Creating a WordPress site using Siteground web hosting (or your own chosen host provider)
Have you been thinking about creating a website but are confused about where to start? It’s not an uncommon problem. But get this: most of the blogs and sites you see online were set up by their owners. It’s nowhere as difficult as you think. Just like with most things, you just have to do it!
This tutorial will focus on creating a WordPress website. WordPress is used on about 30% of all sites worldwide, so it’s well-established, there’s A TON of support, and it’s easy to customize.
Also, this tutorial walks you through setting up a self-hosted site with Siteground, so you run the show. It also means you do all the work (mostly). This process sounds harder than it is, so don’t stress. If you do this step-by-step, it won’t be overwhelming.
Before you start:
- What type of business or blog site are you building?
- Do you want a feminine site or a minimalist site? Remember: this does not have to be perfect! You can always make changes to your site as you grow.
- What do you want your site name to be?
- For a self-hosted site, you’ll need a budget of about $60+ (more about this later).
- If you’re trying to build a site for free, that’s ok. I just wouldn’t recommend it as you can end up with unwanted ads and a less professional-looking website.
- Paid or free theme? If you’re up to paying, you can purchase one for anywhere between $15-$100+. You CAN change your theme as you grow or switch direction. It’s not a complicated process. I’m going to suggest four themes based on my experience and customer feedback. You can choose from the list, or, if you have something already in mind, go with that. Remember, you can change your mind.
First things first
- Pick your site name
I have to confess: I was terrible at this! I spent waaaayyy too much time bouncing names off family and friends and going nowhere. Don’t waste time on this, please.
Here’re a few ideas for picking your name:
- Think about what you’re offering and structure your name around that
- Use your name
- Go with something personal or whimsical (like yours truly!)
- Pick about three names just in case someone else has already registered the same domain. You can check to make sure your name is available on sites like Godaddy.com or leandomainsearch.com.
- You also want to google the name to see if there’re similar names out there that could cause confusion like, “ilovecrochet.co” already out there when you plan to name your site “ilovecrochet.com“.
- Check to see if any local businesses have the same name or if the name is already trademarked. More about setting up your business like a pro here.
If the name you choose isn’t available, try adding or modifying it slightly and check again.
If you’re truly stuck deciding on a name, here’s a super-helpful guide from winningwp.com for choosing your name.
Alright, are we all set with a name? Awesome!
Next, you want to register the name. You can do this in one of two ways. Register at one place such as godaddy.com then pick a different vendor for hosting, or record and host your site at the same location.
So, what’s the advantage of registering at a separate place? If anything happens to the hosting site, you’ll still have your name in a safe and secure place (hopefully).
Advantages of hosting and registering together in the same place? Simplicity and ease. You only have to work with one provider.
I have my site registered and hosted by Siteground. I like to keep things simple. But either way is A-okay.
Registering and Hosting your Domain
Decide where you want to register your domain, then go to that site (e.g., Godaddy.com).
Enter in the name you decided on in the search box. The domain server will then check for name availability and let you know the next steps to purchase that domain. If you get to this point and you’re unsure or feel you want to keep your domain name server and host together, close out of your browser and go to the next step.
Registering and hosting with one provider
I’ve researched multiple review sites for hosts, and they all had one thing in common; Siteground was always at or near the top of the best hosting sites. I use Siteground myself and have been extremely happy with them. You can search for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.
You want to get this right. Siteground has excellent support, is stable and fast. These are things you want for your site. I’ve called SiteGround twice since I started with them and both times my calls were answered promptly, I was treated with courtesy, and my issues were resolved.
Their plans start at $3.95 per month (this is the price when you pay for the year). There may be some other add-ins if you choose them, like added security, but at sign-on, you’ll only be out around $60 for the year without the add-ins. Not bad 😀.
If you’re ready to get started, follow the steps below:
Open up SiteGround Web Hosting in a new window so you can follow the steps.
Choose your hosting plan
SiteGround has three plans, and you can sign up for any of them with a significant discount.
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting new
- The GrowBig plan is excellent value for money and includes the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that dramatically improves your WordPress site speed
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration (yikes!)
Here are the available plans. Go ahead and read some details
As soon as you’ve selected your plan, the first step will be to enter your desired domain name or website URL (if you’re purchasing them together).
(Or, if you registered a domain somewhere else, such as GoDaddy, select the option that says “I already have a domain to use.”)
Choosing your Domain
Like I mentioned before, you can decide to buy a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain (if you registered your domain name elsewhere and are now looking for hosting. Siteground offers free website transfer, as part of the GrowBig and GoGeek plans.
