How to Set Up a WordPress Website
Learn how to set up a WordPress website and get your business off the ground.
WordPress is an open source content management system, or CMS, that anyone can use for free.
I have been using WordPress for years and know how to set it up very well.
But it hasn’t always been that way. I remember stumbling with the setup when I started and I don’t want you to struggle with WordPress setup like I did.
As stated, WordPress is a FREE CMS. However, you do need to pay for your own website hosting.
In the following sections I’m going to walk you through how to set up a WordPress website, including:
- Domain name registration
- Changing your DNS settings
- Obtaining web hosting
- Downloading WordPress from the web
- Uploading WordPress to your web host
- WordPress database creation
- WordPress Installation
When you are finished, you will have a fully functional website that you are able to modify and create new pages.
How to start using WordPress to style your website will be for another blog post.
Today we will get things rolling.
Roll up your sleeves and learn how to set up a WordPress website.
Let’s get started!
Register a Domain
The first step on your journey starts with the registration of a domain name.
There are many, many different domain name registrars on the web today, including GoDaddy, BlueHost, and Porkbun.
But the one that I use, and the one I recommend you use, is called Name.com.
I do not receive any type of kickback or commission from Name.com. I’ve simply had good luck with them in the past and their technical support is outstanding.
After you get to name.com, click on “Domains” in the upper-left and start searching for a good domain for your website.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to be using the domain of sarasotacommunity.org.
I recommend you pay the extra $4.99 for advanced security and privacy.
This keeps you from being spammed to the hilt after your domain has been registered.
With that, you are ready to check out.
Modify Your DNS Settings
After your domain has been purchased, it’s time to modify your DNS Settings so that we can install WordPress.
What are DNS Settings?
DNS stands for Domain Name System.
DNS settings are used to tell individual browsers of the web where the files for your website are located.
So rather than type in something like 198.422.379.29, you can simply type in sarasotacommunity.org.
The DNS keeps a record of each domain name and what IP address to point browsers to when that domain name is typed in.
Using a DNS Proxy
For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to be using a DNS proxy called Cloudflare.
Cloudlare is a Content Delivery Network, or CDN.
I highly recommend you also use CloudFlare and again, there are no affiliate payments or commissions paid to me in so doing.
I have been using Cloudflare for years now and it’s a pretty sweet deal.
There are three reasons I recommend using Cloudflare.
- Your website will be more secure
- Your website will run faster
- Cloudflare has a FREE plan
CloudFlare speeds up your website’s pages by caching all of their content. It also makes it more secure by not exposing the IP address of your web host. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it’s free? So why not?
If you decide not to use CloudFlare, that is certainly your prerogative, but again it is highly recommended.
By default, your DNS settings will be controlled by the domain name registrar that you used to purchase your domain. In this case, Name.com.
To switch the location that your DNS settings are controlled to CloudFlare, you will need to change your nameservers.
Changing Your Nameservers
To change your nameservers, first you will need to create an account on CloudFlare.
Go to https://www.cloudflare.com and click “sign up” in the upper right.
Next you will be asked to enter your domain.
Enter your domain and click the “Add site” button.
Next, Cloudflare will scan for any existing DNS records.
After the scan has completed, click “continue.”
Next you are going to replace the existing nameservers on name.com with the new ones Cloudflare specifies.
After you click the continue button, you will be brought to a screen like the one below. These are the instructions for changing your nameservers, from name.com to Cloudflare.
Simply stated, your nameservers tell the Web where your DNS settings are located and controlled. By changing your nameservers from name.com to Cloudflare, you are telling the system that Cloudflare is in control of the DNS settings for this domain.
Keep in mind that the nameservers assigned to your Cloudflare account will not match what is shown in the diagram above.
Each domain has its own set of nameservers.
Now go back to name.com and click on “manage nameservers.”
By default, name.com assigns four nameservers to each domain.
Delete two of the four nameservers and edit the other two. Copy and paste the Cloudflare nameserver data into the name.com fields.
Now your name.com Account page will look like this.
Click the SAVE CHANGES button.
Now it’s time to tell Cloudflare that the nameservers on name.com have been changed for this domain.
Go back to your Cloudflare account and click the “Done, check nameservers” button.
That’s it! Your nameservers have successfully been changed.
All DNS settings for your domain will now be controlled through Cloudflare.
This means that, in the future, if you ever need to make a change to your DNS settings, you will go to your Cloudflare account, not your name.com account.
If at any point you want to switch back to controlling your DNS settings through name.com, you can always change the nameservers back to name.com, or any other registrar of your choice for that matter.
Now it’s time to set up your hosting.
For now, keep your Cloudflare account open. We will be coming back to it after we set up your hosting.
Setting up Hosting
There are a lot of different hosts you can go with. I use Namecheap.com for my reseller hosting account, but there are lots of options.
One thing to make sure of before you purchase your web hosting is that it comes with access to cPanel.
