The easiest way to build an online business, whether it’s a coaching or online courses business, in today’s world is to create a website and start producing content.
While you can do this with free hosted options like WordPress.com, TypePad.com, and Blogger.com, you will get the most control by using a self-hosted WordPress site. This is what most serious business owners and bloggers use, and it’s what I use for my website.
(By the way, if you are not sure about the difference between hosted and self-hosted WordPress, check out this helpful infographic.)
When I started out online, I thought that the process of setting up a hosting service and installing WordPress would be complicated and time-consuming. It wasn’t! And the good news is that it’s gotten easier over time. :)
It’s actually so simple that you don’t need to be a “techie” to setup your website. I made sure that this tutorial is super simple so you won’t be intimidated.
You can launch your website by following these seven steps:
Step 1: Get organized
To set up a self-hosted WordPress blog or website, you will need:
- A domain name
- A credit or debit card
- 20 minutes
This first step is easier if you haven’t already registered your domain, (translation…purchased your favored domain name via GoDaddy, Network Solutions, NameCheap, etc.). It’s also cheaper.
However, if you have already registered your domain, no worries. You will simply need to add an additional step shown at the end of this post.
Step 2: Set Up a Hosting Account
“Hosting” means where your blog “lives or resides.” This is a server in the cloud (i.e., a remote computer), where you will rent space to install the WordPress software and manage your blog. It’s much easier than it sounds…promise.
There are many, many hosting services available — too many to name. However, based on my experience and research, I recommend Bluehost. I believe it is the best option for most people for the following reasons:
- Reason #1: Support. Bluehost has great 24–7 support via phone, e-mail, or chat. I have personally used it several times and found the support staff to be quick, courteous, and knowledgeable. All of the company’s support staff are located in the U.S.
- Reason #2: Reliability. Bluehost is super reliable. It boasts an uptime average of 99.9%. That’s about as good as it gets!
- Reason #3: Ease of Use. Bluehost is super easy to use (as you will soon see). You’ll wonder why you haven’t set up a hosting service before now.
- Reason #4: WordPress. Interestingly, WordPress itself only officially recommends four hosting services. Bluehost is number one. They host over 850,000 WordPress blogs.
- Reason #5: No Limits. Bluehost offers unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains (i.e., you can host multiple blogs or sites on one account), and unlimited e-mail accounts.
- Reason #6: Affordability. Bluehost is inexpensive—about $3.95 to $14.95 a month, depending on which plan you select. The longer you are willing to commit, the cheaper it is.
- Reason #7: Values. In its Terms of Service (see Acceptable Use Policy), Bluehost prohibits pornography, nudity, and other adult content. It strictly enforces this standard and deletes sites that violate it. Personally, I don’t want my blog sitting on the same server as some pornographer. If you feel the same way, you may be surprised to know that almost all of the most popular hosting services allow pornography on their servers.
Note: I am a Bluehost affiliate, which means the company pays me a commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. But I did not become a Bluehost affiliate until after I moved my website to their service. Based on that experience, I decided to become a Bluehost affiliate.
Okay, so if you are still with me, go to the Bluehost home page. Click on the Get Started Now button.
It’s time to decide on your plan. If you are just starting out, you can go with the Basic plan. Keep in mind that as your site grows and as you get more email coming to your company email account, you will need to upgrade your plan. (You can upgrade your plan at any time.)
Regardless of the plan you pick, my instructions will work for you; the math will just be different. Continue by clicking on the green “Select” button.
Now you need to decide whether you need a domain name or you already have a domain name. I’m going to assume that you haven’t previously registered a domain, using some other domain registration service (e.g., GoDaddy.com, NameCheap, etc.). If you have, I will explain what to do at the end of this post.
If you haven’t, and if you go with Bluehost, this is where you get your free domain name.
Now enter your chosen domain name in the left-most box, choose the appropriate extension (com, net, biz, whatever) and click on the Next button.
Keep in mind, you will be required to pay the annual rate in advance. That’s how Bluehost is able to offer these super low prices.
I didn’t sign up for any of the other services listed on this screen, but that’s up to you.
Now enter your billing information. Confirm that you have read and agree with Bluehost’s Terms of Service, and then click on the Next button. The system will now verify your credit card information.
Bluehost will next ask you to “Select the Upgrades that Best Suit Your Needs.” I would skip all of these unless there’s something listed that you feel you need. Click the Complete button at the bottom of the page. Be patient. This may take a minute or two.
You should now see the “Welcome to Bluehost” screen, along with a “Congratulations” message. Now you need to choose a password for your account. Click on the “Create your password” button:
Use the Password Generator option to create a strong, difficult-to-hack password. Copy this to the clipboard by pressing ⌘-C if you are on a Mac or Ctrl-C if you are on a PC. Now click the Paste button to paste the password into the appropriate fields. Make sure to keep this password stored somewhere you can find it. :)
Now click the box that says, “I confirm I have read and agree to the Terms of Service …” Then click the Create button. This creates your new Bluehost account.
Warning: You might get an error message here. It is simply because it sometimes takes a few minutes for the Bluehost robots to create your account. Don’t panic. Worst case scenario, call BlueHost Support at 1–888–401–4678.
Once this process is finished, you will be taken to the Bluehost login screen. Here you will be asked to login to your domain. Your domain should be automatically inserted for you. If it is not, type it into the field provided.
Now use the password you just selected in the password field. Since you previously copied it to the clipboard, you can paste it with ⌘-V on the Mac or Ctrl-V on the PC. Now click on Submit.
You may see yet another upgrade offer, perhaps for Optimized hosting. Feel free to ignore this for now. You can always add it later. You might also see the below…
If so, feel free to click on the “Skip this” link.
