How do I use my custom domain on my WordPress site?
Great question! This is a common issue to have, especially when you start taking on freelance clients! And some web hosts (like WPEngine and other managed WordPress hosts) don't register domains themselves.
It’s not at all necessary to purchase your domain and web hosting package from the same company. It just adds another step to your process.
Your web host should, ideally, have documentation (like this) on how to "point DNS" to their servers. This means when someone types your chosen URL into their browser they will be redirected to the server that hosts your site.
You'll want to manage your site's DNS (Domain Name System) using your domain registrar (the place where you purchased the domain).
If you are pointing DNS to a managed WordPress host like WPEngine, you may need to set up an A record that points to the IP address provided by your site host. Be sure to follow the best practices laid out in your host's documentation. (If you are pointing DNS to an unmanaged host like Peopleshost, take a look at this article instead.)
Once you point DNS, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a day or two for the connection to be made. Usually, it's on the 15-minute side of things, but it's smart to be prepared.
You'll also want to set your preferred domain (also known as a canonical domain). Ideally, users can get to your site via the www and non-www versions of your URL (for instance, http://www.skillcrush.com or http://skillcrush.com). Which version of the URL you'd like displayed/set as the primary is totally up to you.