How to Build, Host, and Maintain a WordPress Website for your Business in 2021 Using DreamHost

In this series, we’ll be diving into one of the most important aspects of your business. I will be giving you step-by-step directions on how you can get started with building a great-looking and functional website with little effort. Make sure to click through the table of contents listed below and I’ll make sure to keep this entry updated on a regular basis as we all know the internet is a fast-paced environment that is ever-changing.

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Table of Contents:

Registering your Domain
Choosing A Host
Installing WordPress
Choosing your Theme
Appearance and Plugins

Registering your Domain

There are a few dozen ways that one can go about this, and most businesses have already purchased their domain name before even registering their business with their local municipality. But if you haven’t I’ll make a few recommendations on how you can easily register your domain name and continue on to the next steps of getting started with a host for your website and moving on to the fun part of installing WordPress and modifying the skin to fit your brand’s look and feel.

What is a domain name? A domain name is a URL, or address, of where your site exists on the internet. There are many different TLD’s or endings of URLs, some are vanity TLDs, but the most important one that you are familiar with is “.com”, I highly suggest that you purchase a domain name that ends in .com, and is as simple as possible to meet your Brands identity if it’s available.

Where should I register my domain? There are hundreds of domain registrars across the world that can handle this for you. Most domains start at around $10 and go up from there depending on the popularity of what you’re looking for. I usually push my clients to register their domain with google domains and point the DNS to the name server of the host. Why? Well, I prefer not to have all of my eggs in one basket, meaning if something happens with your host or server you’ll be able to point the URL to another server if something comes up. For example; let’s say your host experiences a denial of service attack, and you need to direct traffic to the backup host. You can log in to your google domains account and easily point name servers to another server. This is important to me, because I know I’ll be able to have little downtime if something happens to my host account.

Choosing a Host

Once you’ve chosen your host it’s time to move onto picking a host for your website. It’s important to spend a little time researching what’s best for your needs. I always suggest to my clients to get a solution that fits their needs and the growth they expect in the next 12 to 24 months.

There are a number of vendors that offer excellent service to get your website served to the world. But here are a few things you should know. Stay away from shared hosting plans – Hosting plans that are labeled “shared hosting” are usually trouble. Why? These hosting accounts are one server hosting up several websites. This isn’t a good thing, because you’ll share the resources of that server. These include the same processor, ram, storage, and network resources. So if another website on this shared server gets an influx of traffic, your website will suffer while the priority gets put on the one that’s receiving all the traffic. Since your website is on shared storage, you’ll be vulnerable to security issues. If you have a small business and are using your website for more than just a blog, I highly suggest moving to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) plan.

Who do you recommend for hosting? I’ve been a loyal customer of Dreamhost since 2007. They’ve been a leader for one-click WordPress installs (over 750k) and their support team is fantastic to deal with (chat and phone). Their hosting plans are geared towards WordPress and will get your website up and running with little effort.

This as this article progresses we’ll be showing you how to install WordPress on your website using a Dreamhost VPS.

Installing WordPress

Now that you’ve purchased your domain name and your hosting we’re going to dive into getting your WordPress installed and running on your new server. There are a few steps here so you need to take your time and be patient as this can and will take some time to do correctly.

First, you’ll want to point your domain’s nameservers from google to DreamHost. You’ll do this by logging into your google domains account. Then going to domains on the left-hand side as shown below in Figure 1.

Figure 1

After you’ve logged in and navigated to your domains section you’ll click “manage” on the right-hand side of the domain you need to point to DreamHost.

After clicking manage you’ll be presented with the screen below shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Click the “DNS” section highlighted by the purple arrow above.

This will take you to a screen where you can point google’s DNS servers to those that belong to DreamHost. This gives the instructions to the internet of where your website is actually hosted on the internet. This screen is shown below in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Proceed to the Custom Name Servers area, this is where you’ll edit your name servers so that you can update the DNS and point your domain to DreamHost.

