Starting your first website? This post will show you, from start to finish, every step you need to go from nothing to having a fully configured WordPress website. Don’t worry, it will only cost you around $50, which includes everything you need for a full year! Chances are, it’ll be even cheaper than that because the host we’re going to be using regularly offers discounts for new users. Pretty much, go without coffee for a month and you’ll have the funds available  :-) .

What You’ll Need

In order to have a website, you’ll need a domain name and hosting. A domain name is the address people will use to access your site, such as “google.com” or “amazon.com”. Hosting is the server where your website will live. Without one of these, people won’t be able to access your site.

Enter Namecheap

The host and domain registrar we’ll be using throughout this tutorial is Namecheap. They offer great hosting and domain services at an unbeatable price. Should you be unsatisfied with your hosting for some reason, you can always get a refund within 30 days, and move your website to a different host(e.g. DreamHost).

Keep in mind this tutorial is aiming at cost savings, which means you will need to learn how to manage WordPress yourself. If you don’t have the time to do that, or simply want a professional to manage your WordPress site for you, what you need is called managed hosting. If you want cheap managed hosting, Namecheap also has a service for that called EasyWP. On the other hand, if you have some money to spend, then I’d suggest taking a look at WP Engine.

Getting a Domain

Before you get started with anything else, you’ll need to get a domain name. Try and choose a “.com” domain that matches the name of your website. If your website name is long, try getting an abbreviation of it(e.g. “matblog.com” instead of “myamazingtechblog.com”). Be warned, a lot of the short “.com” domains are already taken, so you’ll need to be creative! To get your domain name, simply use the search tool here.

While the domain only costs $8.88 for the first year, it will cost $12.98 to renew(which isn’t that bad compared to Namecheap’s competition). For maximum savings, consider purchasing a domain with Namecheap, and transferring to another registrar which has cheaper renewal pricing(be sure to check that your new registrar doesn’t charge anything extra for WHOIS privacy). However, a few bucks may be worth the convenience of having everything managed(and integrated with your hosting) under one account.

Once you find an available domain name(that matches your site), simply add it to your cart, and move on to the next step.

Add to cart

Purchasing Hosting

After you get a domain name, you’ll need somewhere to host your site. This is where shared hosting comes in. The reason we’re sticking with shared hosting is because it’s affordable and it has everything you need for a new site. As your site grows, you’ll eventually need to move to VPS hosting, then dedicated hosting(both of which Namecheap offers). Luckily, adding shared hosting to your domain is rather easy. After clicking the add to cart button, the option to add shared hosting will pop up:

Add shared hosting

However, the default option is to add monthly hosting to your plan. Since we’re going for maximum savings, we’re going to change to annual hosting. To do this, go into your cart:

Go to cart

and change it from monthly to annual:

Change shared hosting plan to annual from monthly

This ensures that you get the best pricing possible. Remember, you can simply get a refund if you’re not happy within 30 days from your purchase date. You either get the best deal in hosting, or all of your money back. 

Finalizing Your Order

Now that you have everything in your cart, the last thing to do before you can get your website online is to finish the purchase.

Confirm order

I already have an account, so I’ll log in here. But, for most of you, simply complete the sign up process and return to this post once you’re done. You also may want to opt-out of their newsletters, but I’d suggest giving them a try because they share useful information.

Create an account

Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be on the payment page. I used a coupon to save 50% on my hosting(“NEWPURCHASEONLY”) which is why the price is now lower. Check out other great Namecheap promos here. We’re almost done! Scroll to the bottom, and check the agreement box(after you’ve read the terms, of course):

Agree to terms

Press “Pay Now”:

Pay Now Button

Namecheap will now process your order. You’ll get an email when the payment goes through, although it shouldn’t take that long.

