For WordPress Newbies: Setting Up a Self-hosted WordPress Website

For WordPress Newbies: Setting Up a Self-hosted WordPress Website

You want to create a WordPress blog or a WordPress-driven website (for example, a portfolio or a company website) on your own domain, and you do not yet know exactly what you need and where you should start? Here are some tips to help you get started with WordPress.

1. WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

First, I would like to explain the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com briefly. At WordPress.com you can create a free blog with an address in the format yourblog.wordpress.com. This blog is then hosted on the server at WordPress.com, and you do not have to spend any money on your own web space and domain. This is a great option, especially for small private blogs. However, you have a certain number of themes (WordPress templates) and plugins (extensions) available on a WordPress.com blog.

In contrast,  you can download the current WordPress version from WordPress.org for free and then use it with your own domain and your own hosting. With this self-hosted WordPress site, you’ll have more customization options.

You can use a huge number of free and paid WordPress and plugins, or even create your own WordPress themed design. Through an FTP program (for example, Filezilla), you can access and edit all WordPress files on your hosting account. Setting up a self-hosted WordPress page is not that hard. However, you should spend a little time to familiarize yourself with WordPress and then actually use the versatile options of your very own WordPress website.

2. What Do You Need to Install WordPress

Web Hosting

Before you can get started with your WordPress site, you need to buy a web hosting and a domain name. The fees are not expensive, especially if your website is still new or you want to set up only a small private site.

Then a smaller hosting package is enough. There are a lot of providers. We have always had excellent experiences with WordPress pages with iPage.

If you are not sure whether your selected Webhosting package supports WordPress, check with the hosting provider of your choice before signing up. A list of the WordPress prerequisites can be found on WordPress.org.

Often WordPress is already available directly in the hosting control panel (for example at iPage). This is especially handy because you do not have to upload the WordPress files to your web space via FTP.

Domain Name

You can buy a domain (your website address) with a web hosting package (sometimes a domain is already included). If you choose a .com domain, they go for around $10 nowadays.

Database

Most importantly, you need at least one database with your web hosting package. You absolutely need this to use WordPress. You can create a database with a password directly in the control panel of your hosting provider. This is not as difficult as it sounds at first (most hosting providers also provide a guide in their FAQs). Note the name and password of your database.

3. Install WordPress on Your Hosting Account

Once you’ve ordered your hosting plan and domain, you can install WordPress. As mentioned above, you can do this with some vendors directly in the control panel of your hosting provider (see the free one click installations).

Otherwise, you can download the current WordPress version on the WordPress.org free of charge. It is best to select the language in which you would later like to run your website. If you choose the English version, your admin area and also standard words such as “Comments” or “reply” etc. will be displayed in English on your website.

The wp-config.php file

After downloading WordPress, you have to extract the zip file (latest.zip) and edit the wp-config-sample.php file in the WP folder. To do this, you can use a text editor (for example the free Notepad ++, Windows Editor, or TextEdit and TextMate for Mac).

In the wp-config-sample.php file, you now enter your database data (name, user, password, possibly hostname) in “MySQL settings”:

The MySQL settings in the wp-config.php file

The MySQL settings in the wp-config.php file

Below “MySQL settings” you also have to enter individual security keys. You can generate these on the website https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/. Simply copy the created keys and use them to replace the example code in your file. When you are done, save the finished file as wp-config.php. The wp-config-sample.php file can be deleted from the WordPress folder.

Now you can upload all files of the WordPress folder into the main directory belonging to your domain with an FTP program. (If you are not sure which directory is the right one, ask simply once again briefly with your hosting provider.)

After uploading, you can visit the following URL to sign in to your WordPress page:

http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php

Wordpress Install Screen

WordPress Install Screen

Now, a page should appear in your browser by logging into your WordPress site and logging in as an admin (choose a safer username instead of the suggested “admin”). Once the login is complete, you can access your new WordPress installation and begin setting up your website.

By default, the Twenty Eleven theme is used and some plugins are already installed for you. Of course, you can also choose a different theme for your website and install additional plugins. In addition, you can create an individual navigation menu and WordPress pages (for example, about me or a contact page).

4. Themes and plugins

The best of WordPress is the huge community, which helps each other with problems and develops new products (often free) for WordPress. For this reason, there are a huge number of themes and plugins for WordPress. So you can upgrade your website gradually and expand with useful plugins or choose a nice theme for your website.

I hope you find my brief explanation of the most important steps to your first self-hosted WordPress website helpful. And if you are already a WordPress professional, you might know a friend for whom this info could be helpful. I would gladly take feedback and any additional tips we can add to the post!