When I started my blog, I found hundreds of articles on how to start one. They were such a huge help! I felt like I had someone right there with me walking me through the problem.
It was finally time to do the same for my e-commerce business. I went looking for similar articles to help me build an ecommerce site, and ended up really disappointed. I did find a few, but they were really vague and for the most part, written in “tech speak.”
That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to help you build your own wordpress website so that you can have the same freedom I do!
How to Build a Website for Your Small Business
This post contains affiliate links. For more information on my use of affiliate marketing, please see my full disclosure here.
If you’re looking to start your own website for your small business and want to get away from pre-built platforms, I really recommend building a self-hosted WordPress.org site. Why? Wordpress.org will give you the most freedom and control over your site, which is a must! It cost a little upfront, but it’ll be worth it in the end. I will do my best to walk you through each step you need to take to start your WordPress website below.
Step 1: Choose and Register Your Name
If you don’t already have a business started, the first thing you need to do (well, the first thing after deciding your product!) is choose a name. Think about this long and hard, because it’s really a pain to change your name after you’ve become established. You’ll want to make sure you choose something that represents your product and brand, and gives a clear vision of what you offer.
I’d actually make a list of 3-4 backup names that you like as well. Nothing is more frustrating than picking the perfect name and finding out at the last minute that it’s taken. That can really stall your motivation, so avoid this and make sure you have some other names you like as well!
Now it’s time to register your name! I chose to get my domain registered along with my hosting to keep things simple. There are a few other options available, though. If you choose to keep them separate, I had a good experience with Hover for over a year. Otherwise, I’ll talk about my hosting provider in the next section!
Step 2: Choose Your Hosting Provider
Picking a trustworthy host is one of the most important things you’ll do for your website. The host is where your website “lives,” so it can affect your sites speed and performance. In other words, if your host has a lot of downtime, your blog will, too.
You’ll also want to be sure to choose a hosting provider with excellent customer service, because even the best host can have problems every now and then, and you want to be sure you choose someone you can contact any time.
After some issues with another hosting provider, I recently made the switch to Siteground for all of my website hosting needs. I chose them for a few reasons. Mainly, I have heard amazing feedback from other bloggers in the community and thought I would give them a try. Their plans were affordable, but even more, their customer service has been amazing.
I chose the “Grow Big” package, since I need hosting for two websites. This plan supports 25,000 unique visitors a month, which I think is more than enough for me right now! If you are just starting out and only have one website, you can get a little bit better of a price by choosing the StartUp plan for only $3.95/month. It’s a little pricier than other options, but their support staff and reliability are really amazing. As a business owner, I love any time something is simplified for me!
Step by Step Guide to Setting Up Your Website with Siteground
These steps will be similar regardless of the hosting provider you use, but there may be some differences if you decide to go through another host. I’m going to walk you through the steps needed to register your domain, get hosting, and launch your website using Siteground.
1. First, navigate to https://www.siteground.com/go/thirtysomethingangie. This will redirect you to Siteground via my affiliate link (thank you for your support!) Click on the blue “Learn More” button under Web Hosting.
2. Choose your hosting plan. Like I said above, if you’re just starting out, you can choose the Start Up package, which will last you awhile. To choose your plan, simply click the orange “Get Started” button.
3. You should already have your list of domain names picked out by now, so go ahead and type one in to the “domain” box.
4. Confirm your plan and enter your information. This will all be on the same page.
5. Choose your add-ons and pay.
Congratulations! You are now se up with your very own domain through Siteground. You’ll now take a minute to set up your account information and verify your account.
6. Next, you’ll see the Siteground homepage. This page has all of their current news and promotions.
7. Click on “My Accounts” at the top of your screen to be taken to your domains. This is where you will find all of your services and add additional services. It’s also how you’ll access your cPanel.
8. Click “Go to cPanel” and then scroll down to “WordPress Tools.” Click “WordPress Installer.”
Important note: If you have more than one domain name, please check the dropdown menu and ensure you are installing wordpress under the correct domain.
9. Set up your website info by filling in your name and writing in your description. If you already have a theme picked out and purchased, you can go ahead and install that right now, too. Otherwise, we’ll discuss that later.
10. Install WordPress.
Once you have wordpress installed, you’ll be able to go in and start building your site, which is the fun part!
11. Through siteground, you can access your site through your accounts section. You should see a button that says “access admin panel” that will bring you right to the back end of your new wordpress site.
Another way you can access it, though, is to go to www.yournamehere.com/wp-admin and log in with the info you chose during your installation process.
12. Now that you’ve logged in, you’ll find yourself in your WordPress dashboard. Get very comfortable here. You’ll be spending a lot of time on this page. Everything is very basic right now, but we’ll be taking care of that. As you can see, Siteground already put up a sample post and a sample comment so you can see what everything looks like.
