I thought my first blog post should be something useful, so I documented how I set up this very blog as a tutorial, and here’s the result. Hopefully this is useful for anyone who wants to do the same. Please get in touch and let me know at the end of the post.
At the time of writing, this blog is a work in progress and I am continually upgrading it, so I’m using a very basic theme to start with. As I update it, I will add further posts explaining what I did. The most important thing was to get the blog published, without worrying too much about the theme, colours or logo. That can all come later.
Choosing a Domain Name
First, you need to choose a domain name. This is completely up to you, but it’s best to try and keep it short and simple, and not to include any hyphens. However, it’s hard to choose something that hasn’t already been taken. For this blog, I just chose my name. Luckily, I bought my domain years ago but never did anything with it. But at least I prevented all the other Chris Tattums from taking it!
To buy your own domain name, you can use one of the domain registrars, such as Namecheap. It doesn’t cost much and you can easily search for domain names to see if they are available.
Finding a Hosting Provider
Next you need to find a hosting provider, to actually store your WordPress website. I have heard good things about Vidahost, and like me they’re based in the UK, so I went with them. Also, you only really need a low cost starter package when first starting your blog, so that’s what I chose.
Now we can create the website. There should be an option somewhere on your host’s set up page, so you can create a new website. If you’re given the option, choose Linux rather than Windows as the server operating system.
One bit of advice before we move on is to not use any automatic installation of WordPress, if you see it. This can cause problems, so it’s best to do this manually, and you get to learn more about WordPress in the process. Not to worry though, it’s very straightforward and I’ll go through the steps in detail.
Setting Up Your Domain Name
In order to see your website, you must set up your domain name to point to it. This is done using your chosen domain registrar.
In your domain registrar’s dashboard, there should be a section called something like Change Nameservers (DNS). Mine is shown below. Just type in the two nameservers you are given by your own hosting provider in to the boxes provided.
Once saved, it can take up to 48 hours for these settings to take effect, which is why we’ve done this before installing and setting up WordPress.
Setting up FTP
The next thing to do is to create an FTP account for your new website, so you can install WordPress on to it. On Vidahost there’s an option called FTP accounts, and it’s just a case of adding a new username and password when prompted. Your hosting provider should have a similar option. They should also tell you what their FTP host or hostname is. This will usually be something like ftp.example.com.
Before we continue, a rule of thumb when choosing names and passwords is not to use obvious or default names. It’s these obvious names that hackers use to try and get in to systems. So it’s best to come up with something random and not easily guessed, and we’ll follow that principle here.
Therefore the username you choose should be something not obvious, so don’t use “admin” or your name. Some combination of numbers and letters is good, not easily guessed. For a password, use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols too. Then make a note of your FTP hostname, username and password somewhere filed under “FTP Login”.
Once that’s done, you need an FTP program to upload WordPress. I recommend FileZilla, which is free. From FileZilla’s main screen, select File – Site Manager from the menu, and then click the button New Site.
On the right hand side, enter the FTP host you wrote down above into the Host box. Choose Logon Type as Normal, and enter your FTP username and password in the User and Password boxes.
Click Connect, and you should be connected to your new web server. If anything goes wrong, make sure you haven’t misspelled anything and try again.
Congratulations, you have created your website, set up your domain name to point to it, and we now have a means of installing WordPress. We’ll do this in Part 2.