7 Days or Less to Branded Website Success – Day 1

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We know you’re excited, so let’s get rolling with day one.

Today is about laying a strong foundation – completing all the required steps so that you can actually get started building out your website.

Step 1: Pick Your Domain Name (Website URL)

I know this is something that has been on your mind for quite some time. In our experience, most people spend way too much time trying to figure out the perfect domain name (website url).

Instead of driving yourself crazy over the right name, here’s what we recommend you do:

  1. Keep it as simple as possible.
  2. If your first and last name is available (i.e. ginahorkey.com), considering starting with that.
  3. If your name isn’t available (and you have no other good ideas), then follow it up with the words “writer” or “VA.”

Spend no more than 30 minutes on this process.

Why? We’re firm believers that the effort you put into marketing yourself and “getting your name out there” will far outweigh the perfect name. I.e. You can brand any name with enough grit and motivation.

Make a list of five potential combinations and pick one. If you’re really stuck on making a decision, create a poll on Facebook (and in the private course communities if you’re a part of 30DOL) and ask for feedback.

You can check for domain availability here.

Step 2: Register Your Domain and Sign-up for Hosting

My preferred hosting provider, Web Hosting Hub provides a free domain when you sign-up for hosting.

Alternatively, you can separate your hosting account from your domain by registering your domain (url) at GoDaddy, NameCheap or somewhere else. I inadvertantly registered my url and hosting separately and it made it way more confusing than it needed to be for a website newbie like me.

If I were to do it over again, I’d purchase both my domain and hosting from the same provider.

One upside to doing things separately is that your hosting account and your domain are protected by two separate accounts and therefore two separate passwords. While this certainly adds a layer of security, it’s not a critical step.

What is critical, is making sure you use a secure, and difficult-to-guess password. In fact, if you can remember it in your head, it’s probably too easy to guess.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to assume that you’re taking advantage of the free domain name that’s included with your hosting account purchase. This will be part of the initial sign-up process that we’re about to run through.

Choosing Your Hosting Plan

Web Hosting Hub offers three levels of hosting. If you’re just starting out, feel free to pick the “Spark” plan which is the least expensive option.

01-Picking-the-spark-plan

As soon as you’ve selected your plan, the first step will be to enter your desired domain name or website url (i.e. if you’re purchasing them together).

(Or, if you registered a domain somewhere else like GoDaddy, select the option on the right side that says “I already have a domain to use.”)

How to start a writers blog-Domain-Name-Options

Next, enter your desired domain name, select .com and click “Search Domain.”

You should then see a screen similar to the one below that shows the available options. Although a .com isn’t necessary, it is the most recognizable. If it’s available, snag the .com every time!

2-domain-name-availability

You’ll notice an option to select WHOIS Privacy. This will hide your personal details from the WHOIS database (keeping your mailing address private, for example.)

If you have a business address or P.O. Box that you can use, you’ll be able to save yourself $9.99. (Note: This is one of those options that is really a personal preference. For example, I didn’t choose it and also didn’t have a P.O. Box right away.)

With your domain selected, you can continue through to the account setup screen as seen below.

3-Account-Details

Enter your personal details and then scroll down. You’ll see two options that include automated backups and antivirus protection.

)Again, this is a personal preference and there are certainly other ways to backup your website. I.e. I also didn’t choose these options.) 😉

4-account-options

A little further down you’ll see the option to install WordPress. Select “No, Thanks.”

We’re going to do that a little later. It’s better to learn how to do this through your Control Panel.

Next up are entering your payment details and clicking “PURCHASE.”

5-Auto-Install

With that, you have successfully purchased a hosting account. Exciting, right?

Within a few minutes you should receive three emails:

  1. A receipt
  2. Your welcome email
  3. An account confirmation email

The most important one here is the account confirmation email. You can either:

  1. Wait until someone from Web Hosting Hub calls you to confirm your account setup
  2. Or you can pick up the phone and give them a call like I did.

With your account now confirmed (to verify you’re a real person), you can switch over and open the welcome email where you’ll see an orange button inviting you to set your password.

6-Welcome-Email Contents

Once you’re taken to the password selection screen, make sure you use a difficult password that is impossible to guess. Not sure how to pick a hard one? Try Random.Org’s free password generator tool.