Here, you’re going to enter your desired domain name, select .com, and click “Proceed.” You don’t have to have a .com site but this is the option that most people recognize. It’s best to use one if available so that folks don’t get confused looking for you online.
You should then see a screen where you’re asked to enter all of your account details, as well as several domain options. Enter your details and then scroll down.
Review and Complete your sign-up!
You’ll also see an option for SG Site Scanner. Again, this is a personal choice. SG Site Scanner is a monitoring service that checks your website daily and immediately notifies you if your website has been hacked or injected with malicious code. This is just for added peace of mind but it will be an additional charge of $19.80.
The bottom part should look similar to this:
Quick note here: Unlike many other hosting providers SiteGround’s advertised discount applies to any of the initial periods chosen during the sign-up process. So this means you’ll be able to get the low price for the one year period, compared to other providers where the lowest monthly price applies only for the most extended period. Awesome!
After clicking “pay now,” congratulate yourself. That was a big step, at least it was for me.
Parting with money is hard. You did great!
You can totally take a break here. That was a lot to get through. When you’re ready (maybe tomorrow?), we can blast through the next part: Installing WordPress.
WordPress is the world leader in content management systems. Here’s why:
- From TechCrunch to TED, CNN, and the National Football League, WordPress.com users span a broad range. They all count on WordPress for its stability and scalability.
- It’s FREE!. You are paying for the hosting and registration of your site. WordPress itself is free.
- It’s easy to set up on your own, and there are TONS of guides out there if you get stuck in a particular area.
- There are thousands of add-ons, plugins, and themes you can choose from, and many of them are, yes, FREE.
I chose WordPress for all these reasons.
Alright, go ahead and log into SiteGround. Your screen should look like this:
Now you want to click on the “My Accounts” tab. From there, you want to click on “Go to cPanel” (red button), then click on “install.”
You should see your software setup screen where we’re going to enter the following information
Choose Protocol: HTTP for StartUp, HTTPS for the higher plans.
- Choose Domain: Make sure your domain is selected.
- In Directory: Leave this blank.
- Site Name: Enter the name of your website.
- Site Description: Enter a description of your website (you can always change this later).
- Enable Multisite (WPMU): Leave this unchecked.
- Admin Username: Select any username or use the one that automatically generates (don’t use “Admin”)
- Admin Password: Enter the password you want (this should be impossible to guess and VERY difficult to remember).
- Admin Email: Enter your email address.
- Select Language: English (if this applies.)
- Select Plugins: CHECK “Limit Login Attempts (Loginizer).”
- Choose Theme: Leave this set to “None.”
- Advanced Options: You don’t have to do anything here.
Double-check all of your information, write down your login details then click “INSTALL.”
If everything is successful (and it should be), you’ll see a message telling you everything is ready to go.
To check your install, jump over to your WordPress Admin Panel by going to the following address:
http:/your-domain-name.com/wp-admin/ (replace “your-domain-name” with your URL)
Your login screen should look just like the image below. Enter your username and password, then click login. If you end up on your WordPress Admin Panel, you’ll know you’ve done everything right.
Congratulations! You’ve picked your domain (website URL), purchased and set up hosting and installed WordPress!
Time for another break! You are amazing!
The WordPress Dashboard
In this section, we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of WordPress. Don’t panic though; we’ll take the steps one-by-one.
Let’s go ahead and log in at the admin screen of your site. Just enter your username and password. If you’re unsure where to get this, you go to this address:
http(s)://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/ (e.g. for Faithful Advantage it’s, https:/faithfuladvantage.com.com/wp-admin/)
The first thing you’ll see is the WordPress admin dashboard. The first time I saw this dashboard, I wanted to close my laptop and run! Please don’t do this; you’ll get used to it in no time at all. Besides, you’re only going to need to use a few of the options right away.
Let’s focus on:
- Configuring WordPress
- Installing your base plugins
Ready to get started?
Configure Basic WordPress Settings
This process needs to be done just once, thankfully. You’ll see the Settings menu on the bottom left of your admin screen, and should look like the image below:
Here are the three action items you want to complete for now:
First, let’s change the permalink structure to “Post name.” To do this, select “Post name” and then save your changes.
What we just did was change the URL structure of your website to something that is more user and search engine-friendly.
So, instead of a blog post having a URL that looks like this: http://faithfuladvantage.com/?p=123, the URL will look like this instead: http://faithfuladvantage.com/name-of-your-post/
Formatting your URLs like this appears way better to a user and gladdens the heart of the search engines.
