Getting a new website comes with a lot of overwhelm. There is so much to do; get a domain, wordpress hosting, get a framework, get a theme and the list goes on. On top of that it’s hard to decide where to invest and how much to invest.
Being a part communities like Teachable or Thinkific you realize, while they are extremely useful for creating online courses, there is not much you can do about crafting a landing page to collect leads. I personally use WordPress to generate my leads before directing them to my Teachable courses.
You could need a WordPress website for a lot of reasons. But before you get started it is important you differentiate between the two types of WordPress. This is a common misconception and a lot of people who are new to this get misdirected.
Do not create your professional website on WordPress.com. You can use this platform if you are trying to build a hobby blog where you are not much concerned about a professional looking site, control over the functionality of the website and generating income.
This is what you are to use to get a fully functional, professional-looking website. WordPress.org is a CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to install themes and plugins from your website backend. This is what we are going to cover in this post.
In this tutorial I’ll be walking you through the exact process of getting a working WordPress website and my wordpress hosting costs for only $26.49 for an entire year. And yes this includes buying a Domain Name, buying a Positive SSL Certificate and Website Hosting.
This is going to be a comprehensive tutorial covering the major aspects of building a website and wordpress hosting. So, to give you an idea of what we’ll be covering here is an overview:
◦ Buying a Domain Name
◦ Buying Web Hosting
◦ Installing WordPress
◦ Creating a Professional Email Account
◦ Activating SSL
◦ Installing a Theme
◦ Installing a Plugin
◦ Creating a Page and a Post
◦ Changing the URL Structure
So, let’s get started!
Buying a Domain Name and Hosting
Step 1: Head over to Namecheap. Go to Hosting -> Shared Hosting
Initially you can go for a shared hosting and then move on to individual hosting when you are getting a considerable number of visitors to your website. Shared hosting is good for you if you are getting less than 50,000 views on your website per month. To be honest, most of us will need a shared hosting only.
Now you can go for a monthly plan or an annual one depending on what you’d like.
The annual plan is for $15.44 and comes with up to 3 websites, a website builder and 20 GB of SSD space which is your server space where your website content is going to reside.
Step 2: Go to Stellar Package and Select US Datacenter
You can select a US Datacenter or a UK Datacenter. UK Datacenter will come to you with an additional $12. We are going to go with US Datacenter. You can select the UK datacenter if your audience is around that area.
After selecting the datacenter simply press add to cart.
Step 3: Domain Name
Once you press add to cart you will be directed to a page with multiple options for your domain name.
You can purchase a new domain name.
You also have an option of getting a FREE .website domain name. This means you get a websitename.website URL for your website. I personally don’t like other TLDs (Top-Level Domains) and prefer to use a .com for its simplicity.
A .com domain is only $8.88 for an entire year.
Select purchase a new domain and you’ll be prompted to a page where you can add your domain name.
Namecheap will look into its database to see if your preferred domain name is available or not. If it is you can select for how long you want to get the domain for. We’ll be going with 1 year.
Hit continue on your cart.
Now you have your hosting (a home for your website) and a domain name (the address you tell others to find your website).
Namecheap provides you with a free 1-year subscription of ‘WhoIsGuard’ this means once you start your website you don’t get emails soliciting WordPress website work. That’s always good to have.
Step 4: Add SSL Certificate to your website
You now need to add an SSL to your website. SSL, short for Secure Socket Layer, ensures an HTTPS in your website URL instead of an HTTP and means that your website is secure for business transactions. You should have this nonetheless.
Once you add this to your cart it will up your total to $26.49. Proceed to confirm order.
Step 5: Create an Account
You will be prompted to a page where you will create an account with Namecheap.
Go ahead and create one.
Next, you will be prompted to fill in your account information.
If you are an individual, you won’t be registering on behalf of a company. After completing this you can proceed to the next section.
Step 6: Payment Method
Here you can add your payment details. Finally agree to their terms and conditions and press the pay now button.
You are all set for the next step.
