Starting your own WordPress business website or blog can seem like a formidable task – but it doesn’t have to be! In this guide, I show you step-by-step how to get started.
Although the start-up isn’t as difficult as it seems, there is still a learning curve. If you have never used web hosting or WordPress before, you will need to acquire some skills. If you can use a computer, Microsoft Word, and email without too much frustration, you should have enough technical skills to run your own website.
So let’s get started!
1. Register a domain name
Before you sign up for a web hosting account, you need to have your domain name picked out.
For an established business, it’s a good idea to choose a domain name based on your legal business name. Many businesses pick a generic name loaded with keywords but that kind of domain can sometimes be hard for customers to remember. Long domain names full of hyphens look spammy.
If you haven’t started your website business yet, try to add the most important keyword for your industry into your legal business name. For instance, instead of Trinity Glass Experts, Trinity Auto Glass is a better option.
Another option is to pick something memorable and unique then build your brand around it.
Many web hosts offer a free domain with their hosting packages but I recommend using a 3rd party registrar for more flexibility and security:
Namecheap – This is my favorite domain registrar. Not only do they have great customer service but their rates are the lowest I’ve found for a reliable registrar.
Godaddy – They have a bad reputation for website hosting but GoDaddy is a still a good domain registrar. Their prices are a little higher than Namecheap’s prices but still reasonable.
2. Choose a web hosting company
For a business website, I highly recommend choosing a business-grade web host. Cheap web hosting is a “you get what you pay for” scenario. You don’t want your business to depend on a host that provides poor customer service or uses outdated, low-grade servers.
You don’t need to pay a fortune to get good hosting. Here are two good options:
SiteGround – I moved my site from HostGator after working on a client’s website on SiteGround. Their customer service is top-notch and my website runs faster thanks to their website caching service and high-quality. The GrowBig plan offers daily backups and priority support. I opted for the GoGeek plan for the extra features and better hardware.
SiteGround is an excellent host for not much more money than you would pay for KnownHost for the first year (discounts do not apply to renewals). To me, the upgraded customer service is worth the extra price. (Note: Once the renewal came around or SiteGround, I moved my site to my VPS server on KnownHost to save money. But I still recommend SiteGround for shared hosting.)
KnownHost – I used HostGator for years but their customer service went down the toilet after they were bought out by EIG. It took some time and a few bad experiences, but I finally found a great home for my business websites and for the client sites I host – KnownHost. I’ve been a happy customer since June 2015.
KnownHost offers low-cost shared hosting that is perfect for webmasters just getting started. Personally, I use VPS (Virtual Private Server) for my business websites because they are more secure than shared hosting, run faster, and give me more control over the backend using their WHM software. All of their hosting servers have SSD (solid-state drives), which means they run faster than traditional spin-up hard drives. They do not overload their servers for best performance. This is very important to me… their support is top-notch. When you go to the support page to submit a ticket, they list how long it will take to hear back. It’s usually just a few minutes.
All shared accounts come with cPanel or you can select it when you order your VPS server.
3. Install WordPress
You don’t need to be Super Nerd to install WordPress on your hosting account. As a matter of fact, you can do it in a few minutes! Both KnownHost and SiteGround offer one-click installation through cPanel so you can do-it-yourself. SiteGround installs it for you if you buy a WordPress hosting plan.
If you don’t want to install WordPress yourself, check out my installation service. All of my installations are performed manually with the latest version of WordPress.
4. Tweak the design
The look and feel of your website is controlled by the theme. Think of WordPress as the engine and the theme as the body style and paint job.
There are tens of thousands of themes you can buy and use as-is or customize to match your business style. Here are a few popular theme families:
Genesis by StudioPress – I use Genesis themes almost exclusively. StudioPress offers great customer service. Their themes are moderately priced and you don’t have to pay a yearly fee to get support. Once you purchase your first theme, all additional purchases are 25% off.
Elegant Themes – I used Elegant Themes on several client projects and was impressed with the quality of their themes and the ease of customization. They have a nice selection of beautiful themes including their popular drag-and-drop page builder, Divi. Buying one theme gives you access to their entire library but you do need to pay a recurring annual fee for support and updates.
GeneratePress – This is the only free theme I recommend. They have a nice set of addons that you can purchase for $40. Renewals receive a generous discount.
5. Add functionality
You can add functionality to your site and your theme by adding apps called plugins. There are thousands to choose from, free and premium.
Free plugins are found in the WordPress repository. I suggest if you want to use a free plugin, use ones in the repository so you know they have been screened for malware and bad code. There are still some crummy plugins in the repository but users are usually quick to point out shortcomings.
Select plugins that have good reviews and a good number of downloads. Also check to make sure it is kept up-to-date. I also like to check the support tickets to make sure the plugin author responds to support requests.
Premium plugins can be purchased either as upgrades to free plugins in the repository, or directly from developers. Just like free plugins, look for positive reviews. Check the pricing terms. Some plugins have to be renewed every year to be eligible for updates.
Congratulations… you created your first WordPress website!
But you’re just getting started. Your next task is to create awesome content for your visitors!