There are probably just a few possible scenarios that could have led you here. One could be that you’ve been thinking for some time that you wanted to make your voice heard, if only in a small way (or maybe in a big way), online in the form of your own website.
Another could be that you’ve been thinking about creating your own website for the past 5 minutes or so.
It could be that just the other day a friend of yours said something like, “You know, you should really make a website on the Internet about that. You know so much about it. I bet you could help a lot of people.”
Whatever the scenario was, you’ve now come to the point at which you’ve decided to make a website for yourself.
And you haven’t a clue as to how to do it. Gasp!
Read on. That’s what this article is here for.
Table of Contents
How To Create Your Own Website
Making a website for yourself is not rocket science, but it is computer science (sorta) which is a daunting subject for many people.
Let me undaunt it for you.
If you can use a computer to visit various websites to look for information and entertainment, if you can type on a computer keyboard, if you can click a mouse or tap your finger(s) on a touchpad, then you can make a website. (Think about it. You likely just did most of these things in the past few minutes.)
To make your own website, you just have to know which other websites to visit, what to type in certain boxes, and which buttons to click at the right time.
It’s showing which of those things to do where and when that this (and at least one more) article is going to explain to you one small step at a time.
That doesn’t sound so hard, does it? I hope you agree that it doesn’t and will continue to follow along as I guide you through creating your website bit by bit all the way to the end.
Preliminary Steps to Website Creation
One problem that people sometimes have when trying to follow through a series of steps online is that what the teacher shows them in an article (or video) doesn’t look exactly like what they see when they try to do what they’ve been told by themselves.
There are two probable reasons for this.
One might be that someone changed the look of the website or the tool in question between the time the teacher last used it and the time the student attempted to use it. If you come across something like this at any point in what will follow here, I hope you will let me know by using the Contact Form to explain what differences you have found so I can update the information here at the WordPress Inn.
The other likely source of the problem is that the teacher and student aren’t both using the same web browser. As basic as that may sound, it can really make a big difference at times.
The 4 most common browsers (as of this writing) are Internet Explorer (on PCs), Safari (on Macs), Firefox, and Chrome. Firefox and Chrome are available for both PC and Mac users.
There are benefits to using both Firefox and Chrome besides being “platform independent”; that is, being able to use them on PCs or Macs. I am going to guide you through setting up a website using Firefox and strongly suggest that you use it as well. If you choose not to, you do so at your own peril.
If you’re not sure which one you’re using right now, check along the top of your screen for one of those browser names – Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. If you don’t see Firefox up there, it’s time to make a change.
If you need help acquiring and setting up Firefox on your computer, send me a note via the Contact Form. (If enough people make this request, I’ll eventually include how to do this within this article.)
So from this point on, I am going to assume that you are using the Firefox browser just like me.
What Should I Call My Website?
Your website is going to need a name so people can identify it as yours and can know where to return after they’ve discovered it the first time.
You may already have some idea of what you want to call your website. The problem may be that someone had that same idea before you and has already bought the rights to that name. (Grr.) For example, you can’t call your site thewpinn.com because I already own that name. (Sorry, not sorry.) I paid a few dollars for the right to use it for a year.
That brings us to the first cost (of two) involved in making your website – paying for a domain name. The “domain name” (get used to that phrase) of the site you’re on is thewpinn.com. Most domain names like this cost about $10 per year of ownership.
You can purchase a domain name for more than one year at a time. In some cases, those who sell domain names will give you a little discount if you pay for more than one year up front. If you’re sure you want to stick with your website for more than a year, you might be able to take advantage of such a discount. If not, that’s okay. After all, roughly $10 per year isn’t that much of an expenditure in the grand scheme of things.
If you think you have a domain name that no one else has bought, you can (and should) check for sure by going to NameCheap.com (affiliate link) and typing the name (like thewpinn.com) in the large search box you’ll find there.
Here is what that box currently looks like.
The folks at NameCheap may change the surrounding design from time to time, but that central search box is likely to stay the same.
Click in the box where it says “Go big with your next domain” and type in the domain name you want to check. Then either press Enter on your keyboard or click the magnifying glass to the right of the box you typed in. (Ignore the “Bulk Search” text.)
If someone else already owns the domain name you want, NameCheap will tell you so (on the next page) by showing that it has been “taken” (in a small oval). You may also see a suggestion that you can make an offer to buy it from the current owner. You don’t want to do that, because it would probably cost lots of money.
You will also see other suggestions for variations on the ending of your domain name. That ending after the dot is called the Top Level Domain, often abbreviated TLD. I don’t recommend using any of those variations because it’s just too confusing for visitors.
For example, suppose you wanted to have a site called “The WP Inn” but found that the dot com version was already taken. (It’s the site you’re currently visiting.) So you decided to buy thewpinn.co instead.
