Build Simple Yet Profitable Website with WordPress

Once upon a time you needed a web developer to build your entire website. Unless you wanted to learn HTML, CSS, MySQL, jQuery and/or PHP, you had to hire someone to do every piece of your site. With WordPress, however, building a site becomes more of an elementary process. Do this, press that, take off those and keep that – your site is built. OK, maybe it’s not *that* simple, so I will take you through the basics.

Build a Website with WordPress

WordPress with bricks

Step One: Buy a domain name and web hosting. Those are two separate things. I recommend Bluehost for small businesses that use WordPress, but there are many other good options as well.

Step Two: Install WordPress, following the famous 5 minute install. Oh, and read about WordPress security at this time as well. Don’t be surprised if it takes more than five minutes. And if you can get stuck, you can always try contacting someone who has installed WordPress many times.

Step Three: Pick a good theme for your site. Since you are starting from scratch, pick a responsive theme – might as well have your site work on mobile as well as a desktop. If you are confused by the oh so many sites available for WordPress, go with WordPress Twenty Twelve.

Step Four: Install some important plugins for your site. For starters, I would make sure I have a good backup plugin.

Step Five: Put some content on at least three pages. If you want a blog, name a category “blog” and publish a few posts to that category. Do you want to allow comments? Now is the time to decide (although, like much else in WordPress, you can change your mind). If you want to dis-allow comments for new posts, go to Settings->Discussion and make sure ” Allow people to post comments on new articles” is no longer checked. You can edit this setting individually for each post.

Step Six: The default for WordPress is to have posts appear on your home page. Many small businesses prefer to have a static home page. You can accomplish this by going to Settings-> Reading and click in Front Page displays A Static Page (and select the page and save your new settings).

Your New Site

Ah, there! You have a new site. Do you like it? Of course, there is so much more one can do. You will probably want to modify the header. You may decide you prefer the bells-and-whistles of a paid theme (paid themes do not cost *that* much and might work well for your business). You may want to add a contact form. Installing Google Analytics is a common practice for businesses, and optimizing for search engines can be done in a variety of ways.

If you get stuck somewhere along the way, you can also contact an experienced web developer to help build some part of your site. It’s OK to ask for help. And if you are self-motivated, you may then be able to resume working on your site on your own.

Your Turn, Please

Do you use self-hosted WordPress for your site? Did you set up yourself? Did you hire someone to help or to do the whole set up? What do you find easy about WordPress? What scares you?

28 Responses to “Build Simple Yet Profitable Website with WordPress”

  1. Geek Girl says:

    When I first moved from Blogger to WordPress it was overwhelming. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m getting there. Self-hosted. :)

  2. Catarina says:

    Vividly remember how I started out with my self hosted WordPress blog in 200. Took me some time to figure out what to do. But once I got it I was hooked.

    By the way, have you tried the security plug-in WordFence? It’s great, discovers the smallest change that could be malicious and enables you to remove it. Most likely makes a difference.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Catarina, I’ve read that one is highly recommended (WordFence). I’ve been using Better WP Security for a while, though the plugins may complement each other.

      Thanks for the feedback on your own experiences with WordPress.

  3. Jon Jefferson says:

    I have sites set up on WordPress.com. I know it isn’t the good stuff as yet and I haven’t had a chance to even migrate yet. I am a huge slacker, I know.

    Sometime in the near future I will be getting it set. Right now I think my first step is going to fall into getting my own domain name.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Jon, we all move at our own pace. If you are on WordPress.com, then you have gotten used to how WordPress operates. Getting one’s own domain name is a good start.

  4. Susan Cooper says:

    I just moved my site from GoDaddy to self hosted last week. Thankfully, the move was seamless. I loved how you outlined the steps. Sometimes it all seems so daunting but somehow we learn. Thanks for this. I forwarded this and your info to a friend who would find this helpful. :-)

  5. Word-press is SO much simpler than using HTML 5, CSS, jQuery, or Java Script! I am in an interactive journalism course this semester where I am learning coding for all of these programs in Adobe Dreamweaver and I would much rather just use the simple Word-press but unfortunately that would be considered cheating! e

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Morgan, and all of those, HTML5, CSS, jQuery, or Javascript are so much easier than the C programming or assembler language I learned in college! It’s all relative.

      Just knowing how to write code is a great skill to have. If you learn the process, it gives you logic and analysis skills. It’s not about the specific programming language.

