This article is a step-by-step guide to starting a website. This guide works whether you are starting a hobby website, an online business, or simply creating a personal website with your name as the domain. Yes, you should buy yourname.com whether you want to start a website with it or not – so that no one else takes it. That being said, I am always encouraging people to take control of their financial future and start an online business. To do that you will need a website.
What’s Different About This Guide?
People who have never owned a website are often overwhelmed by how to start. They Google “How To Start A Website” and get a ton of oversimplified information. Why?
Those Google search results are all taken by the best marketers and SEOs rather than having the best information. Also people want to see easy results and not the technical side of starting a website. Most people will hit the back button and choose a different article. when presented with technical information.
I had a ton of trouble finding the best domain registrar and hosting and learning how to set up my website. That’s why I created this tutorial. I recommend the best resources I have been able to find. Some of the links are affiliate links, so I earn a small commission for each purchase.
This article will be big. It will explain everything you need to know to start a website. Honestly the process is not super complicated. The most important thing is to use the right domain registrar and hosting provider. This article explains the technical side step-by-step.
What You Will Need:
- Domain and Domain Registrar (Namecheap)
- Hosting (Siteground)
- WordPress Account & Theme
- WordPress Plugins
- Domain Email
Assuming you aren’t a seasoned web developer or network engineer, here is the basics of how the internet works:
- You type in the url (domain) of your favorite website, www.thegritzone.com
- Your browser then goes to the Domain Name System (DNS) servers where the domain is registered
- The NameServers say which Internet Protocol (IP) address to access
- Your browser goes to this IP address and data is sent from the server to the you
- The specific page you requested is displayed
Below are the full steps to starting a website
Choosing A Domain
When you choose a domain make sure it’s the right one for your website from the start. The worst thing that can happen is putting the work into growing a website and then realizing your domain didn’t fit or was too narrow for your business.
- No numbers or hyphens. Best practices are to not use numbers or hyphens in a domain name. They make it harder to remember and harder for a user to type into their browser. The other issue is these domain are also too to similar to a domain that is already taken. For example if someone made thegritzone100.com anyway who searches for “The Grit Zone” on Google will get thegritzone.com as a result above thegritzone100.com.
- Choose a brandable domain. A brandable domain is a domain that you could turn into a real business and brand. Think of the difference between starting a domain called calvinklein.com vs. starting deluxmenswear.com. Calvin Klein is a brand, delux menswear is not a brand and cannot be turned into one.
- Stick to .com extension. People choose alternative extensions because the .com version is already taken. If the .com version of a domain you want is taken, simply choose a different one.
To buy a domain name you need to use a registrar. A registrar is a company that is licensed to register and sell domains.
Don’t use GoDaddy! I know they are one of the first search results on Google and are well known, but they are very bad, and have had a series of controversies over the years.
There are a ton of domain registrars on the internet – in my opinion (and many others agree) the best is NameCheap. They have a very simple interface, on their homepage search the domain you want. Add this domain to your cart and then buy it.
NameCheap has competitive prices and 2 key features that are shown in the image below.
- Free WhoisGuard
- Domain Auto-Renew
WhoIs is a free online database where anyone can access information about a website and its owner, whether it be an individual or a company. This information will be stored in current and historical WhoIs records – your name, address, telephone number, email address and physical address.
WhoIsGuard protects this information – and Namecheap provides this service for free. Domain Auto-renew ensures your domain doesn’t expire at the end of the year. This will save you a world of pain and it’s also free. I highly recommend you keep WhoIsGuard and Domain Auto-Renew turned on for the duration of time you have a domain.
Web hosting is an internet hosting service that makes your website accessible on the World Wide Web. Web hosts provide space on a server they own or lease for individuals and companies. There are a thousands of hosting companies – it’s incredibly important you choose a reputable company, the most recommended for beginners is Siteground.
Choose a REPUTABLE company not simply a big company!
