How to Build a Blog (or Website) : Step-by-Step Lessons From a WordPress Professional

So you want to start a blog. You’re not alone. Last year over 2 million blog posts were published EVERY DAY. That’s a lot of blog posts. Or maybe blogs aren’t your style. Maybe you just want to build a simple website for your business. Either way, the info below will guide you through the process of starting a blog or website using wordpress, the most popular website platform on the market.

Over the course of my career I have built hundreds of websites. Let’s just say I know a thing or two about the process. I’m going to walk you through the steps of setting up your very first wordpress website. Let’s get started!

Step One – Choose a Domain Name and Web Host

Before you can build a wordpress website you must have a domain (www.yoursitename.com) and a place to store that site. That’s were a web host comes in. For a low monthly fee, you can purchase your domain name and rent server space from a web hosting company. I highly recommend purchasing your domain name from the same company that will host your site. It will make your life much easier, trust me.

With so many hosting options out there, how do you know which company to choose? There are lots of people who would recommend Bluehost. However, years of working with multiple web hosting providers (including Bluehost) has lead me to one conclusion. There are only two hosting companies that meet my seal of approval.

1. GREENGEEKS. They not only have a great monthly rate (you can get started for as little as $4.95 p/month), they also have outstanding 24/7 customer support, unlimited emails and domains, and strict security monitoring. No crazy up-sells, just consistent, outstanding service. Oh, and did I mention they are environmentally friendly (be still my heart). They are the industry’s leading green energy web hosting provider and are 300% powered by renewable energy. Sold.

Which hosting plan should I choose? I would go with GreenGeeks Managed WordPress Hosting plan for $4.95 per month. Don’t have a domain name? No worries. You can sign up for one during the hosting account setup process.

Note: During the setup process you will be assigned a username and password. Be sure to save this info! You’ll need it later. 

 

 

2. GODADDY. Their monthly plans are little more expensive, but still very reasonable. They also have very good customer service, along with email services and security monitoring (although you’ll have to pay a little extra for that).

Which hosting plan should I choose? I would recommend GoDaddy’s Ultimate WordPress Hosting plan. It offers the most features and includes an SSL and ongoing malware scans and removal. Google is now giving preference to sites with an SSL, so I highly recommend you have one. With all of those features, the plan is still only $7.99 p/month. Don’t have a domain name? No worries. You can sign up for one during the hosting account setup process.

Note: During the setup process you will be assigned a username and password for your GoDaddy account, along with a username and password for your wordpress website. Be sure to save all of this info! You’ll need it later. 

 

 

Step Two: Install WordPress

Now that your hosting account and domain name are setup, it’s time to install wordpress. Don’t worry, it’s super easy. Promise.

IF YOU CHOSE GREENGEEKS, log into your account (using the username and password you created during the setup process) and follow these steps.

  1. If you’re not already logged into Greengeeks, go to www.greengeeks.com and click the Customer Login link at the top of the page. Login using the username and password you setup in step one.
  2. Now that you’re logged into your Dashboard, click the blue cPanel Login button toward the bottom of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the cPanel page until you find the section titled “Softaculous Apps Installer” and click the WordPress icon.
  4. Click the blue Install Now button.
  5. The installation page is made up of several sections. Most of the settings on this page can stay as-is but there are few you’ll need to modify.
    • In the Software Setup section, be sure that your domain name is chosen in the Choose Domain dropdown (it is probably already chosen). Leave the Directory section empty.
    • In the Site Settings section, replace the “My Blog” title with a custom title for your blog or website and a description (you can change these later if you need to).
    • In the Admin Account section create a username for your wordpress site (do NOT use the default ‘admin’).  I would suggest using the password generator to create a secure password. Be sure to save these details somewhere safe. You’ll need them to log into your website in the future.
    • The other sections (Choose Language, Select Plugins and Advance Options) can stay as-is.
    • Scroll down to the Select Theme section. There are a ton of themes to choose from. Arrow through and pick one you like. You can click on the theme photo to view a demo of the theme before you choose. Once you’ve made your decision, click the Select button below your theme choice to confirm.
    • Last step – click the blue Install button to begin the installation. That’s it! WordPress and your theme are now installed. Be sure to save your website login url along with the username and password. If you ever forget, your website login url will be www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/

Note: Be sure to save your wordpress login url along with your username and password in a secure place for future reference!

 

 

IF YOU CHOSE THE GODADDY ULTIMATE WORDPRESS HOSTING PLAN, wordpress was setup for you during the account setup process. Holla! I love it when life is easy. You can proceed to step three.

