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This article is step 1 in the series how to create a website in 1 day for $0.00.

To set up a WordPress server on AWS Lightsail watch the video above or follow the steps below. Alternatively, you can find more detailed steps at the end of this article.

Quick Steps

  • Step 1: Create an account on AWS
  • Step 2: Create a Lightsail instance for your new WordPress site
  • Step 3: Sign in as an administrator to your new site
  • Step 4: Create a fixed IP address for your new site
  • Step 5: Remove the Bitnami badge from your new site

What is a server and why do you need one?

A server is one of the building blocks of the internet. If you want to learn more about the internet there is a lot of content available to help you understand. However, all you need to know for our purposes is that, at a fundamental level, the internet is a collection of servers, and a server is just a computer. A server is a computer that manages access to a specific resource. So that could be an app, service or a website.

That means a server is where our website lives. Whenever someone visits our website their computer makes a request to our server for our website’s information. If we want to have a website we need a server to put it on; that is called “hosting”. If you have ever used a tool to build a websites, that provider would have probably been hosting your website on their servers for you as well.

What is AWS Lightsail?

AWS Lightsails Logo

You have probably heard of the online retail giant Amazon before. To say they are big would be an understatement. However, you might not have heard of AWS or Amazon Web Services. AWS is a cloud computing platform. Cloud computing is when a company hosts their servers remotely instead of locally. Instead of having to own their own computing infrastructure companies can host them with a third party provider like AWS. Cloud computing allows companies to significantly reduce their computing costs whilst the providers can leverage the economies of scale to provide technology services to customers at a fraction of their traditional costs.

AWS is one of the largest cloud computing platform providers, it delivered the majority of Amazon’s revenues in 2018, yet it is also one of the most complicated services to use. This can be a huge barrier to entry for most people who don’t have a computer science background but want to take advantage of cloud computing technology.

Amazon clearly realized this and decided to create an easy to use service that harnesses the power of AWS but in a much more user friendly interface. Amazon Lightsail is an easy-to-use cloud platform that provides us with everything we to need to build our marketing website easily and at a cost-effective price.

Why are we using Lightsail?

  • Easy to use
  • No upfront cost
  • 30 day free trial
  • Low ongoing costs

What is WordPress?

WordPress Logo

WordPress is a completely free and open source content management system (CMS.) A CMS is a software system that allows individuals or companies to easily create, edit, organize and publish their own content. Open Source means that the original source code of the software has been made freely available for distribution and modification by its creators.

WordPress originally started as a tool to support bloggers but has evolved into much more than that over the years. Now WordPress is a powerful platform that allows anyone to create a website or blog. Because it’s so well used across the internet there are tons of plugins that add more functionality to WordPress’s base feature set. A plugin is software that extends the feature set of another piece of software.

This means we can create complex and unique websites without having to code as we can use the free tools that have already been created by other WordPress users.

Why are we using WordPress?

  • Completely free as it’s opensource
  • HUGE community so lots of support and customization options
  • Easy to use
  • Very easy to customize to fit almost all website requirements

How to set up the server

1. Create an AWS account

  1. Go to https://aws.amazon.com/lightsail/
  2. Click on “Create an AWS Account” at the top right corner of the screen
AWS Lightsails Home
  1. Follow the account creation steps. There are 3 pages to complete.
    • You will be asked for your account information e.g email and password
    • You will be asked for your contact information
    • You will be asked for your credit/debit card information

Important: Whilst you need to provide payment information you will only be charged if your usage exceeds the AWS Free Tier Limits

Ok, that’s great work so far. We’re now ready to actually set up our server! 🎉

Step 2: Create a WordPress instance for your new site

Note: Before we go into the steps lets take a quick second to clarify what an “instance” is. As mentioned before we need to have a server for our website. Cloud computing providers have tons of powerful computers and they tend to have waaaay more resources than our website is going to need.

Instead of renting the entire machine, which would cost a lot, we rent a small portion of it. They split up the larger computer by running lot’s of virtual servers. So our server is actually a virtual server running on a larger computer.

It really has no significance to what we are doing here but that’s what an “instance” is and you’ll see the word used in Lightsail.

