How to Start a WordPress Website: A Beginner’s Guide
So you’re wondering how to start a WordPress website and aren’t sure where to start. WordPress is a great platform that offers you a huge amount of flexibility, but it can be intimidating if you’ve never built a website before, or if you’ve only used other drag-and-drop platforms like Wix or Squarespace.
Don’t worry if that describes you – once you get over the first hurdle with WordPress you’ll find it easy to use and you’ll have far more room to grow than you would on other platforms. With WordPress, you really can make any website you dream of, and change and grow your website as you choose to easily. Ready to get started? Simply follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll soon have a WordPress site of your own!
How to Start a WordPress Website In 5 Simple Steps:
- Step 1: Purchase Your Hosting and Register Your Domain
- Step 2: Install WordPress
- Step 3: Design Your Website
- Step 4: Add Content to Your Site
- Step 5: Add Plugins
Step 1 – Purchase Your Hosting and Register Your Domain
The first step to take in creating your WordPress site is to choose a website hosting company and register your website domain (website address) if you haven’t yet done so.
Your hosting company will provide you with the “space” for your website, and other perks. You can spend days comparing hosting companies who all offer similar packages, so don’t dwell on this step for too long. Our favorite hosting companies are Siteground and WPEngine. Both are great choices, and we’ve written a comparison review of the two services to help you choose.
Once you’ve chosen your hosting company, (ensure they offer one-click WordPress installation as the two above do) you need to choose your domain name. Most hosting companies offer a free domain when you sign up, so don’t worry about purchasing one separately, simply register your domain name with them.
You’ve likely got an idea for your domain name already, but if you try to register it and find that it’s taken or out of your price range, don’t despair. Domain names that are keyword heavy used to be a must-have for a successful site years ago, but now there are many other techniques you can use to help visitors find your site, so don’t put too much weight on your domain name.
Also, remember that domains are relatively inexpensive, so buying one for an idea and never using it really isn’t a huge problem, as they usually only cost $1-10 to reserve. So choose a domain name that fits and move on.
Step 2 – Install WordPress
Now that you’ve purchased your hosting and your domain, you’ll likely be shown to your new hosting dashboard. There are two different ways to install WordPress; one is easy and the other… not so much. However, don’t worry yet, as I’m 99% certain you can choose the easiest option.
To install WordPress (for over 99% of you) all you need to do is locate the one-click WordPress installation on your hosting dashboard and follow the steps they outline. It really is as easy as a click of a button.
If installing WordPress doesn’t seem to be in an obvious place, Google “Install WordPress [hosting company name]” and you should find a guide to the one-click install button.
If you chose a hosting company who doesn’t offer WordPress installation (unlikely) simply Google “how to install WordPress manually” and follow a tutorial there. When you’re done, pick back up here.
Step 3 – Design
Now for the fun bit! Designing your website is likely the part of the process you’ve been focused on when you decided to start a WordPress site. WordPress has endless possibilities for how your website can look and what features it can have, so let’s get started.
Once you’ve installed WordPress open your site and you’ll be met with your WordPress site dashboard or a basic WordPress site. To start customizing it, locate “Appearance” in the sidebar and click on “Themes”.
Themes are layouts you easily install to help your website look a certain way. WordPress offers 1500 great free templates, so if you’re on a budget and just want to get started quickly, choose one that most closely aligns with how you want your site to look. Don’t worry about the pictures and branding they include in the previews – that can all be changed.
If you can’t find one you like, my favorite place to shop for custom themes is at ThemeForest.net. There you’ll find hundreds of different WordPress themes you can buy (most average about $59) and install on your site. To do this, purchase the theme and unzip it. There is usually a read me file with steps included by the designer, but if not find the file with the theme name and click the “install” button on the “Themes” page and upload it there.
Once you’ve uploaded, it may say you need to install certain plugins for the theme to work properly. If this is the case, locate “Plugins” in the sidebar, click the boxes next to the plugins they recommend, and click install. (We’ll cover plugins more in Step 5).
For free themes, most of your customization will be done via the “Customize” tab in the sidebar, but for bought themes, the best thing to do is to follow the steps provided in the read me file. Some theme designers will even install the theme for you for free, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them, or your hosting company, for support if you’re having trouble.
