If you're thinking of starting a new standalone WordPress site, but you're still on the fence about the costs involved or whether it's the right platform for you, follow this tutorial and you should have a fully-functional WordPress test site, domain name and hosting package in 15 minutes.
You can use your new site to experiment with WordPress, or to learn how to use a web hosting control panel or how to manage a domain. However, should you choose to use it as the basis for a professional site, be advised that the services mentioned below can apply resource restrictions in the event that your site takes off and attracts large volumes of traffic.
Aside from that proviso, there are no strings attached here. This is not an infomercial, or an affiliate bait post, this is a tutorial that does what it says on the tin.
Here are the main steps at a glance. I also have a YouTube video tutorial version if you prefer.
Step 1: Register a free domain with Freenom
1.1 A bit about Freenom
We're going to use a company called Freenom to get a free domain. These guys are based in Amsterdam and their mission is “to bring people online and help countries develop their digital economy.” (read more).
Any domain you register with Freenom will be valid for a period of 12 months, after which you can renew the registration for free on an annual basis. Here's an overview of the terms and conditions:
If you are thinking of using this tutorial as the basis for starting a business or a serious project, I strongly recommend reading through all the fine print. I've had a look myself, and everything seems fair and straight forward, but you must do the due diligence work yourself.
The only real restriction with Freenom (as far as I can see) is that domain name choice is limited to .tk, .ga, .ml, .cf, and .gq.
1.2 Just give me the domain already!
Ok, ok, so go to the main Freenom page. Type in the name you want for your domain in the search box and find an available domain.
You should then see a list of available domain options in blue and white like this:
Select the domain you want and click “get it now!” Go to the checkout and make sure you choose “12 months @ free” from the drop down menu:
Once you've done that, enter your email address on the confirmation screen or connect with Facebook if you prefer.
Freenom will send a verification link to your inbox. Click the link in the email to verify and you should see the following screen:
Enter your details. Make sure you write down your username and password for future reference. You will need this to login and manage your domain. After you've completed the sign-up, you should be able to login and see your domain by going to the “Services” tab in the menu and then selecting “My Domains.”
You will notice that there is an option to “Manage Domain.” We will come back to this in a few minutes, so keep the Freenom site running in your browser.
Step 2: Set up free hosting with BYET
2.1 A bit about BYET
We're going to use BYET Internet Services for the free web hosting. The first thing that I like about BYET is that they offer ad-free free hosting. You'll find a lot of companies claiming to offer free hosting, but many will force ads on your sites. Not in this case.
Byet gives you an unlimited, ad-free, load balanced, free web hosting service including PHP, MySQL, FTP, and Vistapanel. Here are the main features of their free hosting package in list form:
- Unlimited Disk Space
- FTP account and File Manager
- Control Panel
- MySQL databases & PHP Support
- Free tech support
- Unlimited Addon domain, Parked Domains, Sub-Domains
- Free Community Access (Forums)
- Clustered Servers
- No ads!
- https SSL on all free hosting domains. (self signed certificate)
Here's an even more detailed list of features in case you're interested.
Byet's parent company is iFastNet, which is based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom. Their data servers are located in central Ohio in the United States. The parent company has over 10 years experience offering web hosting services and over one million clients. They also offer free support, though response time is understandably slower than with their premium services.
Finally, as with the free domain host in part 1, if you are thinking of building a serious and meaningful website with Byet, you should read through their terms and conditions and make sure you feel happy before proceeding with your project.
2.2 Just give me the free hosting already!
Sure, let's go. Head to the free hosting sign-up page and fill out the form. In the first field “Sub Domain Name” don't worry too much about this. Just choose a neutral name that you will remember.
Once you register, you should receive a welcome email that contains the following important information:
It's a good idea to print this out or save it somewhere along with the login info for the domain name. If you click on the Cpanel URL link, you can use your Cpanel Username and Password to access your hosting. It will look like this:
After logging in, look at the “Account Details” section in the right hand sidebar and click “More Account Settings” button. You should then be able to see a section called “DNS / Name servers” and a list of nameservers that looks like this:
You need this info to connect your free domain with your hosting account. Let's do that now. Ok so copy this nameserver info open in your browser. Jump back to your Freenom account and go to “My Domains” and then click “manage domain.”
On the next screen, click the tab that says “Manage Freenom DNS” and then click the “Edit Nameservers” button. Select “use custom nameservers” and enter the info you got a moment ago on your hosting Control Panel. One nameserver per line like this:
Save the changes. Now switch back to your Hosting control panel. Go back to the main panel home view and click on “Addon Domains”. In the “New Domain Name” box, type in the domain name you created on Freenom. In my case it is willellington.ga. When you've done that click “Add Domain.” You should get a confirmation screen.
That's it for Step 2. Your domain name is now connected to your hosting account. The last thing to do is install WordPress.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Ok so first of all download a fresh copy of WordPress from WordPress.org. Next, go back to your Hosting's Cpanel and on the main page click “Softaculous Apps Installer.” You should see a WordPress logo. Hover over the image and click “install.”
You should now see a WordPress installation screen. In the “Software Setup” section, the only thing you need to do is choose your domain name from the “Choose Domain” option.
After that, fill out the “Site Settings” section and if you want to, you can choose a WordPress them to install too. When you're done, click “Install” and wait for the installation to complete. You should get a success message with a link to your WordPress admin panel. That's it! You now should have a unique domain name, a free hosting package with Cpanel and a new WordPress installation.
Let me know if you need any more help to complete the setup or if any part of this tutorial is not clear. I'll be pleased to update this. Also post a comment and leave a link to your new free site if you want. It would be great to see how you're using this resource.