How to Set Up a WordPress Website – for Beginners

I recently set up my own WordPress site without a headache and thought I would share with any newbies who are hesitant to get started.

1. To begin, you need a domain name

A domain name is the title of your website. Do a quick search to see if the domain name you want is available. (Whois.com is a good site for this.) My site is about baking so I chose bakerintheprairies.ca. I purchased my domain from namecheap.com for $11 per year. You need to decide whether to have a .ca or .com url. In the past, .com sites were seen as more official, but these days either will work just fine.

2. Select your web host

Hosting is like the house for your website’s database; the back end of the back end of your site. My hosting is through hostgator.com because it is easy to connect to WordPress and let’s face it, it’s cheap! I plan on only creating one website right now so I chose the ‘Hatchling Plan’ and pay $3.96/month. Choose a web hosting plan that suits you.

3. Point your domain to your host

Login to your host and check out the “nameservers”. They’re kind of like doormen, in that they’ll point people to the right spot when they ask for “bakerintheprairies.com”.

4. Install WordPress on your host

Fortunately, you don’t have to dig out your credit card again, because WordPress is free! Hostgator has a quick and painless ‘Quick Install’ button that installs WordPress in seconds. Most decent hosting companies will have a quick install for WordPress available. It can take up to 24 hours for the internet to actually make the connection between your website name and your web host, but usually it happens faster than that. You might even be able to visit your new site within a few hours.

After the connection has been made, you should be able to view the front page of your website. Login to the backend and add some cool features. Go to www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin to get started.

5. Add some plug-ins

Here are some basic plug-ins that we would suggest: Google Analyticator, Disqus comment system and Addthis Social Bookmarketing Widget (so your followers can tweet, link or +1 your posts), to name just a few. Add plugins by clicking ‘Plugins’ from the left navigation bar and then ‘Add New’. Activate and configure them if necessary.

If you’re into measuring results like we are, sign up for Google Analytics and create an account for your website. Visit google.com/analytics and click the orange ‘Create a new account’  button or sign in if you have a gmail account.

6. Setup permalinks

Permalinks will provide better usability and a visual cue to what you are looking at on the page. The difference will be www.bakerintheprairies.ca/lemon-sugar-cookies/ vs. www.bakerintheprairies.ca/?p=123.  Which one tells you where you are on the site?

Click ‘Settings’ on the left navigation bar then ‘permalinks’ below and choose ‘Post name’ as your common setting.

7. Go nuts and start posting!

Start by hitting ‘New Post‘ and get writing! You can always save drafts of great ideas you might have but don’t have time to polish up for primetimeClick ‘Posts’ on the left navigation bar and ‘Add New’.

8. Pat yourself on the back

You’ve just created your very own WordPress site!