Next, in the general settings tab, here’s what you want to do:
- Make sure your site title is correct
- If you have a tagline, you can enter it here, or you can leave it blank.
- Set the time zone to match your location.
- Save your changes.
You can leave the rest as the default settings unless there is something you want to change explicitly.
The reading settings are mostly optional as well, and these will depend upon personal preferences and how you want your site to look. I changed two settings:
- “Blog pages to show at most” to five posts.
- “For each article in a feed, show” to Summary.
These are just personal preferences, however. You want to set a limit on how many blog posts to show per page so that the reader isn’t endlessly scrolling as this can be annoying.
Your reader will be more likely to come back if they have a smooth, user-friendly experience, and you can always come back later and make changes after your site is live and running.
Plug-ins are essential to keeping your WordPress site running smoothly. However, before you start pushing them onto your website, you should know that there are THOUSANDS of plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory and even more available from private vendors. It’s easy to get distracted when there are so many options available. Your best bet is to install a few essential plugins to start with, and then add more as you need to.
I’m going to suggest five free (FREE!) plugins to install (listed alphabetically):
- Antispam Bee – This plugin will help to reduce the number of spam comments you get on your site.
- Limit Login Attempts – If someone tries to log into your WordPress website with an incorrect username or password, this plugin locks them out.
- Ninja Forms – This plugin helps you set up different types of forms on your site such as a contact form.
- Social Warfare – This plugin allows you and your visitors to share the content of your site on social media.
- Yoast SEO – This fantastic plugin is one of the very best. Yoast is designed to improve your site’s Search Engine Optimization. You will also write better blogs with this plugin.
To install the above plugins, just select Plugins >> Add New (See below).
Your setup may look different. The plugins are there. All you have to do is search for them. Once you see the plugin you’re looking for, just click “Install Now,” then “Activate Plugin” when prompted.
You’ll be redirected to the main plugin screen once you do this and you can repeat the process for the remaining plugins. Both the Yoast and Ninja Forms plugins might redirect you to a new page. That’s ok; you can just head back to Plugins >> Add New until you’re done.
Once you’ve installed all the plugins, your plugin screen should show them as activated.
Please try to resist the urge to go on a plugin installation binge! The more plugins you have, the more open you are to attacks on your site. If you do end up with several plugins, be sure to keep up with your updates or hire someone to do this for you.
Configure your Plugins
- Ninja Forms
Ninja Forms is a great plugin for adding forms to your website. The basic version is free, and it’s easy to add features down the road.
Ninja Forms has some excellent tutorials here to help you with the setup. Building an initial contact form shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Although Ninja Forms is an excellent plugin, you might find that your theme comes with a pre-configured plugin option that works just as well. Don’t be afraid to use whatever you’re comfortable with.
Here’s how to set up a form using Ninja Forms (screenshot below):
- Yoast SEO
Yoast comes with a built-in set up that makes it super easy to get things rolling. Just follow the prompts and get this all set up nicely.
Here’s a great tutorial from Yoast to walk you through anything you may be unsure about configuring. For now, just complete the Basic WordPress SEO section. The rest you can finish after your site is up and running.
- Social Warfare
After activating the Social Warfare plugin, you can then go on to set up the options you want for sharing on your site.
Set the social sharing buttons to be displayed on posts only if you’d like. That way, only posts can be shared. Some people have sharing icons on every page. It’s up to you. Just think about what content you genuinely want to have shared on social media.
After you’ve saved your changes, go check things out! You should find the sharing icons at the bottom of each post and or page. If they aren’t there, try refreshing your browser.
Remember, if you don’t like the way it looks, you can go right back in and change things up.
>>Time for another break<<
Next, we’ll work on setting up our site pages. See you soon!
Your Site Pages
There are a few pages that you would typically find on a service site. You can always add more as you go along.
- An About page (to share personal information, such as where you are in the world, what your site is about and who it’s for)
- A Hire Me page (to showcase your samples, explain what you do and who you do it for, and add a way to get in touch)
- A Services page (Here you’ll list the services you offer in detail and include a call to action)
- A Contact page (to list your contact info – your email, Google phone number, and a contact form)
- A Blog Page (to add your blog posts and thoughts – this will help with your social reach)
- A Resources and Privacy Page (You can add your recommended products and services here or a list of FAQs)
Adding New Pages
Creating pages in WordPress is easy. Hover over “Pages,” then click “Add New.”
Enter the title you want for your page and then click “Save Draft.”
