domain.
– general – You should fill out the following if they have not been done during installation:
1. site title, i.e. GaliDesigns
2. tagline, i.e. WordPress Web Designer
3. email address, for admin purposes
4. membership, do no check it
5. adjust the time zone according to where you live, find a city that is in the same time zone
– writing – leave it as is
1. front page displays: select Your latest posts
2. blog pages show at most, change to 5 posts
3. search engine visibility, check it until you have your blog all set up and have a few posts, you will come back later to uncheck
– discussion – leave everything as is except check Comment must be manually approved
– media – leave as is
– permalink – IMPORTANT, select Post name and the custom structure should now read /%postname%/ then SAVE
Next, we are moving right along to Build a Website – MODULE 2 where we will go find the perfect theme for your site.