How To Build A Website Or Start A Blog Using WordPress
No matter whether you are starting a blog for fun, or to make some extra cash or even if you are just building a website for an existing business, WordPress is the right tool for the job. We have a step by step guide that will show you exactly how to build a website or start a blog using WordPress. Our easy to follow tutorials will show you how to:
- Sign Up For WordPress Hosting
- Choose A Domain Name
- Choose A WordPress Theme
- Learn How To Write A Blog Post
- Create A Contact Page
- Setup Google Analytics For Your Website
- Learn How To Make Money With Your Blog
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WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
Before we get started teaching you how to build a website or start a blog using WordPress, it is important to understand the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a commercially available implementation of WordPress that allows you to build your website using WordPress. While they do have a free version available, it is highly limited and upgrades can be quite costly.
Also, because they host your website, they have control and can place restrictions on you such as no selling ads on your website, no plugins or Google Analytics unless you purchase one of their higher priced plans, etc. For this reason, we would not recommend using WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is an open source website building tool that is free for everyone to use. It is one of the most powerful content management systems ever built. It has an almost endless supply of themes and plugins for just about anything you can think of that you would want to incorporate into your website or blog. When we refer to WordPress, we are talking about the free WordPress.org software. While, WordPress is free to use, you will need to acquire WordPress hosting for your website.
What is WordPress Hosting
WordPress is free to use to build your website, but the website files need to be hosted somewhere in order for people to be able to access your website when they visit your site. This is where web hosting comes in. Before you can build a website or start a blog using wordpress you need to sign up for WordPress Hosting.
You can get WordPress Hosting for as little as $3/month depending on the plan you choose. There are hundreds of web hosts to choose from but there are only three that are recommended by WordPress.org. Those web hosts are Bluehost, Siteground or Dreamhost.
At WageBooster we recommend using Bluehost for your WordPress Hosting. Bluehost has been around over 20 years, they offer 24/7 support, a money back guarantee and they are one of the most reputable and reliable web hosts around. Plus, Bluehost will install WordPress for you and give you a free domain name when you sign up for a Web Hosting plan.
The remainder of this Step By Step guide is based on building your website or blog using WordPress hosted on Bluehost. If you choose to go with another hosting provider, you can still follow our guide to using WordPress as the steps will be similar but the screen shots and order of steps may be slightly different.
How To Sign Up For WordPress Hosting With Bluehost
To get started head over to the Bluehost website now. When you are ready to go click Get Started!
The next step is to choose a hosting plan. Keep in mind that the prices shown are if you purchase a three year hosting plan which might be a bit excessive if you are just starting out. You also have the option to purchase just a one year hosting plan but the price per month will be slightly higher.
How To Choose A Domain Name
Next you will choose a domain name for your new website or blog.
Your Domain Name is how people find your website on the internet. For example, at Wage Booster our domain name is www.wagebooster.com. Choose something that makes sense for your website or blog, enter it under New Domain and then click next.
There are millions of websites already in existence so there is a good chance that your first choice for a domain name is likely to already be taken. If so, BlueHost will make suggestions on some similar domains that may interest you and are available. You will see a screen similar to the one below.
You don’t have to choose your domain name right now. If you aren’t ready to decide, you can click Choose Later and you will still be able to complete the signup process. BlueHost will give you a temporary domain where you can begin working on your website until you decide on a domain name.
You may need to get creative with your domain name of choice. For example if your name is John and you are a photographer from New York, there is a good chance that www.johnsphoto.com or www.nyphoto.com will already be taken but you might be able to get www.johnsnyphoto.com or something along those lines.
For the purpose of this demo I’m creating a new website called wpstepbystep.net which I’ll use to do WordPress tutorials for Wage Booster. When you find a domain name that is available and that you like click next and it should take you to the Account Details page.
Fill in your account details and payment information to complete your signup process. Once, complete you should be taken to the confirmation page.
Now it is time to create your BlueHost account password. Click on Create Your Password and then enter a new password and then click Next.
At this point they will log you into your Bluehost account and ask you to choose a theme for your website. It doesn’t matter which theme you pick right now as we will cover how to choose a WordPress Theme in more detail later. You can even skip this step if you want.