At this point you will be redirected to Namecheap’s version of your cPanel.
Cpanel is where you can manage your hosting and domains. This is also where we will install WordPress.
Installing WordPress on your Website
Step 1: Go to Dashboard
On the top left of your screen you’ll see your account name. If you press it, you see a menu appear where you’ll find a link to your dashboard.
Your dashboard shows your purchased domains. Along with your products, i.e. your domain name and your hosting.
Step 2: Go to cPanel
In the products, hover over the hosting and click on manage.
Next you need to go to your cPanel. On the right side of our dashboard you’ll see an orange button saying go to cPanel. Click there.
If you see a message saying ‘cPanel not allocated for this hosting’ you will have to wait until cPanel is allocated. It usually takes them a couple of minutes to do that.
Once you can access your cPanel it looks something like this:
There are three things you are going to do on your cPanel:
1. Install WordPress
2. Create an Email Account
3. Generate a CSR for your Positive SSL Certificate
Step 3: Go to Softaculous Apps Installer -> Scripts
If you scroll down in your cPanel you will find a section with Scripts. Here you will see different CMSs that you can install on your website. We will click on WordPress.
Step 4: Install WordPress
When you proceed with installing WordPress you are prompted to select and enter some information.
1. You can only select the latest version of WordPress in our case it is 5.0.3
2. Choose Protocol Http for now as Https is not activated. We’ll get back to this later and change it to HTTPS
3. Choose Domain name where you wish to install WordPress.
4. Enter Site name and site description. You can also change this later on.
5. Enter Admin Username and Password. This you will use to login to the backend of your website.
6. Go ahead and Install.
On success it will give you your login link which looks something like this:
It is good practice to change your wordpress login link, as it is known by everyone and people can use it to hack into your website. I’ll show you how you can change your login link in the, Install a Plugin section of this post.
Create an Email Account
We are now going to make your very own firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Step 1: Go to cPanel -> Emails -> Email Accounts
Type email in the quick search bar in your cPanel and go to Email Accounts.
Step 2: Create Email Account
This is where you can create up to 30 email accounts.
Select a quota for your email account. Keep in mind that this is going to take up space on your hosting and might slow your website.
Uncheck email client configuration and click on ‘Create Account’.
Step 3: Go to Email Accounts and Access Webmail
You are going to access your email account by clicking on access webmail because you need it for your SSL later on.
If you are doing it for the first time. The system is going to ask you which of the three available email clients to use.
This is not like your Gmail or Yahoo mail. The user interface is a bit different. You can always configure Mozilla Thunderbird so you won’t have to use webmail.
I usually use roundcube as my email client. This leads you to your inbox. You can play around with your settings and configure as you like.
There you have your very own professional looking email.
Step 1: Go to Namecheap Dashboard -> Domain List
Go to dashboard and then on your domain list. This is where you will see a list of all your purchased domains. In front of your domain you will see a ‘manage’ button. Click on that and you will be prompted to your domain’s associated services.
Step 2: Go to Products -> Activate SSL
Go to products. This is where you will find all the products associated with your domain. We have our hosting and SSL. Click on Activate SSL.
Step 3: Enter CSR
Next, you will be prompted to a page which asks for your CSR. CSR is a certificate that’s generated by your hosting behind the cPanel.
Go to cPanel. Enter ‘SSL’ in the quick search and click on SSL/TLS under Security section.
From here select ‘Generate, View or Delete SSL Certificate Signing Requests’
Put your domain name here and enter other details. Finally click on generate.
Here is your certificate. Copy this.
Enter this CSR in the placeholder specified for it. Click on Next.
Step 4: Select Server
Step 5: Validate email to complete DCV (Domain Control Validation)
Select email as DCV Method. Enter the email you just created with your website.
Step 6: Add email where the SSL files are sent
Click next and then hit submit.
Step 7: Validate SSL
Go to your webmail, you will receive an email from Domain Control Validation. Click the link and copy paste the code in the email to verify.