Almost all modern hosting companies use cPanel, but better to make sure than to purchase and realize you don’t have what you need.
Log in to cPanel
Once your hosting package has been purchased, you will need to navigate to the cPanel home page. It looks like this.
Copy the IP address, located in the right column, and go back to Cloudflare.
Click on the DNS tab, then click the edit hyperlink next to the three existing A records.
Now paste the IP address from cPanel into those three fields.
Set up FTP
The first thing we are going to do is set up FTP or File Transfer Protocol so we can log in to your web hosting server and upload WordPress.
Under the Files section, click on “FTP Accounts.”
From here you will be asked to type in a username and password, plus a confirmation of that password.
Make sure the field after the word “Directory” is left blank. It often auto-populates a directory in that field after you type in the username and password, so you will have to delete it manually.
Failure to do so can cause a lot of grief when trying to access the root directory, which is where you will be uploading the WordPress software.
Also, be sure to write down the IP address displayed on the right side of the screen. You will need this in the next step.
Remember to record your Log In and Password in a safe place.
Log in to Your Web Host
With your FTP set up, next we will log in to the web hosting server using an FTP client.
The FTP client that I like to use is FileZilla, but there are many that are free and work well.
For the purposes of this post I will be using FileZilla.
Open Site Manager
Launch Filezilla and click the Open Site Manager icon in the upper-left hand corner.
After clicking on the Open Site Manager icon, click the “New site” button on the left.
This will take you to the screen where you will enter the credentials for your web host and connect with it via FTP.
On the left, type in the domain of the website you are setting up. For me it is sarasotacommunity.org.
On the right, leave the protocol set to FTP.
In the “host” field, put in the IP address you obtained from cPanel in the previous step.
Also enter your Log In and password you just created in cPanel.
Now press the “Connect” button.
If you did everything correctly, your status will show “Directory listing of “/” successful in the upper left portion of Filezilla.
Now single-click on the “public_html” folder in the remote site box on the right. See diagram below.
Now you are ready to upload WordPress.
Your screen should now look like this…
How to Set Up a WordPress Website: Download WordPress
Before you can upload WordPress, you must first download it from the web.
To do so, go to https://wordpress.org/download/#download-install and click the “Download WordPress” button.
At the time of this writing, the latest version is 5.6
How to Set Up a WordPress Website: Upload WordPress
When you download the WordPress software, it will be in the form of a .zip file.
After it completes downloading, double-click on the .zip file to extract it.
Now return to Filezilla to upload WordPress to your web hosting server.
Browse to the directory where your files were extracted, using the graphic below as an example.
Once you have the directory selected, click to select the “wp-admin” folder, scroll to the bottom of the list, hold down your shift key, and select the last file in the list.
Now hold and drag the files to the remote server panel on the right, using the illustration below as a reference.
WordPress is now being uploaded to the remote server.
This will take 20-30 minutes to upload, depending on your ISP.
Create a WordPress Database
While WordPress is uploading to the server, you can go back to cPanel and create a database.
Go back to your cPanel and click on “MySQL Database Wizard” in the “Database” section.
Create a database name and record it in a safe place. You will need this later.
Click the “Next Step” button.
Now that you have named your database, you will create a username and password for it.
After clicking the “Next Step” button you will be given a new screen where you will fill out three fields: the username, password, and password (again).
Once you have filled out those fields and recorded them in a safe place, click the “Create User” button.
As a last step, you will be asked to add the user to the database.
Click “All Privileges” in the upper left. Then click the “Next Step” button.
Your database has been created.
You are ready to move on to the next step – the Installation of WordPress.
Once your WordPress files complete the uploading process, you are ready to install.
To initiate the installation process of WordPress, go to any web browser and type in your domain name.
In my case, it will be sarasotacommunity.org.
You will see the WordPress logo on top, followed by a dialog box asking for your preferred language. Select your language and press “Continue.”
Next you will get a screen telling you that you will need to enter your database information.
You recorded all of that information in previous steps, so you are in business.
Click the button that says “Let’s Go!”
On the next screen, enter the first three fields – Database name, Uername, and Password. Leave the Database Host andTable Prefix fields as they are.
After you are finished, click the “Submit” button.
If the database credentials you entered are correct, you will see the following screen.
Click the “Run the installation” button.
Now you will see one final screen.
Enter the first four fields – Site Title, Username, Password, and Your Email.
If you want to tell Google not to index the pages of your site, for the time being, you can click the “discourage search engines from indexing this site” box.
Then click the “Install WordPress” button.
Now you will be brought to the “Success” screen that looks like this…
Click Log in.
Now you will be brought to the WordPress login screen.
This is where you will log in to the back end of your website every time you want to make a change.
You will see this screen a lot throughout the life of your website, so bookmark it.
Then click the Log In button.
You have successfully learned how to set up a WordPress website.
Not so difficult, now was it?