You’ve decided you’re ready to start your blog or business and you need a website (hooray!) …but you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with the next steps.
Don’t worry – it’s normal to feel this way when starting something new. I remember feeling the exact same way in 2015 when created my very first website. Since then, I’ve built several of my own successful WordPress websites and helped hundreds of business owners and content creators (who aren’t tech-savvy) start and launch their own websites too.
I promise, creating a WordPress site is not as complicated as it may seem. Whether you’re 18 or 88, you can follow this comprehensive step-by-step guide to learn how to build a WordPress website for beginners.
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Why Build Your Website On WordPress?
WordPress (specifically, WordPress.org) is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), making up 37% of all websites online. That includes over 455 million websites! (Source) With the number of plugins available, WordPress is incredibly powerful and virtually limitless in terms of what you can build and create on your website.
Even some of the world’s largest brands trust WordPress, including The White House, New York Times, Sony Music, Tony Robbins, Amy Porterfield, Gary Vaynerchuk, A Beautiful Mess, Copy Blogger, and more… Want to see for yourself? Paste one of their URLs into this site: What WP Theme Is That to verify!
I personally use and trust WordPress because:
- It’s free and open-source, which means that you can use it to modify, customize and enhance it however you want.
- It’s flexible, giving you the ability to change hosting companies, themes, plugins, or anything you want without moving away from the website platform in its entirety.
- It’s relatively straightforward to use and manage. You can easily launch a WordPress website in a day! All you have to do is select a theme that you like, install a couple of recommended plugins, and then you can start adding pages and other content!
- It’s SEO-Friendly, making it easy to be found in search engines.
- It also offers robust security solutions, so you can rest easy knowing your content is protected.
Of course, there are many other reasons to choose WordPress, but you get the picture – it’s powerful and trusted by many, myself included. Now that you know why we’re creating a site with WordPress, there are a few things you need to complete before starting the website build.
3 Things To Do Before Starting Your Website
1. Choose your business Name or blog name
Finding the perfect company name that isn’t already taken may require a bit more effort and patience than you might think. There are actually a lot of factors to consider before you decide on a specific brand name. For instance:
If you already have your name picked out, great! You can move on to the next step.
2. Purchase A Website Domain Name
Once you nail down a business name, you’ll need to secure a domain name (which is also called a website address or website URL).
What is a Domain?
A domain is a web address that you enter into your browser to visit a certain website. For example, my domain name, for example, is katyboykin.com, and Google’s domain is google.com. This is essential if you want your business or blog to be found online!
The Best Place To Purchase A Domain
You can purchase domains from various companies like Google and GoDaddy, but my recommendation is to buy your domain from NameCheap. NameCheap makes registering, hosting, and managing domains for yourself really easy! Plus, their domains are secure, affordable, easy to use, and paired with great support.
You can also purchase your domain from your hosting company directly, but I typically advise against that, because of security concerns and future transferring headaches. Let me explain…
If you’d like click-by-click instructions showing you how to buy your domain on NameCheap, I’ll guide you through that in this post. Once you’ve secured your domain name, you can move on to the planning phase.
3. Create A Game Plan For Your Website
Next, you need a website game plan. Who are you creating the website for? How will you serve your audience? How do you intend to monetize the website? What critical pages do you need to launch?
Define Your Ideal Client
First, it’s important to have a good grasp of the people (or target market) you want to attract to your business. Every future business decision should be made with your audience in mind including decisions about your branding, website copy, offers, marketing campaigns, funnels, blog posts, videos, and more.
In my experience, the bloggers and business owners who struggle the most with building a website haven’t clearly defined their ideal customer avatar. Don’t waste time on a website until you know who you’re building it for.
If you need some help identifying your ideal client, read this post: How To Identify Your Ideal Client In 4 Easy Steps. In that post, you can also get access to a free ideal client worksheet!
Define Your Monetization Strategy
Next, you need to decide how you want to make money with your website. Do you want to…
If you’re a small business, this should be relatively easy to determine.
