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If you have been wondering how to make a website on your own from scratch but just didn’t have a clue where to begin, then you have landed in the right place…
Step 1: Buy a web hosting and register domain name.
In order to set up your WordPress (or any other type of website), you’re going to need two things:
- Domain Name (a web address like YourSiteName.com)
- Web Hosting (a service that connects your site to the internet)
In order to store your images, content and website files, you are going to need web hosting. Without web hosting, your website will not be visible on the Internet.
Owning your own domain name looks far more professional than having your site on someone else’s domain (like yourbusiness.my-free-website.com), and it’s super affordable, too. Most hosting providers offer domains FREE for one year (usually ~$15/year).
In a nutshell – without web hosting and a domain name, your website will NOT exist.
Where Do I register a Domain Name and Get Web Hosting?
Here are some of the well-known hosting companies:
Full disclosure: We earn a commission if you end up purchasing Bluehost through our referral links in this guide. This helps us to keep WebsiteSetup up and running and up-to-date. Thanks for your support.
We’ve mostly used Bluehost as a web hosting and domain registrar.
Use this link to get a free domain (for the first year) with your hosting.
Their price tag starts at $ 2.75 / mo and they are currently throwing out a free name (first year) – which is why I should get them out.
They are also one of the most popular hosting providers on the market, so it is well-established and secure enough to be able to host your site.
Even though most of their servers are in the US, they can chase many people around the world. And it is probably cheaper than locally. As someone who lives in South Africa, we still love to use it.
Here are Bluehost’s key features:
- FREE Domain Name for 1st Year
- FREE SSL Certificate Included
- 1-Click WordPress Install
- 24/7 Support
So if you want to save money on your hosting, click on this link and purchase your hosting now.
You also want to choose a hosting that provides free SSL certificates. Without an SSL certificate, your website will have this ugly “Not Secure” label at the top:
Already have a domain name and hosting? Go ahead and skip ahead to step 2, where we’ll explain how you can set up your website.
Here’s how to sign up with a web hosting provider (and register a domain name if you don’t have it yet).
1. Go To www.Bluehost.com(or Any Other Web Host)
Remember: Since we’re using Bluehost ourselves, we’ve negotiated a small discount for websitesetup.org visitors. Use this link to activate it.
2. Choose Your Website Hosting Plan
Once you click “get started now,” you’ll be taken to a page to select the hosting plan of your choice.
- Choice Plus
If you are on a budget, you can use their “basic” plan. It’s great for smaller sites with low or no traffic.
However, if you want to scale or expect more traffic to your website, we recommend choosing their “choice plus” plan. It’s truly unlimited.
Whichever you choose, you can later upgrade or downgrade based on your needs.
3. Choose a Domain Name
If you don’t have a domain name yet, here’s an easy starting point:
- If you’re making a website for your business, your domain name should match your company name. For example YourCompanyName.com
- If you’re planning to set up a website for yourself, then YourName.com can be a great option.
For this site (Website Setup), we chose websitesetup.org because WebsiteSetup.com was taken at that time.
Domain names usually end with .com, .org or .net, but in recent months, a huge amount of domain extensions (the end part of the web address, like .com) have come out, ranging from .agency to .pizza.
Our best advice? Avoid the weird extensions and go with .com, .net or .org unless they perfectly describe what you have to offer – and even then, see if you can find a more common name.
If you’ve already got a domain name, just enter it in and click “Next” on the “I have a domain name” form.
If you aren’t ready to choose a domain right off the bat, you can do it at a later point in your website setup.
4. Fill In Your Account Details
To create your account, just enter your personal information on the “create your account” page.
You’ll need to add in your first name, last name, country, street address, city, zip code, phone number, and email address. Your receipt will be sent to the email address you enter here.
It’s optional to also add in your business name within this form.
Enter your payment information to continue.
5. Check Your “Package Information” and Finish Registration
The next step in registering for a Bluehost account is to select your plan and package.
These are the last steps you’ll go through before your account creation is complete, so you are almost there…
Simply choose the length of your web hosting registration and you’re good to go.
If you chose their “Choice Plus” plan you’ll already have the Domain privacy and Codeguard basic included. Otherwise, we recommend getting a domain privacy protection.
This keeps your registration information fully hidden from the public. No-one can find out that you are the owner of your domain.
6. Create Your Password and Log Into Bluehost
Once paid and registered, you’ll be able to create your password:
STEP 2 Set Up Your Website
Once you’ve bought your domain name and set up your hosting, you’re well on your way!
Now it’s time to get your website up and running. The first thing you’ll need to do is install WordPress to your domain.
There are two possible ways to install WordPress, one MUCH easier than the other.
1. To create a website with WordPress (or Joomla and Drupal), use the “one-click installation”:
Almost every reliable and well-established hosting company has integrated 1-click-installation for WordPress, which makes getting going a snap.
Here are the steps you should follow (should be similar/same on all the major web hosting companies):
- Log in to your hosting (Bluehost) account.
- Go to your control panel.
- Look for the “WordPress” or “Website” icon.
