Running a Website - That Sounds Hard!
A lot of webmasters these days like to make what they do out to be borderline rocket science. They throw around a bunch of fancy words that go over everyone's heads. It's enough to make you feel discouraged from starting your own website. After all, your favorite blogger seems like a genius, and if there are parts of website administration that even he doesn't understand, there's no hope for you.
The truth is, your favorite blogger probably doesn't know much about running his own website either. Most webmasters don't. The fact of the matter is, in today's age, the level of entry for putting yourself out on the web is lower than ever before. You don't need a college degree, you don't need a high-end computer, and you don't need a lot of money.
In fact, it is possible for you to, in a couple of hours tops, set up your very own blog or website, complete with a .com domain name, web hosting, and a pretty theme! It doesn't take much work, and it is very rewarding and fulfilling to have your own creation up for the world to see.
Purchasing a Domain
Unfortunately, having your own .com domain is not 100% free: there is an annual free included. The good news is, it isn't a lot of money, around $10 a year. If you don't feel like a .com is necessary for whatever it is you are going to be doing, then there are alternatives which are cheaper, including .org and .info, which run at $6.99 and $2.99 respectively. However, keep in mind that if you are trying to put together a really popular website with a large number of visitors, then it is best to get a .com from the start. It's just a lot easier to remember, and is what people are going to remember when they try and return to your site.
You can purchase your domain from a variety of places. You've probably heard of GoDaddy, which is one of the biggest. There are others though, such as namecheap, name, gandi, 1and1, and a whole boatload more. It really doesn't matter which one you pick, that part is entirely up to you. If you really don't know which one to choose, then you can always search around for online for a coupon code. Chances are, at least one of the major services will have one that will allow you to purchase your domain for $3-5 instead of $10.
Get Some Hosting
Hosting is generally the more expensive part of running your own website. However, it doesn't have to be, because you can actually get it for free! Granted, if your website ever starts having to service thousands of visitors daily, you are going to need to move to a more expensive paid host, but for starting out, there is nothing wrong with going with something free. Probably the best free host is 000webhost.
While their slogan ("better than paid hosting") may not necessarily be true in terms of functionality may not necessarily be true, they provide adequate and perfectly reasonable service for those of us that are looking to save as much money as possible while we are still in the start-up phase.
Make an account with them, and tell them that you already have a domain. You'll also need to set up a username and password for your domain. Remember these, because you are going to need them later.
Snag an FTP Client
FTP- that sounds complicated!
No worries, FTP just stands for File Transfer Protocol. An FTP client is just a piece of software that allows you to upload files from your personal computer at home, to your website. It's a lot simpler than it sounds.
There are a few options out there for FTP clients. A lot of people like to use SmartFTP, but that retails at $39.95, and it's interface can be a bit intimidating for new users. We don't want intimidating and expensive, we want dead simple and cheap. Or in this case, simple and free. Widely regarded as the best free FTP client is FileZilla. It's free and open-source, and is very easy to use, even if you don't have any experience with such software. Better yet, it is cross-platform, which means that it will work whether your computer is Windows, Macintosh, or any one of various Linux distributions.
WordPress- It's Not Just For Bloggers
You may have heard the word WordPress before. It's commonly associated with blogging, in the same way that Blogger is. What you may not know, is that the same WordPress software that powers a bunch of your favorite blogs, also can power any old website, with a couple of tweaks. You can easily get a theme that fits the style of your new site, and can change up some pages to give it whatever flair you are looking for, professional, casual, etc.
You will need to download the newest version of WordPress from their website (that's the .org, not the .com!). Some paid web hosts will allow you to install WordPress with one click of a button. Unfortunately, 000webhost does not support this feature, although that may change in the future. Regardless, this is a good skill to know, and will give you experience with that new FTP client!
Dotting the I's and Crossing the T's
Before you can install the WordPress software on your new website, there are just a few easy steps to take care of on the back end.
The first thing you have to do is update your nameservers. What is a nameserver? It's a bit complicated, but all you really need to know is that it tells the user where to get the web hosting information. Login to your account on whatever website you bought your domain, and navigate to wherever you need to be in order to update your site's nameservers. For GoDaddy, this is under My Account > Domains > Launch > Set Nameservers. If you are confused at this point, simply Google "update nameservers name-of-domain-registrar". Whatever you are using, you'll be able to check out a simple tutorial. When you eventually get where you need to be, the next step is to change the nameservers to ns01.000webhost.com and ns02.000webhost.com.
Note that after updating nameservers, it may take a couple of hours to go into affect. So go out to eat, or sleep on it. 000webhost will tell you when it's finished.
The other important thing that you need to do is set up the right information in FileZilla. This is just a bunch of copy and pasting, you already have set all this up. Login to 000webhost, and go to your control panel (CPanel). The first option you should see, under "Main Menu", is called "View Account Details".
Now you should see all of the information associated with your domain and account. Some of the info will be "FTP host name", "FTP user name", and "FTP password". Likewise, FileZilla needs a host, username, and password! They also need you to fill in a box called "Port". Just put the number "21" in here, and you are good to go.
Easy WordPress Installation
Now that all of our accounts are connected together, we can install WordPress. You should have already downloaded the newest version from their website. If you haven't, do that now. The download will be as a .zip file, which doesn't do us any good. Use a program like WinZip or 7Zip to unzip it.
You should now have a normal folder entitled something like "wordpress-3.5.1". Inside of that folder is another called simply "wordpress". Move the "wordpress" folder somewhere that is easy for you to navigate to, such as your desktop.
First, open up and connect your FileZilla account. On the left side of your screen are files from your personal computer. On the right side are files hosted on your website. You should see a folder called "public_html". Double click that. Inside, you may have a file called "default.php" or something like that. You can get rid of this by clicking on it and pressing delete.
Next, navigate on the left side of your screen to your desktop or wherever you placed the "wordpress" folder. Double click to open that folder. You should see some folders like "wp-admin", "wp-content", as well as a bunch of files, most of them .php scripts. Select ALL of these files and right click > upload.
It may take a few minutes to upload all of the files. After that, you're all set and ready to start working with the easy-to-use WordPress software! There are all kinds of free themes to makes your website into whatever it is you want it to be!