7-WebHostingHub-Login

With your strong password set and out of the way, you’ll be able to access your Account Management Panel as seen in the image below.

8-Start-a-blog-Account-Panel

Changing Your DNS Settings

This can seem like a confusing concept, but don’t worry – it’s actually pretty easy.

One of the things we need to do is make sure your domain is pointed to your server (hosting account).

14-Domain Management

Here are the steps:

  1. Hover on the “Domains” tab on the top navigation, then click “Manage Domains.”
  2. Your domain should appear in the list (there is probably only one), click it.
  3. On the next screen, click on “Point your domain?”
  4. There will be two nameservers listed at the top (ns1.webhostinghub.com and ns2.webhostinghub.com).
  5. Make sure that the nameservers (ns1.webhostinghub.com and ns2.webhostinghub.com) are listed in the Primary and Secondary locations as seen below. If they are, you’re ready to go.

DNS-Settings-2

Step 3: Installing WordPress

Let’s go ahead and click on the “SOFTACULOUS” icon (located on your account management panel).

9-Softaculous Icon

This will take you to your Cpanel login where you can enter the username and password for your account, then click “SUBMIT” and you’ll be taken to a screen like the one below.

10-WordPress-Install1

Hover over WordPress and click Install.

You should be presented with your software setup screen where we’re going to enter the following information (see the screenshot below if you’re confused by any of these steps):

  1. Choose Protocol: Select http://
  2. Choose Domain: Make sure your domain is selected.
  3. In Directory: Leave this blank.
  4. Database Name: Leave this as the default name.
  5. Table Prefix: By default this will say “wp_”. Change this to a random series of 7-10 upper and lower case letters and numbers.
  6. Site Name: Enter your website name.
  7. Site Description: Enter a tagline and anything really, you can change it later.
  8. Enable Multisite: Leave this unchecked.
  9. Admin Username: Use a name that is not easily guessed “DO NOT USE “ADMIN.”
  10. Admin Password: Enter a password that is impossible to guess and remember (this is different than your other password mentioned above.)
  11. Admin Email: If possible, enter an alternate email account here.
  12. Select Language: Select your language.
  13. Select Plugins: Make sure “Limit Login Attempts” is checked.
  14. Advanced Options: I recommend leaving all boxes unchecked here.
  15. Email Installation Details to: Enter your email address here.

Double check all your information, make sure you write down your login details, then click “INSTALL.”

WordPress-install-setup-screen

Sometimes, you might get a message that tells you there is already a .htaccess file in the directory. Just check the overwrite files box and click install again.

12-WordPress-Install-htaccess-error

If everything is successful (which it should be), you’ll see the message below and receive the installation details in your inbox.

13-WordPress-Successful-Install

Before we call it quits for today, let’s just make sure the installation works properly. To do that, we’re going to visit your WordPress Admin Panel by going to the following address:

http:/yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/ (replace “yourdomainname” with your url) 😉

Your login screen should look just like the image below. Enter your username and password, then click login. If you end up on your WordPress Admin Panel, you’ll know you’ve done everything right.

And if you’ve made it this far (this was the hardest part), let’s call today a success and take a little break from website building.

16-WordPress-Login-Screen

Congratulations! You’ve picked your domain (website url), purchased and set up hosting and installed WordPress! If you’re a website newbie like me, this is kind of a big deal – well done!

Ready to move on? Click here to access Day 2: Configuring WordPress and Installing Your Base Plugins.

6 thoughts on “7 Days or Less to Branded Website Success – Day 1”

  1. I really LOVE this course. You have taken the time to lay things out so well and so clearly. I do have one small suggestion though. Down here where you have the comments section, If you could put in a button or tab that would take you to the other 6 days I think it would help greatly with navigation. See I tend to read through things first, begining to end, and then, when I have the time, go back and actually do the steps. The tabs would make it faster to navigate, (IMHO).

    So do you have plans for a ” Horkey Handbook Reunion” where we can all get together on some tropical island and hang out and help each other or talk about our successes and how we turned failures into success. A Tax deductatble writing improvement workshop and Mid-winter warm up.

    • Thanks Robert – we’ll take that under consideration for when we revamp it later this year. 🙂

      And yes, one of these months/years, I’d love to plan something like that!

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