Before continuing: This article assumes you’re starting a hosting plan and website from scratch. It’s important that you understand this. If you already have existing email addresses set up for this domain and are using those accounts to send and receive important correspondence then you must proceed with caution. Changing these settings can and will break your email and cause mass chaos. If you aren’t sure then feel free to contact me for a consultation so that we can make sure your path forward is successful.

Now that you are confident you understand the repercussions of changing your DNS settings you’ll move forward with editing the settings on the “custom name servers tab”.

You’ll click the manage name servers link on the name servers section.

Here you will enter the following information:

  • ns1.dreamhost.com
  • ns2.dreamhost.com
  • ns3.dreamhost.com

After entering the name servers save your changes. Once this has been saved it will take 24 hours for this change to propagate across the internet. You can check and verify this change has been completed by using a tool such as dnsmap.io

Now that your URL is propagating it’s time to move forward with installing WordPress on your DreamHost account.

Log in to your DreamHost account and navigate to your administration panel, choose “One-Click Installs” as shown below in Figure 4.

Figure 4

Click the “Learn More & Install Button” this will bring up the configuration page to get started with your WordPress installation.

Figure 5

You’ll be presented with 4 options as shown in Figure 5. First your install directory. In this section, you’ll need to select the domain you are installing WordPress to as well as the directory. I suggest leaving the directory field blank if this is a new domain without any other subdirectories located within the folder structure. This is where your website’s content will exist. For the database selection, I suggest using the “automatically create database” selection. Uncheck deluxe install and the WP website builder checkboxes. This will ensure that you are installing the most bare-bones version of WordPress without the Bloatware. Next, click the “install it for me now” button.

This process will take about 5-10 minutes to completely install your WordPress installation onto your server. You’ll be emailed your WordPress installation’s admin credentials.

Once you are sent this information you can proceed to log into the back end of your WordPress installation by visiting yourdomain.com/wp-admin

If successful you will be able to proceed with installing your theme as well as installing plugins to expand the capability of WordPress.

Choosing your Theme

Choosing a WordPress theme for your business’ website is important. A theme is the framework of your website and it handles the look, feel, and function of the website and its content. There are thousands of themes available on the internet for free but I highly suggest that you take your time and do some research to make sure you choose the right one that fits your needs. The internet is in a renaissance period currently and it can be very overwhelming to get everything jiving and talking correctly without causing significant loading times. As time goes on I will be adding more information here but in the meantime, I highly suggest starting with the free version of Astra. Nebulas Wolf is built on the Astra theme and I have personally been using it and the pro version on several of my client’s websites for the past 4 years.

Astra’s developers are still adding features to this theme as well as improving its loading times and keeping up with the latest HTML/web standards of today.

Appearance, Content, and Plugins

In future articles I’ll walk you through the basics of changing your website’s appearance. Please visit this website for more information on how to customize your WordPress installation’s appearance. Using astra will bring more functionality to this panel and give you even further customization of your websites appearance.

For content we suggest that you start with the basics; Who you are, What you do, How to Get in Touch with you and a Gallery of Content.

WordPress plugins are tools which further extend the functionality of your website. There are several thousand plugins that can integrate with other tools you use on a regular basis, such as your CRM or email. I will be covering my favorite plugins at a later date. But you can view the most popular installs here.

Maintaining your Installation

One of the most important things you need to keep in mind for maintence is creating a regularly scheduled off site back up of your site’s content. You always need to be prepared for the worst when it comes to your Business. Something else you need to keep in mind for maintence purposes is that you need to read up on an updates for plugins or themes that are available for your installation before applying them. The stability of WordPress has improved vastly over the years, and roll back features do exist, but I always caution clients to be careful before applying updates. Check back for updates on this article as we expand on the processes of maintaining your install and improving your website’s function.

Nebulas Wolf – If you are looking for a professional company to handle your Website or Social Media please contact us. We specialize in growing your brand. Not everything is black and white, you might need help figuring out the grey. Many businesses start out by jotting down an idea on a napkin and following a passion to make money doing something they love. The key factor in continuing to love something that you’ve poured your heart and soul into is to make sure that you don’t get burnt out or overwhelmed.

We offer several solutions to help you market your business effectively and efficiently.

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