Upload your own logo if you need one (Canva is a great free tool for this), alter the color scheme if you want to, and get your home page set up to look the way you want it to.
Step 4 – Add Content
Now that you’ve got your theme installed and ready to go, it’s time to add content. If your home page isn’t a storefront, simply state what you do and who you do it for. Don’t spend days or weeks laboring over the copy (the words you use) at this point. Once your website is ready for visitors and fully functional you can tweak the page copy or hire someone to do it for you later down the road.
It’s super easy and straightforward to create pages and posts on your website. To create a page simply hover over “Pages” in the sidebar and select “Add New” or “Edit”. Themes often come with some pages already designed, so if this is the case for you, edit those instead of creating a new page from scratch.
When you select “Add New” you’ll be taken to a simple page where you can enter your title and webpage copy.
The process is exactly the same for posts. Hover over “Posts” in the sidebar and select “Add New”.
To add your pages to your menu, find “Appearance” in the sidebar, and select “Menus”. There you’ll be presented with an easy drag-and-drop way to organize your menu. To add a page, simply tick the box next to the page you want on the left-hand side and click “Add to Menu”. When you’re done arranging your menu, don’t forget to click “Save Menu”.
It’s likely that you’ll only create a finite number of pages (often 3-10) for your website, but you should be adding posts to your site frequently. This is where you will add new content to your site – it’s better to upload new content with posts than it is to constantly add new pages, as you can’t organize them by category like you can with posts, and thus they can quickly become lost on your site. Don’t make it too difficult to navigate for your visitors.
A word on content marketing… Content marketing should be at the core of your digital strategy. It is the best free way to help visitors find your site.
Utilize content marketing by adding new helpful content to your site on a weekly basis that solves a problem or answers a question for your audience. You can pay a company to manage your content marketing or pay writers to do it for you if you aren’t a confident writer or don’t have the time, but it is a worthy investment over time as unlike paid advertising, your content will last forever.
Step 5 – Add Plugins
WordPress plugins are one of the reasons why WordPress became so popular – plugins make the platform endlessly customizable.
Plugins are extensions you can install into your site to add further features and functions to your site, either for you as the creator of the site, or to show on the “front end”, e.g. to your visitors.
There is a plugin for almost any feature you can think of. Some plugins are completely free, some have paid upgrades, and other plugins you can buy.
To install a plugin (if you didn’t need to do so when you installed your theme) all you need t do is go to “Plugins” in the sidebar and select “Add New”. You’ll be presented with a search bar where you can type in what you’re looking for. There are over 25,000 plugins available, so there is almost certainly a plugin for what you need.
When you find one you want, simply click “Install”.
We recommend a few key plugins for anyone getting started as these plugins make running any WordPress site much easier. These are:
- Yoast SEO – Yoast is an amazing plugin that appears when you edit or create a page or post to help you get the most out of your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts.
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights – Google Analytics is a great tool for monitoring your site visitors, bounce rate, and more. This plugin will make the installation of Google Analytics much easier for you.
- Google XML Sitemaps – this plugin helps you improve your SEO behind the scenes by managing your sitemap and making it easier for search engines to index your site.
- Redirection – this plugin helps you easily manage missing page errors, redirections, and tidy up any other loose ends.
- MailChimp for WordPress – A email list is the best way to stay in touch with your audience and/or customers and MailChimp is a free way to do just that. This plugin makes it easy to add email signup forms to your site.
Congrats! You now have a working WordPress site!
By now, you should have:
- Bought your hosting and domain
- Installed WordPress on your site
- Chosen a theme and installed it
- Customized that theme
- An understanding of how to create and edit your pages and posts
- An understanding of the importance of content marketing
- Know how to install plugins
- Have installed our recommended plugins
- Be ready to add content and share!
Once you’ve designed your site you should focus on updating it with new content regularly and constantly look for new ways to drive traffic to your site. Keep your site up-to-date and add features to make your site a place people want to spend time.
If you’re still reading to the end and are only now about to embark on creating your WordPress site, we strongly recommend you choose Siteground as your website hosting company as they offer incredible customer support and make the process as easy as possible for you.