The web host I recommend using is Siteground. They have excellent customer service, a very simple setup interface, and a free SSL certificate (added security) among other great features.
If you need more convincing, I will let 2 Reddit threads speak for themselves.
- R/WebDev’s Best Web Hosting 2018 | Recommendations
- R/WebHosting’s Best Web Hosting. What is everybody using?
Initially, you will want to use a shared web hosting service. There are different types of hosting and Siteground allows you to upgrade later on if you need more server space. Simply put, you will need this if you’re building a big website or you have a ton of traffic.
Siteground has excellent customer service, if you need help setting up your website or have general questions they will always be there to help you out.
The Startup plan is the best to start with. Select “Get Started” and you will be redirected to a page to enter the domain you bought from NameCheap. Then the next page is where you input your personal and payment information.
Now that you have your domain and hosting, you need to connect them so your website works properly.
Connecting Your Domain and Hosting
Now you need to connecting your Hosting to your domain. This is the point where many beginners get confused and spend hours trying to figure out what to do. If you follow this guide step by step you should have no issues.
- Log in to your Siteground account and click on the tab called “Manage Account”.
- Click on the tab called “Information & Settings”
- The second option reads “Account DNS” and includes the information about your two nameservers, they should look like this: ns1.siteground###.com & ns2.siteground###.com
- Log in to your Namecheap account and click “Domain List”
- To the right of your domain click click the box that says “Manage”
- The 4th section will say “NameServers”
- Input your information
- On the dropdown bar select “Custom DNS”
- On the two dotted lines below copy and past BOTH your name servers
Now you will need to wait for the name servers to update. This may take up to 48 hours, but usually takes only a few hours.
Content Management System – WordPress
Now you are going to want to install a content management system (CMS). This is what will allow you to create, add, modify and delete content on your website. I recommend using WordPress, this is the most widely used CMS on the internet and it powers 28% of the websites on the internet. For a small business or personal website it is the best and easiest way to create a website.
With Siteground there is a very simple way to install WordPress.
Under “MyAccounts” select the orange button that says “Go to cPanel”. Then click on the WordPress icon under the AutoInstallers section.
This is an autoinstaller, but you still have to make a few selections. This includes things like your URL structure, site name, site description, username and password. Fill that out and then you will need to get a theme for your page.
Buy A WordPress Theme
I highly recommend you buy a premium theme for your website. It will make your website look professional. There are free themes for WordPress but these never look as good as premium themes. I always recommend beginners a Studiopress theme, I have included three below that have great designs, but there are a ton to choose from on their website.
Setting Up An Email For Your Website
You will want to create an email associated with the domain you create. This can be easily done with cPanel as well. Under the heading “Mail” click the option called “Email Accounts”. This will bring you to a very simple interface to create an email account. You can then connect it to your primary email address so you can send and receive emails from ONE inbox. Very convenient. Simply Google “Connect domain email to MyEmailProvider” and include your email service in the place of MyEmailProvider.
WordPress plugins can make changing and adding features to your website incredibly easy. The only issue is that as you add more plugins it creates a lot of “bloat” on your website which slows down your website’s loading time.
This allows you to use easily use HTTPS on your WordPress website. In SG Optimizer there is an option to Force HTTPS this makes a secure connection between your hosting server and someone accessing your website. It also makes all the content on your website secure. The explanation for this is very technical, but remember this plugin makes your website safer!
This is the best way to protect your website from spam. Bots spend so much time crawling the internet and posting spam on blogs. This is because people aren’t protecting their websites. Make sure you are protected from spam.
This plugin allows you to backup your site to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Email. You can set up an automatic schedule fro backups. This is incredibly important, if your website breaks you do not want to lose all your hard work. Back up your website.
Yoast WordPress SEO
This plugin makes it easier for your website to be made accessible for search engines. You always want your website to be as search engine-friendly as possible. This plugin helps a ton, and helps prevent you from dicing into the rabbit hole of SEO (search-engine optimization).
Any questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org