Creating a website is easier than most people believe.
When I first started my online journey over a decade ago, I built websites from scratch by writing code in a plain text editor. Thankfully the online world has come a long way since then and now there is a wide variety of incredible free software solutions available that anyone can learn to use in a very short amount of time.
At the heart of it all is the widely popular WordPress.Org platform - close to fifth of the top one million websites in the world are powered by WordPress (P.S don’t get confused with WordPress.COM which is a hosted service and does not provide the same freedom. You want the self-hosted WordPress.ORG that provides you with full ownership and control of your site)
Now, WordPress has become widely known as simply a blogging software but that is too limiting in my opinion. In fact, you can use WordPress for your entire online business and the blogging part can be made optional.
Here are some of the main benefits of using WordPress:
- Inexpensive and Affordable - The basic platform is free and there are no charges in acquiring the software. You can install the default version of WordPress yourself or have someone else do it relatively inexpensively.
- Widely Used - WordPress is the most widespread content management software in the world. This means that it will not disappear or become obsolete anytime soon. It has a massive user base and an ever-expanding library of add-ons. It is also built on the popular PHP programming language which is non-proprietary and as a result is free, widely used, and has excellent support and documentation.
- Highly Customizable - With the built in themes feature and plugins, it's easy to customize your site in a matter of seconds without the need for any programming skills.
- Simple Content Publishing - Once you’ve got your page set up, it’s very easy to publish new content. You basically just have to hit the publish button and it's done. Too easy!
- Built in Syndication - Content can be automatically converted to RSS feeds and syndicated to other sites. This allows you to make your content portable and reach a much larger audience than you could do on your own.
- A Two-way Communication - With a blog you can engage and converse with your readers through the comments section below each post. This helps to develop a deeper connection and a more loyal following.
- Search Engine Friendly - WordPress is loved by search engines. Its architecture is optimized for Google and creates a solid foundation for better search rankings over time. Plus, with the right setup, you’re able to customize every page you make.
- Multi-User Capability - WordPress is a multi user system which enables you to assign other contributors to your site who can login and publish content under their own user name.
- Free Upgrades – Unlike traditional website software, upgrades to WordPress are made available for free as soon as they’re released. In addition to the benefits of the new features, it also enhances the site's protection from new security vulnerabilities.
- Powerful Admin Panel - You can easily set up your site with minimal training via the user-friendly admin interface. You can add new pages, links and menus, as well as upload images and seamlessly integrate new side column widgets.
There are obviously more benefits to adopting a blogging platform, but these are the main ones that came to my mind. The important aspect to consider here is that WordPress and blogging are the simplest and cheapest ways to start your online business.
Now that I've (hopefully) convinced you that WordPress is the way to go, you have another choice to make:
Where to Host your Website
There are thousands, if not more, of hosting companies out there. They come in all price ranges, and with all kinds of bells and whistles.
It can be a bit intimidating to decide which one to choose; especially for those taking their first steps in the online world, but for the most part it's actually quite easy and straightforward process.
Here are the main things you want to look for in a hosting company:
Support – In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of a hosting company by far. If something goes wrong, a quick, courteous and reliable customer support can make a huge difference. You want a hosting company with a 24/7 live and phone customer service. No less than that.
Storage space - Most hosting companies provide more than enough storage space but if you plan to store video or audio files, you'll probably need a hosting plan that offers significant storage space.
Bandwidth - The more traffic your website gets, the more bandwidth is consumed. Bandwidth is usually not a problem for a small-to-medium sized blog, but when you start getting high amounts of traffic, you’ll want to have a host that provides high bandwidth and can easily upgrade your plan if your web traffic grows unexpectedly.
Domains - If you anticipate that at some point you’ll want to host more than one website, then it's best to make sure you have the option to so in the future. Also, some hosting companies offer a free domain name when you sign up; however, this should be a small factor in your decision, as saving ~$10 on buying a domain isn’t as important as the above factors.
Extras - This includes SSL, scripts, and such. You might need some of these in the future depending on the type of site you’re building, but in most cases you won't need them at all. The most important thing is that the hosting company supports WordPress and makes it easy to install it.
BlueHost and HostGator are good examples of reputable hosting companies that can meet the budget of starting entrepreneurs. I personally use my own dedicated server due to the high amount of traffic my sites generate, but I can definitely say that a number of high-profile bloggers recommend BlueHost as the best web hosting for WordPress.
BlueHost checks all the boxes we discussed above:
- You get a free domain name when you sign up.
- You can host multiple websites on your account (If you choose the “Plus” package).
- They give you unlimited storage space and bandwith (If you choose the “Plus” package).
- They’re priced very competitively
- They provide 24/7 customer support.
* Update - I started using BlueHost for a few of my sites, and I can report that it's excellent. My site's response time has improved dramatically since switching to Bluehost and the customer service is unmatched.
