Starting your own website is different depending on the platform you choose. To start your own website using WordPresss, the process goes like this.
Time needed: 4 hours.
Starting your own website doesn’t have to be as hard as everyone makes it. Here’s the 9 steps you need to get started to have a beautiful, fully functioning website, in as little as 4 hours.
- Pick your niche
Your niche is what your website is about. It’s best to focus on a very specific niche to start
- Sign up for hosting
The host you pick when starting doesn’t matter as much as everyone thinks it does. I prefer SiteGround given the user interface is good for beginners and the performance is better than Bluehost. If you want to save the extra ~$50 a year for less performance, go with Bluehost.
- Pick your domain
You’re going to want to pick a branded domain.
- Install WordPress
Bluehost’s step by step guide will walk you through prompts to install wordpress on their hosting.
- Change your theme
Once the website is up, you should change your theme to what’s going to fit your purpose. I think the GeneratePress theme is the best out there.
- Design the look and feel
You can either design the site yourself or use GeneratePress’s site library to save you a lot of headache.
- Download and activate needed plugins
There’s a million+ plugins but a few should be on every website. See below for what they are.
- Activate your CDN
Bluehost has an easy to setup CDN with Cloudflare. Just head over to the performance tab and click activate Cloudflare.
- Learn the settings
At this point, you want to go through every setting in WordPress, Bluehost, and all of your plugins. This will save you countless hours in trying to figure out how to do something at a later point.
Pick Your First Website’s Niche
If you’re looking for an article on how to start your website, you probably already have your niche down. If not, and you’re looking for a niche to start, make sure you niche down pretty low if you’re trying to rank on Google.
Google looks for topical authority when ranking a site so you want to be sure that your site is viewed as authoritativein a tiny niche.
Sign Up For Hosting For Your Website
When you start your own website, you have to host it somewhere. Hosting is nothing more than where your website is stored that is easily accessible to the rest of the web. A website is essentially just a file folder on your computer. You can even host your website from your personal computer if you know what you’re doing. Don’t actually do that though. For so many reason.
So what you’re paying for when you buy a hosting service is the storage space on their servers (computers), the CPU, their tools/interface to easily access the server, and their customer service.
This site is hosted on SiteGround. SiteGround has good customer support for beginners so I always advise going with them. Go to the link above and get their basic or plus WordPress hosting package. It will run you $40-$70 for the first year.
Pick Your Domain For Your First Website
After you signup for hosting on Bluehost, you’ll be prompted to pick a domain. If you’re starting your first website, you’re probably going to over think this. Don’t. Just try a bunch of domains that you’d like to have and see what’s available.
Once you pick your domain, be sure to pay attention to the different variations of domain types.
The above is just naming convention. You should always use https (meaning secure) and we’ll get to SSL below. However, you should always pick a www or non-www version and use it everywhere in your hosting, WP, links, everything. I prefer leaving the www (World Wide Web) off and just sticking to https://bowtiedopossum.com.
After picking a domain, Bluehost prompts will ask you to click a button to install WordPress. Once clicked, the installation takes about 5 minutes.
The beauty of WordPress is that you can easily plug most anything onto the site. If you start building a content site then later would like to sell and add on e-commerce functionality. It’s easy to do that. Add on Woo commerce OR integrate with Shopify to get all of the benefits of Shopify without being relegated to their code and hosting.
Here’s a great WordPress 101 Guide that will get you up to speed on everything you need to know.
Change Your Theme
A theme is the codebase/layout/design of your site and the functionality for changing that design without having to write code.
Once logged into WordPress, change out the default theme with GeneratePress.
GeneratePress is what I use because out of the themes I’ve tried, it’s the best. It’s fast and flexible and if you decide to upgrade to the premium version, there’s nothing you can’t build with it.
Design The Look and Feel of Your Website
The basic objectives of website design are easy. Getting it right on the other hand, takes plenty of time and a keen eye. This is the hardest part of starting your own website for the first time.
You should jump start your results by downloading a premade template from GeneratePress’s Site Library. This will ensure you have a good visual appeal of your website and save you a ton of time.
Ensure you activate all of the modules then go to the top right corner and click site library. From there, you’ll have a ton of site designs to choose from.
Download and Activate Needed Plugins
Plugins are code that enhances some functionality of your site that your theme doesn’t innately have. If you get a good theme, you can limit the amount of plugins that you have to have to make your site what you want.
Below are some of my must have plugins for many of my sites.
Site Kit by Google
Site Kit just makes it so easy to install Google Analytics and to register with Google Search Console. Both of which you’ll want to do. Unless you know how to access the header file, you’ll probably be relying on a plugin to install GA and GSC.
Choose this plugin over the default Monster Insights.
I’ve been told there are better SEO plugins but we’re all creatures of habit. Get some sort of SEO plugin. If you don’t know which one to get, start with Yoast.
I almost left Jetpack off of the list. Remembering how much spam it’s helped me filter from my inbox and the downtime monitoring, made me need to keep it.
Elementor is a page builder that will help you build more beautiful pages. While WordPress has a built in page builder that is a lot better than it used to be, sometimes it’s not enough. It’s optional to use Elementor but depending on your site, you might need it.
Do note that Elementor is going to bring a lot of weight (size) to the pages you build with it. This will in turn slow down your site. There’s a trade-off between beauty and speed that you’ll need to manage. Bounce rate increases and conversion rate drops the longer your site takes to load.
I like my sites to load fast. Autoptimize is a great starting point for getting your site to load faster. It’s an all in one plugin for minimizing files, implementing preconnects, etc. There are better options but this is the best FREE version I’ve tried.
UpdraftPlus is a plugin that constantly backs up your site. *When* you screw something up, you can just revert back to a previous version of your site. They’ll store this backup where ever you like.
As soon as you set up your site, install UpdraftPlus and do a backup immediately.
Really Simple SSL
For some reason, implementing SSL is always difficult. Really Simple SSL makes it simple. Your hosting provider will likely provide you with an SSL certificate and Really Simple SSL does most of the lifting for you. My Really Simple SSL settings below. This is only needed if you’re on Bluehost. If you’re on SiteGround, they do this for you.
Activate Your CDN For Your Website
A Content Delivery Network is a network of servers that host *most* of your website. Above, I mentioned that your hosting is just your website on a server somewhere in the world.
While that’s true. When you add a CDN to the mix, much of your website is hosted on servers all around the world. Since the servers are closer to your audience, most of the content can be delivered in a shorter time frame allowing for a faster page load time.
Cloudflare is the big player in the space. Bluehost hosting will give you free basic Cloudflare which will allow you to speed your site up more. Every once in a while, they’ll go down and a large chunk of the internet will as well.
Log in to your portal and click “Performance”. Once you’re on this page, you’ll be able to activate your cloudflare CDN in two clicks. It takes 5-10 minutes to activate and up to a day to propogate to all of the Cloudflare servers.
Learn All of The Website Settings
Most people skip over this step. I advise that you don’t. Spending a few hours learning all of the settings of every plugin you use will save you hours/days later on.
When trying to change something on your website, it’s usually easy to do. If you don’t realize that the setting is there, you’ll likely waste a lot of time in the wrong place.
It’s imperative that you read this WordPress 101 Guide. It will get you up to speed on everything you need to know.
If I missed anything in explaining how to start your own website, reach out to me on Twitter and I’ll adjust the article.
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