Step 1 – Get Your Domain Name and Hosting Account


Get Your Domain Name

The first thing you need is a domain name. You can use YourName.com if it’s available, or think up something snazzy. I buy my domain names from GoDaddy.com, but you’ll need to ignore all the offers for extra services – they’re masters at the upsell.

Domain Name from GoDaddy.com
Domain Name from GoDaddy.com

Just go to their site, ignore the pretty lady, and type in the domain name you want into the search box. If the name you hope for isn’t available, they’ll give you some suggestions. For instance, at the moment MyPaperMache.com isn’t available, but you can buy MyPaperMache.org or MyPaperMacheSite.com. If you want to use your own name and it’s already taken, you can add a word that seems reasonable, or use hyphens between the first and last name. Take your time to find the right domain name, because that’s going to be your “brand” for a long time.

Choose your domain name, follow the link to register the name, and ignore all the offers for additional services. Keep clicking until you get to the checkout page. Then pay them the $11.44 it costs to own your URL for one year. (Today’s price – it can change at any time).

  • If you wanted to, you could just go straight to WordPress.com. They’ll give you a blog and you wouldn’t need to buy your own domain name or spend any money for hosting. But they’d own your website. Since they have total control over it, they can shut it down if they want to. That would probably never happen, but why risk it? Besides, YourName.com is way more cool than YourName.Wordpress.com — and it looks a lot more professional.

Get Hosting

Once you have a domain name, you need a hosting account.   All my own websites are hosted by Hostgator.com. If you only have one website, it only costs $4.95 a month. You don’t need their fancy reseller plans – the cheap one is fine.

  • By the way, that’s an affiliate link, so if you follow my advice and sign up for an account after clicking my link, I’ll receive a small commission. If you’d rather go straight to their site instead, just type Hostgator.com into your browser’s address bar. If you like the idea of getting paid just for sticking a link on your page that points to a product or service that you trust, it’s called “Affiliate Marketing.” It’s a good way to make a few bucks to help pay for that hosting account I told you to buy.

The reason I recommend Hostgator is that they have fabulous customer service. I’m not technically savvy myself, so I’ve sent in my share of trouble tickets. Whenever I do, I receive a prompt response, the problem is solved, and they’re really nice about it. I’ve used other hosting companies in the past, and they mean well – but Hostgator’s techs are faster and more helpful than any other hosting company I’ve used. But if you want to, you can do a Google search for web hosting and choose one of the hundreds of other companies that offer this service. Just be sure you get one with a Control Panel.

They’ll ask you for your domain name, which you just purchased. Fill in their form, sign up for an account, and then go look in your inbox.

Set Your Nameservers

You’ll now have two emails – one from GoDaddy and one from Hostgator. Use the link in your GoDaddy email to go back to your account, and then click on the Domain Manager. Click on the link to your domain name, and then find the link to “Set Nameservers” on the next page. The numbers you need for this part are in the email you received from your hosting company.

Set Your Nameservers
Set Your Nameservers

The numbers shown in the image above are the ones I received in my welcome email, when I signed up at Hostgator back in 2008. When you first see that screen, it will have GoDaddy’s nameservers in there instead. After you click on the Set Nameservers link, you’ll see some text boxes, like the ones shown below.

Setting Your Nameservers

Setting Your Nameservers

Click on the bottom radio button, and then copy and paste the numbers from your hosting account’s welcome email. Even if you signed up for Hostgator, don’t just copy the numbers in the image above – your nameservers may be different.

If this is your first website, it may take up to 24 hours for everything to “gell.” Soon, though, you’ll be able to type your new domain name into the address bar of your browser window, and it will take you to your brand new site.

Setting Up Your E-Mail Account

Now that you have a hosting account, you can have an email account that goes with it. To set up your account, go back to your Control Panel and find the e-mail accounts icon.

E-Mail Icon on Your Control Panel

E-Mail Icon on Your Control Panel

When you click on the e-mail icon, you’ll see a page that looks like this if you set up your account at Hostgator.com:

Setting Up Your Email Account

Setting Up Your Email Account

Don’t forget that password…

Now that you have your email account set up, click on the “more” button for the info you  need to access the email from your Outlook or Windows Live program.

Getting the Settings for Your Email Account

Getting the Settings for Your Email Account

OK, it hasn’t been too hard so far, has it? Right now, all you have is a placeholder page at your domain, built by your hosting company. Not too exciting…

But now the fun begins. On to Step 2, How to Build Your Own Website.

