And congratulations on making the right choice because…
WordPress is the absolute best software to build your website with.
Whether you are building a website for your small business, for a new business, or even just a small personal website, WordPress is the best platform to build it on.
In this free guide, I’m going to teach you how to build your very first WordPress website in just 15 minutes.
No prior experience necessary…I’ll guide you through every step to go from scratch to a full website.
Let’s get started.
How This Guide Works
There are 5 steps in this guide.
- Finding the Perfect Domain Name
- Setting up the Best Hosting
- Installing WordPress the Easy Way
- Choosing the Right Theme Design
- Installing the Top Plugins
Feel free to click on any of the links in that list to skip to that step.
Now, let’s start with Step 1: Finding a Domain Name
Step 1: Finding the Perfect Domain Name
In this first step we will work together to find the perfect domain name for your website.
(If you already have a domain name, click here to skip to step 2: setting up hosting)
When choosing a domain name, the top 3 criteria to consider are:
- Make it easy to remember
- Easy to Spell
- End in .com (if not, then .org or .net)
Let’s discuss these three rules a bit.
1. Easy to Remember
A great domain name is one that you can tell someone and they can go home and enter it into their browser.
Usually, that means keep it as short and simple as possible.
Ask.com is easy to remember.
But howtobuild4storybuildingsinbostonmassachussets.com is not as easy to remember.
Look for a domain name that is short and simple.
Also, when possible, include your brand name in the domain name. This makes your name more memorable.
2. Easy to Spell
In a similar line, you want a domain name that someone can actually spell.
If I met you in person and told you my domain name were otorhinolaryngological.com (which, by the way, is the hardest English word to spell), I don’t think anyone would be able to figure out how to spell that.
If someone can’t spell your domain name, how can we expect them to visit your site?
You also want to avoid words with multiple spellings. For instance, iwon.com could easily be misspelled as ione.com.
3. End in .com
Domain names have two parts to them.
Let’s look at myWPexpert.com as an example.
First, you have myWPexpert.
Then you have .com (known as a top-level domain).
That second part is important.
When you are selecting your domain name, you’ll see there are hundreds of options.
But you should stick to only 3:
These are the three most recognizeable.
Most people trust these domains the most.
Ideally, you want to get a .com domain name.
But if you can’t, you can go with .org or .net.
Now that you know what makes a great domain name, let’s discuss where you can purchase your domain name.
(For even more help choosing a domain name, check out Moz’s article 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name)
Where to Purchase Your Domain Name
Hands down, the best place to purchase a domain name is from GoDaddy.com.
Their platform is really easy to use and they have the best prices.
To purchase your domain:
2. Enter a domain name you’d like to search for. GoDaddy will then search and see if the domain is available for purchase.
3. If it is available, add it to your cart and click checkout. If it is not available for purchase, look for another similar domain name (your first choice may not be available).
4. Follow GoDaddy’s on-page instructions to complete checkout.
Insider Tip: A lot of domain names are already taken. If the first domain name you look for is not available, try finding a longer variation.
Once You’ve Purchased Your Domain Name
We now need to prepare your domain for your website.
1. Log in to your GoDaddy account if you are not already logged in.
2. Next to Domains, you will see a green Launch button.
3. You will now see a list of your domain names. Find the domain name you just purchased and click the name.
4. You are now in your domain settings. Look for the Nameserver settings and click “Manage” (see screenshot below).
5. Choose the Custom Setup Type and click the Edit Nameservers button.
6. In the blank spaces, enter the text below:
in #1, enter: NS1.BLUEHOST.COM
in #2, enter: NS2.BLUEHOST.COM
You are now all finished with your domain name setup.
Let’s move on to Step 2 and set up hosting.
Step 2: Setting up the Best Hosting
Now that you have a domain name, the second part to building a website is purchasing and setting up a web hosting account.
(Please Note: if you already have web hosting, you can skip to Step 3)
What is Web Hosting?
Without getting too technical, web hosting is where you build and store your website. Every website out there needs to be stored on hosting that can be accessed at any time.
To get web hosting, we purchase it from one of the many web hosting companies.
That’s where it can get confusing.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of web hosting companies out there, all offering different types of hosting, features, and prices.
But we should only care about one thing…
Which Web Hosting is Best for Your WordPress Website at the Best Price?
And the answer to that question is BlueHost.
Not only is BlueHost easy to use, but it has amazing performance and customer service at an incredibly affordable price.
It starts at just $4.95 a month, something anyone can easily afford.
