"You don't need any skill, coding or design experience to create a stunning, functional website. In less than half an hour I will help you make a website on a budget so you can start directing traffic to it immediately!" - Dana Fox; Entrepreneur, Web Developer
Got a Business? Get a Website.
Let’s Make a Website…
Lucky for you, we live in a time where setting up a website doesn’t mean you need to be a skilled programmer or designer. Many options exist today like Squarespace and Wix that allow you to click a few buttons and… PRESTO! Your own website! While these options are easy, they’re not always the most budget friendly and don’t offer as much control as you deserve as a brand or business owner.
I’ve been creating websites since 1998 and have worked with thousands of clients. I believe it’s incredibly important that any business owner has complete control over their content and their website. That’s where WordPress comes in.
WordPress is a CMS (content management system) that allows you to create your own website, make an online store, or set up a blog on your own web server or hosting account (I’ll get into those shortly). Basically, it’s a place where you can login, edit the content on your website, and publish it for the world to see. And it all happens on a website completely owned by you.
This guide will cover:
- – Why you should use WordPress
- – Setting up a domain and hosting account
- – Choosing your domain name
- – Video walkthrough: plus how to get a FREE domain name
- – Installing and setting up WordPress
- – Creating Pages in WordPress
- – Changing your WordPress settings and theme
- – Creating a WordPress menu
- – Adding Posts in WordPress
- – Editing and customizing your WordPress sidebar
- – Adding Plugins
- – Setting up your custom email addresses
Why You Should Choose WordPress
- You’ll create a website that is entirely yours, meaning you own it!
- WordPress is FREE to install and use
- Lower monthly hosting fees and no high subscription costs
- Totally FREE email addresses branded to match your domain name
- Unlimited amount of customizing, widgets, and addons available
- No third party websites to login to
- No need to learn how to code or design
- You control everything! From files to storage, design and more.
- It’s easy to use! If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress
- WordPress is the most highly used and universal platform in the world
Perfect for small, medium, and large businesses
Whether you just need a landing page with your contact info on it, multiple pages with information, a portfolio to showcase your products, or a complete e-commerce store, WordPress allows you to do it all.
How does that sound?
Before you go and download WordPress, there are a few things we need to do to get you set up quickly!
Step 1: Get a Domain Name and Hosting Account
These are the only two things you will need to get started with WordPress.
A domain name is your identity on the internet, i.e. YourWebsite.com. It is the actual online address of your website. This website’s domain name is icanbuildablog.com. A domain name normally costs only around $15 per year, but I’m going to show you how to get one for free.
A hosting account is where all of your files are stored and is sort of like a virtual house for your website contents. Much like your hard drive stores all of your files on your computer, your hosting account will store all of your website’s files in the online server. This is where we will install WordPress (much like installing a program on your computer).
Web hosting is not free, however if you follow my guide, the monthly cost is only around $3-$5… a single cup of coffee when you think about it! I’ll show you how to set up both your domain name and hosting at the same time in just a few clicks.
Where to get a domain name and hosting?
For all of my client sites, I use Bluehost.com. I chose them because of the low cost, reliability, and 1-click WordPress installation. They make it super simple for beginners to start a website instantly. Their basic plan is highly affordable and includes everything that a website owner would need.
I Can Build a Blog readers (that’s you!) also get a pretty sweet discount simply by clicking here. (Only $2.95/month plus a free domain name!)
Disclaimer: because of the long term partnership I’ve created with Bluehost over the years, all links to their site are referral links. This is so I can offer you this amazing price and I will earn a small commission should you choose to sign up. Referrals are how I am able to keep running this site 🙂
You can use any host you like, however the process won’t be as streamlined and I can’t guarantee that the cost will be less than what Bluehost is able to offer.
Choosing your domain name
If you’ve decided to sign up with Bluehost, you’ll be able to choose your domain name right after selecting the plan you want. (tip: I recommend going with the basic, cheapest plan because it should be all you will need!).
