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 the mechanics of getting up and running is truly the easy part.
The difficult part is the elbow grease that you need to add after you are good to go.
This is the process that I follow every time I start a new website.
Feel free to add your own “must do’s”.
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
Yikes. What’s in a name?
Everything. Or nothing.
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 – Hosting Plans
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.
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.
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.
Another popular premium theme for WordPress is Thesis.
Step 5 – Set Up Your Email
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
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.
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
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 – Plugins
You are almost there. Depending on your theme, you will want to add in a few plugins to create greater functionality in WordPress. This tutorial will show you how.
Akisment 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
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 – 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.
- What’s the difference between a website and a blog?
- Starting a blog is easy, but it should not be your business.
- How to monetize your blog.
- Why Your Business Needs a Blog
- Don’t forget to set up your permalinks.
- Put your website header to work.
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click a link in this article and purchase something, I may make a small commission at NO cost to you.