Once you’ve saved your draft, you’ll see an option at the top of your screen to “Add New.” You can click on that and repeat the process until you’ve added all your pages.
Once you’re done creating the pages, you can click on Pages >> All Pages and you should see something like the screen below with all your page titles listed as drafts:
There will likely be a sample page at the bottom. The helpful folks at WordPress placed it there as a guide. You can just hover over it and click “trash” as you don’t need it since you’ll be creating your own pages. If you feel more comfortable leaving it there till you’re done adding content to your pages, that’s fine too. Just try to remember to come back to trash it. You don’t want to have any unnecessary pages running on your site.
With all of your pages created, it’s time to start adding stuff to them. YAY!
Adding Content to Your Pages
Adding content to your WordPress pages is simple enough, it just depends on what type of page you’re creating really. Let’s set up just the one page. Then all you need to do is go through the same steps for all your other pages.
From our “All Pages” screen that you see above, just hover over the page you want to add content to and select “Edit.” That will bring us back to our page editor.
You will now be in the section where you can begin typing! Go!! Just kidding 😉
From the “All Pages” screen that you see above, just hover over the page you want to add content to and select “Edit.” That will bring us back to our page editor. It will look like this (I titled mine Test Page)
If you’re typing content directly into the editor, you can use the “Visual” tab (see below). However, if you’re pasting text from another program, it’s better to paste your text into the “Text ” tab and then switch back to “Visual.” when you’re done.
(If you happen to have to enter any HTML code, you would also enter it under the “Text” tab, so keep this in mind)
Once you’ve entered your text and saved your draft, you can go ahead and preview your page by clicking the “Preview” button (it’s next to the “Save Draft” button on the right side of your editor).
Ah, yes. Maybe a picture or two. You know how it is. We love images! They add tremendous value to your words.
WordPress makes adding images easy.
You may already have graphics you’d like to use. If not, there are usually graphics that come with your theme. Otherwise, you can go to unsplash.com and search for stock photos that fit your niche and upload them.
I use Unsplash all the time. I just registered on their site, and each time I upload, I try to give credit to the artist. All the images are free to use. You’ll likely need to resize your images to best suit your content. Sites load faster with smaller graphics, but as you progress, there are plugins to help with this also (such as WP Smush).
To add the image to the page, you can just drag it right from your desktop into the post.
- First, place your cursor where you want to put your image.
- Next, drag the image from your desktop onto your page.
- Once you drop your image into the page, you’ll see the “Insert Media” page (see screenshot below).
- Under “Attachment Display Settings” select “Link to None,”
- Click “Insert into the page.”
(An alternate way to do this is to place your cursor where you want the image, click “Insert Media” from the toggle toolbar and then upload from your computer. Then follow steps 4 and 5.)
WordPress will take you back to the editor where you can adjust the size of the image if necessary (just drag the bottom corner or click edit after selecting the image).
Then, save the draft and preview the page again. If you’re happy with how things look at this stage, go ahead and publish the page.
You’re going to repeat the following process for each of your four pages:
- Add your content
- Save your draft
By now you should have added your About, Hire Me/Services and Contact pages.
Look at you🙌: you’ve come so far and should be proud of yourself!
And you did it on your own – Awesomesauce!
Installing a Theme
When you set up your new WordPress site, it will come with a pre-installed theme. You can choose to keep it or pick something new. Something already part of WordPress or one that you purchase or download from outside of WordPress.
Be prepared: This process can be another rabbit hole …
I think I changed themes about four times before going with one that was business-related and easy to use.
I’ll list a few suggestions here. These are themes that a LOT of sites recommend. They are also themes that I’ve either used myself or have high ratings:
- Sydney by athemes: This a free but robust business theme that will allow you to get your website up and running quite smoothly. For a free theme, it packs a lot of punch and is highly-rated by WordPress. Sydney also comes with a premium version which will run you about $60 for 12-month access.
- Bluchic Feminine WordPress Themes: These are super chic, elegantly styled WordPress themes designed with the female entrepreneur or blogger in mind. The prices run at around $79 although Bluchic holds sales throughout the year.
- Divi by Elegant Themes: At $90/year, Divi from Elegant Themes is another excellent place to start if you have the budget for it. This theme will allow you to create numerous layouts using a drag-and-drop feature.
- Genesis by StudioPress: Any theme from StudioPress would be fantastic. These themes are clean and to me, minimal. I like that about these themes. The themes can be more time-consuming to set up, but Genesis is a stable and SEO-friendly theme. For this theme, you would pay the framework fee of $59.95 and then pay whatever the price is for the “child” theme itself that runs on that framework.