Step 1: Open an Account
Head over to BlueHost or wherever you feel comfortable and buy the most basic WordPress hosting plan (if you have not already) - You can always upgrade later.
Here's a short step-by-step tutorial on how to start an account with BlueHost:
1. Click the 'Get Start Now' button on BlueHost.com
* If you sign up for BlueHost through my link, I earn a small affiliate commission, so thank YOU!
2. Enter your desired domain Name
Your priority is to get yourself a killer domain name that you absolutely love. If the “.com” domain is available then good for you. If not, check some of the other extension as a second option, or explore other avenues.
“.com” domains have more prestige than the other extensions but having a great name with another extension is much better than sacrificing for a mediocre ".com" brand name.
Online users are more likely to Google your brand name anyway rather than type it in the address bars of their browsers.
3. Type in your account information
I highly recommend you get the backup option. It's extremely inexpensive and it will give you “peace of mind” knowing that all your hard work is safe.
When you're done, press the Next button and pick a strong password.
That's it. Fairly easy isn't it?
Step 2: Set up a Website in 10 Minutes
For many people the thought of using a new software can be a little bit intimidating, but WordPress is so easy to use that even the most tech-averse person will have his website up and and running on it in no time.
Most of the web-hosting providers have scripts that will allow you to install the software with just a couple clicks. Simply log into your chosen web hosting administrative control panel and look for a WordPress installer service.
Here's a short step-by-step tutorial on how to set up a WordPress website on BlueHost.com:
1. Login to your Bluehost Account
3. Install a WordPress site in a few minutes
The whole process should not take more than 10 minutes.
If you get stuck or can't find the buttons, contact your web host and ask them to provide you the steps.
You see, when you buy hosting from a popular hosting company like BlueHost.com you get access to 24/7 technical support. You're paying for these companies to help you, even at midnight.
Step 3: Redesign your Site in a few Clicks
As you probably already know, a captivating and usable web design is critical to ensuring a successful online presence - there is nothing more lasting than a first impression. You've probably noticed that the default look of WordPress is rather bland and not very exciting.
You can easily change the looks of your site using WordPress themes. They are generic templates that you can upload to your WordPress site in a matter of seconds.
I'll soon examine several reputable places to look for a quality theme for your site, but before I do, a few quick words about design.
From my perspective, some people spend way too much time focusing on design and finding the best possible theme for their business.
It's important to get started with the right theme, but it's even more important to have a clear idea of who your audience is, what your core message is, and what’s your unique positioning in the marketplace.
Craigslist is the ugliest, yet most visited classified ads site in the world. There are currently more than 50 million people using it each month.
The reason why Craigslist is successful even though their design is not exceptional is simple: Craigslist is extremely useful and gives great results. That's where our focus has to be.
With this in mind, let's move onto your theme selection.
Free vs. Paid
While there are a lot of free WordPress themes that you can download and use, I don’t recommend you do that, and here’s why:
Besides the fact that many of the free themes look like they were made back in the 1800's, a large number of them are poorly coded and have security vulnerabilities. They also miss out on advanced inbuilt functionalities and compatibility across browsers and platforms. This is why I recommend a paid theme.
The big problem with most themes purchased from marketplaces like the ones above, is that they may be beautiful, but they’re often not conversion-focused - and that’s important. The single biggest purpose of your website is to CONVERT visitors into paying customers. Most of the paid themes sold on these websites are created by web designers that don’t know much, if anything, about marketing. This means the results are often pretty, but unfortunately, in many ways useless themes.
Thrive Themes is different. All of their themes are conversion-focused and come with numerous useful plugins that simplify things like:
- Building optin forms to capture the visitor’s email addresses (VERY important!)
- Creating quizzes for better visitor engagement and feedback
- Gathering testimonials for social proof
The best part is that you will get everything above, plus not one, but all 10 of their themes for the same payment. This means you have a lot of options to play around with to find a perfect solution
Now, Thrive Themes is a subscription based service, but considering everything you’re getting (10 themes + numerous plugins), it’s worth every penny. It would cost more to purchase everything separately, and it would take a lot more time and effort to make everything work as seamlessly.
Additionally, the fact that it’s subscription-based ensures that all their products are always kept up to date in terms of functionality as well as security.
OK, it's time to take action!
Look through the following WordPress theme sites and pick a theme that works best for you.
Once you download a theme (which comes as a zip file), go to your WordPress Dashboard by typing http://yoursite.com/wp-login.php in the web browser (where yoursite.com is your actual domain), and install it from the "Appearance" menu.
It's a fairly easy process. All you have to do is upload the theme, install it, and then activate it once the installation is done.
That's it. You've successfully installed your WordPress theme! Keep in mind you can always change themes later if you want. The important thing is that you get started building out your WordPress powered website.
If you’d like to fast-track your journey and learn everything I know about creating a successful online business, check out my 30 Days to Kickstart Your Freedom Business eCourse.