How to set up a WordPress website using Hostgator: a step-by-step beginner’s guide

This guide will show you how to get a domain name, web hosting, and get your WordPress website online. All of that, done properly. To do this, we’re going to use Namecheap for a domain name, and Hostgator for web hosting.

By following this guide step-by-step, you’ll avoid making typical beginners mistakes, as well as save money on your purchases. You can get started for less than $20 if you follow the steps in this article

This guide is written for complete beginners. But even as a complete beginner, you can get your website online, following these steps, in just 20 minutes!

1. Get a domain name

Namecheap is a domain registrar; a company that allows you to register a domain name for your website. And as their name implies; registering a domain name with them is cheap! A .com domain name will go for around $10 per year on namecheap.

You might think: can’t we just register a domain name with Hostgator, the web hosting company? You actually can; but I can’t recommend that for a couple of reasons. This article by nutsandboltsmedia.com sums up my exact thoughts on this issue. Also, using Namecheap to register your domain name will save you some money. By not registering your domain name with your web hosting company, you have already avoided a beginner mistake.

Find a domain name

Once you’re on namecheap.com, you’ll see a search bar, that you can use to find a free domain name. Type in what you want your domain name to be, and click ‘Search’.

namecheap-finding-domain-name

This will generate a list with Top-Level Domains (like .com, .net, .org, .info, etc) that you can register your domain name with:

namecheap-finding-domain-name-available-top-level-domains

For my example below, all the Top-Level domains are available. Click the ‘Add to cart button’ on your preferred option (in most cases, the .com is best).

Once it’s added to the cart, click ‘View Cart‘.

namecheap-domain-in-cart

 

Now you’ll see the contents of your cart. By default, WhoisGuard is enabled, and it’s free for the first year. This services makes sure your domain name details are private (domain name privacy). This means others won’t see your details (your name and contact details). Unless you’re intending to sell your domain name, I highly recommend you get domain name privacy; spammers will use the WHOIS records to find your e-mail address and send unsolicited emails (mostly from people looking for work, namely ‘helping’ you out with your website).

Click ‘Confirm Order‘.

namecheap-cart-confirm-order

Create an account

If you’re a new customer, you’ll first have to create an account.

Fill out the ‘Create An Account’ form; example below. I actually recommend signing up for the Namecheap newsletter, as they don’t send that many emails, and will alert you of discounts. When you have filled everything out, click ‘Create Account and Continue‘.

namecheap-create-account

You will receive a welcome email from Namecheap, that will include the username you signed up with, and other additional information. However, you don’t need to confirum your account using the email. But before you can actually register your domain name, you do have to fill out some additional information. Just fill out this form; everything here speaks for itself.

namecheap-account-information-shorter

Once you’ve filled out all the required information, click ‘Continue’ below the form, or on your cart on the left.

namecheap-domain-in-cart-continue

Check out

You’ll now be able to check out. Select your checkout method. The easiest method is to pay with PayPal. If you want to check out with a credit card, you’ll have to enter additional information on your credit card.

namecheap-domain-checkout2

Go through with your checkout. Once you have paid, your order will start processing. Once completed, you’ll see this:

namecheap-thank-you-for-your-purchase

You’ll also receive an email titled “Namecheap.com Order Summary” with all of the order details for the domain name you just registered.

You’re now the proud owner of a domain name!

The domain name will be added to your Namecheap account. You can find all of your domain names you have registered with namecheap here: https://manage.www.namecheap.com/myaccount/domain-list.asp.

namecheap-finding-domain-list

TIP: Hard time deciding what domain name you want to use? I’ve got some tips for you here: what makes a good domain name?