 

Step Three: Choose a Theme for Your Blog or Website

If for some reason you did not choose a theme during the wordpress/hosting setup, you can still do so. WordPress offers a ton of really cool themes, and many of them are free. To view your theme choices, log into your wordpress dashboard (www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/) and click Appearances » Themes. From there click the Add New button at the top of the page. you’ll see a long list of theme choices. Just scroll until you find one you like, or you can use the filter bar to filter by Featured, Popular, or Latest designs. You can also use the “Feature Filter” to filter designs by functionality (i.e. ‘e-commerce’). Can’t find a theme you like? Check out the Envato Marketplace. They have hundreds of high quality wordpress themes to choose from.

 

In addition to a large selection of wordpress themes, the Envato Marketplace also has a crazy amount of high quality graphics like logos, brochures, illustrations, icons and much more. Looking for some cool infographic videos for your site? They have that too. How about royalty free music and audio tracks? Yep. The also have stock photos starting at $2. Crazy cheap!

 

IF YOU CHOSE GODADDY for your hosting, and don’t want to build your site from scratch, their Quick Start Wizard lets you choose from a library of pre-built websites, including thousands of high-quality images. Pretty cool.

 

Step Four: Customizing your Blog’s Theme

Most people think that once they install a theme, it’s ready to go. Unfortunately there’s a bit of tweaking and customizing needed in order to make the site your own. Depending on which hosting company you chose (GreenGeeks or GoDaddy), this process will be a little different. You’ll need to add your logo, customize the site colors to match your brand, among other things. To learn more about these general basic concepts, check out the article I wrote on the topic.

You can really go down the rabbit hole on this step. Of course you want your site to look good, but there’s always time to tweak later. The most important thing is to customize it for your brand, and add that all-important content, to get up and running.

If you chose GoDaddy for your hosting, and don’t want to build your site from scratch, their Quick Start Wizard lets you choose from a library of pre-built websites, including thousands of high-quality images. Pretty cool.

 

Not sure how to customize your site? Need more help? Check out our DIY Web School, with access to over 90 how-to video tutorials on building a wordpress website >> 

 

Step Five: Adding Pages and Posts to Your Blog or Website

First, you need to know the difference between a page and a post. Pages are typically devoted to static content like About Us, Our Services and Contact Us. Posts are reserved for blogs. The process of adding Pages and Posts are basically the same, with only a few differences.

Adding Pages:

To add a page, log into your wordpress dashboard and go to Pages » Add Page. Enter the title of the page in the Title section. Be sure your title describes the content that will be displayed on this page. In the content area, type your content for this page. Then click the Publish button to save your work.

 

Want access to over 90 how-to wordpress video tutorials? Sign up for our DIY Web School >>

 

Adding Posts:

To add a post, log into your wordpress dashboard and go to Posts » Add Post. Follow the same steps as adding a page (filling in the title and the content). One thing you want to be sure to include is a Featured Image. I’m sure you’ve noticed that many blog posts have an image at the top of the page (like this one). That’s the featured image. Just click the Add Featured Image link in the lower right corner of the post editor. Be sure to choose a photo that correlates to the content of the post.

Add posts to wordpress

 

Another important aspect of a Post is that you can organize them as categories. While in the post editor, you’ll notice a Categories section on the right side of the page. Add a new category that best describes the post. If you are unsure of your categories at this time, no worries. You can add categories at anytime by going to Posts » Categories.

Adding categories to a post

 

By far, step 5 will be your most time consuming task, but the most important. Your content is the most important aspect of your site. The good news is you only need a few pages and posts to get your website started. Then you can add to it later, as you see fit.

 

Not sure how to customize your site? Need more help? Check out our DIY Web School, with access to over 90 how-to video tutorials on building a wordpress website. 

 

Step Six: The Navigation Menu

Most themes come with a designated location for your navigation menu. Usually it’s at the top of the page (like my site), but sometimes it’s located on the left side. Many themes also include a secondary menu, usually located in the footer area of your site. If your pages were not automatically added to your navigation menu after you completed Step Five, don’t worry. You can manually add them by logging into your dashboard and going to Appearance » Menus. Below is a screenshot of my site’s menu settings. You’ll notice I have selected the Main Menu to edit. To add pages or posts to this menu, just click the checkbox next to the page or post in the lefthand menu, and then click the Add to Menu button. You can also add custom links to your menu (use this option if you’re linking to another site), and even blog categories. Once you’ve added your pages, click the Save Menu button to save your changes.

If for some reason your navigation menu is not showing where you want it to, click the Manage Locations tab at the top of this page. There you will be able to adjust your menu location settings.

 

 

SEO, Optimization and Other Recommendations

Once you have that beautiful blog or website up and running, it’s time to focus on SEO. Check out my comprehensive article on SEO tips for your website. You can read more here.

 

Additional Resources

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this article – How to Build a Blog (or Website) : Step-by-Step Lessons from a WordPress Professional