At this point BlueHost will begin provisioning your WordPress Installation on a temporary domain so that you can get started working on your website until your new domain name is ready.
Click Start Building
The Bluehost Dashboard
Once your site is finished building you should be taken to the wp-admin area of your temporarily provisioned website. You’ll notice the URL is not your new domain name. It will be something like box5145.temp.domains/~yourdomainname/wp-admin/
You should get an email with all of your information but if at any point you need to get back to the website you can do it from your Bluehost dashboard found at https://my.bluehost.com/
From there you can click Log in to WordPress and it should take you back to your temporarily provisioned website. This temporary website is just to allow you to you to start working on your website while your new domain is created and setup by Bluehost.
Once your domain is ready the Login to WordPress button on your Bluehost dashboard will actually take you directly to your new domain admin login page which will be your domain name followed by /wp-admin/. For example, mine will be https://wpstepbystep.net/wp-admin. Once your site has been provisioned, you no longer need the BlueHost dashboard to log in to your site, you can go directly to the wp-admin page for your website to login and you are now ready to build a website or start a blog using WordPress.
The WordPress Dashboard
Once logged in to your new domain you will see the WordPress Dashboard which looks like the image below
For security purposes, the first thing I recommend doing on your new website is setting up a new administrator user and then deleting the existing one. The reason for this is that the “admin” user is created when WordPress is installed. Everyone knows this and so they can use that admin user to try a brute force attack on your website to guess your password.
By removing the admin user and adding a user with a different login name it gives you one extra step of protection in that they would now have to guess both your username as well as your password. There are other things you can do like pw protecting your wp-admin page or installing a Brute Force Login Protection plugin which will block the IP address of anyone attempting to hack your website. For now though, let us just focus on creating a new administrator user.
Click Users on the menu on the left and then at the top of the page click Add New.
Make up a new username and put your email address. MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE ADMINISTRATOR AS THE ROLE FOR THIS USER. This is very important because you will be deleting your default admin account in the next step. Click Show Password to get the password for the account. You can also change the password if you want. Once you have the account setup the way you want, click the Add New User button to complete the setup.
Before deleting the admin account, lets confirm you can login with your new username and password. On the top right of the page where it says Howdy, admin, hover to get the dropdown and then click on logout. This will take you back to the WordPress login for your website.
This is the page where you will come to in the future to login to your website so you can bookmark this page. Enter the new username and password you just created and then click Log In. You should be logged back into your dashboard. Now you can return to the Users menu and delete the default admin account. You can either hover over the word admin and click delete or you can check the box next to it and then under bulk actions select delete. Just make sure you aren’t deleting the new account you just created.
Removing Unused WordPress Plugins
The next thing I would do is get rid of any unwanted plugins. Plugins are powerful tools to help you build an incredible website but too many of them can slow down your website. So, you only want to install and activate plugins you are actually using. By default, Bluehost WordPress sites come with some plugins that I don’t use, you may decide to keep them but I usually get rid of them and install the ones that need as I need them.
For now, the only one I would keep is WPForms Lite which is a free and easy to use Contact form plugin making it simple to build a contact form. Pretty much every website should have a contact form. To delete the rest of the plugins click on the plugins menu then check all of the plugins other than WPForms Lite and then from the bulk actions menu select deactivate and click apply.
How To Choose A WordPress Theme
At this point you are ready to choose a WordPress theme. This is one of the more critical decisions you will make for your website as it will define the look and feel of your website. A lot of the customizations to your website will done in the theme.
There are 1000’s of themes to choose from so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding something that gives your website the exact look and feel that you are trying to achieve. But with that many themes to choose from, where do you even start? That many options can be confusing and overwhelming for someone just starting out with WordPress.
Well, the first step is to decide whether or not to choose a free theme or go with a premium theme.
Free WordPress Themes
There are thousands of free themes available from WordPress.org. The most obvious advantage to choosing a free theme is the cost. But just because these themes are free doesn’t automatically make them of lesser quality than premium themes.
Advantages To Using A Free WordPress Theme
- It’s Free!
- Free Themes go through a strict review process before they are allowed to be offered in the WordPress.org themes directory so they generally meet WordPress.org standards.