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2. Get web hosting

Next, we’re going to sign up for webhosting. First, go to Hostgator’s signup page:

Step 1. Choose a Domain you want to host

Because you’ve already registered a domain name with Namecheap, click the tab that says ‘I already own this domain’, and type your domain name in the text box. Double-check to see if you have entered your exact domain name!

hostgator-signup-I-already-own-this-domain

Step 2. Choose a Hosting Plan

Package type

There are 3 different packages:

  1. Hatchling plan
  2. Baby plan
  3. Business plan

The Hatchling plan allows you to host only one domain name. If you’re really sure you only want to host one website, then go for this option. The Baby plan allows you to host an unlimited amount of websites. Even though I was originally only going to host one website (didn’t happen), I picked this option, just to give myself room for expension. Only choose the Business plan if you’re looking to host a webstore. The business plan allows you to add a private SSL; an extra security layer that helps protect sensitive data, like credit card numbers needed to check out in your webstore.

For most people, the Baby Plan is the best choice. It allows you to build your website, and expand by adding more websites if necessary. You can add more domains to your web hosting account later, as addon domains.

Billing cycle

Select your billing cycle. The billing cycle determines how often you’ll pay for your web hosting with Hostgator. The options are; 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months (1 year), 24 months (2 years), or 36 months (3 years). The 24 month and 36 month option will give you a small discount on monthly price.

If you don’t want to pay for at least 2 years in advance, your best option is to go for the ‘1 month cycle‘. If, for some reason, you want to cancel your account later, with this cycle, you will only pay for the rest of the month. Also, this means you’ll only have to pay $8,96 right now, and can get started building your website!

Username

Choose a username. This will be the name that you use to log in to your cPanel (more on that later). You could, for instance, just use your first name. If you want your hosting account to be more secure, you can use a random username, for instance, “n7ab30tyi5fv“, as long as it starts with a letter, doesn’t contain any special characters, like _)(*^%@!~, and isn’t longer than 12 characters.

Security PIN

When contacting support, you’re asked for this 4-number PIN. Choose any four numbers.

hostgator-signup-choose-a-hosting-plan

Step 3. Enter Your Billing Info

This step mostly speaks for itself. Make sure you enter your correct information. A company name is not required.

You can pay either with credit card, or with PayPal. Select your preferred option.

hostgator-signup-enter-your-billing-info

Step 4. Add additional services

As a complete beginner, you’re likely not going to need any of the listed additional services. By default, SiteLock (If you want some more information on these additional services, read my article: cheapest way to get HostGator hosting, which goes into more detail on each of them.

hostgator-signup-additional-services

Step 5. Enter a coupon code

Here you can enter a coupon code to get a discount on your hosting package.

Use our coupon code, ‘IMSTARTPAGE25‘ to save 25% on your hosting package!

Enter the coupon code, and click ‘Validate’.

hostgator-signup-enter-a-coupon-code

Step 6. Review Order details

This part will show you the details of your order. Check if everything is correct. You can read the Terms of Service, Cancellation Policy, and Privacy Policy.

Make sure to check the checkbox in front of ‘I have read and agree to the Terms of Service, Cancellation Policy, and Privacy Policy.

Then, click ‘Checkout Now!’.

hostgator-signup-review-order-details

Check out

If you chose PayPal, you’ll be taken to a secure login screen for PayPal. Sign in to PayPal, and complete your order.

 

3. Add domain name to your web hosting account

Once you’ve signed up for Hostgator’s web hosting, you’ll receive an email with your Hostgator Account Info. It’ll look like this:

Hostgator-account-info-email

To add your domain name to your hosting account, you have to ‘point’ your domain name to your hosting account. This means you’ll have to change your Domain Name Server (DNS) settings for your domain name in Namecheap.

You can do this by changing the name server settings for your domain name in Namecheap. The email you received shows you your first and second nameservers.

Go to your domain list in Namecheap. Here is the exact URL that shows your domain list: https://manage.www.namecheap.com/myaccount/domain-list.asp. Click on your domain name, and then click on ‘Transfer DNS to webhost‘ in the left sidebar.

Namecheap-Transfer-DNS-to-Webhost

Now you’re on a page that says ‘Modify Domain: [yourdomainname.com]. Here, select “Specify Custom DNS Servers ( Your own DNS Servers )”.