Now there’s a thewpinn.com and a thewpinn.co on the Internet. Which is which? Did I, as a visitor, go to dot com or dot co last time? Both sites are about WordPress (probably). I’m so confused!
To avoid this problem, just move on to a different name. There are plenty available. (See below for ideas.)
If your domain name is available for purchase, you will see a button that lets you add it to your NameCheap shopping cart.
Since NameCheap is the domain name provider that I recommend in this step of setting up your website, when you find a domain name that is available, go ahead and click that “add to cart” button.
After clicking the cart button, you may be offered additional features for a fee. You don’t need any of them. I don’t recommend adding anything more to your cart. Note that you will get a free email address with your purchase. (More on that later.)
There is one small (less than $.20) iCANN fee that is unavoidable. In fact, NameCheap already added it to your cart for you. It’s a regulatory fee that all domain name owners have to pay.
You can now click the “View Cart” button over on the right. On the next page, you will see that a feature called “WhoisGuard” has already been enabled for you. Since this is free, I suggest you keep it turned on. It prevents anyone else from seeing that you are the owner of this domain name. This is nice because otherwise you might be bombarded by unsolicited offers from people who can see the email address that will be associated with your domain name.
From time to time, NameCheap offers their domain names at a reduced price. When they aren’t currently running such a sale, you may still be able to make your purchase for a little less by entering a “Promo Code” in the box below the “Confirm Order” button.
To check for the current promo code, look at this coupon page.
Find the appropriate coupon (promo) code and enter it in the box. Then click the Confirm Order button.
The rest of the process should be self-explanatory, but if you have any questions about it, just ask me by using the Contact Form.
But I Don’t Know What to Call My Website!
No worries. Let’s talk about this. What goes into the name of your website depends to some degree on what you intend to put on your site and which and how many people you hope will visit it in the future.
Most of the time, website owners want the name of their sites to reflect the main topic that the site is about. Usually, a site is about one main topic, but that might not be the case. You might have eclectic tastes and intend to write about a wide variety of subjects.
For the most part though, you will probably want to include your main topic somewhere in the domain name of your site.
It’s usually a good idea to keep the name of your site short, make it easy to pronounce and spell, and have it be unambiguous. Sometimes you have to go a little longer than you want because all the short names have already been taken. It’s not usually to hard to make the spelling and pronunciation simple. Ambiguity can be a problem though.
Consider the following examples.
The first example, goarmy.com, sounds fine when you say it: Go Army dot com. But the first time I saw it in print (I hadn’t heard it yet.) I thought it was Goar My dot com. Sure, it didn’t make any sense, but that’s how my mind parsed the letters.
The second example has the unfortunate possibility of taking “god” in its singular form, not in its possessive or even plural form. When you do that, you get a rather strange, though grammatically possible, domain name. I leave it to your brain to parse it incorrectly.
The final example looks okay in print as Two For The Road dot com. The problem comes when you only hear it spoken to you, as you might on the radio. Then, is it “Two”, “To”, or “Too”? Is it “For”, “Four”, or “Fore”? Is it “Road”, “Rode”, or “Rowed”? Depending on the subject of the website, you might be able to think of situations when all of the above are possible.
You don’t have to rely solely on your own brain for coming up with a good domain name. Ask a friend or two for ideas. Come up with several possibilities and ask a friend to critique them so you can whittle the list down to the best one.
You very likely will include an adjective in your domain name. If the domain with that adjective is already taken, use a thesaurus to come up with a similar adjective (or to change the noun that follows it) and check on the availability of the new name.
I have found a site called Lean Domain Search very useful when trying to come up with a decent domain name. In fact, I used it to find the WordPress Inn name.
Lean Domain Search gives you another search box to fill in.
If you enter a topic like wordpress and hit your Enter key or click the magnifying glass, you will see thousands of possibilities for a domain name on the resulting page.
Warning: Don’t use the term wordpress in your domain name. It is trademarked by the good folks who own the base name. Using it as any part of a domain name is strictly forbidden. I use it here as an example only.
Some of these will sound ridiculous. (But maybe that’s what you want.) Others will seem like just about what you were looking for – perhaps exactly what you were looking for. Maybe a slight tweak to one of the suggestions is still available. You can check at Lean Domain Search or NameCheap.
You’ll notice that Lean Domain Search simply adds a word to the beginning or the end of the term you searched for. Using the options on the right side of the screen, you can display the results in a variety of ways.
Go ahead and click some of those options just to see what happens. It’s kinda fun to play with.
You could spend hours looking through these results. If you have the time, feel free to do so. Don’t stress too much over looking for a domain name. In the end, it will be much more important that you put information on your site that others want to see and read than what the site itself is called.
I Bought My Domain Name – Now What?
There is one more necessary expenditure related to your website. It’s called hosting.
That will be the subject of How You Can Have Your Very Own Website, Part 2.