Website on a student budget – Scrooge version
This is a tutorial on how to set up a free self hosted WordPress site.
What this will cover:
- Getting a free domain.
- Getting free hosting.
- Setting up a WordPress site.
- Setting up Jetpack.
I am a procrastinator, I had originally intended to write up this post some while back, within a few days of setting up this site….. But life!
As a student with almost no income I always try to find a cheap option before I try to go for higher quality. About a year ago I experimented with creating my own website. That experiment did not go so well, at the time I avoided WordPress because I thought it was just for bloggers – turns out I was wrong. While it is very suited to blogging it also can function very well for most other types of sites.
What brought me back to testing it out was that last November my laptop died on me. Around Christmas I got a gift of an old computer, in its base state it couldn’t do much beyond browsing and IRC. So to avoid boredom I restarted my old website project. I succeeded in my project and managed to set up this site with only a bit of legwork and technical knowledge. The hard part was that there were so few good resourses on how to do so, most out of date by half a decade which is why I am writing this.
While a free site may be free it does have some downsides, on its own it would not be able to withstand a large influx of people (I will do a post in the future on how to mitigate this)
I will have two links for most things, normal and affiliate, both will be marked as (n)(a). So if this post helps you the affiliate link will not cost you anything and help me as well.
For my domain I got it from Dot.tk, they provide free domains. The downside is that it is/was fairly popular with scammers as shown by Wikipedia But meh, its free (Paid domains are between €5 to €30 per year). Its fairly simple to setup.
- Go to dot.tk (n).
- Type in the name you wish to have. In my case “Silver2”. press GO
- Select “Use DNS”, Select “Own DNS”, and fill in “220.127.116.11” for the first IP and “18.104.22.168” for the second. Name them “ns1.hostinger.co.uk” and “ns2.hostinger.co.uk”. Select 12 Months. Fill in the captcha and Signup.
- If you wish to use an existing Social media account to signup here is the place, alternatively there is email. For this tutorial I will go with email. Click on “email address”.
- Fill in the required data and “Create Account”.
- Head over to your email and verify your account. This should bring you to my.dot.tk (n).
That is your domain sorted, we will be back here in a short while to change a few settings to suit.
I am going to focus my tutorial on Hostinger, providing both instructions and pictures for that. If you don’t wish to use them I shall provide links at the end for other providers.
- Go to Hostinger.com (n) Link 1 (a).
- Their home screen has a banner promoting the free hosting, Click “Order Now”.
- Either use your Google/Facebook or create a new account as shown.
- Verify your email address and proceed.
- In the home screen click on the hosting section. Then “New hosting account”.
- Then the Free plan.
- Click on “Subdomain” This switches it to the domain selection.
- Fill in the address you chose in the Domain section above (the .tk one).
- Click “Continue”.
That is setting up the hosting done.
Now for the hardest part, setting up the site itself. I am subdividing this into Database, Site Files and Setup.
- After setting up the hosting the page will redirect to the overview of the account.
- Click on the small +, then “Manage”.
- Under “Databases” right click on “MySQL Databases” and open in a new tab (we will be using the overview again).
- Fill in the Database Name, Username and Password. Save these details for later. Copy the prefix (long string of numbers ending in “_”) and save that as well. Click on “Create” and close the tab.
You should have something like
u123456_wpUseand a password
Second last part, getting everything in place.
- Go to wordpress.org/download/ (n) and click “Download WordPress”.
- In your Hostinger dashboard under “Files” click “File Manager”, Install it.
- Now click on the Floppy Disk with a Plus sign, upload the WordPress zip you got in Step 1.
- Now click on the uploaded file, just above it should be an icon of a box in a vice, click that, the Zip will now extract.
- You should have a newly created folder now. Head into it and into the WordPress folder within. Select everything (Use Ctrl+a), Right click and copy. Head up to the home directory (Click on the house on the left) and paste everything.
And now for the easiest part, time to combine everything together.
- Head to the domain you registered. It will bring you straight to the WordPress setup. Most of the stuff will be fairly easy.
- On the second page it will tell you about the stuff needed about the database, get the info handy and head onwards.
- Fill in the data as shown. “Submit”.
- If everything is fine you should get the “All right, sunshine!” screen. “Run the Install”.
- This next part is filling in the basic data for the site, all of this can be changed again later as needed.
- Login to your new site!
Jetpack is the plugin that WordPress released to give self hosted blogs (like this) the same level of functionality as a WordPress hosted blog. It is available through the plugin menu, however there is a catch. Free Hosting like this does not have the processing power to install it automatically, but it is fairly easy to install it manually.
- Get the latest version from here. (n)
- Log back into your hosting Dashboard.
- Under “Files” select “File Manager 2”.
- Double click “public_html”. “Upload” and select the file from Step 1.
- If you are comfortable with it you can stay in this file manager, but I recommend that you switch back to the one used before as it is easier to operate.
- Extract the archive and go into the Jetpack folder. Copy the folder named “Jetpack”. On the left click the arrow beside “wp_content” and click on “Plugins”. Paste the folder here.
- You can now activate Jetpack and all its features in the plugins section of your site!
If you have gotten down this far congratulations, that was a danm long post.
- Now that your site is set up make sure that you follow WordPress’es guidelines on how to keep it safe. Link (n).
- For Major updates you will have to do it manually, this guide covers it, Link (n).
- If you do not like .tk there are other options to choose from, Freenom has four other free domains Link (n).
- Since I have done it a few times I have gotten the time down to 30 min, a new user could take up to an hour.
(1) No longer have an active link.