Now, if you go through all these recommendations and you STILL want more, you can just search Google for best WordPress themes for 2018 (free or paid). Or check out suggestions from a reputable site like codeinwp.com or wpbeginner.
Alrighty. You’ve picked your theme; now it’s time to install it.
Download the theme to your desktop if you haven’t already (the file name should look like this: “themename”.zip).
To install your theme, we do this:
From your dashboard:
- Click “Appearances”
- Select “Themes”
- Click “Add New” near the top left corner.
- Then choose “Upload Theme” near the top left corner.
- When the file selection window pops up, select your theme file and click “OPEN.”
- Select “Install Now.”
- Now click “Activate,” and you’re all set
You’ve installed your theme!
If you’re changing a theme using a theme in your WordPress bank, just follow the steps above but choose “Search” instead of “Add New”, locate the theme you want then click “Install.” Then click Activate.
Easier than you thought, right?
All you have to do now is customize your theme to look the way you want. Setting up is not as difficult as it sounds. Depending on the theme you chose, this may be a drag and drop process. Just take your time and start simple. Also, remember there’s support for each theme via the WordPress Support and the theme itself.
Time for a Break?
Next, we’ll look at creating a menu and adding widgets
Setting up a Menu in WordPress
Your menu serves as a guide for your visitors, just like the one you’ll find at a restaurant. It helps them get to exactly where they want to go to on your site. It also serves as a nice way of suggesting to them where they should go!
To get your menu set up go to:
- Enter a name for your menu and click Create menu
Now you can add items to your menu such as the pages you created.
Once you’ve located the pages you want to add to your menu, click “Add to Menu.” Make sure you have check marks by each page you’re adding, or it won’t add!
Your pages will transfer to the menu structure
Select “YourMenuName” under “Menu Settings.”
Click “Save Menu.”
Here’s my setup:
You can drag and drop your menu items around. So if you want an object in a different place from where it currently is, just hold down on it with your mouse and drag it up or down.
You can create what’s called “nested menus” in this way. A nested menu is where a particular page is a primary item, and other pages are sub-menu. Like with my “services” menu. I used the drag-and-drop feature to create a nested menu to accomplish this. Try it if you like. You can always place the items back.
Now, to widgets!
You’ll find your widgets under:
Your screen should look similar to this:
Widgets can be used to:
- Display a list of your recent posts
- Display your Social icons
- Install a search box
- Showcase your resources
They do come in handy!
You can add widgets to the sidebar, header or the footer of your site, and they vary from one theme to another. Setting them up can feel a bit strange at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Before you go off adding widgets, think about what you want for your site and set up just those widgets, otherwise, you’ll be down for another trip down the rabbit hole 😊.
What? Are we almost done? How time flies! ( :
Now before you publish your site, it’s time for a quick check.
Review Your Site’s:
- Simplicity is always best. You want visitors to be able to get through your site efficiently.
- Test your links! Make sure they all lead to where they’re supposed to lead. The last thing you want is for a visitor to click a link and it leads to a 404 error.
- Include a call to action on as many pages as needed.
2. Important Pages
Make sure you’ve hit “publish” on pages you want on your site!
Here are three popular (and needed) pages you want to have set up:
- An About page
- A Services page
- A Contact page
As mentioned before, you can add others later on.
I HIGHLY recommend that you have a blog on your site. Content is what draws visitors. It establishes your online presence and, above all, provides value to your readers.
So, write or post something of value. Experts agree that about 2-3 posts are a good starting point before you publish your site.
4. Contact Info
Make it easy for people to get in touch with you.
Most people reach out to me via my contact form (be sure to test yours before launch!), but others have called. Some people prefer to use social media. I’ve had requests from Messenger, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Just make yourself available!
5. Social Sharing
It should be a breeze for folks to share your content via social networks. Whenever I visit a site, my brain is now programmed to look for social sharing buttons once I’ve gone through the post. Other people do the same thing. If you’re not giving them this option, it could mean a potential client loss. And just think of how many possible new clients you could help if someone shared that post!
6. Check your pictures and site colors
Your images should be relevant to each post or page. Your site colors should be non-threatening and straightforward! Seriously, you can have TOO much color on a site. Be cool, be subtle. Think about sites that you enjoy or successful sites like Apple or Airbnb. Simple is always best. That way, you can appeal to multiple people. After all, your site is for the visitors, not you.
After you go over this checklist, you are ready to LAUNCH, BABY!
So, take a deep breath (You did a fantastic job) and hit publish!
Then email, text or share with your friends and family the great news.