  6. Jeri says:

    My WordPress site uses GoDaddy for hosting, and I wish I would have went with Bluehost. I’ve heard it’s not too hard to switch, but it all comes down to finding the time. I’ve found I really like tinkering with my site, and it’s made me want to learn more about coding as well. Someday, I’ll pick a better theme, but right now I am focusing on incorporating better SEO on my past and present posts. My husband is a software consultant, so he automatically gets nominated to help when I really need it ;)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Maybe I’ll write a post on how to switch hosts when you have WordPress sites. I switched to BlueHost years ago – the time consuming part was transferring pages I had done as a volunteer that were in old-fashioned HTML. Switching a WordPress site is mostly a matter of following WordPress instructions. Someone even recommended a great plugin to help with the process – WP-Migrate-DB plugin.

      So nice of your hubby to help! I don’t think mine even knows what SEO is – but he takes good care of our taxes.

  7. Kelly Wade says:

    You certainly know your stuff. I’m sure this information will help a lot of people and save them time of going through the wrong or less-efficient ways of setting up a website. Thanks!

  8. Corinne says:

    I have a wordpress site hosted by hostgator and between the two, the whole process has been very easy! I was surprised at the customer service from hostgator and the ease of using wordpress. The support forums on wordpress have helped me fix dozens of glitches as well. Jeri, I’m very jealous that you have an in-house software consultant. Like Leora’s husband, my husband doesn’t even know what SEO is. :-)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Uh, oh, I have to be careful what I say about family members online! Each of my family members has some wonderful virtues, but I’m the one who does the SEO.

      Thanks for the feedback on your experiences, Corinne. A lot of folks who use Hostgator are happy customers.

  9. Leora, I found your site from a comment you left on my Boomeresque blog. I think you’re the person I’ve been looking for! I started my blog on Blogger and was able to get it up and running myself (amazing). However, my son convinced me that if I wanted to be a “serious” blogger, I needed to have a self hosted WordPress.org site. I used a young web-developer in England, but web developer is really a side gig for him, so he can’t be as responsive as I would like. It is time for me to do some serious tweaking of my site and I don’t want to mess anything up — so don’t be surprised if you hear from me!

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Suzanne, I would like to hear from you. I do both responsive for web and responsive to email requests for web help … feel free to contact me when you are ready.

  10. Tanya says:

    This is great information. I’ve been thinking about switching over my blogger site to a wordpress hosted site… I was actually looking into bluehost and it seemed like the best option. I very well may have to hire a web developer b/c I did the HTML coding on my current site, but to even get it where it is, was nothing short of a hassle. Looking forward to reading more of your posts…

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Tanya, I’m glad you found it useful. There are posts out there in Google land specifically about converting a Blogger site to self-hosted WordPress. It’s been done many times, because often people like to start with a free version, and then they learn the limitations and why a self-hosted site makes more sense.

  11. I’ve always had a self-hosted wordpress.org site. I took a course in setting it up and content development. I’m pretty facile at working in the dashboard but I think unless you’re a total geek you did need the help of an outside web master from time to time. I found mine a few years ago in the LinkedIn WordPress Group and when I get to a point where my time is more valuable than trying to figure something out I turn it over to him.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Jeannette, I guess I must be a total geek, as people turn to me when they need help. The truth is, with so many WordPress groups available, there are plenty of sources for asking questions or finding the answer to a specific problem.

  12. I like the valuable information you supply for your articles. I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more here frequently. I’m reasonably certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the next!

  13. Sandra says:

    I took a course at Lynda.com on WordPress but when it came to installying it I asked a guru to do it for me. I’ve been OK with my self hosed web site but sometimes I run into a wall. I didn’t know about the linkedIn wordpress group. That’s good to know. I think you do a great job of presenting the information so that people can start a site. Good for you.

    PS. I found you through BHB

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Sandra, thank you for visiting my blog. There are quite a few LinkedIn WordPress groups … if you even just lurk on a few, you can learn quite a bit.

      Thanks for telling me you found me through Bloggers Helping Bloggers.

  14. Steve Hippel says:

    Great advice Leora.

    I nearly always recommend WordPress for a small business website. I even use it myself. Many designers recommend bespoke designs but I think this can often lead to wasting money that could have been spent on developing traffic.

    As a developer, I like Drupal too but I think that the learning curve can be a bit much for the average user.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Nice to hear from you, Steve!

      Drupal really needs a tech person to maintain – but it can created a dynamic website and has more sophisticated tools than WordPress (although I’ve heard some developers have certain tools they use with WordPress to make it more robust).

      Sometimes the simplest sites are the best for traffic.

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