WordPress 101: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Setting Up a Website

So, you want to build a website. Awesome! Now you just need to work out how to actually get started. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’ve never built a website before, you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed. You’ve no doubt heard about WordPress and you’re interested in finding out more, but you don’t know what to do next.

This comprehensive tutorial will walk you through everything you need to know in order to set up your first WordPress site. And you know what? Even if you don’t have a geeky bone in your body, by the time you finish completing all the steps in this article, you’ll have your very own website up and running.

Beginners Guide to Building a WordPress Website

Steps 3 through 11 will require you to use WordPress to set up your website. Even if you don’t have experience using WordPress, don’t be nervous about all the “work” outlined above. WordPress is an incredibly intuitive and user-friendly platform, and this guide includes plenty of screenshots to guide you along as you work your way through each step.

Alright, let’s get started!

1. How to Choose Web Hosting

A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technology and services needed for a website to be viewed on the internet.

Web hosts manage special computers called servers. These servers are where websites—like the one you’re about to build—are stored. Then, when visitors from around the web go to your URL, they’re able to access the website from the web host’s server.

In order to find the web hosting solution that’s right for you, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Choose a Web Host

When it comes to finding the right web hosting provider for your website, you have a number of options. WordPress officially recommends four web hosts:

  • Bluehost – Low-cost web hosting
  • Dreamhost – Provides “managed” hosting especially for WordPress sites
  • Flywheel – A service aimed at web developers, designers, and agencies
  • SiteGround – A popular option among WordPress users

Each of these services are established web hosting providers with extensive experience hosting WordPress websites. There will be a number of things to consider before choosing to work with a web hosting company, things like:

  • Price: This depends on which type of plan you purchase, how much space and bandwidth you need, add-ons, and more.
  • Performance: This is a crucial piece of every website’s enduring success. This means your site needs to run fast and it needs to stay online (what is known as “uptime”).
  • Security: While there are other things you’ll need to do to bolster the security of your site, your web host should provide you with secure infrastructure that keeps your site safe from physical harm as well as hackers.
  • Management: Depending on how large your site is or how many sites you run, you may need someone to manage the backend for you. Hosts like Flywheel offer this as a service and it’s called “managed WordPress hosting.”

Before committing to any one web host, do your research and ensure that they can provide your site with the safe and stable base that it deserves.

It’s also important to consider whether it’s even worth it to purchase web hosting. If you’re just planning to run a small blog that’s light on traffic, then WordPress.com is the best option for you. It’s free and easy to set up an account and you can pretty much start blogging right away.

Step 2: Choose a Hosting Plan

Next, you need to select a type of hosting plan. While this may seem like it’s overcomplicating things (after all, why can’t you just pick a web host and be done?), different hosting plans offer different types of security, performance, and control for your site.

Here are the different kinds of plans you might consider:

  • Shared Hosting: Shared hosting is the cheapest type of hosting, but that’s because you have to share resources with other websites. Basically, the web host allots a certain space on its server to a group of websites. If you get stuck with one that is a space hog, your website may be adversely affected. That’s not to say it happens often, but it’s something to be aware of.
  • Cloud Hosting: This option is similar to shared hosting in that your site will reside on a server with other websites. However, because your website is in the cloud, this means it doesn’t have one permanent home. If something should happen where resources become unavailable on one server, your site will automatically move over to and be powered by another server.
  • VPS Hosting: Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is for when you want to rent part of a server’s resources solely for yourself; no sharing. This means it’s going to be more expensive than shared hosting, but you’ll have more control over your site’s capacity and performance. There are still restrictions, however, in how much bandwidth or storage you have to work with.
  • Dedicated Hosting: This is when you have an entire server to yourself. Unless you’re about to launch a website with thousands of visitors every day or you’re managing a network of dozens of websites right off the bat, you won’t need this type of hosting. Yes, it’s the epitome of privacy and control, but it requires a lot of work and probably isn’t something you need right now.

Step 3: Sign Up for Web Hosting

Alright, now it’s time to sign up. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to use Bluehost so you can get a feel for how easy this is and also catch a glance of the dashboard’s interface.

1. Go to the Bluehost website.

Bluehost’s website

2. Navigate to the Hosting tab at the top of the page. Select your preferred hosting type. For this tutorial, we’re going to select Shared.

Bluehost web hosting plans

3. The plan you select depends on how many websites you plan to manage, how much space you need, as well as bandwidth. As you can see, they do include other items here like an SSL certificate (if it’s free, take it! Read more about SSL here: How to Set Up Free SSL with Let’s Encrypt and Certbot), domains, and email. If those are important to you, then factor them into your decision.

4. On the next page, Bluehost is going to ask you for a domain name. If you don’t have one just yet, don’t worry. A pop-up will appear that allows you to bypass that step. We’ll cover what to do later.

Choosing your domain at Bluehost

5. Finally, you’ll need to create your account and submit your payment information to Bluehost. You can sign in with Google and populate your information or you can fill it all in from scratch. When you’re ready, agree to their terms and conditions and then hit the Submit button.

Creating an account with Bluehost

6. Upon completing the signup process, you’ll be taken to Bluehost’s dashboard. Looks pretty and well-organized, right?

Bluehost dashboard

Feel free to poke around if you like. There are certain areas of the dashboard that you won’t be able to do anything with yet because they’re for developers (like the cPanel and FTP) or because they’re paid gated areas.

For now, let’s move on and get you set up with a domain name.

2. How to Register a Domain Name

With your web hosting ready to go, what you need next is a domain name. Generally, the name of your business or blog is going to be the name of your domain, or URL. However, if it’s a popular enough name, it might already be taken.

With your web hosting purchase, signing up for a domain name will be a cinch—so long as the name you want is available. Again, for the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to use Bluehost as the domain registration service.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Go to your hosting dashboard.

2. There is a tab at the top of the page that says Domains. Click it.

Domains tab

3. There are a few different options here. If you’re star