All these steps where to ensure the little HTTPS in your URL. This is important not only for your website SEO but for your bounce rate as well. If you don’t have this on your website Google will prompt the user to make sure they want to proceed to a website that is ‘unsafe’ this is where a lot of your users might bounce away.
You will have to wait for an email with the confirmation of the activation of your SSL Certificate.
Step 8: Check SSL
Go to SSL Labs https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest and enter your website name there.
It will most likely say SSL name mismatch which we are going to fix in the ‘Install a Plugin’ section of this post.
Installing a Theme
Next we cover installing WordPress theme on your website. I am not going to be going through how to design your pages in your theme. That is for another tutorial. This is where we just install a theme on our website.
To install a theme, go to Dashboard -> Appearance -> Theme
You can delete the preinstalled themes as they come with the bloatware.
To install a new theme, the steps are:
Step 1: Add new Theme
Go to themes -> add new theme
You can either upload a theme zip file if you already purchased or downloaded one or you can search in the WordPress theme repository for a theme that suits your needs.
You can Google for best free themes and search for them.
Once you find a decent theme click on activate.
You can now customize your theme. I will not delve into customization as that is a whole new realm of steps and instructions.
Installing a Plugin
To see what plugins are installed in your website:
Go to WordPress Dashboard -> Plugins
Plugins help you do a lot of stuff in your WordPress website. They add additional functionality to your website. By default, there are some preinstalled plugins in your website. You’ll see these in your Plugin Section:
Deactivate and delete these because you don’t need them.
We are now going to add a Plugin (to add SSL to our website).
Step 1: Go to Plugins -> Add New
Step 2: Search for Really Simple SSL
Install and Activate this plugin.
Step 3: Reload Over HTTPS
Once you install the plugin it will show a notification in your dashboard area.
Click on ‘Reload over HTTPS’. Add exception if you need to. You will be prompted over to your login screen again. Login to your website.
Step 4: Activate SSL
When your login you will see another notification message in your dashboard screen.
Click on ‘Go ahead, activate SSL!’
Boom you are done! You will now see the HTTPS with your website URL.
Other Useful Plugins
Other plugins you need to install in order to confirm your website is running smoothly are:
Yoast SEO – the best plugin I know for SEO. The settings for Yoast appear in the dashboard area in a tab with the name Y SEO. If you go there you can configure the plugin. If you are not familiar with some of the advanced stuff, just go with the wizard.
WPS Hide Login – You will love this. This lets you change your website login link from websitename.com/wp-admin to websitename.com/custom-name. This adds security to your website and prevents hackers from messing around as they won’t know how to find your website login link. Don’t forget this link as you’ll need it to login. Do this after you are done activating your SSL certificate.
How to Create a new Page and a new Blog Post
A post is a blog post where you basically write content for your website. You can publish articles about the subject matter expert that you want to talk about.
Pages are usually webpages or landing pages where users find specific, succinct, and short information; usually something that leads to a call to action, lead magnet etc.
To create a new page:
Go to Dashboard -> Pages – Add New
Add your title and content and hit publish/save draft.
You can now view your page. Similarly, to create a new post:
Go to Dashboard -> Posts -> Add New Post
On posts you’ll see categories and tags which you can use to further specify where you post should appear in your website.
You can add your title and content.
If you scroll down, you will find the Yoast plugin suggesting you some SEO changes/additions to your post to better rank in Google Search Results.
How to Change the URL Structure of your Posts
Your link structure is important for your website’s SEO. Most popular types of link structures are:
To change the link structure of your posts:
Go to Dashboard -> Settings -> Permalinks
Here you can either select a structure from the predefined ones or create a custom structure to suit your specific needs.
My suggestion would be to not add the date to your link structure because Google can read your postdate in your link it will leave your post from the search results off if your post is old and not relevant anymore.
So this was an extensive tutorial coving major aspects of building a website. Let me know where you get by following this. Any questions are also welcome. Stay tuned for more in the series.