Step 3: Make it Yours
You did it! You started your very own website! But, if you hadn’t noticed, it’s still pretty boring and basic. It’s now time to make it yours!
Set Up WooCommerce
The first thing you need to do if you are creating an e-commerce website is install WooCommerce. This is the plug-in that will allow you to set up shop and accept payments.
To do this, scroll down until you see “Plugins” on the left hand side.
Click on “Add New” at the top of the page. Here, WordPress will show you a screen full of plugins that it recommends. We’re only going to worry about WooCommerce right now, but we’ll come back to plug-ins at the end of this post.
Using the search bar in the top right corner of your screen, type in “woocommerce.” Look for this plug-in and click the “install now” button. Be sure to wait until installation is complete so that you can activate the plug-in.
Next, you’ll see the WooCommerce set-up wizard. I recommend you follow it and make sure all of your information is filled out correctly. This is how you’ll get paid, so it’s a really important step.
Choose a Theme
Choosing a theme is the fun part of creating a website. This is what takes your website from a boring, white page, to a professional looking site.
If you’re on a tight budget, WooCommerce actually offers a free theme called Storefront that works well with their plug-in. I did try it at first, but I was really looking for something more customizable.
I’ve learned for myself that it’s not worth my time to bother with free themes, but it doesn’t hurt to try it for yourself.
However, if you decide to shop for a paid theme, you can still find budget-friendly options.
Some things to consider when choosing a theme:
- Make sure it is compatible with WooCommerce
- Find a theme that is mobile-responsive
- Pick something that is easily customizable
For my e-commerce WordPress website (which you can see the rudimentary beginnings of here) I chose to go with the ShopKeeper theme by Themeforest. I have been able to build my own landing page using nothing but my own graphics and the drag and drop editing tools that came with this theme!
When I saw everything included, and how customizable this theme was, I truly expected to pay top dollar. I was wrong.
It’s only $60!!
Once you purchase your theme and download it onto your computer, you’ll be able to install it directly to your wordpress page. If you need a step-by-step guide, see below:
- Click on “Appearance” in the left-hand menu on your dashboard.
- Select “Themes” from the appearance menu.
- “Add new” theme.
- Upload a .zip file of your theme.
- Click “Activate” once your theme is installed.
- Customize your theme to your liking.
Customizing your site is really personal, and a lot of it depends on your theme, so I won’t say much about that. Some typical locations to customize are your header, sidebar, navigation bar, and footer.
You can see a preview of my e-commerce website in this screenshot. If you want to see it live, just click on the picture and it’ll take you right to the site. As I mentioned above, I use the Shopkeeper theme by Themeforest. I love how easily customizable it is. This is one theme you truly can make your own.
A great way to keep your WordPress website running smoothly without a lot of knowledge of coding is to use plug-ins. These are really handy when you want your website to do something that isn’t already built into the theme. For some great examples, these are some you can see on my blog:
- related content in an article
- the Pinterest button you see on my images
- the twitter boxes in most of my posts.
There are so many things you can do with plug-ins, but I really suggest you keep it simple to start with. While they can be helpful, they are still another thing being added to your website. Too much and you can start to affect your site speed. I recommend starting only with what you really need.
Some of my favorite plug-ins are:
- Jetpack – I have only used the free version, which allows me to keep up with my stats on my dashboard.
- Akismet – This plug-in helps monitor the spam on your site. If you don’t have it yet, get it!
- Yoast SEO for WordPress – This is a super handy plug-in that gives each post you write a score based on readability and SEO. When everything has a good score, you’ll get a green dot, which means it’s ready to publish!
- SumoMe – I haven’t explored this as much as I should, but I do use it to provide my sharing buttons and the pop-up for my newsletter.
To install these plug-ins, you simply follow the same steps we followed to install WooCommerce. Once they’re activated, they’ll show up in the plug-in tab of your dashboard. This is where you can go to update and maintain your plug-ins.
And, That’s How You Start a WordPress Website!
Well, you’ve now taken your website from an idea to a fully functioning website. I hope this proves that you absolutely can handle the technical aspect of blogging! Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. You will have a lot to learn along the way – we all do – but you now have all the basic building blocks in place. That’s the biggest hurdle to overcome!
If you’d like to have these directions printed out to follow along, feel free to download my printable checklist. It’s available in my resource library for free! You can access that by subscribing to my newsletter here.
If you’d like a more in-depth guide to starting and promoting an online blog or business, I cannot recommend Building a Framework enough. It was written by Abby, from Just a Girl and Her Blog. She really thought of everything when putting this course together! If you can only invest in one course this year for your online business, this should be it. You can find out more about the course here.
If you have any questions about the technical side of setting up a WordPress website or running your business, please feel free to ask them in the comments below! I do my best to help as much as I can.