Insider Tip: You may find web hosting out there for less, but you’ll find the service sucks and customer support won’t be there to help you. You’ll also find some hosts with more features, but you’ll be paying a lot more than you need to.
When you’re just starting with your first WordPress website, BlueHost is where you want to go.
Creating Your BlueHost Account
Let’s first sign up for a BlueHost account.
1. Click the button below and you’ll be taken to the BlueHost signup page.
2. Enter the domain name you purchased from GoDaddy in the box that says “I Have a Domain Name”.
3. Fill in your account information, such as name, address, etc.
4. Under package information, choose how long you’d like to sign up for. The longer you sign up for, the more of a discount you get (you can always cancel before the end of your account and be refunded your uunused money). The other options such as Search Engine Jumpstart and Domain Security are not needed. Site Backup is a good option, but there are other options for backups I will show you in the last Step of this tutorial.
5. Enter your billing information and click next.
6. Follow BlueHost’s onscreen instructions to complete account creation.
Once you are finished, come back to this tutorial.
Once You’ve Completed Account Creation
By now, you should have received an email from BlueHost, with all your account information.
It will look something like the screenshot below:
Save this email, as we will be using this information in the next step.
Step 3: Installing WordPress the Easy Way
The first time you install WordPress can seem a little daunting.
But don’t worry. It’s actually quite simple.
First, we need to log into your BlueHost account.
Go to https://my.bluehost.com/cgi-bin/cplogin and enter your username (your username is your domain name) and password BlueHost sent you in the email.
Once you are logged in, scroll down the page until you find the “Install WordPress” icon, as seen in the screenshot below:
Now It’s Time to Install WordPress
Once you’ve clicked the icon, you’ll receive a prompt. Choose the option to Install a Brand New Instance.
1. Choose your domain name from the list (I recommend installing it with www.) where you’d like to install WordPress.
2. Click the Check Domain button.
3. Click that you agree to the terms and conditions and click Install Now.
4. The installation process will take about 30 seconds. When it’s complete, you’ll receive your username and password.
5. Save the username and password as you will need this to log into your website.
WordPress is now installed and we are ready to move to the next step: choosing your theme design.
Step 4: Choosing the Right Theme Design
In order for us to add a theme design to your website, we need to login.
To access the admin backend of your website, click the admin URL (it will look something like www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin).
When prompted, enter your username and password you received after installing WordPress.
Now that you logged into backend, let’s take a moment and discuss what a WordPress theme is exactly.
What Are WordPress Themes
WordPress themes are templates that control the entire design and layout of your website.
Some themes can even add specific functionality to your site. For instance, many real estate WordPress themes allow users to add home listings.
When someone visits your website, the first thing they will notice is the overall look and design.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right theme for your website.
But finding these themes can be difficult.
There are thousands upon thousands of WordPress themes out there. And more are added each day.
It can be quite overwhelming trying to find the right theme.
So let me help you choose the right theme for your website.
Help Choosing a WordPress Theme
Whenever I’m building a website for myself or for a client, I NEVER use free themes.
Why avoid free themes?
- You get what you pay for: paid themes are made better, have better designs, and offer more options
- Paid themes have a support team you can contact with questions or issues
- Paid themes are always updated so they always work
Some people worry about the price.
But most themes only cost between $20 and $70. And remembering that the design of your site will make or break it, that price is nothing.
Which WordPress Themes Should You Use?
There are just a handful of themes I recommend.
They are the ones that I’ve found to be the best of the best.
You can begin your search at:
Take some time and look through each of the theme companies above.
But I’ve gone through for you and picked the top 5 to consider:
This is a very clean theme with a professional design, perfect for any company.
This theme can be easily customized in any way you want, without knowing a line of code.
Another theme that offers easy customization. You can make almost any type of website with it.
4. Agency Pro
Perfect for any creative company wanting to highlight work and services.
Simple theme that is made for a personal or company blog.
Once you’ve selected and purchased a theme, you’ll receive a zipped file (files that end in .zip).
Unlike most zip files you download from the Internet, you DO NOT want to unzip this. Keep it zipped.
We’ll be using it during theme installation.
Installing the Theme
Now that you have your theme, you want to go back to your WordPress admin backend that we logged into at the beginning of this lesson.
1. On the lefthand side of your screen, you’ll see a button that says. Appearance. Click it, and then from the drop down, click Themes.
