There’s a boatload of ways you can create a website. There’s also a bazillion boatloads of information on the subject. So I’m just gonna share the steps I took to get a basic website that I can build on in the future.
I’m writing this as I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments from people starting out who express a desire to start a blog or have a website for their freelance business.
I ended up with a website that I own and control (even if it’s very basic right now!), as opposed to using a website builder like Wix. I think people may shy away from WordPress as they think they have to be techies to use it, but I didn’t need to use any code whatsoever.
I’ve also had failed attempts before as my brain can cycle in a perfectionist-procrastination loop. This time, I had something I wanted to give away for free and the easiest way I could think of doing that was by getting my website up that day. I decided I didn’t care if I had a lot of content, I just wanted to get something out there and I could worry about the rest later.
Disclaimer: This article contains random chickens.
Before anything else…
I took my dogs for a very, very long walk so I could work undisturbed.
If you have young children, you’re probably gonna have to stretch this to a “website in a week!” Unless you have an English nanny with a magical handbag and umbrella.
Find a hosting provider…
I already had a hosting provider from a previous failed attempt.
I use InMotion Hosting. (This is my one and only little affiliate link.) I’ve stuck with them as they have always been great with customer service and have excellent articles in their support section. There are plenty of other alternatives though, like SiteGround and Flywheel, if you want to check them out too.
Pick your domain name…
I used GoDaddy to check if the domain was available and purchased the domain and privacy from them.
Point your hosting provider’s name servers to your new domain name. This can be done in the manage domains section on GoDaddy.
Most good hosting providers make it really easy to install WordPress on your new site. Install WordPress, choose your username and password (keep a note of them!) and go!!!
Basic WordPress settings…
Begin by logging into the back-end of your website. Your login page is your domain followed by wp-admin (e.g. https://example.com/wp-admin).
Enter the username and password you set when installing WordPress. This will bring you to your dashboard, the back-end of your website. Go to the settings tab.
Install a theme…
I’ve tried quite a few in the past but the best one I’ve found is GeneratePress. I did pay for the premium version (it’s only $39.95) but there is a free version also. It is super fast, powerful and very easy to use.
In the dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New and upload your theme zip file.
We need some more chickens at this stage.
Customize the theme…
Go to Appearance > Customize. Here you can customize the look of your site. The navigation bar, backgrounds, logo, color schemes, etc. I found that I could do everything I needed without adding any custom code.
This may take a little bit of time and trial and error if you have never done this before.
Make everything pretty!
Install Page Builder…
Go to Plugins > Add New
Elementor is the best, free page builder I have used. It’s a drag-n-drop page builder that lets you customize your pages any way you like. Add text boxes, galleries, buttons, videos, maps, etc.
I used it to add text and a gallery to my first post.
I haven’t upgraded to the premium version just yet as the free version gave me everything I needed.
Install Essential Plugins…
Here is a list of the plugins I used to help optimize my site:
It’s a very simple contact form plugin and there are a lot of tutorials out there to help you set it up.
User-friendly and eliminates WordPress Spam.
If you ever want to move your site, this is the best plugin I’ve found.
This will compress your images to help speed up your site. I’ve heard TinyPNG is another good one.
I found this plugin really easy to use and customize.
This is a fantastic SEO plugin which will really help you to optimize your site, give you control over your meta descriptions, set up proper social sharing, etc.
I’m not going to get into Google Search Console or Analytics here, but it’s something you should also consider setting up and will work well with this plugin.
The security of your site is really important. I didn’t know how to set this up after installation, but I found this great video that showed me, step-by-step, and I just followed along.
That’s it! I created a home page and set it to display my latest posts (Settings > Reading), added a contact page, and set up my menus (Appearance > Menus).
There is a bit of a learning curve if you haven’t used the WordPress dashboard before, but I believe it is worth it to be able to have your own site.
I haven’t gone into a huge amount of detail, so if you have any questions or get stuck, feel free to send me a message via the contact form!