WordPress powers over 60 percent of blogs and more than 35 percent of all websites.
It’s one of the most popular website platforms on the internet, for good reason. It’s powerful and easy-to-use even if you don’t have a lot of technical experience.
Let’s look at how to get started on WordPress and get your new website up and running.
In This Post:
- What is WordPress?
- How to Get Started on WordPress – A Step-by-Step Guide
- Installing WordPress on Your Site
- Setting Up the Most Important Pages on Your Site
- Now It’s Time to Get to Work
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that is designed to be used for blogging. The first version of WordPress launched in May 2003, so it has been around for close to two decades.
It’s an open-source project, which means the source code is available to anyone who wants to access it. This lets anyone customize it to meet their needs as well as contribute updates and modifications back to the main WordPress project.
This community-minded setup played a big role in its growth and is partly why WordPress is so widely used today.
The foundation of WordPress, and almost any CMS, is that it separates the content on your site from the design. If you want to change how your site looks, you can do so without having to rebuild all the pages with the new style. This makes it much easier and less time-consuming to maintain a site compared to older models where you would have to recode every page to match the new layout.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
There are two “versions” of WordPress – WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The .com version is a hosted blogging platform where you can set up your own blog. It runs on the WordPress software but limits what you can do with your sites.
WordPress.com doesn’t let you access the underlying code that runs your site so you aren’t able to make the same kind of modifications and tweaks. It also limits your ability to install third-party plugins (we’ll get into detail about those shortly) unless you’re on one of its higher-level paid plans.
The .org version is the WordPress software that you download and install on any hosting account. This version provides far more flexibility and control over your site and is what we’ll be focusing on for the rest of this WordPress tutorial.
How to Get Started on WordPress – A Step-by-Step Guide
When you’re building a blog website from scratch using WordPress, you’ll need several things, including:
- A domain name
- WordPress theme
- Important WordPress plugins
These all work together to make your website tick.
Register Your Domain Name
The first step in launching any website, not only a WordPress-based site, is to register a domain name. This is the address that people key into the address bar of their browser to visit your site, such as WordPress.org or WordPress.com.
Give this decision the attention it deserves. You’ll use this domain for years to come so it needs to be something that suits your website now as well as giving you room to grow.
Think about what top-level domain (TLD) you want to use as well. This is the .com or .net extension that every domain has. There are many different TLDs available but .com is still the most recognizable. If you register domain.blog and someone else already has domain.com, it’s going to lead to confusion for some of your visitors.
Choose a Hosting Service
Once you have your domain picked out, you need to sign up for a hosting account. This gives you a server on the internet that communicates with all your visitors, receiving requests for pages and sending those pages out for them to view.
There’s a wide range of prices and features for web hosting accounts. You can pay as little as a couple of dollars a month or you can pay thousands of dollars a month. There are many differences but the most obvious are the performance, stability, and flexibility of what you can do with them.
The cheapest hosting accounts are shared hosting. The server gets shared between several websites. Each site works independently from the others but the memory, storage, and processing resources of the server get shared between them.
Shared hosting is fine for most websites in their early days but as traffic starts to grow and you have more content on the site, it won’t take long to outgrow them.
Dedicated hosting is the opposite of shared hosting. Instead of several websites using the same server, you have complete control over all the resources on the server. Its entire memory, storage, and processing capacity are dedicated to your website.
A dedicated server may be overkill when you’re starting out but if your site becomes successful, you’ll need this type of hosting to keep your site running at peak performance.
Virtual Private Hosting (VPS)
A VPS is a combination of the previous two. The server gets shared between several users so you only get a piece of the total memory and other resources. But each website’s resources are a fixed share so you always have the same amount, regardless of what other users on the same server are doing.
It’s a good middle ground, both for price and performance. It’s considerably less expensive than a dedicated server but still gives you enough resources to host a reasonably popular site.
Pick a Theme for Your Website’s Design
One of the benefits of using WordPress for your site is its extendability. Themes are one of the ways you can change your site without having to know anything about coding or managing files on your server.
Themes let you change the design and layout of your site with a few clicks. Find a theme you like in the WordPress theme directory, click the install button to install it and activate it, and your site design will change to the new look.
You can change themes anytime without affecting the content on your site but it’s best to choose a good theme at the start so your visitors learn to recognize your site when they get there.
Choose Your WordPress Plugins
Plugins are the other way you can extend WordPress without any serious technical knowledge. Plugins add new features to WordPress and cover a huge range of functionality. The WordPress plugin directory has over 50,000 plugins to choose from.
You don’t want to go overboard with plugins since they add processing overhead to your site. There are a few that you should install right away though, including:
- A search engine optimization (SEO) plugin like Yoast or All-in-One SEO
- A security plugin like Wordfence to protect your site against comment spam, hackers, and other threats
- A performance plugin like W3 Total Cache to help speed up the performance of your site for your visitors
- A contact form plugin like Contact Form 7 to make it easy for your site visitors to get in touch with you
- An analytics plugin like GA Google Analytics to make it easy to track the traffic coming to your site
Installing WordPress on Your Site
Once you have all the pieces in place, it’s time to install WordPress on your site. At its foundation, it’s a piece of software like any application you run on your computer. But instead of installing it on your PC, you’re installing it on your web server.
There are two ways to do this. The first is to manually install WordPress using an FTP application and the WordPress “5-minute installation” process. This method is a little more complex, especially if you’re not that familiar with using FTP to install software on a web server.
The easier option is to use the one-click installation system offered by many hosting services. You click a button to install WordPress in the control panel for your hosting account, answer a few questions like the name of your website and your email address, and the rest happens automatically.
This is something to look for when choosing your hosting provider. If they don’t offer one-click WordPress installation and you’re not interested in learning how to do it manually, keep looking until you find one that does.
Setting Up the Most Important Pages on Your Site
Once you have WordPress installed and you’ve set up your theme and the important plugins, it’s time to start adding content to your site. There are a few pages that you should set up right away:
- Home page
- About page
- Contact page
Do You Want to Make Money from Your Site?
Another thing to consider is whether you want to make money from your website. Some sites get built as a labor of love but most website owners want to monetize the site and generate revenue.
This guide from the Kidd Group offers some good information about building a profitable site.
Now It’s Time to Get to Work
Once you complete all these steps, the technical part of how to get started on WordPress will be out of the way. Then the real work begins.
Start adding content to your website on a regular basis, interact with visitors through the comments on your posts, and network with other websites in your market to make connections. This is the work that’s necessary if you want your traffic to increase, your pages to rank in Google, and your site revenue to climb.
Was this article helpful in learning more about how to use WordPress? Be sure to look around our site for more interesting posts about WordPress for beginners and other topics about making money from your website.