I recall browsing beautiful websites that were created on WordPress and I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something big. Turns out. I was! What I wanted was a self-hosted WordPress website. After I figured that out, my journey into building a brand on my website began.
So if you’re a first time starter to building your own website, here are some quick tips to help you get on your way.
First, I’d like to clear up some misconceptions regarding WordPress. There’s often some confusion between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, with good reason!
WordPress .com versus .org
WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress and managed on their server. There are limitations to these kinds of websites.
WordPress.org is self hosted. You will need to purchase your own hosting and install WordPress. Don’t worry, this isn’t too hard because most hosting providers offer Managed WordPress Hosting that allows you to do this with a click of a button.
Benefits of Using WordPress
WordPress tends to have a much better setup for search engine optimization (SEO) and allows you install different analytics software so you can keep track of your website visitors and make improvements based on what visitors are clicking on and looking at.
WordPress also allows you to install different themes to drastically change the layout of your website. And if you absolutely hate coding, there are drag-and-drop themes that make it easy to get up and running in a few clicks.
There are a few technical details required with WordPress and we’ll drive into them right now.
Where to buy your domain
Before you buy hosting you need a domain.
Your domain is the name of your website. For example: angelajford.com
You can buy your domain from a site like NameCheap or GoDaddy. I recommend purchasing your domain from the same place your purchase your hosting to avoid dealing with redirecting your DNS and nameservers.
Where to get your hosting
You’ve probably heard a handful of names, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, Bluehost, Hostgator. My experience with these hosting provides is that websites built on them are a little slow and have memory limitations. You’ll have to do some extra work improving your site speed, so I recommend beginning with Siteground.
Click here to set up hosting with Siteground (I recommend the Startup package – you can always upgrade later).
Once you have domain and hosting, your next task is to install WordPress. Many domains make this easy. If you’re using Siteground navigate to Cpanel. Scroll down for WordPress tools and select the WordPress Installer. Follow the steps to set up WordPress.
Upgrade your site security
Once your website is up, I recommend that you go ahead and make your site secure. You’ll want to purchase an SSL certificate and make sure your website points to https versus http. This ensures that your website is secure and Google will rank your website higher in search engines. Plus any communication on your website will be encrypted. This is a requirement if you plan to have a shop on your website or accept payments.
Finding a Theme
WordPress offers out-of-the-box themes you can install for free. If you like those layouts, go ahead and install them and add your content. I recommend writing you the contact and determining what you’d like for each page before choosing a theme. I also recommend taking a look at websites you love to see if the theme you choose will allow you to replicate the layout.
Personally, I recommend the theme Divi by Elegant Themes. This allows you to do virtually almost anything you can think of. It has a drag-and-drop visual builder which makes it simple to setup your website. I also comes with hundreds of pre-made layouts, so you can simply replace the page with your image and text.
Divi is fantastic if you’d like to:
- Run a shop and sell autographed books, book swag or other products
- Focus on video including background videos and trailers
- Highlight your podcast
- Feature your blog
- Include visual elements with animations
- Conduct A/B testing
- Have support for anything that might go wrong while you’re building out your website.
- Build landing pages for selling books, adding offers, welcoming your email subscribers or upsetting them.
All of my websites are build on Divi, and as you can see you have complete control over branding, fonts and layout.
What pages do you need?
Let’s focus for a moment and say you have one book out. What kind of website do you need? Honestly, I think a landing page is enough. Your landing page should include a call to action to join your email list and links to purchase (or pre-order) your book.
If you are building out a full website here are the pages I recommend having:
- Sign Up (email list)
Must-have Plugins for your WordPress Website
Before we dig into the contact you need for your website, I want to bring up plugins. WordPress has thousands of plugins but there are a few I recommend installing and activating immediately.
CleanTalk – spam is everywhere and CleanTalk keeps my website spam-free. If you’re getting comments on your website or have the automated robots who hit your contact form, you need CleanTalk. It starts at $8 per year. Get it here.
Monarch – this allows you display social media buttons everywhere including follow and share buttons. I usually have a vertical line of social media share buttons on the left-hand side of every single page, and on my blog posts I have buttons at the beginning and end of each post. I also include social media follow buttons on the sidebar of my blog and footer of my website.
YoastSEO – if you want to improve your search engine optimization, use this plugin to ensure you maximize on-page SEO. YoastSEO offers quick and easy tutorials to help you start ranking on search engines. They also help you authenticate your site with search engines and ensure your sitemap is set up correctly.
GDPR Cookie Consent: If you are using analytics and pixels on your website, you need to let people know you are tracking them. GDPR Cookie Consent provides an easy popup that allows visitors to opt-in to tracking.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – Analytics are a must have for your websites. You need to know who is visiting and what pages they are looking at the most so you can further optimize for traffic. You can setup a free Google Analytics account at analytics.google.com and use the plugin to display your analytics details on your WordPress dashboard. I love using this so I don’t have to log in to Google Analytics to view my traffic every day.
Bloom – create beautiful email popups. I use bloom for the popups on my website inviting visitors to join my email list. It’s easy to add an image that increases conversions. I love that Bloom has analytics so I can track the conversions and determine how effective the popups are. And they work!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”
Where to get images?
Now that you have your website up and running, it’s time to fill it with content and images. Visuals are important for websites, and if you don’t have your own branded images, I recommend these sites for free photos.
How to set up integrations
Once you have everything setup, the final step is ensuring that all of your integrations are working. I usually integrate my website with my email marketing service (Mailchimp, Mailerlite, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit). Thankfully Divi makes it easy to setup up integration, often, you just need to find your API key and past it in. Most email marketing tools have a knowledge base that gives you a step by step guide.
How to setup your email
By the way, if you’re not already, make sure you’re using an email address at your own domain. For example, I use firstname.lastname@example.org instead of gmail for my emails. This does two things. It gives you an official business appearance and allows you to get approved for your email marketing service. Sometimes gmail goes straight to spam so I recommend upgrading to your own domain and telling your email subscribers how to whitelist your email address.
Use Google Suite Mail as an easy way to send and receive emails. You can set it up for a monthly fee here.
From there you need to log back in to your hosting and go to Cpanel. Find your MX records and there should be an easy checkbox to ensure everything is configured for Google mail.
There you have, the beginner’s guide to creating a website on WordPress.
Now, I do know that I’m super techie so if you need help from a pro? Stuck in any area? Book a tech call to help get you out of the weeds.
Share your thoughts:
1. What tips to you have for building a website?