If you are a beginner blogger, however, this may feel impossible to decide. I know when I started my first lifestyle blog, I started with an idea and good intentions, but I didn’t have a clearly defined niche or customer avatar and I wasn’t 100% sure how I was going to monetize it. For the first year or so, I floundered.
It’s totally possible to start a WordPress blog without a clear way to make money, but just know that finding sustainable success will likely take you a lot longer than someone who’s getting started with a clear monetization strategy in mind.
Create A Site Map Outline
With your ideal customer avatar (ICA) and money-making strategy in hand, you can now plan out the pages you’ll need on your website.
Regardless of monetization strategy, most websites need a home page, about page, contact page, blog, 404 page, and policies pages. With your business goals in mind, decide the other pages you’ll need on your website like service pages, landing pages, sales pages, e-commerce pages, and more.
My biggest recommendation for beginners who are planning out their website pages is to start with the most basic/ essential pages and scale over time. Your website will constantly evolve with your business. Don’t let the project turn into a three-headed moster that’s so overwhelming that it takes months to get it launched.
For more details about which pages need to go on your website, read: Planning A Website Redesign | How To Choose Your Page Structure
How To Build A WordPress Website
Now that we have all of the prerequisites out of the way, we can start building our WordPress site. Hooray!
Step 1. Sign Up For WordPress Hosting
First, you need to choose a hosting company to house your website online.
What is hosting?
Web hosting is basically the process of renting or buying space to store a website on the World Wide Web. You see, your website’s content must be saved on a server in order to be accessed online and hosting companies provide the servers, (which are large computers that connect to other web users all over the world), as well as the connectivity and other services required to view your website online.
Which Host Should You Choose?
There are literally thousands of hosting companies you can choose from but… not all hosts are created equal!
For beginners, I recommend choosing a company that offers “Managed WordPress Hosting”. This means your host will handle all of the technical aspects of running WordPress from security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, scalability, and more. A managed hosting plan will cost a little bit more money but will save you a ton of time and technical frustrations in the long run, so it’s well worth it.
I have personally used Siteground (Grow Big Plan) and Bigscoots (Starter Plan) and can vouch that both hosting companies are great, however, there’s a big difference between the two:
If you’re starting a brand new site from scratch, Siteground is the most cost-effective of the two plans, however, if you have big plans to scale your traffic and/or want consistent, flat monthly pricing BigScoots is the way to go. If you choose to use another hosting provider, I haven’t mentioned – be sure to do your homework on the company. There are a lot of hosting companies that will lock you into a long-term agreement with them, and you could get stuck with crappy hosting services that throttle your site speed and causes 503 errors.
No matter which hosting company you decide to sign up with, your host will provide you access to your WordPress installation along with the login to your WordPress website.
Point Your Domain To Your New Website
If you purchased a domain on NameCheap or some other third-party company, you’ll need to change the name servers to point to your new hosting company.
Step 2. Choose a WordPress Theme
When you log into your website, you’ll notice that it comes with a default theme, but you can easily change the theme to update the look of your website.
What is a WordPress Theme?
My Top Recommended WordPress Themes + Design Plugins
There are thousands of WordPress themes available and you may be tempted to choose a theme based on looks alone, but there’s more to it. You need a theme that’s lightweight and well-coded.
Kadence + Kadence Blocks
My number one theme recommendation is the free Kadence Theme because it’s fast, lightweight and extremely customizable, especially when you pair it with their free Kadence Blocks plugin and free Kadence Starter Templates plugin. With this theme and web design plugin combo, you can launch a beautiful, fast website in a day without spending a dime…perfect for budget-conscious business owners and bloggers.
If you’re looking for a more robust theme and advanced Gutenberg block elements, I highly recommend upgrading to a Kadence Bundle, which will give you access to Kadence Theme Pro, Kadence Blocks Pro, and Pro Starter Templates. I personally think it’s worth the upgrade for the Element Hooks feature alone, but there are a ton of additional worthwhile features inside.
