WordPress is a blogging platform that makes it really easy for anyone to run a website even if you don’t have a technical bone in your body. It is also incredibly powerful. Even though I used to run a small web design company back in college, I still use wordpress to build all my websites because it is fast, there are tons of pre-made designs for you to use, and you can expand it to become a full featured website and not just a blog.
WordPress has been adopted so freely across the Internet that I’d be willing to bet you’ve been to a dozen or more WordPress sites in the last week and didn’t even realize it. In fact, you’re on one right now! Sites like Tech Crunch, the New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, and many many many millions of other sites all use WordPress.
Here’s how you can get your WordPress site up and running before you go to bed tonight…
Step 1: Get your hosting in place
To create your website, you first need a specialized computer (called a server) that makes your website available for the world to see. It takes an incredible amount of expertise to properly run your own server, so you’ll need to pay someone to do that for you. A company that provides a server to make your site available on the internet is called a hosting company.
NOTE: DO NOT skip this step. I promise you’ll regret it. You may be tempted to get a free site using Google’s blogger or another free option. That would be a monumental mistake. Why? First of all, it isn’t powerful enough to run a professional site. Remember, you’re building a full feature website–not just a little rinky-dink blog. Second, choosing a free option means your domain name isn’t professional. We want to create a site like IncomeSchool.com — not a domain name like IncomeSchool.Wordpress.com or IncomeSchool.Blogger.com. That simply won’t work and you’ll be very unlikely to get Google traffic.
The good news? I’ve tried many different hosting companies and found one that works REALLY well for starting a WordPress site and it’s ridiculously cheap. It’s called Bluehost. I’ve been a paying BlueHost customer since 2006 and I’ve run dozens of sites on my account. The reason I like BlueHost for starting a site is that (1) It’s really inexpensive, (2) It’s reliable, and (3) My experience with their customer support has actually been really positive.
The hosting only costs around $6 per month (they do have pretty regular promotions so the price varies from time to time), but they make you pay a year at once, so it’ll cost you $96 but that covers UNLIMITED traffic to your website for an entire YEAR! They do backups of your stuff so you don’t have to worry about losing it, they can help you through technical problems with their customer support, etc. It’s really an incredible bargain!
Plus, this is a business you’re starting. You’ll recoup that cost EASILY if you are excited about your idea and willing to work for it.
Let’s walk through the sign-up and more importantly the setup process for getting your site started on Bluehost. First, you’ll go to Bluehost.com to get started. When you get there, you’ll see a page with a big green “Get Started” button. Click there to get going.
Next, you’ll end up on this page where you’ll get to choose which hosting plan you want. Some people will tell you that the basic option is all you need. I disagree. The basic plan limits your website space and only allows you to have 1 domain. For just a little bit more, you can get the plus plan that gives you unlimited domains and space plus unlimited sub-domains. You really should go with this option.
Once you’ve selected your option, you’ll be prompted to select a domain name. You get this first domain for free with your hosting purchase. Look at our “Purchase a Domain Name” step just below this section if you don’t yet know what your domain should be.
They’ll also ask you to input all of your information to setup your account. Just fill out the online form and move on.
After you’ve submitted your information, Bluehost will ask you if you want to buy tons of extras (domain privacy, search engine jumpstart, etc). Say NO to all of them! You don’t need any of that. Just get your hosting and move on.
Next, they’ll ask for your payment details. You’ll have to put in your credit card information but don’t worry, this site is really secure. They’ll also have you setup your Bluehost password so you can login to their hosting dashboard that they call “cpanel”. Once you’ve setup your login information you can login to the cpanel and actually get your site going.
Step 2: Purchase your domain name
A domain name is simply a website address. For example, the domain name of this site is IncomeSchool.com. If you were smart and chose BlueHost for your hosting company, you’ll get your domain name for free. It usually costs $15 if you don’t have a BlueHost account.
I highly recommend not choosing a .net or a .org or .biz website address. It’s tough to build a following for a website if you can’t get people to remember the website address. Stick with a professional .com domain name even if you have to pick one that is a few words long.
The real trouble is finding a domain name that is actually available. To check if the domain name you’re thinking of is available, go to the BlueHost home page and click “Get Started”. That will take you to a page that allows you to check if the domain name you want is available. If you have trouble finding a domain name that isn’t already taken, then check out this page that I made for you to think of creative site names.
Step 3: Install WordPress on your hosting
This part is totally free. Each hosting company does this a bit differently, but don’t worry. I’m going to walk you through this step-by-step and you’ll see it’s actually not tough even if you’ve never done this before. Some companies make you actually create your own database and other such nonsense, which can be really challenging.
Fortunately, many companies (like BlueHost) have a one-click install for WordPress, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty with the technical junk.
Select your domain (without the “www” if that’s one of the options) and click Check site. Now go to advanced options and change your username and password to something you can remember and click Install Now.
You’re done! Wordpress is on your site. I bet you never thought when you woke up this morning that you’d have a professional site live on the Internet before you went to sleep!
If you had any trouble with this step at all, just call Bluehost customer support and ask them to install WordPress for you. They are really helpful and could do this for you in 5 minutes.
Step 4: Start using WordPress
To make changes to your website, just go to yourwebsite.com/wp-admin (but obviously change “yourwebsite” to the domain name you got). That’s where you’ll type in the username and password that you just created. This makes it so only you can make changes to your site, but anyone can visit your website. Here’s what that login screen looks like.
Now that you’ve logged in, you can start working on your site from the WordPress dashboard. From here, you can create blog posts, customize the site appearance, create and edit menus, and anything else you can think to do on your website.
Step 5: Customize WordPress with a theme
WordPress is powerful because it is a platform that enables you to quickly and easily make changes to your website without messing with the technical stuff. But just because you’re using a blogging platform doesn’t mean your site has to look ugly. Not at all!
The design and layout of a WordPress site is called a Theme. Wordpress comes with a basic theme that actually looks quite nice to begin with, but if you want to customize your site more, you can also buy themes.
It is my recommendation that you either (1) Use the free theme included in WordPress, or (2) Purchase X Theme from Themeco. I do NOT recommend choosing a theme from any other company if this is your first site. When I started my first site, I used a cheap theme that I bought for $15. It looked great and worked well–for a while. Then it ended up causing ALL KINDS of problems and giving me TONS of errors and I didn’t have the expertise to fix them at the time.
Over the years I’ve tried themes from many companies and I can confidently say that your first site should be on either X Theme. You won’t have any problems and their themes are extremely simple to use.
So now you’re left with a decision. Stick with the default theme that comes with WordPress, or go get X Theme. I personally think design is important, so if you have the money–it’s money well spent. But if you’re still eating cold fish sticks and just don’t have the money to invest, then don’t feel like you have to have a premium theme for your site to be successful. You don’t.
Let’s move on.
Now focus all your attention on the little button below and let’s get you one step closer to a life that includes a decent income.