- WordPress.com — a version of WordPress that is hosted for free at the WordPress.com website. When you sign up for a WordPress.com account, you don’t have to worry about installing WordPress. You just sign up, and you’re given a login to an account that has WordPress already set up for you. You can pay extra to get a dedicated domain name, so that it doesn’t look like: http://askwpgirl.wordpress.com. However, installing plugins (those wonderful applications that extend the functionality of your WordPress application) is not be possible, and you’re limited as to how much you can modify your WordPress theme. The upside is that it is completely and utterly FREE (aside from paying for a dedicated domain name if you want to get rid of the wordpress.com in your URL), and you don’t have to do any real set up other than pick a theme (which determines how your site looks) and start blogging away!
- Self-Hosted WordPress — you can install the WordPress application on your own domain (e.g. http://askwpgirl.com) and have complete control over ALL of your content, not to mention having your own domain name. To install the self-hosted version of WordPress, you will need to:
- Register a domain name (see Registering a Domain Name below). GoDaddy.com provides pretty good pricing for domain names.
- Sign up for web hosting (see Finding a WordPress Friendly Web Host below).
- Point your domain name to the web host (see Modifying Name Servers below).
- Install WordPress (manually or using a one-click install button).
Step 1 – Registering a Domain Name
This part is easy. The hard part is finding a domain name that you like and is AVAILABLE! I usually register my domain names through GoDaddy.com, because the prices are reasonable ($10/year). The place you buy the domain name from is called your “Domain Registrar.” There is a benefit of registering your domain name with the SAME company that will be your web host because then you have only 1 bill to pay each year AND you don’t have to mess around with telling the Registrar who your web host is. However, you should check the prices carefully, because some web hosting companies will charge $10 the first year and then $35 for each subsequent year. Also, you can and should purchase 5-10 years of domain registration at a time to avoid inadvertently losing your domain name because you forgot to renew, so you want to get a good price on that. It also helps with search engine optimization to not do annual renewals of your domain name.
You can certainly make life easier on yourself by registering your domain at the same place where you purchase your web hosting, in other words, with Host Gator and other WordPress-friendly hosts, you can certainly purchase your domain name and web hosting all in one fell swoop and be able to skip to step 2 below and skip step 3 entirely!
The Domain Registrar’s job is to tell the world: 1) WHO owns the website name and 2) WHERE people can find the website content. In this respect, the Registrar is little more than a directory that you have to pay $10/year to be a part of to maintain ownership of your domain name. As a directory, the registrar does not necessarily provide a PLACE for your website to live, it just provides you the name. That’s it. You then have to pick a house (aka HOST) for your website and tell the Registrar who that host is, so people who want to visit you know which of the millions of web servers in the whole wide world is hosting your site. Again some registrars, like GoDaddy, also provide web hosting, so shop around to find the best price for the domain and hosting.
Step 2 – Finding a WordPress Friendly Web Host
There are some minimum requirements for hosting WordPress (from http://wordpress.org/about/requirements/):
- PHP version 4.3 or greater
- MySQL version 4.1.2 or greater
- Apache mod_rewrite module (for clean URLs known as Permalinks)
- Linux operating system (technically, WordPress can run on Windows, but you may encounter problems with Permalinks and some plugins working, so it’s a lot less headache to just go with Linux and a web host who does a lot of WordPress hosting)
- Note: some plugins may require higher PHP or MySQL versions.
WordPress.org has a list of recommended web hosts at http://wordpress.org/hosting/. I personally prefer Host Gator. (Note: I receive an affiliate commission for hosting accounts purchased from my site from both Blue Host and Host Gator – both of which I’ve experienced good service.)
Host Gator has a WordPress Auto-Install via Fantistico (which I don’t think is all that fantastic and rarely installs the most current version of WordPress, but it’s simple). Host Gator in my experience has great technical support, good server speeds, fairly reliable up time, can run backup software quickly, and has a great Business plan which includes dedicated IP address and SSL certificate.
Finding a host that specifically supports WordPress is important and isn’t too slow is important. I personally have not had good experiences with Network Solutions, Go Daddy, Yahoo, or Blue Host. Blue Host is better than the others in terms of WordPress support but sites tend to run slow.
Step 3 – Modifying the DNS (Domain Name Servers)
So, now you have a domain name and a web host. If your domain name registrar and your web host are one in the same, you are ready to install WordPress and set up your website. But, if you registered your domain name at GoDaddy.com for example and then set up your Web Hosting with Blue Host, you will need tell the registrar who your web host is. This is done as follows:
- Call or visit your web hosts website and find out the names of their DNS (Domain Nameservers) are. You will receive two address that look something like: ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com. You can usually find this information in the Support area. Just search on DNS or nameservers, or give tech support a quick call. If they are good web host, this should very easy to find out. Often, you get the namesever names in your Welcome email.
- Login to the Domain Registrar’s website (the place where you purchased the domain name) and go to the area where you manage your domain registration and change what is called the DNS or Nameservers. The nameservers tell the world wide web who your web host is. Change the nameservers to be the names you received from your web host in step 1 above.
- It will take anywhere from 2-24 hours for the changes to take effect. Once you are able to see the welcome or placholder page for your domain name at the new web host, you can install WordPress. More posts to come on that process!!!
Step 4 – Install WordPress via the Web Host’s One-Click Install
All of the web hosts listed above have a one-click install application to install WordPress.When installing WordPress, be sure to install it in the root directory of the site (rather than a subdirectory) if you want the WordPress site to display from your main site URL.
It is possible and sometimes preferable to install WordPress in a subdirectory and then redirect it to the root directory later (or never) (see Moving WordPress from Subdirectory to Root), but if you’re only going to be using WordPress on your site and have no other applications running other than WordPress, then you may as well go ahead and install it in the root.
When you do install WordPress, be sure to use an admin username that is not “admin” for security purposes and use a long/strong password.
Here are some online instructions you can refer to:
- Install WordPress on Host Gator
- Install WordPress on BlueHost
- Install WordPress on HostMonster
- Install WordPress on DreamHost – Be sure to click the Custom Installation button (not the Simple Installation). The Custom Installation installs WordPress on your hosting account, the Simple Installation lets you use a version of WordPress on DreamHost’s servers like WordPress.com, which doesn’t have all the options as the full version of WordPress.
- Install WordPress on Laughing Squid – it doesn’t appear that Laughing Squid has a one-click install for WordPress, but they do provide detailed instructions on how to manually install – this is not an optimum choice for novice web users as you’ll need to download and set up an FTP program to do the installation
- Install WordPress on GoDaddy – GoDaddy is not my favorite WordPress host. Some client’s sites have been exceedingly slow.