Thanks for helping me set up my WordPress website, Eric! Your videos, emails and phone conversations have been so encouraging.
Eric–thank you for continuing to support people as we work our way through the blogging process. You’re the best!
I watched Eric’s outstanding 5-part video series and had my website up and running that evening. Since then he has been very helpful to me!
Why You Need to Learn How to Make a Website
Website design costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and website developers charge up to $500 (or more) per month to get your site found in Google.
You can have a professional website that will cost you less per month than a latte. Your website will use WordPress — which powers over 25% of all websites on the Internet.
Your small business website or personal blog can be found on Google. And you can achieve this feat on your own, for free, especially if your search terms are local.
Option #2 – free
Make a free, professional website (read on to see some of the limitations of making a free website). When I say free, I mean totally free. And your website will look like it was designed by a professional web developer.
All you have to do is watch this video and follow the simple step-by-step instructions.
You’re done. Off to the races.
Who I Am
I’m Eric. I’m a husband, father and teacher who happens to love WordPress.
I’m not a web developer or programmer. I don’t have a technology education. I’m a regular guy who figured out how to make a website on my own.
I’m living proof that you don’t need to spend thousands to make a professional website. I created this website right here, for you, for next to nothing. I pay a few bucks per month for web hosting and about $10 per year for my domain name. That’s it.
And you can do the same.
Stop Believing the Lie
Today, anyone can make a website. Anyone. Website developers are hurting because they’re selling a service needed only by a select few.
Complex e-commerce websites still need professional developers, but small businesses needing a basic website just don’t.
Not only can small business owners and personal bloggers like us make a professional website using WordPress, but with a bit of effort, a high rank in Google’s search results is obtainable.
A friend of mine owns a small business in a local metropolitan area. He and his wife decided they needed a website so they hired a local developer.
When I asked how much they spent, they muttered, “Too much.” They really didn’t want to talk about it.
I never found out how much they spent to develop the website, but I discovered that their website was created with WordPress. I also found out that it was only six pages. and that their contract required $500 per month for SEO (search engine optimization) for three keywords.
Why Use WordPress For Your Website?
WordPress Is Simple.
Anyone can learn to use WordPress. If you can learn Microsoft Word, you can learn WordPress. Even my dad learned how to make his own website (sorry Dad).
WordPress Is Flexible.
The possibilities for WordPress websites are nearly endless. You can make a complex e-commerce website or a simple blog. And your site will look perfect on any device.
Are There Other Options For My Website?
What about Wix? Or Squarespace? Or . . . ? These are legitimate options, but the most glaring problem with these competitors is that once you start with them, you’re stuck with them. Forever.
For example, if you start a website with Wix, you cannot take your website and move to a different web host. If you wanted to leave Wix, you’d have to redesign your website and start afresh.
One other thing — both Wix and Squarespace advertise like crazy. In fact, both of these companies advertised during the last Super Bowl. They spend millions of dollars on advertising. WordPress doesn’t advertise.
Free Or Not Free? Which One Should I Choose?
WordPress comes in two flavors. WordPress.org and WordPress.com. There are some differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. I’ll summarize the main ones here.
WordPress.org – low cost
WordPress.org is the WordPress software. Download it and it’s yours. To use it, you need a domain name (yourname.com) and a web host (a place to store your website files). So you’ll have to invest about $5 per month. If you want a full-featured, endlessly extensible website with no limitations, WordPress.org is the way to go.
WordPress.org is my recommendation if you’re developing a small business website.
WordPress.com – free
WordPress.com is a self-contained system including the WordPress software and hosting. WordPress.com is like a high-end rental. You can use the features, but you own nothing. You can make a free website using WordPress.com. Just sign up for an account, choose a name (yourname.wordpress.com), select a theme and add content. It’s really that easy.
WordPress.com is my recommendation if you’re a beginner or want a free website.
Watch my video on how to make a free website (fresh for 2017) and in about an hour you’ll have a professional website of your own.
WordPress.com is amazing but has some significant limitations.
- You will not have a domain name. Your url will look like this:
- Ads will appear (although rarely) on your website.
- Storage space is currently limited to 3GB for the free plan.
- There is no email, phone or chat support. Support is limited to public forums. However, the forums are moderated by WordPress employees.
- Editing of the website’s code is not allowed. Styling is limited to pre-set options.
- WordPress.com plans do not include email. In other words, you can’t set up email addresses with your domain name.
Upgrades to paid plans are available. The most basic plan includes a domain name, email support, extra storage, additional styling options and no ads.
