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How To Start A New WordPress Site – Guide For Total Newbies

How To Start A New WordPress Site – Guide for Total Newbies

What’s a site for WordPress themes and plugins reviews without a guide where I show you how to create a WordPress website from scratch?

Eventually, this guide had to appear on my website.

Starting a website, a new blog, an online store is something common nowadays. It’s like, you have to have a website in the 21st century. There are a lot of reasons why do it. Here are just a few:

  • You can increase your household income through your site;
  • You can express yourself and share your opinion to the world;
  • You can pursue your hobby;
  • If you’re doing things right, you can even quit your 9 to 5 job.

Still, a lot of people get stressed and start feeling uncomfortable when they hear the worlds “start a website”. They imagine lines of code and black screens. Geeks and complicated language. They think that starting a website involves impossible calculations, calling NASA, and buying at least several dozens of books and classes to learn the basics.

In reality, it’s not that difficult to start.

Yes, there is a learning curve. Yes, it’s something that requires time. And yes, everyone who is willing to spend a couple of hours per day can learn to do it.

I, myself, created my first website following an article online. It was in 2010 – I think.

This guide, here, is for those of you who want to create their own thing online but don’t have a clue about what’s WordPress and what are the components of a website.

Before I walk you through the process of creating a new WordPress website, I want to expand a bit more on why start one:

Why Start a Site?

Of course, the main reason here is money.

At least that’s what most people think.

The majority of the online entrepreneurs start their own thing online hoping that they will get rich, buy fancy things, and work in different coffee shops around the world.

Essentially, we all want this type of lifestyle. However, it’s not that easy, nor should be your main goal before you even open your laptop.

A lot of people fail with their sites because they solely pursue money. They put earning money above all, which is never a good thing and it won’t actually get you far.

Why? Let us see:

Let’s say that you start a site about traveling because you see a lot of people doing it. Let’s even say that your site becomes successful and you start doing this full time. At one moment you’re bound to travel because you need to share more articles on your site. You need more articles because you need to satisfy your audience and get money for that.

But what if you don’t even like traveling?

You’ve spent all this time building something you don’t really like doing and you’re now obligated to do it.

The reason I’m including this first, before the actual steps, is to give you a different perspective about your reasons to start.

Most people start sites to earn money, but in reality, they need to start by following these two rules:

  1. Start a site about something you truly love doing;
  2. Start a site that will be helpful for other people.

If your site tick these two rules money eventually will come.

So, without further ado, let’s start creating our first WordPress website:

Create a New WordPress Website: Step-by-step guide for Total Newbies

I’ve done my best to reduce the complicated words and expressions. Still, if there is something you don’t fully get, just add a comment and I will explain in more details.

Step 1: Find a Domain Name

The first step is to find a suitable domain for your website.

But what’s a domain name?

It’s basically your website name. For example, the domain of this site is narrowem.com. The reason I named my site like this is to help people narrow the choices when they pick WordPress products. Yeah, it’s probably now the best idea, but it kind of works for me.

So, the first step is to come up with a name of your site.

A lot of times getting a domain the same as your name is a good enough idea. For example, JohnDoe.com.

But you need to take into consideration the following also: What will be your brand? What will be the main idea behind your site?

The domain is your brand. If you’re a consultant, and you’re going to share your experience with the world, getting a domain that’s basically your name is a good idea. However, if you’re creating a site about cooking recipes, you might wanna think in a different direction: whattoeat.com, for example.

Few things to consider:

  • Brainstorm a couple of words: Think about different variations of words and make a combination of a few words for your domain.
  • Does it sound relevant? Make sure the domain you’re going to pick will be relevant to the content on the site.
  • Make it short: Long domains are hard to remember. You want something that will be unique and easy to remember.
  • Avoid using hyphens and numbers: Hyphens and numbers will only complicate the name. As I mentioned, it should be something easy to remember.

The following two online tools will help you with your decision:

Wordoid.com: You type a word and this tool will show you some suggestions based on the word. It will even show you what domain extension is available.

choose a domain name

Panabee.com: This tool is similar to the above. Type a word and you’ll get suggestions.

choose a domain name for site

Keep in mind that domains are not free. They cost around $16 per year. Even more depending on the extension.

Once you found a domain you like, don’t just purchase it yet. You will do that in the next step.

Extra tip: You found a couple of combinations, but you are still not sure if they are OK? Take your time to think it through, go to bed and see if you still like the domains in the morning. Also, I’ll personally recommend getting the .com extension if it’s available.

Step 2: Get a Hosting Account

What’s hosting first?

A hosting provider is like a utility bill. You’re basically renting a space where you’ll build your website. Imagine it like a piece of virtual land. On that piece of land, you’ll build your online website.