You should now see the main Control Panel, sometimes called the cPanel.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Don’t be intimidated by the number of buttons in this step—it’s amazingly simple. The process used to be complicated, and you had to be a semi-geek to pull it off. But Bluehost now makes it super-simple. Trust me, anyone can do this.
Scroll down the page to the “Website” section. Click on the Install WordPress logo and wait for the new page to load. Be patient. It might take a minute.
A new “WordPress” screen appears. Simply click on the Install button. That will bring you to a new screen.
Now select the domain on which you want to install WordPress. It should default to the correct one. Click on Check Domain.
The next screen will say “Last step, you are almost there.” Click on “Advanced Options.”
Type in your site name or title. (Don’t worry – you can always change this later.)
Accept the “Admin Username” and “Admin Password” that Bluehost suggests.
Now click on the item that says, “I have read the terms and conditions of the GPLv2.”
Now click on the Install Now button. The installation process should begin and will keep you updated on the process. This process will take a minute or two.
Bluehost might then offer you another upsell. (I realize this gets annoying. Hang in there…You’re almost done.) Just close the pop-up if there is one. You can usually do so by clicking on the “X” in the upper right-hand corner of the pop-up.
You should now see a progress meter at the top of the screen. Again, this will take a minute or two, depending on how busy the Bluehost robots are. It will eventually say, “Your install is complete!”
Now click on the View Credentials button. This will take you to the Notification Center. Click on the View button.
When it is done, you will get a screen with your website URL, Login URL, username, and password. Bluehost will also e-mail this information to you, but I like to have a backup. I would write it down or take a screenshot. Also, copy the password to the clipboard (again, using ⌘-c on a Mac or Ctrl-C on a PC).
You’re making great progress! You have completed the most difficult part of the process. Now things will speed up considerably.
Quick note…you don’t have to purchase a premium theme at this time. You can choose your theme later!
Step 4: Log into WordPress
Click on the “Admin URL” link. This will take you to the WordPress login page.
Now enter your username and password. (Remember, you wrote these down in Step 3. You also copied the password to the clipboard.) Click on the “Remember Me” box and then click on the Log In button.
You should now be looking at the WordPress “Dashboard” or WordPress back-end.
The front-end is what your readers see—your normal blog site. The back-end is what you see—how you control what appears on the front-end.
You might see a welcome screen or an offer for JetPack. Don’t worry about these now.
Step 5: Write Your First Post
Now it’s time to get some content out to your followers!
- Click on the Posts | Add New option in the left-hand side menu. You should now see the New Post screen.
- Enter the title of your post.
- Now write your first post in the field directly below the title. Perhaps you could explain why you are starting your blog, the topics you plan to write about, and how often you intend to post. (Tip: under-promise and over-deliver.)
- Now click the Publish button. This literally publishes your post for the world to see. You might see a message that says, “Your site is currently displaying a ‘Coming Soon’ page. Once you are ready to launch your site, click here.” If so, click on the “click here” link.
Congratulations! You have just published your first post on your very own self-hosted WordPress blog!
Step 6: Load Your New Blog
Here you’re choosing what you want your blog to look like to the outside world.
Simply click on the “View Post” link. Your new blog should load in a new browser tab.
As you can see, there’s nothing very fancy here. WordPress uses a very generic theme by default. But that’s the beauty of WordPress. There are thousands of themes available. I will recommend one in a minute.
Step 7: Bookmark Your Blog
You’ll want to come back to your blog on a regular basis, so it’s a good idea to bookmark the two main pages: the front-end and the WordPress back-end.
In case, you have already closed the page to the back-end, you can re-open it by going to: http://[the name of your blog]/wp-admin.
If you have followed my instructions up until now, you have your very own self-hosted WordPress blog. Pretty exciting, huh?
Consider USING a Premium Theme
The next step is to install a theme. There are literally thousands of free ones available. Personally, I suggest spending a little money and buying a premium theme, like an OptimizePress theme. This is the theme that I use on www.jessicanazarali.com.
Take the time to choose your theme and look for one that suits your needs and offers the functionality you need for your site.
Learn More About WordPress
If you want to learn more about WordPress, I recommend going to WP101.com. This is a tutorial site with hundreds of videos on every aspect of WordPress.
If you know someone else who could benefit from this information, please pass along the link to this post.
Optional: If You Have Already Registered Your Domain
What if you have already registered your domain name with another service?
For example, at Crazy Domains, where I have some domains registered, you log in to your account, then go toDomains | Domain Management screen:
Now click on the domain name you want to point to Bluehost. You should now be looking at the “Domain Details” page.
Scroll down until you see a section called “Nameservers”:
Click on Set Nameservers. A new screen should pop-up.
- Enter ns1.Bluehost.com in the field for Nameserver 1.
- Enter ns2.Bluehost.com in the field for Nameserver 2.
Click OK. That’s it. Now log out. It typically takes 24–48 hours for these changes to take effect. You might get lucky, and it will start working in an hour or two.
Please note: Bluehost or your Registrar (the company from whom you bought your domain) may change their procedures from time to time. If you have any problems, please check with them as I do not provide technical support for this process.
Once you have done this, you can begin the process of setting up your WordPress blog. In Step #2, after you click Sign Up Now, you will need to enter your domain name in the right-most box that says, “I Have a Domain Name.”
Now click the next button. Everything else should be the same.
If you get stuck, you may need to wait for the change in your Nameservers to take effect before proceeding. Be patient.
And that’s it! You’re all set and ready to publish content so you can reach followers with your blog post. Having a site also provides you with a level of professionalism so make sure the content and theme you choose works to attract your target audience.