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{ 9 comments }

Shirley August 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

WOW!! This is great information and thank-you so much for sharing!
I have a question~~~ if the domain name is available then does that mean it’s totally legal for me to use? Do I need to check for copyrights or anything like that? Since I am clueless about all of this I don’t want to find myself in a bucket of trouble!
I just recently joined this site but have been a lurker for a while now. I LOOOOOOVE your site! I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of it, but am excited about finding all of it’s treasures!
Thank-you!
skwirl

Jonni August 23, 2011 at 7:19 am

Shirley, I’m afraid you’re asking a very technical legal question, having to do with trademark issues. If your domain name uses a trademarked name, (like “Clorox” or “Pepsi” for instance), the owners of the trademark will probably object. And they probably have more money than you do. Copyrights, however, shouldn’t be an issue. Since I just use ordinary words in my domain names, I’ve never had anyone complain about this issue, although I did once receive a nice email from a company who pointed out that a word I used in an article was actually a trademarked name, and they asked me to capitalize it, and add the trademark symbol. Which I did, of course, so no harm was done.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I don’t really have any knowledge of trademark law whatsoever. But if you aren’t using a brand name in your domain name, there should be no problem. Just don’t take that as legal advice.

Shirley August 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm

OOOOPS! I have joined your OTHER site lol

Shirley August 23, 2011 at 7:49 am

Trademark! Ok, that’s what I meant. Thank-you so much!

Jonni August 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

You’re welcome, for what it was worth. 😉 Be sure to let us know when your website is up and running.

Carmen N March 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

HI, Jonni-
Looking back over the website information. I just wondered… I am looking at Go Daddy’s website. I am considering two domains to work on. I am just registering one at a time. OK, there is Go Daddy’s for the domain, Hostgator for the hosting. I wondered why you picked Hostgator instead of going with Go Daddy’s hosting? I just wondered if there was a reason, just your preference or customer service or something to make it all work better with Wordpress, which I have not even really looked into just yet. Go Daddy recommends that you use an email through them or a server instead of yahoo or gmail. All of my email addresses are either yahoo or gmail. So I looked over your tutorial and saw that you went with Hostgator. Not that big of a deal, but Go Daddy wants that info or to select that I will “park my domains at Go Daddy’s”. Just making sure I understand which way I should go on all this little stuff so I can start having more fun.
Thanks,
Carmen

Jonni March 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hi Carmen. I did try GoDaddy’s hosting once, but I wasn’t very happy with it. It was a long time ago, and I can’t remember why now. I just know that Hostgator responds really fast to any problem I have, even the dumb ones. They’re in the business of hosting. So I recommend that you use them. If you want to use GoDaddy, and if they have a dashboard with the Fantastico button (I can’t tell if they have these things from looking at the sales page on GoDaddy’s site), then use them, by all means.

By the way, Hostgator includes the email address with your account. You can have several email addresses with the small business plan, which I use. I have over 50 sites, and every one of them has it’s own email address – and the total cost per month is about 10 bucks.

When you first get your domain, you probably don’t have a hosting account yet. That’s OK. Just let GoDaddy park it for a few hours while you get your hosting set up. If you do go with Hostgator, they’ll send you an email that includes the nameservers. Just copy and paste them into the form at GoDaddy, and you’re good to go.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It does take time to go back and forth between the two services, but I think it’s worth the trouble. But that’s just me – you can use any hosting service you like.

Kim July 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Ok, I’ve been meaning to set up a couple of websites for quite some time now, and I’ve found your site to be very helpful. I’ve followed your directions with no problems up to the last point on this page — when I click on the “configure email client” tab for my new Hostgator email, I do not see a Windows Live automatic option at all. Am I missing it? Manual settings information is given, but 1) I have no idea which one I should choose (or should I use them ALL?), and 2) I have no idea where to *put* this information once I copy it. I think I need a little more guidance on this. Thanks for all your help!

Jonni July 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm

No, they don’t have the automatic settings for Windows Live. I don’t know why. Microsoft has a nice tutorial about the subject here.

If you read through their tutorial, you’ll see that they want you to know several things in advance:

  • When they ask for the server type, you’ll want to select Pop3.
  • Your incoming mail (pop3) servers will be mail.yourdomain.com
  • Your email username is your email address, but with the @ sign replaced by a + sign

If you follow the step by step on the Microsoft tutorial with these settings, you should be OK. If you need any additional help, though, it would be a good time to get to know the folks at the Hostgator help desk. They’re wonderful. I’m sure a quick chat would get you on the right track. (And if they tell you that some of my suggestions in this comment are wrong, please let me know – I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to Windows Live!)

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