I am so excited to give you step by step instructions on how to create your website! Starting your own site is an experience everyone should have. You can start a personal or professional blog, create a site for your current business, start an online store, improve your writing and computer skills, teach your kids how to start a website, and make money from your site. You will have total control to create the look and function of your website if you follow this 4-step process. If you haven’t already decided if you want to take the plunge and make your own site, then read my post about making that decision here. It is not too complicated to get a website (or blog) up and running, even with no programming experience. Follow these simple steps to create a professional and custom site!
In order to have a professional site, you must be willing to pay for the hosting. You can start a free blog with Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress, but then your site will always be an extension of their domain, like www.myincomejourney.tumblr.com. If you plan on making money from your website, then you need to have complete control and be professionally hosted. With the free options, you can basically edit your text and a few colors, but not create the custom site that you’ll want. Follow these four steps to create your individual website that you can use to make money from home.
Step 1 – Pick Your Host
The company that hosts your website is basically the company that makes it available on the internet. They provide your storage space as well as internet connectivity, so it’s very important to have a good host. I highly recommend using BlueHost to host your site. Plus if you use them, you will get your domain name for free. I had a different site a few years ago with GoDaddy and wasn’t impressed by them. My site got hacked and some malware on it and it was completely up to me to get rid of it. Plus GoDaddy’s interface isn’t nearly as user-friendly as BlueHost. I am a BlueHost affiliate, so if you decide to go with them I’d be very grateful if you use my links. There’s no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission for recommending them which helps keep this site functioning. Thanks!
Once you’ve decided to go with BlueHost, use my link to get the $3.95/month hosting. You’ll see a screen similar to the image below, click the “get started now” button.
After clicking “get started now”, you’ll be taken to a page to select your plan. I recommend either the “basic” plan or the “plus” plan. I went with the “plus” plan because my husband also started a site and we wanted the unlimited websites and space. If your budget is tight, then the “basic” plan will work just fine.
Step 2 – Register Your Domain
After you select your plan, you’ll be taken to a screen to officially register your domain. It’s exciting to make this step and to own a piece of cyber property! If you haven’t already picked out a domain name, you should read my post on how to choose a domain name here. It goes through the details of how to pick a great name, check if it’s available on multiple platforms, and a few legal issues.
Enter your domain name in the “new domain” box, unless you’ve already purchased your domain from somewhere else (like godaddy).
Next, you’ll enter in your account information.
Now select an account plan. If you notice, the $3.95/month is only available if you pay for 36 months. You can choose if you want to pay for 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years, and the price differences are there for you to consider. In reality any of those options are a great deal for a professional site that includes the domain name purchase.
Notice that I selected the “Domain Privacy Protection”. I recommend doing this in order to keep your personal information private. All website owner’s information is available through Whois.net and other sites. Bluehost offers this privacy protection that will put Bluehost’s information available for the public to see rather than your own information. If you’re using a business address and phone number, then you probably don’t need the privacy, but if you’re using personal info then I think it’s smart. I skip the other extras.
All you have left to do is enter your payment information and then your hosting and domain are set!
Step 3 – Install WordPress
Now we’re going to install WordPress. WordPress is the largest self-hosting blogging tool in the world and used by millions of websites. WordPress is software that gives you the ability to add plug-ins, widgets, create mailing lists, and more. It’s free and easily integrates with BlueHost.
Log in to BlueHost and go to your control panel. Click the “install WordPress” button.
Be sure to create a unique admin username and password. This is what you’ll use to login to WordPress once it’s installed. Click “install now” and you’re all set with WordPress! Once it’s installed, you’ll be given an admin URL similar to this http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin. This URL is where you’ll go when you want to write posts, work on your site, etc. You’re basically done with the BlueHost side of things and you’ll just be dealing with WordPress now.
Step 4 – Designing Your Website
This part is really fun! Spend some time thinking about how you want the layout of your site. It’s much easier to set it up correctly the first time rather than change your mind and move everything around over and over again.
WordPress requires the implementation of a theme. A theme defines the look and feel of your website including colors, decorative features, and styles. Themes may also include advanced features such as post types, visual editors, contact forms, and more. When you first install WordPress, it will come with several free themes already installed. These themes are produced by WordPress themselves and are called “Twenty Sixteen”, “Twenty Fifteen” and so on depending on what year you start using WordPress. They can be found in the “Appearance -> Themes” part of your WordPress toolbar. To start using a theme you simply click on the “Activate” button next to the theme description.
These free themes may be fine for beginners and include the basic post types, namely blog posts and static web pages. However I recommend going with a paid theme right from the beginning. It can be a daunting task switching themes after having implemented one for even a short period of time and you’ll quickly find out that the free themes don’t have all the features and flexibility you need. Free themes also don’t get updated as often, if at all, as the paid themes. This is a big deal if a new malware threat or WordPress update renders your website unusable. Developers of themes that cost money have an incentive to keep their themes compatible with WordPress updates and free of malware. Look for a paid theme that offers free lifetime updates. Paid themes quite often come with support for six months to a year with an option to pay for continued support. Thus if you run into an issue with the implementation of the theme, you can write or call the developers and get expert help. Another huge benefit of most paid themes are extras and add-ons that go beyond standard WordPress. These extras can really make your website standout in the crowd. Paid themes can be found in several places. Go to the “Marketplace” in your WordPress toolbar and you’ll be able to search for themes and other plugins via the Mojo Marketplace. The Mojo Marketplace isn’t the only place to buy themes and a quick search on the web will find others. I recommend going with a theme from a trusted developer. A little time finding the right theme now will save lots of headaches down the road.
I personally use and highly recommend the “Total” theme which is available via Theme Forest, another online theme marketplace. Like the name suggests, Total is the total theme. A few things set Total apart from the competition. First, it comes bundled with several plugins that by themselves would cost close to a hundred dollars. The “Visual Composer” plugin allows webpages to be created using an intuitive visual composer rather than raw html. This allows you to create awesome custom sites without knowing any programming language.
In addition to the basic post and page types, Total adds portfolio, staff, and testimonial types. These additional types can be customized as desired. For example, on another website I own I changed the “portfolio” to “books”. The real power of these types is that they allow for custom filtering and categorization. Filtering is a powerful tool that enables other great features of the Total theme: grids and sliders. Grids and sliders are graphical design elements that allow for eye-popping display of graphics on your webpage which can be automatically filtered and sorted either by your visitors or you. The Total theme also comes with WooCommerce integration and custom contact forms. I have found that the Total theme is also updated rapidly. For example, WordPress recently released a major update. Less than a week later, I received an update to the Total theme to ensure compatibility. I’ve also taken advantage of their included six months of service to get answers to my development questions. Their help has been rapid and spot on. At about $59, the Total theme is one of the more expensive paid themes but with all the premium included plugins, such as the visual composer, excellent support, timely updates, and provided flexibility, the price is well worth it. Examples of what Total is capable of, in addition to my website, can be found here. Detailed tutorials describing all the great features are found here. And when you are ready to purchase, I’d appreciate it if you’d use my affiliate link here. Using my affiliate link won’t increase the price for you but goes a long way to helping my website stay active.
That’s it! You are now all setup and ready to make a custom, professional, unique website. I will be writing detailed articles on tips for using WordPress, how to set up your email, learning the WordPress lingo, getting traffic to your site, and more soon! Sign up for my newsletter to be notified when these posts come out. In the mean time, enjoy your new site! Comment below or contact me with any questions and I’ll do my best to help you out.