- Choose the domain where you want to install your new website.
- Click the “Install Now” button and you will get access to your new WordPress website.
2. … OR MANUAL INSTALL (For those who don’t use Bluehost or any similar host)
If for some odd reason (some hosting companies don’t provide one-click-install for WordPress) you don’t have the option to install WordPress automatically, look this manual guide below:
Installing WordPress ManuallyPssst – if they don’t have 1-click-installation, maybe you’re dealing with a bad host!
STEP 3 Design Your Website
Once you have successfully installed WordPress to your domain, you’ll see a very basic yet clean site.
But you don’t want to look like everyone else, do you?
That’s why you need a theme – a design template that tells WordPress how your website should look. See an example of a free WordPress theme that you can install:
Here’s where it gets fun:
There are 1500+ of awesome, professionally designed themes you can choose from and customize for your own site.
Most of the WordPress themes are free to use and highly customizable.
Here’s How To Find a Theme You Like
1. Log into your WordPress dashboard
If you’re not sure how to type in: https://yoursite.com/wp-admin (replace “yoursite” with your domain).
This is what the WordPress dashboard looks like:
Everything is easily labelled. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t sweat it – we’re going to show you where to go next.
2. Access FREE themes
Once you’re on the dashboard, you’ve got access to over 1500 free themes! Just search the sidebar for “Appearance”, then click “Themes”.
We highly recommend Elementor this is a 100% free tool and easy to use.
If you want to buy professional or elegant than what you find here, you can head over to ThemeForest.net where there’s a big library of themes to pick from at varying costs.
But before you do that, we really suggest you at least try spending some time browsing the free themes. Many of them are actually really professional and well made; so don’t write them off.
As you can see above, installing a new theme for your website is very easy.
You can search for specific keywords and/or use filters to find themes that suit your style. Finding the perfect theme can take a while, but it’s worth it.
You should also look for themes that are “responsive”, as this means they will look good on any mobile device.
Just punch it in as one of your keywords, and you’ll be all set!
3. Install your new theme
Once you have found a theme you like, installing it is as simple as clicking “Install” followed by “Activate”.
IMPORTANT: Changing themes won’t delete your previous posts, pages, and content. You can change themes as often as you want without having to worry about losing what you’ve created.
STEP 4 Add Content To Your Website
With your theme installed, you’re ready to start creating content. Let’s quickly run through some of the basics:
Adding and editing pages
Want a “Services” page, or an “About Me” page (like we have on our menu at the top of the site)?
1. Look along the sidebar in the WordPress Dashboard for “Pages” -> “Add New”.
2. You’ll find a screen that looks a lot like what you’ve maybe seen in Microsoft Word. Add text, images and more to build the page you want, then save it when you’re done.
Adding pages to the menu
If you want your new page to be linked to your navigation bar,
1. Save any changes you’ve made to the page by clicking “Update”
2. Click “Appearance” -> “Menus” in the sidebar of the WordPress Dashboard
3. Find the page you created and add it to the list by clicking the checkbox next to it and then “Add to Menu”.
Adding and editing posts
If you have a blog on your website, “Posts” will be where you turn to next. You can use different categories to group similar posts.
If you want to add a blog to your website, you can use different categories and posts. Let’s say you want to create a category named “Blog”. Simply add it to your menu and start making posts.
Here’s what you need to do:
a. Create a new category by going to “Posts -> Categories”
b. Create a blog post by going to “Posts -> Add New”. Once you’ve finished writing your blog post, you need to add the right category for it.
Once you’ve created your category, simply add it to the menu, and you’re in business!
Customization & Endless Tweaks…
In this section, we’ll cover some of the basic things we’ve asked about all the time that will help you tweak your website.
Changing Your Title and Tagline
Page titles explain to searchers what your website is about. They’re also a big part of how search engines determine your rankings. You want to be sure they’ve got the keywords you want to have targetted (but in a natural way, written for real people).
You should use a unique title on every page of your site. For example, our site’s title is “How to Make a Website”.
(Can’t find it? Just hold your mouse over the tab at the top of your web browser).
Taglines are added at the end of titles across every page. Our site’s tagline is “Step by Step Guide”
In order to change the title and tagline on your website, go to “Settings -> General” and fill in the form below:
Disabling Comments for Posts & Pages
Some websites (business/organization sites mostly) don’t want their visitors to be able to comment on their pages.
Here’s how to shut comments off on WordPress pages:
1. While you are writing a new page, click “Screen Options” in the top right corner.
2. Click the “Discussion” box. The “Allow Comments” box will appear at the bottom.
3. Untick “Allow Comments”.
Want to disable comments on every new page by default?
1. Go to “Settings -> Discussion” and untick “Allow people to post comments on news articles”
Setting Up a Static Front Page
Some people contact me saying they’re frustrated that their home page looks like a blog post. You can fix that by making your home page “static”.
A static page is a page that doesn’t change. Unlike a blog, where the first new article will show up at the top every time, a “static” page will show the same content every time someone comes to the site – like a home page you’ve designed.