Basically, this virtual space is composed of a bunch of computers linked together and connected to the internet.

Your hosting is the foundation of your website. Without it, you can’t have a site.

Despite the abundance, one hosting provider rise above all others: SiteGround.

siteground hosting services

These guys have everything you’ll ever need from a hosting provider:

  • 24/7 friendly support;
  • Smooth setup;
  • Free SSL Certificates;
  • Automated backups;
  • Latest PHP version;
  • Auto updates;
  • SSD storage;
  • more…

Yes, a lot of these things might sound complicated if you’re just starting. The important thing is that your site will be secured with them.

Their plans start at $3.95 per month for the first invoice and their StartUp plan will be more than enough if you’re going to create a personal blog.

Here’s the onboarding process:

Go to SiteGround.com > click Hosting inside the menu > Web hosting > Choose your plan > Get started:

creating a shared account

The next step is to get the domain name. Simply type the domain you desire and click proceed. If you already have a domain you simply need to check the other box:

getting a domain name

Finally, add your details, decide for how long you’re going to purchase the account, the server location, and whether you want to add the extra services.

I personally don’t think you need the Domain Privacy:

purchasing hosting account

Once you’re OK with everything, submit the payment.

Extra tip: Choose the server location depending on your future visitors. If you think that more people from the US are going to read your content, it’s best to leave the Chicago server. If you think that more people from Europe will be your visitors, get the Amsterdam server. If you expect visitors from all around the world, I’ll personally suggest the Amsterdam location.

Step 3: Installing WordPress

Before the actual steps, let me tell you a few words about what is WordPress:

WordPress CMS system

WordPress is a piece of software. Something like Windows or Mac OS.

The main purpose of this software is to help you create a fully functional website. Basically, it gives you the tools to set a site and arrange your content.

It’s free and it’s open source.

What you need to know is this: This piece of software is enough to create a site even if you don’t know a thing about CSS or HTML. It’s a tool for newbies who want to have an online presence.

This piece of software can be installed on your hosting using the following steps:

First, access your SiteGround hosting account. Once you’re inside, go to My Accounts > Go to cPanel:

SiteGround Hosting cPanel

Before we install WordPress, we need to add SSL on our domain name. To do so, find the section Security > Let’s Encrypt:

installing Let's Encrypt SSL

Select your domain and click Install:

installing Let's Encrypt SSL with SiteGround

You will see the following screen showing that the SSL will be installed in a few minutes:

installing Let's Encrypt SSL Hosting

Extra tip: Nowadays you absolutely need an SSL certificate. This basically encrypts the connection between your site and the browser of the visitor. If you’re going to create an online store you need it even more.

Now, go back to your cPanel and find the section Autoinstallers and press WordPress:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround

Now, few important things:

  1. Press install;
  2. Make sure the https:// is selected;
  3. Make sure the domain is listed as in the screenshot;
  4. Your site name and description can be changed later;
  5. Make sure to have a good username and a strong password. Add capital letters, numbers, symbols;
  6. Make sure to change the admin email to an email which you have access too;
  7. You need the plugin Limit login attempts – tick the box;
  8. You’ll also most probably need the WPforms – tick the box;
  9. Press install.
Installing WordPress on SiteGround 1

The installation process will take a couple of seconds.

Once everything is complete, you will see this screen:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 2

The first is obviously a link to your domain, while the second is your gateway to the backend of your site. The place where you’ll be doing changes to your new site.

Click on the second link:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 3

You’ll most probably automatically login inside your dashboard but I wanted to show you how the login screen looks like.

Step 4: Getting Started with WordPress

If you’re using SiteGround for hosting you will see the following when you go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin for the first time:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 4

This is basically a customization wizard that will help you install the essential things needed to get started with your site. Still, I will show you how to get started without it in this guide. Click on the Exit button.

Now, navigate to Plugins > Installed plugins:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 5

Deactivate the plugin and return to the dashboard:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 6

This is how the default WordPress dashboard looks like:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 7

Let me share a few things in regards the components here:

  1. The dashboard you see in the center is simply a collection of shortcuts. The most important things are presented here. The good thing is that you can arrange the boxes.
  2. Posts section is the place where you will be writing your blog posts.
  3. Media is the place where your images will be stored.
  4. Pages is similar to posts but it’s also different. For example, you will create a home page and about page. These won’t be posts. Posts is specifically for articles where you expect people to comment and share.
  5. Inside the comments section you can find comments from people visiting your website.
  6. Appearance is the section where you will change the layout of your WordPress website.
  7. Plugins are basically extensions to your website. Each new plugins adds additional functionality to your website.

These are the essentials. I will talk about them more in a bit.

