Get a Domain, a Host, and Start Publishing in Less than One Hour

I recently attended a class at the Poynter Institute and many of the traditional and non-traditional journalists wondered how to set up and run their own web site. It’s not a complicated process. Using the information below anyone can do it in three steps in under one hour.

0) Before You Start

You’ll need to know what URL you’d like to use, I always suggest writers use their own names. You are your brand. However, some like to set up site names by the topic. To make it easier later, write down five URLs you’d like to use. In step one, you’ll quickly find if those URLs are available.

You’re going to need a credit card or Paypal account to pay for the domain and the host. Simple definitions? The DOMAIN is the name of your site. You own it and can assign it to a HOST which is the company that “hosts” the files that make up your web site.

OK, close the door to your office to keep out inquisitive editors….

1) Buy Your Domain

Your domain is your identity on the Internet. Pick wisely. You don’t want to keep changing it. I suggest Godaddy.com as the place to purchase your domain. I’ve used them for years. They are fairly easy to use, don’t try to upsell more than anyone else and their prices are competitive — figure about $12 a year to buy your domain name.

At this point I’m going to send you to someone who already has written a fine Godaddy tutorial. (Why reinvent the…you know the cliché.) Head over to Murlu.com and follow How to Register a Domain With Godaddy. Don’t be long, I’ll go make a cup of tea.

2a) Find a Host

That didn’t take long. I know Murlu is a bit concerned with something called SEO and niche blogging, but don’t concern yourself with that…yet. Let’s find a place to host the web site you’re going to create.

I use a pair of hosts. One is someone I started using in the mid-90s and I keep ChuckWelch.com there. However, it’s one-person operation, and while good, I don’t send people there for their first domain. It’s just a bit too hands-on for new users. Ask me about it when you’re ready to run your 4th site.

I recommend Dreamhost.com for new domain owners. Almost everything about it is geared for the new user. Most of what you’ll need to do has a “one-click install.” That sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Ok, grab your credit card. Dreamhost has a million plans and near holidays has some crazy cheap offers. (I joined for a 90% discount one New Year’s Eve. No comments about my sad lonely life please.) Expect about $9 a month for hosting and you should go ahead and pay one or two years ahead.

There are two methods to signing up at Dreamhost:

a) Follow this link: Disclosure: I’ll make $97 when you pay for your hosting.

b) Email me at poynter [at] lakelandlocal.com . The first five classmates who do will get a special link and code and you’ll get $15 off a 1-year signup or $100 off a 2-year signup and I’ll get $97 for referring you.

I don’t send people to Dreamhost because I make $97. I send them there because it works, I use it and when people call me for free advice I don’t have to learn the system to help them out.

Here’s a video that explains the sign-up process:


2b) Set up Your Domain

I found a good video to set up your first Domain and FTP user. (Don’t worry about the latter…you won’t need to know that term until you become familiar with the term. Recursive, isn’t it?)


2c) Change Your Name Server at Godaddy

The Internet is simply a web of connected computers. As it was created by nerds, the Internet computers are numbered like 127.13.8.69. Those are called IP Addresses. Rather than forcing all of us to use IP addresses, we use common names (URLs) to find the Internet machines — like ChuckWelch.com. To map the common names to the proper IP address, special computers simply hold address books called Name Servers. These Name Servers point each common name to their particular computer. For example, you type in ChuckWelch.com in your browser, and the Name server directs your browser to 75.125.245.26, a machine in Great Britain that holds the page your’re reading right now. Or at least, was reading until I started explaining Name Servers.

But why is this important?!

Well, now that you plan to host your web site at Dreamhost, you have to go back to Godaddy and let them know to point your new Domain name to Dreamhost. When you set up your domain, Dreamhost sent you an email telling you to change your nameservers to something like ns1.dreamhost.com , ns2.dreamhost.com and ns3.dreamhost.com. (Yes, there are three. The Internet is built on redundancy.)

So, now you want to go to Godaddy and set your Name Servers.


3) Set Up WordPress

You’ve got your Domain, your Host and now you need a simple method to add your information to the Internet so you can change the world. Or make cash. Or attract a mate, seriously, it doesn’t matter what you plan to do…Wordpress is a incredibly simple way to do it. If you’ve ever used Atex or Word, you can use WordPress.

Again, why reinvent…blah, blah. Just go watch the video One-Click Self-Installation of WordPress with DreamHost.

That’s it. You’re now a Publisher.

Log in to your WordPress. Look at the Dashboard. Write your first post…


That’s it. We’ll talk about the look of your site next week. If you’d like to know more, leave me a comment, catch me on Twitter at @chuckwelch or on Facebook.

  • Guestonchuckwelch Com

    $97? Wow!

  • Not so wow. That only happens if the person uses the link and pays a year or two ahead. It certainly isn’t required to do so before reading the column and I don’t expect most people would use the link. I just put it there in case someone wanted to.nnYou can ask around. I help where I can, and usually at no charge.nnA couple of the others I linked to also suggested using their referral links. They might still be good also.nnI hope you found a tidbit or two of useful information.