Disadvantages To Using A Free WordPress Theme
- Lack of Support. WordPress theme developers that provide free themes are under no obligation to provide support or make updates to free themes. Sometimes they do this through the WordPress.org forums but often times you can find you are on your own to fix any issues.
Premium WordPress Themes
Premium WordPress Themes can be found at Theme markets like ThemeForest and the Mojo Marketplace. If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for in a free theme or if you are concerned about the potential lack of support with a free theme, you can opt to purchase a Premium Theme for your website.
Advantages To Using A Premium WordPress Theme
- Premium Support and Regular Updates. Your purchase will generally include support from the developers and premium themes tend to be updated more regularly with bug fixes than free themes.
- Premium WordPress Themes often come with additional features like Drag and Drop page builders.
- Because Premium themes cost money, less people use them which gives your website a little more unique look and feel than using a free theme that has been installed by millions of other people.
- Premium Themes are usually optimized for mobile browsers in addition to desktops.
Disadvantages To Using A Premium WordPress Theme
- It’s not free!
If you are just starting out with a personal blog for fun and it’s critical to keep the costs low, then you can certainly get by with a free theme. But if you are building a website for a business or if you are starting a blog that you plan to try to make money from in the future then I suggest you find a high quality premium theme. When you are running a business the last thing you want is to have a problem with your website and not be able to get the support you need.
Important Things To Consider When Choosing A Premium WordPress Theme
The theme MUST be mobile friendly. This isn’t an option, even if you are not planning to have much mobile traffic on your website, statistics show that more than 50% of all website traffic today is mobile traffic.
- As such google uses mobile friendliness as a big ranking factor for SEO. So aside from having a poor user experience with your website when users are on mobile devices, you will also get penalized by Google from a search engine ranking standpoint if you don’t choose a mobile friendly theme.
- This is so important to Google that they include a mobile friendly testing tool within Google Webmasters tools. You can access it here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
- Most premium themes have a demo page you can visit to check out the look and feel of the theme. Be sure to put the demo page into Google’s mobile friendly test tool and verify it is mobile friendly before you even consider purchasing it.
Check the reviews for the theme. Stick to purchasing your premium theme from a respected 3rd party marketplace like ThemeForest or Mojo Marketplace. The reason is that these will have thousands of reviews on the premium themes they have for sale. If a theme does not have stellar reviews, that’s a pretty easy indication you should steer clear of purchasing it. I purchased the Newspaper theme from there for WageBooster and I have not been disappointed.
Make sure the Theme comes with premium support. The whole reason for spending the money on a premium theme is that you want to know you can get help if you need it. Most premium theme’s come with at least 6 months or a year of support. By then you aren’t usually making any more major changes to your website but you can purchase additional support if needed.
How To Install Your WordPress Theme
When you are ready to select a theme click on the Appearance Menu on the left side of your dashboard and then click on Themes.
It is likely that a couple of themes like Twenty Seventeen and a few others are probably already installed and one will be activated. Click Add New at the top.
If you purchased a premium theme from a marketplace you probably got a zip file that contains your theme files. You can upload your theme by selecting upload theme and then click on Choose File and browse to the location of your zipped theme file.
Once the file is chosen click on Install Now to install the premium theme to your website.
If you are going with a free wordpress.org theme then you can filter for the types of themes you want to choose from by clicking on Feature Filter and then selecting the features you want.
For example, if you are planning to start a blog using WordPress you will want to check the blog box so it shows you themes that are that are good for blogs. When done click on Apply Filters and it will show you a list of available themes.
For each one you can click on preview to get an idea for the layout of the website. When you find one you like, click on install. For the purpose of this demo I chose the Maxwell theme. It has a nice magazine style layout that I like. You can see below the theme is now available in my installed themes page.
To activate your new theme just click Activate. When you do it may recommend installing certain plugins that work well with your new theme like Page Builder. Once you’ve installed and activated your chosen theme, you can delete the other pre-installed themes by clicking on Theme Details and then clicking Delete.
At any time, you can view what your website looks like by going to the top left and clicking Welcome and then Visit Site. Keep in mind that right now it will look very plain, almost more like a word document than a robust website. This is because we haven’t yet added any web pages, menus, photos or blog posts. Don’t worry, we can walk you through all of this, just check out these additional tutorials that will help you start a blog using WordPress.
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