Easy Step-By-Step to Building a WordPress Website

10 Steps to Setting Up a WordPress Self-Hosted Website

WordPress Setup
Credit: Westend61 | Getty Images

WordPress is the leading content management system (CMS) platform running on over 15 million websites. It’s affordability and ease-of-use make it the go-to website building program by newbies and experts alike. There are two options for using WordPress:

  1. WordPress.com: this option is free, but has many limitations.
  2. WordPress.org (self-hosted): the script in this option is free, but requires you to have a domain name and web hosting. It offers complete control and customization.

    In this article, you’ll learn how easy it is to set up a WordPress self-hosted website for your home business.

    There are many benefits to using WordPress including:

    • The WordPress script is free.
    • It’s easy to learn.
    • You can manage your website from any computer. No FTP required.
    • No need to know HTML, although some basic coding knowledge is always helpful.
    • You can customize WordPress to represent your brand.
    • WordPress functionality can be expanded through the use of plugins.
    • Search engines like WordPress, especially when it’s used as a blog.
    • WordPress can be used as a blog or a static website.

    Here’s How to Build Your WordPress Website Today!

    1. Choose and buy your home business domain name. Ideally, this should be a .com that includes your business name. While your web host (#2) might provide a domain for free, most experts suggest keeping your domain name and hosting services separate to ensure you have ownership and control over your domain.

    2. Sign up for web hosting. Although there are free options, your best bet is to go with a paid host, again to ensure quality and control. There are many affordable web hosts to choose from. Since you want to install WordPress, just check that the host offers the WordPress script in its library (most include it).

    3. Connect your domain and web host services so they work together. After you sign up for hosting, you’ll receive information about how to login to your account and the address of your host’s nameservers (two series of numbers). Copy the nameserver information, and then head to your domain registrar and add the nameserver info to your domain name. This tells the domain registrar where (what host) the domain should point to.

    4. Install WordPress. Gone are the days when you had to download the script from the WordPress site and then upload to your host. Most hosts offer a quick install option through their script library. Log into your host account (i.e. cPanel) and find the WordPress script (if you’re unsure where this is in your cPanel, ask your host). Click on “Install” and indicate where you want the script to install.

    If you want your whole site on WordPress, use your domain name, leaving the directory option blank (i.e. www.yourdomain.com/). If you already have a website and want to install a blog in a different folder, write in the folder name after your domain. For example, if you want WordPress for your blog, you can install it in www.yourdomain.com/blog/ The install will create the “blog” folder and install WordPress there.

     During the install you’ll also provide your admin name, blog name and email, which will be included in WordPress, although you can change the blog name and email later. When complete, you’ll be given a link to the newly made WordPress site and a password. You’ll want to change the password.

    5. Browse the WordPress dashboard. The nice thing about WordPress is that even when it’s updated, the basic functions stay the same. Once you learn where everything is and how it works, you’re good to go. Log into your WordPress site using your admin name and password. Once logged in, you’ll be taken to your dashboard.

    On the left is a menu of all the standard options:  

    • Dashboard: Home page of your dashboard.
    • Posts: Blog articles.
    • Media: Pictures, videos etc are stored. You can add media directly to this folder or on the fly when writing a post or page. If you add media to a page, it will get stored in your Media folder.
    • Pages: Static content such as your “About Me” page. If your home business offers a service, you’d put your service information on a page.
    • Comments: Manage and moderate comments left on your site.
    • Appearance: Manage and customize your site theme, organize your sidebar widgets, create menus (as allowed by your theme), and access the theme’s editor.
    • Plugins: Add, delete, and update plugins. Some plugins add menu features directly to Dashboard menu, while others get added as a submenu item under Tools or Settings.
    • Users: Manage people who register as guests, as well as manage permissions of those you give access too. For example, if you have a virtual assistant, you may want to allow her to update and make changes to the site.
    • Tools: Import and export WordPress data. Some plugin settings are accessed through the Tools menu.
    • Settings: Set up how your blog is read, how comments are posted, create your permalink structure (how your blog content URLs look), and more. Many plugin settings are accessed through the settings.

    6. Choose a WordPress theme. WordPress offers default themes, or you can browse and install themes from the WP theme library. Click on “Appearance” then “Theme.” If you like the default theme, you can leave it, but choose the “Customize” option (under the Appearance option) to change aspects such as color and the header.  You can change the theme by clicking on a different theme, and then clicking on “Activate.” If you don’t like the default options, you can add a new theme. One way is to click on “Add Theme” where you can access a theme library. Simply click the “Install” and then “Activate” to choose the theme. Another option is to find themes from other sources. To use these themes, you need to download them from the source, then in your WordPress Dashboard, click “Add Themes” then “Upload Theme.” Use the browse button to find the theme you downloaded, click on the file (it’s usually a zip file), and then upload. Then click on “Install” and “Activate.” Note some themes add menu items to your left navigation. Also, some have customization options such as adding your social media links.

    7. Set up your sidebar widgets. Under “Appearance” and then “Widgets” you’ll see a list of widget options such as “Recent Posts,” and “Archives.” Usually, the default widgets in your sidebar are “Recent Posts,” “Recent Comments,” and “Meta.” The great thing about WordPress is that adding or removing widgets simply involves dragging and dropping where you want them. While many widgets serve a specific function (i.e. listing your most recent posts), there is a Text widget that allows you add whatever you want, including code. This is a good place for adding your email list sign-up script or affiliate product codes. The standard sidebar is on the right-hand side of your blog/site, b sometimes your theme may allow you to choose where the sidebar is located. Other times the theme might have more than one sidebar, for example, two on the left, and three at the bottom.

    8. Set up your plugins. WordPress comes ready-made with two plugins. Askimet is the anti-spam plugin you’ll want to activate by getting a free activation code. Just click on the link in the Askimet plugin to get one. There are millions of plugins that add cool features and functions to your website. For example, there are plugins that will create a storefront on your WordPress site. But many plugins run behind the scenes to keep the site safe and running smoothly.  Basic plugins you should add include security (to keep the hackers out), cache (to help improve speed and performance), backup, and SEO. Plugins can be added under the “Plugin” option of the menu. Like themes, you can search for plugins within the WP library, or get them from other sources and upload them to your WP site.

    9. Add content to your site. Start by adding your static pages such as “About Me,” “Contact,” and whatever other information you want visitors to have (i.e. media kit).  If you’re  running your WordPress site like a standard website and want a specific home page (i.e. About Me) to appear when visitors arrive, go to “Settings” then “Reading” and toggle “Static Page,” and then select what page or post you want on your home page. If you’re running a blog, you can leave the default setting, “Your latest posts.”

    Once you have your pages, add posts related to your blog or home business topic.  Both pages and posts work the same. Click on “New Page” or “New Post” under the Page or Post in the dashboard menu. Add your title in the title box and your content below. WordPress gives you two options to add your content, “Visual” which is what-you-see-is-what-you-get and “Text.” If you have code you want to include in your page/post (i.e. affiliate link), click the “Text” tab to add it. On the right-hand side of the page, you’ll see options to publish or schedule your post, categorize it (including adding new categories), tag it (including adding new tags), and add a featured image.

    10. Promote your WordPress site. Just because you’re site is up and running, doesn’t mean people will find it. Create a marketing plan to reach your target market. There are many low-cost and free ways to market your home business website.