I use InstantDomainSearch.com to locate available domain names, and then register them at GoDaddy.com. Only register your domain here, skip the other offers. You always want to set up your hosting separately from your domain.
2. Set up your Hosting Account
I use HostGator to host my WordPress blogs because they make it easy to install, and they have great online & phone support. They are also very inexpensive at less than $10/month for unlimited domains, sites and/or blogs on that one account.
Use this link or click on the image above, and use the coupon code "wordpress". That will give you the first month free (or, for a penny - which is about as close to free as you can get).
3. Update Nameservers
Check your email for the account details for your new hosting account. Inside this email you'll find 2 nameservers. Keep the email open and go back to GoDaddy.com. Log in to your account, find your new domain name, and edit the nameservers to the two shown in your HostGator email.
It can take up to 72 hours for your domain name to point to your new hosting account, so you want to do these steps right away.
4. Install WordPress
You don't have to download WordPress and then try to manually install it yourself - that's doing things the hard way. Instead, go back to your HostGator welcome message and find the link to your control panel. You will have to use the temporary IP Address link since your domain hasn't propagated yet. Log in to your control panel with the username and password in that same email.
Once you log in, scroll down and look for the Fantastico button. It's towards the bottom, under Software/Services. Under the navigation on the left, choose WordPress and follow the instructions to install your WordPress blog.
5. Choose a WordPress Theme
While you're waiting for the domain to propagate, do a search for "free wordpress themes". Pick one (or pick a few) and download the zip files. Unzip or extract the files.
Next you'll need to upload your new theme to your hosting account. I prefer FTP, but you can also upload files from within the control panel. Upload the entire theme folder to the wp-content/themes directory in your account. If you need help, see this 6 1/2 minute video: How To Change, Edit, or Install a WordPress Theme.
6. Still Waiting?
At this point you are probably still waiting for your domain name to propagate (meaning the nameserver update hasn't taken effect yet so you still can't see your new WordPress blog when you type your domain name into a browser).
There isn't much you can do at this point since most of your links - including your WordPress admin login - depend on the domain name. So while you are waiting, decide what your first few blog posts will be about. This is a good time to do some keyword research. I use Free WordTracker - just put in words related to your topic to get some good 2-3 word phrases to start with.
Now open Notepad and write a few blog posts, based on the keyword phrases you selected. It's a great starting point because you know people are searching those phrases, and are specifically interested in those topics. Save your notepad file and go have dinner.
7. WordPress Customization
Once your domain is working, you'll be able to log in to the WordPress dashboard. Just go to yourdomain/wp-admin/ in a browser, and put in the username and password you chose when you installed WordPress on your hosting account.
Now that you're logged in - Welcome to WordPress!! - follow these steps:
- activate your new theme (under appearance > themes)
- change permalink structure -help
- edit/delete the default post (Hello World) and delete the test comment
- fill out About Me page -help
- edit/add categories
- install comment spam plugin
Now you're all set and ready to blog!
Be sure to sign up for Problogger's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series. This will give you a great start, and a perfect blueprint to follow. Even if you've been blogging for years, it's a profitable series to follow. I signed up myself!