This article is a continuation of How You Can Have Your Very Own Website, Part 1.
In Part 1, I took you through the process of getting a domain name for your brand new website. While that is an important item to take care of up front, it doesn’t do you any good in and of itself. You still need a space on the Internet to hold all that wonderful content, your thoughts and opinions, the facts you want to use to help others.
What you need is a web host.
While it’s theoretically possible for you to publish web pages that you keep on your own computer and invite all the world to come in and see them, it’s really not something you want to do on your own. There are far too many things that could go wrong trying to get your articles to be part of the world wide web this way.
That’s why there are companies who specialize in web hosting. They keep your website’s pages, posts, pictures, and videos on protected computers called servers for you. While no company on the Internet is ever 100% safe from the bad guys, virtually all web hosting companies are many times more secure than your own computer when it comes to keeping your web pages safe.
Which Web Host Should I Use?
Not all web hosts are “created” equal. Some have servers that are faster and more up-to-date than others. Some have help desks, or support areas, that are more responsive and…well, helpful than others.
The web host I have found to be top-notch in all the areas that count, especially for a newcomer like you, is SiteGround (affiliate link).
I have had SiteGround (abbreviated SG from here on out) as my sole web host for several years. They are relatively inexpensive. You can find hosts that are a little cheaper, but they’re usually not worth using.
SG is very helpful. I have had to ask them questions several times. They normally respond in 15 minutes or less, which is not something you can say about every such company. Their answers have always been spot on too. Again, this isn’t something always true about others.
SG offers several styles of web hosting. The one you choose depends on what kind of site you intend to create. For our purposes here, I’m going to take you through the process of creating a WordPress type of site. After all, this is the WP Inn. Makes sense, eh?
Other styles of websites include e-commerce sites, straight HTML sites, and huge sites run by large companies. SG can handle all of those and more, but what you want to choose is a WordPress hosting plan.
Within their WordPress offerings, SG lets you choose from three plans, depending in part on how many websites you want to run. As a beginner, you likely only want to handle one site, so your best option would be their StartUp plan.
Since I have several sites, I use their GrowBig plan. In the future, you can upgrade to this plan (or any of their others) if you decide to expand your online presence.
Note that the prices are per month, so multiply the figure shown by 12 to see how much you’ll need to spend per year. At current rates (as of this writing), you can still run your website for a whole year for less than $60 (domain name included). You probably spend more on gasoline for your car in just a few months.
Note: Some of the screenshots below may be different from what you see when you go to SG today. They have updated their site since this article was originally posted.
After you select the StartUp plan, you’ll see a screen that refers to your domain (name). Since you already purchased a domain at NameCheap, you can click the “I already have a Domain” option.
Then enter the domain name itself (like I did for thewpinn.com) in the box after the www. (Don’t enter the www. in the box itself.) Then click the Proceed button.
I’m sorry, but that’s as far as I can take you through this process because I don’t currently have a new domain name to setup at SG.
I can tell you that you’ll be asked for the usual personal and billing information before being asked to submit payment. If you see any more options to buy anything, you can skip them. All you need is the basic setup itself.
If you have questions about the remaining steps, you can ask me using the Contact Form.
What to Do after You’ve Created a Hosting Account
At some point, either right now in this process or in the future, you will need to login to your SG account. You’ll see a screen something like this.
As you might expect, you enter the login information you got at the time you signed up and then click the Sign In button.
NOTE: I’m not positive about the order or presence of the next few SG screens because I already had an account at SG when I wrote this article. There are some things that you will only see if this is your first time there.
That will take you to the general user area, which most often is not where you need to be. You first need to click the My Accounts tab near the upper left.
If this is your first visit to SiteGround (which it almost certainly is), you may see this setup wizard screen next.
If you do, select “Start a new website” and pick the WordPress software box. Then click the Confirm button. You don’t need any enhancements here.
On the next screen, you should see a list of your installations, which at present is only one item long. But this still isn’t what you really need to see. So click the red Go to cPanel (short for Control Panel) button.
Ooo! This next page looks like a scary place! That’s mostly because you’re seeing a whole lot of things you’ve never seen or heard of before and have no idea what they do.