Your domain name should represent your company or brand. If you are having trouble choosing your domain name, I wrote an in depth article here all about coming up with a name for your website.
- I recommend going with a .com, .org, .net, or your country extension (.ca, .co.uk, etc.)
- Your domain should be easy to say and spell
- Try to avoid using special characters or hyphens
- If your chosen domain isn’t available, try different variations of it
Watch me sign up for a hosting account with free domain name
In this video below, I’ll show you the exact settings I choose when signing up for a new hosting account so you can get the most affordable package. Follow along by clicking this signup link and pressing play below.
Step 2: Setup WordPress
If you followed my steps above, that’s it! You officially have a domain name and a hosting account! You are ready to install WordPress…
If you used the instructions above to sign up for a Bluehost account, you’ll automatically be directed to login to your account to access your Control Panel. You should see this page:
This will be your theme for WordPress. Bluehost is automatically going to install WordPress for you! Pretty cool, right!? You can always change this later, so just pick any theme to begin.
On the next page, click the Start Building button to be directed straight to your WordPress dashboard. If you chose a new domain name, Bluehost will set up WordPress on a temporary URL that will automatically switch over to your new domain name once it propagates.
You can click either Business or Personal to be guided through an easy walk-through, or click the I Don’t Need Help link to set things up on your own (I will help you below).
That’s it! You are ready to start modifying and adding content to your website.
Tip: The first thing I recommend that you do is add a new Admin account and delete the default “admin” user. This is just because “admin” is the most commonly used WordPress username and it’s best to keep your site as secure as you can!
To do this, go to Users in the Dashboard sidebar and then Add New. Create a username for your new account, enter the password and other details, and choose the account type as Administrator. You should be able to delete the default admin account from your Users page afterwards.
Note: You can login to WordPress from the Bluehost control panel (by logging into bluehost.com) or by visiting YourSite.com/wp-admin. Use the newly added username and password to login from here for quick access.
You can now login to your website at YourDomain.com/wp-admin (replace YourDomain.com with your own domain!) using the WordPress username and password you chose during installation. This will be where you login whenever you want to make changes to your website.
BONUS: Watch me install, setup, and customize WordPress in real time
Step 3: Create some content
Before we move on with themes and customizing your site, we need to prep it! You’ve made it this far and are almost done! Can you believe how quickly that went by? Setting up your WordPress site is totally painless. Now is the time to start adding your content!
Create some Pages
You’ll want to create some basic pages for your site. This will help you when customizing a theme and changing front page settings.
You’ll grasp the Dashboard as you go, but for now let’s get some Pages set up. Perhaps you want a Welcome page, Contact page and an About page. Let’s make those!
- In the sidebar of your Dashboard, choose Pages > Add New
- Enter a page title in the Title box and your content in the text box (you can just type in some temporary content for now and edit it later)
- Hit Publish when you are done, or click Save Draft if you want to save the page for later.
You can add as many pages as you want!
Step 4: Change your Settings and Theme
After a WordPress install, you should check your main settings and tweak them to your liking. To do this, go to the Settings link in the Dashboard sidebar and visit the General page. You can change the name of your site and your site’s tagline here. You can also set your timezone and more.
On the Reading page under Settings, you can choose how you want the front page of your website to look. By default, this is set to display your latest Posts. If you won’t be using the blog features or want a Welcome page as your front page, you can change this to the Static Page option. Then, select a Page you’ve created as your Front Page (such as a Welcome page!).
If you still want to use the blogging features, create a new page named Blog or something similar, and set the Posts Page to that Blog page so the entries show up there instead of on your main page.
Under Discussion, you can choose whether or not you want people to leave comments among other things.
Change your theme
When you visit your website you will see that it comes with a very basic theme. To stand out from the crowd, it’s a good idea to change the theme to one that suits your brand or business.
From the Dashboard, you want to go to the Appearance section.