Installing WordPress

Congratulations, you now have a domain and hosting purchased and almost set up. All that’s left now is to install WordPress, which is really easy on Namecheap. Once everything is set up, which should only take a few minutes, you’ll receive an email with the subject “Your Hosting Account Details for example.com”, which contains everything you need. Scroll down until you reach the “cPanel details” section, which should look like this:

Namecheap cPanel email

Simply go to the first URL, which should be “serverXXX.web-hosting.com/cpanel”, and log in with the provided account details. You’ll now be in your cPanel dashboard. All the options may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll get used to them with time. All you need to install WordPress, however, is to just click on the “Softaculous Apps Installer” icon:

Softaculous App Installer icon

Luckily for us, WordPress is in the first row of apps. In fact, it’s even the first app:

WordPress icon

Next, click “Install now”:

Install Now

You can leave 99% of the options as they are. The only thing to change is the admin username and password:

Scroll to the bottom, optionally pick a theme, and press install:

Install

WordPress should now be installed. Log in with the username and password you set at “example.com/wp-admin”, where example.com is your domain. If you’ve used WordPress before, you can skip the rest of this tutorial. If not, I’ll show you some basics.

Post-Install

After you’ve installed WordPress, the hard part is done. All that’s left now is to learn some WordPress basics.

Choose a Theme

The default WordPress theme is probably not what you want to use. You want your website to stand out, and the easiest way to do that is by selecting a good theme. In WordPress, there are thousands and thousands of free themes to choose from. There are also many premium themes(that offer more features), but for most beginners, a free one will do. To install a new theme in WordPress, all you need to do is go to “example.com/wp-admin”, where “example.com” is your domain name, and select the appearance tab on the left bar:

Next, click on “Add New”:

There are many ways for you to select a WordPress theme. One way is to select the “Popular” tab, and scroll through there until you find one that suits your website. If you already know a theme you want, simply search for it. However, if you have no idea what you want, I suggest using the feature filter. This will allow you to search for themes designed for your use case and required features.

Open feature filter

Now, select your use case(s), feature set, and layout(s) you want:

Once you find a theme you like, simply hover over it, press install:

Once it’s installed, the install button will be replaced with “Activate”:

Now, visit your site and your new theme should be live. If you don’t like the theme, just repeat this process to choose a new one.

Installing Plugins

If all you need is a simple blog, then WordPress probably has everything you need built in. However, just like themes, there are thousands of free plugins you can choose from to extend your site’s functionality. The plugin I’ll show you how to install is the Yoast SEO plugin, but the process is the same for all plugins. The Yoast SEO plugin makes optimizing your site for search engines, such as Google, really easy and does most of the work for you. For the most part, installing a plugin is the same process as installing themes. Just go to your admin dashboard, and find the plugins tab on the left menu:

Just like with installing themes, press “Add New”:

Type the name of the plugin you want, which in this case is Yoast SEO:

Lastly, press on the “Install Now” button, followed by the “Activate” button:

Once the plugin is downloaded, the “Install Now” button will be replaced with activate.

In the case of Yoast SEO, you now need to configure the plugin. After the plugin is activated, you’ll see a new icon in the top admin bar. Simply hover over it, and then open the configuration wizard:

The wizard will then guide you through the rest of the process.

Creating a Post

You now have a website online, have chosen a theme, and know how to install plugins. The last thing left to do is to actually create some content. In WordPress, there are posts and pages for content. Pages are for static content you don’t want to appear on your homepage, such as the Terms of Use page and Privacy Policy. Posts, on the other hand, appear on your blog page(commonly your home page) in reverse chronological order(i.e. the newest at the top). The process for creating posts and pages is extremely similar. However, since you’ll likely be creating more posts than pages, I’ll show you how to do that. Simply click on the posts tab of your admin dashboard, then “Add New”:

Pro tip: You can also just hover on the “Posts” tab, then select add new from the pop-up.

Adding a Category & Publishing

You’ll now be greeted with the WordPress editor. Simply type out your title in the title box, and the rest is up to you. Before you publish a post, you’ll probably want to put it in a category. Categories allow you to group similar posts together. These are not to be confused with tags, which are similar, but can’t have a hierarchy and are meant for more specific grouping(i.e. food is a category, and cake would be a tag). To add or select an existing category, you’ll need to switch from “Block” to “Document” in the right bar to open the category options. Simply click on the categories dropdown, then select a category, or add a new one:

Adding tags is very similar, but you won’t see existing ones. Simply start typing, and existing tags will pop up. Once you’re done typing a tag, just press enter and you’re done. Once you’ve done everything you want, it’s time to publish the post. Simply click the “Publish” button, and your post is live!

At this point, you now have a site, activated a theme, installed and activated a plugin, and published a post. While this is all you need to start blogging, WordPress can do so much more! Be sure to check out the WordPress category on this site to see more posts about the best CMS.

Good luck!