So you have a killer idea huh? Whether you want to make a blog about your cat, a useful resource on fixing shoes or star wars fan fiction you can easily and cheaply make your own website with wordpress. By cheaply I mean less than fifty bucks per year. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have your very own slice of the internet in no time.
Why You Want Your Own Site Instead of a Free Wordpress/Blogspot Account
There’s nothing wrong with making and posting on the free blogging platforms out there. The biggest problem (and why I don’t use them) is that they are very limited. You can add custom widgets (programs) and pages, but you have to choose from a list. If you owned your site you could add virtually anything you wanted. Also you’re stuck there. If you ever want to expand you either have to pay the blog host or create your own site from scratch. Why not do that to begin with?
Step 1: Pick A Domain Name
You’ll want to pick a domain that reflects the theme of your website. Try to find something direct and meaningful, while easy to remember. Once you’ve found a winner you’ll need to choose a company to register it with, or a registrar. I personally use Godaddy for my domain name registrations. I’ve used them for nearly 10 years without any problems. Through Godaddy you can currently get a domain for 6.95 per year. If you’re looking to buy a domain and want private registration go with namecheap. It’ll be cheaper.
Step 2: Get Hosted
The internet is made up of thousands of servers connected together. That’s it. To get on it, you’ll need to lease space on one of those connected servers. The good news is that they’re easy to find, easy to use and very cheap. I remember years ago when decent hosting was no less than thirty bucks a month for anything decent- now you can find quality hosting for less than sixty bucks a year. I suggest signing up with Bluehost. They’re cheap (6.95 per month) and offer solid service.
Step 3: Use Fantastico to set up Wordpress
Fantastico is this great program that sets up other programs for you on your server. This makes creating & running your site a breeze. You can also update your existing software with a few simple clicks. Nothing technical at all. Most hosts (including Bluehost) have this sofware available. In fact here’s a video that shows you the whole process:
Step 4: Finding and Adding A Theme
One great reason to use Wordpress is that there is just so many free resources for it. You can find a nice theme, find plugins, and implement them with very little technical know-how. Here are a few links to free themes:
Official Theme Repository
Smashing Magazine List
Clazh List 1
Clazh List 2
Clazh List 3
Once you find that perfect theme, you’ll have to upload and activate it. Here’s a video that demonstrates the process:
Step 5: Adding Plugins
Once you have your site up and have it looking just the way you want it, you’ll probably want to add more functionality of it. This is where plugins come in. A plugin is basically a tool that adds a feature to your blog. Maybe you want to display your top posts, or set up a contact form. These are defined as plugins. Unlike the themes, the latest wordpress version allows you to find and activate widgets and plugins entirely within your wordpress admin area. Cool huh?
As an example, here are the plugins I install on every Wordpress blog I set up:
Contact Form 7 – Instant Contact Form
Redirection – Allows you to set up redirects
Google XML Sitemaps - Instant Sitemap
All In One SEO Pack – Helps your search engine visibility
Wordpress Database Backup – Backs up all of your data
And here’s a video to demonstrate how to find and add plugins:
Step 6: Build Build and Build.
Write articles, create pages, add more plugins, check out other themes, etc. There’s really not much you can’t do with wordpress. If you have any trouble feel free to drop me a note and I’ll see what I can do to help. I’ve been creating wordpress sites and themes for years now. This isn’t a sales pitch.