The journey of a thousand miles begins with registering your first domain.
Tips for Picking a Domain Name:
- Dot com is still the gold standard for domains, even though there are plenty of other extensions. If someone owns the .com of your idea, don’t use some other extension, because they can (rightly) claim copyright infringement.
- Whether you want to use your name or your theme as your URL. It can be easier to write about whatever you want if your URL is yourname.com so think about whether you want to be your brand, or you want to create a brand. There’s no right answer here, and we’ve seen people start with a theme, then rebrand as their name (and vice versa!).
- How your URL sounds offline. If you’re at a party, and someone asks about your website, how do you discuss it? This is where repeating your URL aloud will come in handy, because you can unintentionally spell something you don’t want. The pen sales website penisland.com comes to mind as an example of what not to do.
Where to Find Ideas for Great URLs:
Stuck for ideas? Coming up with a URL can take a long time. The following websites are jumping off points for brainstorming URLs:
When you’ve found a great domain, find out how much it costs by visiting NameCheap. You want your domain to be around $10.
After You Find One You Like, Make Sure the Social Media Usernames Are Available
Head to the website Namechk and pop in your domain idea. It will show you if the relevant social media profiles are available. There are several social media platforms where user names are character limited, so if you have a longer URL, you’ll need to come up with a shorter social handle.
If the social media usernames are not available, ask yourself, “do I like this URL enough to use my own name on social media?”
Get a “Yourblog@gmail.com” Email Address
Why get a new email address?
To keep all of your blog-related emails from flooding your regular inbox.
Separating your blog emails from your personal inbox will come in handy, so get a new Gmail address for your blog specifically.
Set Up a PayPal Account for Your Blog
The internet pays using PayPal. If you don’t already have a PayPal account, sign up for one. If you already have a PayPal account, add your blog email address to your profile.
The verification process can take several days, but you can use the account as soon as you create it.
Head to PayPal.com and follow the instructions there. You can opt for a business account or a personal account. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to change details on a business account if you decide to change the name of your business in the future.
You already have your domain name, but now it’s time to get hosting. Hosting is the server space your website will live on.
The most important thing in this section is to find the right host for you. In our experience, the smaller the company, the better.
Our Favorite Hosting Company
We both use BigScoots. They’re a little company with a handful of employees who seriously go above and beyond what you expect from a host. They feel more like an on-demand IT department, and their service is reasonably priced. In fact, you can get a year of hosting for less than $50. Start with a small hosting package, you can always increase it later when you grow.
Make sure the hosting package you choose allows you to set up email.
Your Hosting Account
Within your hosting account, you can manage your payment method, the size of your hosting package, open support tickets, and more.
Introducing the cPanel
Most hosting packages (though not all), give you access to what is called a cPanel. It allows you to control the server space you’re renting. Usually you can log into your cPanel after you have logged into your hosting account.
If you have to pick a separate username for your cPanel, choose a username that you will not use anywhere else, and note it in your workbook. Using different usernames makes it more difficult to hack into your site.
Update Your Nameservers
Now that you’ve purchased hosting, you need to connect it to the company where you’ve registered your domain.
While logged in to your registrar, update your account’s email address to use the new blog-only email address you created.
This is it! You’re about to turn your website into a reality.
Add your domain name to your cPanel account, usually via “add subdomain” and then install WordPress.
If it’s not clear in your cPanel how to do that, email your host, and they’ll install it for you.
If you want to do it on your own, keep the following in mind:
- In Directory: if your directory is set to /wp, delete it so the field is blank.
- Change “admin” to something else, like your initials and a number that’s important to you. Hackers will try to login as “admin” on your site all the time — don’t make it an option!
- Change the default administrator email address to the Gmail address you created for your site.
Congratulations - you now have a website!
Log in for the First Time
Using the URL the install message gave you, as well as the administrator name and password, put in your details and login to your website dashboard for the first time.
The URL is:
What you see now is called the “back end” or “dashboard” of your website. Whenever you log in, you’ll see a black bar along the top of your website. This makes it easy to switch back and forth between the front end — what everyone can see — and the back end, which only you and other logged in people can see.
You have a blank slate. Now it’s time to focus on creating your brand.
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