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

So you want to start a website or blog. You’re not alone. Last year over 2 million blog posts were published EVERY DAY. That’s a lot of web pages! 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 website (or blog) 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!

Setup Your Domain Name and Web Hosting

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. Since a domain and web host are must-haves, I highly recommend purchasing your domain 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? I have worked with several hosting companies over the years, including Bluehost, GoDaddy and Greengeeks.

But the only one that meets my seal of approval for beginners is SiteGround. Not only do they specialize in wordpress web hosting, their rates are some of the best in the industry. You can start for as little as $3.95 per month! That includes free installation of the wordpress software, free website builder, free emails, daily backups of your site and 24/7 support. They also offer tons of free design themes to choose from and loads of tutorials to help if you get stuck. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Step 1 – Sign Up for Your Plan

To get started just click this link (or the image below) and choose your plan. I recommend the StartUp plan. It’s perfect for most beginners.

 

Step 2 – Choose Your Domain

Here you can choose to buy a new domain (select the ‘Register a New Domain’ option), or sign up with an existing domain. They even offer free website transfers if you want to move your existing site to SiteGround.

Step 3: Review and Complete

Unlike many other hosting providers, SiteGround honors their advertised discount and applies it to any of the initial periods chosen during the sign up process. So by choosing to sign up for a longer period (12, 24 or 36 months), you’ll save money. If you are unsure, signing up for a 12 month period is always a good choice.

Note: After the setup process you will receive login instructions via email. Be sure to save this info in a secure place so you can access your account in the future.

Install WordPress

Now that your hosting account and domain name are ready to go, it’s time to install wordpress. Don’t worry, it’s super easy. Promise. SiteGround offers one of the fastest setups in the industry. It takes just 3 clicks to set up a new site, and they will even call you to guide you through it! They also offer tons of free design themes to choose from and loads of tutorials to help if you get stuck.

Step 1: Login to the Customer Area

To install WordPress using the SiteGround Wizard, first access your Customer Area. After you signup for the WordPress hosting package you will receive all the necessary information you need to login.

Step 2: Start a New Website

Once you login to your Customer Area for the first time, you will see a pop-up asking you if you want to Start a new website on your account. Select that option and click on the WordPress button.

Note: Be sure to save your wordpress username and password in a secure place for future reference! You’ll need it to edit your website. 

 

Step 3: Confirm

A new section would appear where you should enter the login information for your new WordPress application. Once you are ready click on the Confirm button. Next click on the Complete Setup button. That’s it! You can now go to the front page of your site (www.yourdomain.com) and check out the newly installed WordPress application.

 

 

Choose a Design Theme for Your Blog or Website

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.

 

You will now see all themes that meet your search. Hover over any of them and you will see two options – to see a demo of the theme or to install it. Once you choose which theme you want to use for your site, press the blue Install button.

 

Your WordPress application will download and install the theme for you. Simply click the Activatebutton on the same page to activate the theme.

That’s all – you can go to the front page of your site (www.yourdomain.com) to see its new look.

 

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!

 

 

Customizing your 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. 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.

 

Not sure how to customize your site? Need more help? Contact us today! >> 

 

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.

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, this 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.

 

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 Website (or Blog) : Step-by-Step Lessons from a WordPress Professional