Before we change the theme of our website, let me show you two important configurations:

First, if you want to change the name and the description of your website, you need to go to Settings > General:

Installing WordPress on SiteGround 8

Important: Don’t change the WordPress Address (URL) or the Site Address (URL) sections. 

Second, go to Settings > Permalinks and make sure you have the following structure for your links:

https://yourdomain.com/%category%/%postname%/
how to build a website from scratch

Of course, yourdomain.com will be your actual domain.

Don’t forget to save the changes.

This is important for the SEO of your site. Something that we’ll discuss a bit later.

Step 5: Choose WordPress Theme

There are hundreds of WordPress themes available for you to use. Basically, the theme will change the looks of your site. There are both a lot of free and a lot of premium WordPress themes. The good news is that there are a lot of amazing free themes that will be enough in the beginning.

The ones I always recommend for people starting are the following:

In this guide, I will go with GeneratePress. Simply because it’s less complicated for people just starting.

To install the theme go to Appearance > Themes > Add New:

how to build a website from scratch 2

Type GeneratePress in the search field and click Install once you see the theme appearing:

how to build a website from scratch 3

Activate the theme once the installation is complete:

how to build a website from scratch 4

Go to your website to see what happened:

how to build a website from scratch 5

So, on the top you have the name of your site, below you have your posts listed chronologically, and on the right side you have your widget section. 

The widget section is also called sidebar. A lot of people use it to add links to other posts, a link to their about page or a to the services their offer.

Also, you will see a Customize section on the top. This section allows you to make changes to your site layout. Basically, the options inside will vary depending on the theme you’ve chosen:

how to build a website from scratch 6

Once we have an active theme, we now need to install a few essential plugins:

Step 6: Essential Plugins

As I mentioned, plugins add additional functionalities to your website: contact forms, social media buttons, etc.

There are a lot of WordPress plugins. Dozens. Thousands.

Still, there are few that are essential. We actually installed one of these plugins in the beginning: WPforms. This plugin is basically a Contact Us plugin. It helps you to create contact forms where people can send you a message.

Few other essential plugins:

  • Gutenberg: This plugin will soon become the default WordPress editor. Meaning, the way you write articles. You can see my full guide about using this plugin: Gutenberg Practical Guide.
  • Yoast SEO: This plugins basically helps you optimize your website for the search engines (i.e. Google). SEO is something you need to learn in order to get more traffic to your site. Fortunately, we have this guide: SEO for WordPress beginners.
  • Akismet Anti-spam: A Simple plugin that protects your website from spam comments. You absolutely need this plugin. Otherwise, you will soon be flooded with spam comments.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP): This plugin connects to your Google Analytics account and you get to see how many people visit your website.
  • Smush: Smush reduces the size of the images you upload. This is needed for your site to run faster.
  • Loginizer: This plugin is also something we installed when we performed the installation of WordPress. Basically, the plugin will block people who are trying to access your account.
  • SG Optimizer: Only for people who are using SiteGround for hosting. A plugin that will make your site faster. It’s highly recommended.

Now, let me show you how to install a plugin:

Go to Plugins > Add new > Search for the plugin you want to install > Hit Install:

how to build a website from scratch 7

Once this is done, hit activate:
how to build a website from scratch 8

You simply need to repeat the same process for all the plugins you want to add.

Step 7: Write A Post

We’re almost ready with our basic website.

Still, a site without any content is simply a pile of nothing.

Before I show you how to add your first post, let me show you how to configure your categories.

Go to Posts > Categories > Edit the Uncategorized category:

how to build a website from scratch 9

Each blog post goes under a category. That’s why, you need to think about what type of content you’ll put inside your site.

If you’re going to publish recipes about meals, you can go with quick recipes, for example:

how to build a website from scratch 10

Don’t forget to also add short description. For example 2-3 sentences. Save the changes once you’re done.

Now, go to Posts > Add New > Here you will see a place to share your story:

how to build a website from scratch 11

Add Title, text, make sure to choose the category. Also, click featured image:

how to build a website from scratch 12

Upload a picture from your computer:

how to build a website from scratch 13

Save the changes:

how to build a website from scratch 14

Click publish:

how to build a website from scratch 15

View your post:
how to build a website from scratch 16

This is how your post will appear on your newly created website:

how to build a website from scratch 17

Easy, right?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you see, that wasn’t so hard.

The essential thing is to get used to the WordPress dashboard. Even though there are a lot of options, buttons, features, you will eventually see that you’re using, checking, only a few things after the initial setup:

  • Publishing new posts;
  • Updating existing posts and pages.

My personal recommendation will be to try all different options. Brake your site a couple of times and make the WordPress installation once again. After few failed attempts you will be confident once you’re inside the dashboard.

Did you find this post helpful? If there is something not clear make sure to comment below:

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