However, even with a paid WordPress.com plan, your website will still live within the confines of the WordPress.com ecosystem. Following are limitations that are included with most web hosts.
- Paid WordPress.com plans do not include 24/7 phone and chat technical support.
- Email is not included.
- Editing of core code is not allowed.
- Custom themes are not allowed; however, there are hundreds of well-coded themes that can be customized with CSS.
- Plugins cannot be used to extend the functionality of your website.
That said, WordPress.com still provides an amazing product that powers millions of websites worldwide.
Step 1 – How To Get A Domain Name
The first step in the journey to making a website is acquiring a domain name. This is your own personal address on the Internet. My domain name for this website is niftywebsite.com.
An effective domain name will be short and memorable. It will include elements of your main keyphrase if possible. A good domain name that includes a relevant keyword will help your site rank in search engines.
Let’s imagine that you sell hot dogs for a living. Following are a couple domain name examples.
This domain name is too long. It includes no relevant keywords.
Again, this domain name is too long. But it’s better because it includes a relevant keyword.
This domain name is short, memorable and includes a relevant (the most relevant) keyword.
If you’d like, I’ve written a much more detailed guide to choosing a domain name. Once you’ve read the article, it’s time to take the plunge and purchase your own domain name. Watch the video below for step-by-step instructions.
Step 2 – How To Find a Good Web Host
You’ve completed step one and you have an effective domain name. Nice work. Now it’s time for the second step in the creation of your website – acquiring a web host.
Choosing a web host can be a daunting task. So many web hosts exist – each with their own unique marketing ploys. Fortunately for you, I’ve been through the ringer with web hosts and I finally found one I liked.
The web host I recommend is Inmotion Hosting. I’ve been with Inmotion for years and they’ve been good to me. All my websites are hosted with Inmotion. Why do I like them so much?
- 24/7 in-house technical support via phone or chat
- solid state drives for all hosting plans
- the most comprehensive knowledgebase I’ve seen
- one-click WordPress installation
- A+ Better Business Bureau rating
- The best guarantee in the industry (90 days money-back)
I classify web hosts in three categories — the Walmarts of web hosting, the Bijans of web hosting, and the Costcos of web hosting.
The Walmarts of web hosting offer you the world for next-to-nothing. Have you seen the “web hosting for $.01” advertisements? Those guys. Well, you get what you pay for. Lousy tech support, surprise throttling of your website, cheap hardware — you get the idea. Go with one of these companies and hope you’re lucky.
The Bijans of web hosting offer you the world for the cost of — the world. They’re too expensive. They often provide what is known as “managed hosting.” Sure, it’s a thrill to drive a Rolls Royce, but it makes more sense to drive a Corolla. Unless you have a very high-traffic website, these hosts are just overpriced.
The last category is my favorite — the Costcos of web hosting. You might pay a little more than you’d pay at Walmart, but you pay a lot less than you’d pay at the House of Bijan. These web hosts offer the best value for the money. Support, great return policy, quality products — Inmotion Hosting falls into this category.
Step 3 – How To Install A Theme
OK. You have a short, memorable domain name that includes a keyword. You have a solid web host that won’t break the bank. Now it’s time to get your WordPress website looking the way you want it to look.
The theme you choose determines how your website looks. You can re-style themes as you go but for beginners, I recommend choosing a desirable theme and simply learning how WordPress works. Forget re-styling things for a while.
Many breathtaking WordPress themes are 100% free. The theme I’m using for this website is called Shoreditch and it didn’t cost a dime. I also used Shoreditch in my recent tutorial on how to make a free website. Compare this website to the one you’re reading now to see how two websites can look completely different whilst using the same theme.
Take Your Time
Making a website takes time. And learning how to make a website that looks professional, loads fast and ranks well in Google takes even more time. It’s not rocket science but it takes work. Choosing a high quality theme for your website can make or break your site.
Many theme authors purposely disable features to force users to upgrade to a premium version. I recommending avoiding such themes. Research your theme’s author. Make sure your theme’s author is well-respected in the WordPress community. Read reviews. Favor simplicity over complexity.
Check Out Theme Hybrid
I’m not affiliated with Theme Hybrid in any way. I just think Justin offers one of the best values ever for folks learning how to make a website. For only $15 per year, one can purchase a Theme Hybrid membership.
All of Justin’s themes are free (check out myboringchannel.net to see the Stargazer theme in action) but with a membership, the highest quality support for said themes is available. Download Slack and anytime you have a theme-related question, simply post a message and typically within a few minutes Justin or another member will help you out.
Watch the following video tutorial to see how to install a theme on your WordPress website. Every step you need to know is included.