Relax. Most of the information and icons here you’ll never need. I’ll show you the few bits that you do.
Before we get into that, step back (figuratively) for a minute and think about what you now own. You have a domain name reserved on a computer at NameCheap and a hosting account at SG. Does it feel like there’s a disconnect there?
You need to connect your domain name with your web host – the place where your website is located. Technically, you already have a website at SG. It’s just that neither you nor anyone else can see it.
Here’s how to join the two pieces.
In cPanel, in the left column under Account Information, you’ll see a section called Name Servers. In contains 2 lines that look like web addresses (and they are) that start with ns1 and ns2. These are the two (domain) name servers at SG where your website is located.
Copy the first line – either by writing it down or by highlighting it and pressing Ctrl-C (Command-C on a Mac) – and then head over to NameCheap again.
NOTE: You probably can’t use the same lines as shown in the picture above. The second segment of each line may be different for you.
If you’re not signed in at NameCheap, hover over the Sign In area at the upper left of the page and log in.
That should take you to your Dashboard where you should see the domain name you bought earlier. To the right is a button called Manage. Click it.
On the next page, scroll down to the section called Nameservers. Click the down arrow and select Custom DNS (Domain Name Servers).
On the first line, enter the line you copied from SG. On the second line, enter the second line from SG. Most likely the only difference between the two lines is that one starts with ns1 and the other starts with ns2.
When you’re done, it should look something like this. (Again, my numbers may be different from yours.)
To save the information you just entered, click the little green checkmark at the upper right of this section. You’ll probably see a couple of popups at the top of the page. You can read and then ignore them.
Now you can head back to SG once more. There are just 3 things to setup there.
Completing Your Website Setup
You want your site to be as secure as possible. One thing that contributes to that is having an SSL (Secure Socket Layer – don’t worry about what that means) Certificate. This isn’t a piece of paper like an award. It’s some behind-the-scenes encryption wizardry that happens at SG.
To set it up, scroll down in cPanel to the section called Security and click the icon called Let’s Encrypt.
Scroll (if necessary) to the bottom of the page to the section called Install New Let’s Encrypt Certificate. You should see your domain name there. Click the Install button.
In a few seconds, you should see that your site is now encrypted.
Click the cPanel button at the top of the page. Scroll to the Mail section and click the Default Address icon.
Here again you should see your domain name. Click the Forward to Email Address option and enter an email address (see below) in the box. Then click the Change button at the bottom.
The email address you enter can be anything, but I suggest NAME@DOMAIN.com where NAME is your first name and DOMAIN is the domain name you just bought. That gives your email address a professional look, assuming that’s something you want. If not, you can use a more general Gmail (or other source) address.
One type of address I suggest you do not use is a Yahoo address. For various reasons, Yahoo emails can cause problems down the line. Just avoid using one here.
Click the cPanel button once more. In the Autoinstallers section, click WordPress.
Now you’ll see a screen entitled Softaculous. This is something SG uses to automate what used to be a more difficult process for adding WordPress to your webiste.
Now all you have to do is click the blue Install button. You’ll have a few things you to change on the next screen.
One might be the Choose Protocol. You want it set to https://. (That “S” corresponds to the SSL you setup earlier.)
Scroll down to Admin Name and change it to something you can remember easily.
Warning: Don’t use “admin” or your name or the name of your site. Those are too common and too easy for the bad guys to guess.
Whatever you choose, write it down! Also write down the password they give you! You’ll need both of these items to login to your site later.
All the other items on this page can stay as they are. Scroll down and click Install.
You’ll see a progress bar, and in a few seconds WordPress will be part of your website.
You should now (or very soon) be able to type your domain name in the address bar of your browser and see what your default home page looks like.
Congratulations! You now have your very own website.
What Should I Do after My Site Is Setup?
Now the real fun begins.
To login to the “backend” of your site, type your domain name followed by /wp-admin in the address bar of your browser. (You’ll probably want to bookmark or favorite this address.)
You’ll see a page where you can enter the Admin Name and password you wrote down earlier.
After you login, you can add plugins like these, create new pages and posts, and do all matter of cool things just like everyone else who owns a space on the Internet.
Enjoy! And maybe show me what you created.