2. On the page that loads, click the Add New button at the top.
3. Select Upload Theme, and finally, choose the file you want to upload (it will be the zipped file you received).
4. Click Install Now.
5. Installation will take a moment. When it’s complete, you’ll see a screen like the one below.
6. Click the activate link.
Important Note If You Purchased a StudioPress Theme: when you purchased your theme, you will have received both the Genesis theme and the theme you want to use. You’ll need to follow the process above and install Genesis first, and then install the second theme. Otherwise your theme won’t work.
Once the Theme Is Installed and Activated
After you click the activate link, your theme is live on your site.
If you haven’t already, go to your website and take a look at what your site looks like.
Some themes require minor set up. To accomplish this, follow the instructions that came with your theme.
In our final step, I’ll walk you through how to install Plugins and what plugins I recommend.
After that, you’ll be able to begin adding content.
Now, let’s move on to the last part of this guide.
Step 5: Installing the Top Plugins
In this step, we’ll see the real magic of WordPress.
We are going to be adding additional functionality to your site through the use of plugins.
I’m going to show you where to find WordPress plugins, how to install them, and finally recommend the plugins I think every website should have.
But first, let’s discuss what a plugin is.
What is a WordPress Plugin
A WordPress plugin is a piece of software you can install on your site that will extend the capabilities of your site.
For instance, a popular WordPress plugin is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin gives you a suite of tools that make optimizing your website for search engines very simple.
There are thousands of plugins available all over the web.
There are all different types as well, from plugins that allow you to turn your website into an eCommerce store, to ones that allow you to make backups, to ones that let you make marketing landing pages.
If you can think of a functionality you need on your site, there is probably a plugin for it.
Where Can You Find Plugins?
The best place to begin your search for WordPress plugins is the Official WordPress Plugins Repository.
At the time of this writing, there are over 30,000 plugins in the repository.
And all of them are free.
You can browse through plugin categories, view the most popular, or start your own search.
Another way to find WordPress plugins is to do a Google search.
For instance, if I want to find a WordPress Backup Plugin, I would just google the phrase “WordPress Backup Plugin”.
In the results, you’ll find both free and paid plugins.
When you’ve found a plugin you like, be sure to download it to your computer.
Like the themes, you want to keep the plugin file zipped.
Now, let’s see how to install a plugin.
How to Install a Plugin
1. On the left hand tab of your site, look for the plugins tab.
2. In the dropdown, click “Add New”.
3. If you already have the plugin downloaded on your computer, click the upload link. Otherwise, you can search for plugins (this searches the Official WordPress Plugins Repository and lets you install directly from your site without having to download).
4. Choose the .ZIP file for your plugin and click Install Now.
5. When the plugin has completed installing, you’ll be presented with a few links. Click the link that says “Activate Now”. This will turn the plugin on.
You are now all set. The plugin is installed and activated.
Insider Tip: Most free plugins have great support and FAQs in their page on the Official WordPress Plugin Repository. If it’s a paid plugin, most come with documentation explaining how to use them.
You now know how to install a plugin.
It’s time that I show you the plugins you should install on any WordPress website.
The Recommended WordPress Plugins
Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top plugins I recommend to all beginning WordPress users.
If you want to optimize your site for search engines, you need WordPress SEO by Yoast.
Spam is something every website has to deal with. Unless you have Akismet which prevents most of the spam.
Whether you want to create contact forms, orders forms, or lead generation forms, Gravity Forms is the best plugin for it.
A major part of running a website is converting visitors in subscribers. The best way to do that is with the OptinMonster plugin.
You need to track your website visitors. To do that, you need Google Analytics. And to install Analytics on your site, you need Google Analytics for WordPress.
A faster site means better user experience and better search rankings. W3 Total Cache is a simple plugin that speeds up your site.
Nothing sucks more than losing your entire website. With VaultPress’s easy backup software, you won’t need to worry.
Keep your website secure from malware and hackers with iThemes suite of security software.
Sometimes hackers and malware get through your security. That’s where Sucuri comes in. It constantly monitors your site and removes any threats.
WooCommerce is hands down the best and easiest eCommerce plugin available for WordPress.
If you will be building lead generation pages, sales funnels, or membership sites, you need OptimizePress.
Your website is all set up and you can begin adding content.
You can start adding blog posts, pages, and more.
And soon, it’ll be time to show the world.
If you’re a self learner, take some time to play with WordPress and in no time you’ll be an expert.
If you are like me and prefer someone to show you the ropes, I recommend you check out WP101, the best WordPress training program ever.
They cover everything you could possibly want to know about WordPress.
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the myWPexpert.com newsletter, where I share WordPress advice, tutorials, and reviews so you can get the most of our your website.