Copy your first Nameserver from your email (in my case ns6501.hostgator.com), and paste it in the box labeled “1.”. Then, copy and paste your second nameserver (in my case, ns6502.hostgator.com) in the box labeled “2.”.

To save these settings, click the blue button that says ‘Save Changes’.

Namecheap-Modify-Domain-Custom-DNS-Servers

You have now pointed your domain name at your Hostgator servers!

To confirm this, a text box will appear, saying “Nameservers Updated Successfully”:

Namecheap-Nameservers-Updated-Succesfully
Depending on the TLD you’re using, it might take a while for these changes to be actually carried out. With a .com domain, this is almost instantly.

 

4. Install WordPress

Now all there’s left to do, is to install WordPress!

You install WordPress from your Hostgator cPanel. To log into cPanel, you need your cPanel login URL, your username and password. All of these can be found in the “Hostgator :: Your Account Info” email:

Hostgator-account-info-email

Click the link after ‘Your Control Panel:’. In my case, that’s https://gator3251.hostgator.com:2083/.

Here, log in with the Username and Password you got in the email.

cpanel-login-screen

Your cPanel is where you have control over the technical aspects of your hosting account; adding domains, setting up email, accessing files and databases. In our case, we’re going to use cPanel just to look up some information so you can add your domain name, and to install WordPress (which allows you to actually start building your website).

Here are the full video instructions for installing WordPress using quickinstall:

Full text instructions (click to show)

Once WordPress is installed, you’ll receive a confirmation email with your details:

WordPress-installation-confirmation-email-quickinstall

You’ve now got WordPress set up! You can now log into WordPress by going to the ‘Admin URL’, which is yourdomain.com/wp-admin.

Here, log in with the Username and Password from the email.

wordpress-login

You’re now logged into the back-end of your WordPress website! This is where you’ll build your site from!

Conclusion

If you have followed along with this article, you have now successfully set up your WordPress website. You will now have to use WordPress to shape your website to suit your purpose.

For everything else you need to know about WordPress, you can reference my WordPress article library, for an ever-growing amount of articles on WordPress (currently over 25 articles).

To set up a you@yourdomain.com e-mail address, see this video.

For any additional questions, leave me a comment below!

Have fun building your own website!

2 thoughts on “How to set up a WordPress website using Hostgator: a step-by-step beginner’s guide

  1. JJ

    Hey, do you have any tips on migrating a WordPress site from one HostGator acount owned by someone else to a new account owned by a different person?

    I would be very interested in any pitfalls to look out for especially.

    Reply
    1. GuidoGuido Post author

      Hi JJ, thanks for your comment.

      As long as your site isn’t getting thousands of visitors, I’d do that using a plugin called WP Clone (you’ll have maybe 30 minutes of downtime).
      With this plugin, you can easily make backups of your WordPress website, and restore them.

      Using that plugins these are the steps you’d have to take:

      1. Install WP clone on your website
      2. Make a backup of your website using WP Clone
      3. Download the backup to your computer
      4. Change DNS setting for your domain name to your new server
      5. Add the domain name to your new Hostgator server (instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE1pa1Q8ONM)
      6. Do a clean installation of WordPress to your domain name (instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ243isms6U)
      7. Install the WP Clone Plugin to WordPress
      8. Upload the backup you made earlier to WordPress (Media > Add new). Copy the link to the backup file.
      9. Go to WP clone, and restore your website from this backup. You’ll need to enter the link to your backup file (paste it).
      10. Run the backup.

      And that’s it, your website will be completely restored (you can now also log in with your old password).

      I have a tutorial showing how the WP Clone plugins works, but in a different scenario (moving a website to another domain name):
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XwH7FlS5Kw

      Just do not delete the website from your old server until everything is moved over to your new server, and you have confirmed everything is working correctly.

      If you need any more help, let me know.

      Reply

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