Now, I don’t want to make it sound too simple. Because it is hard work to set up a website or a blog. But stop procrastinating on starting a blog because you think it’s going to be too hard.
The difficult part is the elbow grease that you need to add after you are all set up.
I’ve broken the actual set up of a self-hosted WordPress blog down into 10 steps that are pretty easy to follow. And, no, you don’t have to be techy to do it. But you do have to possess the willingness to learn.
Sound good so far?
How To Set Up a Website in 10 Easy Steps
- Buy a domain.
- Buy a hosting plan.
- Install WordPress.
- Buy/install a theme.
- Set up your email.
- Set up your social accounts.
- Start collecting email addresses.
- Install plugins.
- Set your site up in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Set up a stats package.
- Need I say it? Start writing.
Now I know this is completely overly simplified – and I could speak volumes on each step. So I will expand a bit on each one here.
Step 1 – Buy a Domain that Speaks to You
Yikes. What’s in a name?
Everything. Or nothing.
To set up a website – you first need a domain name.
There have been 2 schools of thought when it comes to domain names. Some people have taught that it is important to have your “keyword” in your title. This way both people and search engines will know what your site is about right off the bat.
However, the search engines have seemingly backlashed against this practice because people were “stuffing” keywords into their domain names.
The main question: “What will you be happy with?” is the one that I ignored.
I wanted to wanted to do what was right – and in the process, I gave myself writer’s block. I named sites after topics that I was interested in but not interested enough to write about day in and day out.
This site – Almost Practical – was born out of a need to write about the practical side of wide variety of subjects. It may work. It may not. But I know I’ll have fun trying.
Things To Keep In Mind
Domains are cheap, and they don’t need to be held at the same company where your site is hosted. I like Godaddy.com for domains. The offer up a lot autonomy when it comes to working with domains – something you may never need. And you also get one email address with your plan, something with @your-domain dot com, which makes you look rather professional.
Step 2 – Get a Hosting Plan that Offers Great Customer Service
After your domain name, you will need a hosting plan to set up a website on self-hosted WordPress.
All hosting plans are not created equal. You want to choose a reputable hosting company that you know will provide good service and that have been around for a while.
In the beginning, all you need is a starter plan, which is usually shared hosting. What this means is that your website and a bunch of others will be hosted on the same server.
This works because traffic to your site pretty light when you start out.
As your site grows, your hosting needs will grow and you will need to move your site to a dedicated server.
Companies like SiteGround offer really affordable introductory plans that you can upgrade as your business progresses. And their customer service is fantastic.
Also, the beauty of self-hosted WordPress is that you can change hosts without having to redo your whole website.
So pick wisely now – but don’t worry if you outgrow your host, You can always move.
Step 3 – Install WordPress
Self-hosted WordPress is the site builder that I keep coming back to.
To set up a website on this platform, you may need to install it. SiteGround will do it for you – and if you want to do it yourself they offer a one-click install.
There are a lot of different ones out there but I have found WordPress to be versatile enough for many different types of sites. You can also add functionality to WordPress down the road when you need it through plugins.
A free site like Blogger is also an option – their tools are excellent. But who knows how long Google will continue to put resources into it’s development. Google has dropped many of it’s other products leaving users in the lurch.
Read about why you should beware of free blog sites – especially if your website is for your business.
Step 4 – Buy/Install a WordPress Theme
Again, lots of free themes out there. But if you need a little support now and then a purchased theme can get you farther. I run this site on the Genesis framework and am wearing one of the StudioPress child themes.
Step 5 – Set Up Your Email to Make Yourself Look Professional
For your business you should be using an email that ends in @your-domain . com.
It gives your business and your website a more professional feel. When I see someone using an @gmail . com or @yahoo . com address for their site, I get the feeling that they are not really serious about their business. Godaddy gives you one email address with your domain purchase. Other hosts probably offer up something similar.
An alternate option is to use Google Apps for business. This service used to have a free plan but now the minimum plan costs $5 per month.
Step 6 – Set Up Your Social Accounts and Brand Yourself
Even if you are anti-social, this is a must.
Social media is a big part of getting your message out there. You want people to connect with you outside of your site. You want readers to share your articles and your insights.
To make it happen, you NEED a social profile on all of the big networks. A facebook page, a twitter account, Pinterest, and Google +. Even if you don’t use them right away, secure your name for use at a later time. You will want to have the same or similar names across all of your profiles as a means of branding your site.
As you set up a website keep this in mind from the get go. Check the major social sites and see if your name is taken and what you might be able to use instead.
Take A Minute To Connect With Me
While you are at it, take a minute to connect with me on social media – and please introduce yourself!
Step 7 – Start Collecting Email Addresses of Your Biggest Fans
Before you even delete that Hello World post (the sample post that comes with WordPress) make sure that you are all set up with an email service provider. I use ConvertKit because the whole service was designed with bloggers in mind.
Make sure to sign up for my updates to see it in action:
Step 8 – Install Awesome Plugins To Make Your Blogging Easier
You are almost there. Once you set up a website, you will want to add in a few plugins to create greater functionality in WordPress. This tutorial will show you how.
Akismet is critical for filtering out comment spam. Here is a list of my top 10 WordPress plugins.
A word of caution: too many plugins (both active and inactive) will slow your site down. Install only the ones that you need and keep them updated.
Step 9 – Google Webmaster Tools – See What Google Sees About You
Sign up for an account or add your new site to an existing account. Then submit your site map.
Some people say this step will get you nowhere. But I really think it can’t hurt.
The other search engines also have similar submission processes. So submit as you have time.
Step 10 – Measure Your Success – Set Up a Stats Package
You might want to track your visitors so you can gain insights on how they are finding your site.
However, if your personality is slightly obsessive like mine, you might want to wait until your site is established and you have a good base of articles published. Then you can dig in.
Go Forth and Write
Now it’s time to do what you set out to do. Deliver to your readers the most awesome content on the planet.
This is your field of dreams. You have built it – make them come.