If you need help designing your Kadence site, check out this post: Where To Find The Best Kadence Child Themes & Block Templates. In this post, I’ve compiled the ultimate list of third-party creators who have designed Kadence Child Themes and Kadence Block Templates so that you can save time on design and get a professional-looking website with just a few clicks of your mouse.
Astra + Elementor
If you don’t want to design your website using Gutenberg blocks, my next recommendation is to use the Astra Theme with the Elementor Pro Plugin.
I’ve built dozens of custom-designed websites for clients using this combination of Astra + Elementor including Keris Timol’s Site, Jade Alexis’ Site, Sub-U Systems’ Site, and more.
The Astra theme is a fast, lightweight WordPress theme, using only 50 KB of resources. I personally like to pair Astra with the leading website builder plugin, Elementor Pro because Elementor gives you maximum design flexibility over every single part of your theme with a front-end editor experience.
Like Kadence, Astra also has ready-to-import Starter Templates designed just for Elementor making it really easy to add to your site, customize and launch.
If you’re not quite sure which option is right for you – Kadence or Elementor, check out this post where I compare Kadence vs. Elementor and walk through the pros and cons of both and make it much easier for you to decide!
Step 3. Install WordPress Plugins
After you install your theme, you need to install any desired plugins.
What are WordPress Plugins?
WordPress plugins are similar to apps on your smartphone in that they allow you to enhance the functionality, features, and capabilities of your WordPress website.
Top Recommended WordPress Plugins
Here are a few of my favorite WordPress plugins for beginners:
Keep in mind, Plugins can slow down your website. I recommend deleting plugins that you are not using and only using the plugins you really need. Less is more!
If you want to see even more of my favorite plugin/ software recommendations to build a thriving business online, check out my favorite tools.
How To Install A WordPress Plugin
There are two main ways to go about installing plugins. I’ll show you how to do both:
How to add a plugin to your WordPress website from your dashboard:
- In your WordPress dashboard, select Plugins > Add new.
- Use the search bar in the top right corner to search for a plugin. A number of results will appear.
- Once you find the plugin in the results, click Install Now. You can also click the plugin name to get more details about the plugin.
- To use the plugin, you’ll need to activate it. Click the blue Activate button when the installation is complete (it normally takes a few seconds).
How to manually upload a plugin to your WordPress website:
- Download the.zip file of the selected plugin from the WordPress directory or a third-party source. Make sure the plugin creator is legitimate if you’re downloading from a third-party website.
- From your WordPress dashboard, choose Plugins > Add New.
- Click Upload Plugin at the top of the page.
- Click Choose File, locate the plugin .zip file, then click Install Now.
- After the installation is complete, click the blue Activate Plugin.
Step 4. Customize your website
By now, your themes and plugins have been installed and you’re ready to start customizing! If you’re using the Kadence or Astra theme, you can go into the customizer settings and update the typography, colors, page layouts, site identity, header and footer and so much more.
If you feel overwhelmed by all of the customization settings, I can help!
Step 5. Launch Your New Site!
Once you’ve completely customized your website, let’s double-check a few things:
- Do your web pages look good on desktop, tablet and mobile? If not, go back and optimize each page design for those devie views.
- Are there any broken links on your website? You can use the Broken Link Checker plugin to double check!
- Have you added your Google Analytics Tracking Code to the header of your website? If not, follow this tutorial to ensure it’s set up properly.
- Do you have three blog posts published on your website? This will help your website feel like there’s content available for new users to consume!
- Have you tested your website’s functionality? If you have WooCommerce installed, have you ensured the buying/checkout process works smoothly? If you have contact forms or mailing list integrations, are those working properly?
After you’ve reviewed your site with a fine-tooth comb, you can publish your website and confidently share it with your ideal client and create an online business or blog you love to show up for every single day.