Click on Themes then select the “Add New” button at the top of the screen. This might be displayed as “WordPress.org” themes as well. On this page, you can browse all of the FREE themes that WordPress has in its library. You can navigate by selecting the links at the top such as “Featured” and “Latest” to bring up more themes.
If you want something with more features and premium support, you can also purchase a theme from a theme shop like ThemeForest.net.
Tip: Look for themes that are mobile responsive. This will ensure that your website looks fantastic on mobile devices as well!
Once you’ve chosen a theme, simply click the Install button on the preview to install the theme to your site. You will also need to click the Activate button to publish it live.
You can view all of your themes on the Themes page in the dashboard. To customize your theme, head on over to the Customize tab in the Themes section of the sidebar. This will open up your theme in a live editor window and you can change things such as the site name, the header, navigation, typography and more. The options here will vary depending on the theme you’ve chosen.
Note: When you change your theme, your posts and all of the content you’ve added to your site WILL NOT CHANGE! This content is stored in your WordPress database so it is safe to change themes whenever you feel like it :). Simply Install a new theme, deactivate the old one in the Themes dashboard and activate the new one.
Add your Pages to the menu
If you want to add that page to your main menu on your website, all you have to do is go to the Appearance section and then select Menus.
You can find your page in the Most Recent box or you can change tabs to View All. Clicking the checkbox and Add to Menu will add the page to the menu hierarchy on the right. From there, you can drag and drop the menu item wherever you want it. To add a page as a sub-menu item, simply drag it slightly to the right and underneath the primary menu item. Save your menu when you are done.
Posts differ from Pages in that Pages are static pieces of content and Posts are like journal entries (or blog posts) listed in reverse chronological order. That means if you are sharing news, the most recent news will appear at the top of the page. Posts can be found in the Archives, Categories, Recent Posts, and other widgets. Basically, create a Page for static content that is not dated, and Posts for dated “journal-like” entries.
To create a post, just go to the Posts page in the Dashboard, then click on Add New. The editor is the same as the Pages editor, only this time you’ll be able to Categorize, tag, and date your content.
I wouldn’t worry about creating Posts if you are simply using a WordPress site for a website with content that does not change frequently. Pages with static information should be all you need.
Editing your sidebar
The sidebar of your website is made up of “widgets”. You can access and edit/rearrange these widgets in the Appearance > Widgets section. This is a drag and drop interface which allows you to position certain elements by dropping them into place. They will automatically save! You can delete widgets by opening the boxes using the down arrow and clicking the Delete link.
Plugins, what are they?
Plugins are like addons for WordPress that enhance the functionality of it and allow you to incorporate some cool elements. For example, there are photo gallery plugins, contact form plugins, security plugins, and so much more.
To add new plugins, just go to the Plugins link in your Dashboard then Add New. Here, you can search the WordPress repository for free plugins to add to your site. I created a post about some of the essential plugins you should add to protect your website here. After you install a plugin, just Activate it and it will appear in your Dashboard sidebar! (hint: usually under the Settings section!).
Step 5: Setting up your email addresses
Since you now have your own hosting account, you can set up your own custom email addresses. This is something that those other third party sites don’t let you do (because you don’t have access to your own hosting account… you’re using theirs!), but it’s so easy with your own hosting account!
First, login to your web hosting control panel. If you signed up through Bluehost, you can do this through their website, or alternatively visit YourSite.com/cpanel (replace YourSite.com with your own domain!) and login with your site username and password.
Head on over to the Advanced tab and then find the Email Accounts icon to set up a new account:
Tip: Bluehost has a great walk through tutorial here that will show you how to set up your email account.
After you set it up, you can access your mail through the Webmail link (YourSite.com/webmail) or set up your email program like Outlook or the Mail app on your iPhone to enable sending and receiving of messages.
Now you can have unlimited email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org!
You’re ready to roll!
Now that you’ve set up your WordPress website, chosen a theme, added content, and created your own email accounts, your business/brand is totally ready to rock!
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