To set up a static front page:
1. Go to “Settings -> Reading”
2. Choose a static page that you have created. “Front Page” denotes your home page. “Posts page” is the front page of your blog (if your entire site isn’t a blog).
If you don’t choose a static page on your own, WordPress will take your latest posts and start showing them on your homepage.
Most WordPress themes have a sidebar on the right side (in some cases it’s on the left).
If you want to get rid of the sidebar or edit out items you do not need like “Categories”, “Meta” and “Archives”, which are usually pointless, here’s how:
1. Go to “Appearance -> Widgets” in the WordPress Dashboard.
2. From here, you can use drag and drop to add different “boxes” to your sidebar or remove the items you don’t want.
There’s also an “HTML box” – a text box where you can use HTML code. For beginners, don’t worry about this – just drag and drop the elements you’d like in your sidebar.
Installing Plugins to Get More out of WordPress
What is a plugin?
“Plugins” are extensions that are built to expand WordPress’ capabilities, adding features and functions to your site that don’t come as built-in.
They’re shortcuts to getting your site to do what you want to, without having to build the features from scratch.
You can use plugins to do everything from adding photo galleries and submission forms to optimizing your website and creating an online store.
How do I install a new Plugin?
To start installing plugins, go to “Plugins -> Add New” and simply start searching.
Keep in mind that there are over 25,000 different plugins, so you’ve got a LOT to choose from!
Installation is easy – once you find a plugin you like, just click “Install”.
BUT – before you go and install every single one, we suggest you read this article: Things you need to know about using WP plugins.
To save you some time, we’ve put together a list of the most popular plugins that webmasters find useful:
- #1 Contact form 7: Our website has a contact form on my About Us page. It’s an awesome feature to have, as people (like you!) can fill in the form and send me an email without logging into their own email provider. If you want to do something similar, definitely get this plugin. P.S. Here’s a step-by-step guide for setting it up.
- #2 Yoast SEO for WordPress: If you want to make your WordPress site even more SEO-friendly, this plugin is a must-have. It’s free, and it’s awesome. You’ll be able to edit your title tags, meta descriptions and more, all from within the page itself – no more fussing with WordPress settings.
- #3 Google Analytics: Interested in tracking your visitors/traffic and their behaviour? Just install the plugin, connect it with your Google account and you’re ready to go.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg! Here’s a list of recommended plugins.
Step 5. Secure your website.
It’s also crucial for a business website to be as secure as possible from possible hacking and identity theft schemes. The fact of the matter is some of you might be vulnerable to cyberattacks due to weak passwords, plugin vulnerabilities, and outdated software. These things leave a hole to your website, and you need to find a way to block these holes.
The best WordPress plugin I’ve found so far that does this is iThemes Security. The free version of this plugin already offers you strong security features, and you can activate it just one click.
To install iThemes Security, head over to Plugins > Add New then search for iThemes Security.
Once it’s activated, you will see a new option in the sidebar called Security. Go to Security > Settings and you should see a message about the different features that iThemes can do for you.
Enabling all of these features takes just one click of the blue Secure Site button. Once you click that button, you will see this message:
The Network Brute Force Protection is a feature where users who tried breaking into other sites that are members of this network are automatically banned from breaking into yours. This is a pretty good feature that only iThemes has, so to activate this just provide your email address and click Activate Network Brute Force Protection.
In just a few clicks, your website is now secure. You can do so much more with this plugin, and if you want to learn more about it, you can watch my iThemes Security review and setup tutorial here.
Step 6. Backup your website.
You also have to back up your website to save yourself from the possible unfortunate event of losing any of your data. For this, we’re going to use UpdraftPlus Backup.
To install this plugin, go to Plugins > Add New and search for UpdraftPlus Backup. Install and activate it.
Once it’s activated, it will create a new option under Settings called UpdraftPlus Backups. Click on it to start configuring your backup settings.
Once you’re inside, click Settings. Here, we will set it up so that offsite automatic backups are being made regularly. For the Files backup schedule, I recommend setting it to weekly and retaining one backup. Files don’t change often so that’s good enough.
As for the Database backup schedule, since this changes often, set it to daily and retain 7 backups.
Once you’ve set the schedules, scroll down and hit Save Changes. Then scroll back up again to choose where you want to store your backups. I usually recommend Dropbox because it’s very easy to use, but you can use anything and as many as you like.
Click your preferred remote storage and click Save Changes again. You will then see this message:
You have to click this link to authorize UpdraftPlus Backups to store backups to your selected storage. In this example, since I chose Dropbox, clicking this link will lead me to the Dropbox sign-in page. Once I sign in, I will see this message:
I just have to click Complete setup, and I will be taken back to UpdraftsPlus backend in WordPress with this confirmation message at the top:
If I wanted to make a backup, all I have to do is click the blue Backup Now button. UpdraftPlus will also create backups according to the schedule I made earlier and push those into DropBox.
If you want to restore a backup, just click on Existing backups and click the Restore.
Congratulations – You’re Ready to Launch!