  1. Navigate to the Lightsail Console
  2. If it doesn’t load on the “Instances” tab click on “Instances”
  3. Click on “Create Instance”
AWS Lightsail Console
  1. Select the region you want to host your site in.
    • It’s best to select a location closer to where you anticipate the bulk of your potential visitors will be located.
Instance Location
  1. Make sure you have your settings configured to match the image below.
Server Configuration
  1. Choose the price plan you want. We suggest the $3.50 tier to start and it comes with one month free!
Free Plan
  1. Choose the name of your region. We tend to use names that match the instances purpose and retain the last part that identifies the region where it’s hosted e.g. Marketing-Site-Oregon-1
  1. Click “Create Instance”

💥BOOOOM! Now we have a working WordPress site. You have successfully created your own website. Now let’s make it our own!

Step 3: Sign in as an administrator to your new site

Now that you have a website you need to be able to access the administrator portal. The admin portal is where you will manage the entire website. From users, appearance, content, plugins, pages etc. all of this is done can be updated via the admin pages.

  1. If you are not already there navigate to the Lightsail Console > “Instances” tab
  2. Click on the “console” button
Console Button

The console is how you log onto the server using a command line interface (CLI). This is just another way of controlling what the computer does. What you are using right now to read this “how to” is a graphic user interface or GUI. The CLI comes from a time before the mouse or trackpad. We input predefined text commands to make the server do the things we need.

  1. Type the following command into the console, you cannot copy paste, and then press enter.
    cat bitnami_application_password
  2. Take a copy of the password that appeared.This is important for later.
  3. Take a copy of your servers IP number. This can be found on the main instances tab on the Lightsail Console
Instance IP

Note: An IP number is a unique number that identifies a device on a network such as the internet. So an IP number the address of our server on the internet. Whilst websites have names, what they call a url, like google.com or amazon.com these urls actually point to an IP address. Humans generally find urls easier to remember than long numeric addresses. We’ll give our website it’s own URL later on.

  1. Now in your web browser, like chrome or safari, navigate to the following link
    http://<your IP address>/wp-admin
  2. Click to login with a username and password
Login with user pass
  1. For “Username or Email Address” enter user
  2. For “Password” use the password you noted down at #4
  3. Click “Log In”
    You have now logged into your new website 🎉
  4. You will see a black menu bar down the left hand side of the screen. Click on “Users”
Users
  1. Create a user for yourself. Important: Make sure you give yourself the “Administrator” role
WP Role
  1. Delete the existing default user

Congratulations! We have accomplished so much in this step! You now have a working WordPress server that you can customize and make your own. Well done. Now let’s create a fixed IP address for our server.

Step 4: Create a fixed IP address for your new site

We were just introduced to the concept of IP addresses in the last step. An IP is your servers address. By default a devices IP address change constantly. They are called dynamic IP addresses. This is generally more cost effective for our internet providers and ourselves.

However, like sending a real letter it wouldn’t be helpful if the address we were trying to send it to kept changing. When we have our website we need to give it a permanent address, or what’s called a static IP.

This means we’ll always use the same IP address to access our server, and eventually we’ll be able to point a url like www.example.com at our IP address reliably.

  1. If you are not already there navigate to the Lightsail Console > “Instances” tab
  2. Click on your instances name
Click instance name
  1. On the new page click “Networking”
  2. Select the region you want the IP address to be located matching the instance location
  3. Select your new instance to attach the the IP address to
  4. You will be asked about naming your IP address. We usually just stick with the default name.

Ok and now your site a fixed permanent address. This new IP address is the one you will be visiting as you configure your new site.

Step 5: Remove the Bitnami badge from your new site

Ok we are on the home stretch. We have a working WordPress server running which has permanent address. Now we just need to remove the Bitnami branding. If you have never heard of Bitnami don’t worry about it. They create the software that allows us to set up WordPress as smoothly as we have on AWS.

You might have noticed their logo in the bottom left corner of your home page. As grateful as we are to the team at Bitnami we don’t want this to appear permanently on our website

Bitnami Logo

So this final step is for us to remove that badge.

  1. Navigate to the Lightsail Console > “Instances” tab
  2. Click on the “console” button
Console Button
  1. Input the following command and press enter. This disables the logo.
    sudo /opt/bitnami/apps/APPNAME/bnconfig --disable_banner 1
  2. Then input the following command and press enter. This restarts the server.
    sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart apache
  3. Go back to your server and wait for it to restart, once the server responds check the home page by visiting your IP address and make sure the logo has disappeared.

Ok and that’s a wrap! We have managed to set up a server that is running WordPress. The next step is to configure the WordPress server so we can start making our website.


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