WordPress is free software that you can use to create a website, blog, or membership. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular website tools available!
In this post, I’ll be covering:
- the benefits of using WordPress
- the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org
- the steps you’ll take to set up your WordPress site including purchasing a domain and hosting, connecting your domain with your hosting company, installing WordPress, setting up and configuring your SSL certificate, choosing a theme, and designing your site
- a roundup of WordPress website resources
Don’t worry if you’re not techie! I even included screenshots!
This article may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the link, I get a small percentage at no additional charge to you. See my disclosure for more info.
The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up Your WordPress Website
BENEFITS OF USING WORDPRESS FOR YOUR WEBSITE
One of the biggest benefits of using WordPress is that you can supercharge it with plugins. Plugins allow you to add a large variety of features to your site, making it very customizable.
Some of the other benefits of using WordPress are:
- It’s easy to set up and fast to start a website
- You can find lots of help and tutorials because of its popularity
- It’s flexible and can grow with your business
- Nearly unlimited options for themes and plugins
- Higher SEO ranking than other website builders
- Manage your website from any device, anywhere
- No fancy coding required
- Affordable to build and maintain
- Integrates with more software than other builders
- It’s safe and secure (as long as you follow best practices)
- YOU own your site (unlike Wix, Weebly, Strikingly, Squarespace, and other platforms)
If you’re unsure about using WordPress for your website, you might want to compare website platforms before you make the decision.
WORDPRESS.COM VS. WORDPRESS.ORG
There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com will host your website for you for free just like WordPress.org, but YOU don’t own the site (WordPress.com does).
Another problem with WordPress.com is that your URL will be yourbusiness.wordpress.com instead of yourbusiness.com.
And yet another problem is that you can’t customize your site as much.
To sum up…you’ll want to use WordPress.org. Yes, you will have to pay for hosting, but you’ll own your site and can choose anything you want for your URL. Plus you can also use plugins to make your site really cool!
HOW TO BUILD A WORDPRESS WEBSITE
Let’s get started building an amazing site for your online business!
Don’t be afraid of the tech work involved. I’m going to walk you through the process step-by-step. You can also reach out to your hosting company if you need extra help.
STEP 1: PURCHASE A DOMAIN NAME
The first step you need to take toward getting a website is to purchase your domain name.
You can usually buy them for less than $10 from sites like Namecheap. You will have to renew your domain each year after that for a small fee, or you can pay for multiple years in advance.
You can also purchase your domain from your hosting company (more on that next), but it’s usually more expensive. The pro is that you won’t have to connect your hosting and domain, it’s already done for you.
Regardless of where you purchase your domain, I highly recommend setting your domain to auto-renew each year. That way your site won’t disappear if you forget to renew your domain manually!
STEP 2: PURCHASE WEBSITE HOSTING
With a WordPress website, you’ll need to purchase hosting.
Hosting is a service provided by tech companies that “store” your website on their servers (giant computers). Just like a file on your computer, your website needs somewhere to live.
It’s crucial to purchase hosting through a reliable company because you don’t want any mishaps that result in your site crashing or being lost completely. I use, and recommend, SiteGround for website hosting because of their excellent customer service. (I’ve tried a couple of other hosting providers over the years and SiteGround has been by far the best.)
STEP 3: CONNECT YOUR HOSTING AND DOMAIN NAME
The technical term for this is “pointing your domain” from Namecheap to WordPress. Follow these simple steps to complete the process:
- Log in to SiteGround, click the “Websites” tab, and then click the orange cPanel button
- Under your account information (on the left), you’ll see “Name Servers” which look like two short lines made up of letters, numbers, and periods. We’ll be copying and pasting this info over to Namecheap.
- Next, open a new tab and log in to your Namecheap account
- Click on “Manage” for the domain that you are using for your website
- Scroll down until you see NameServers
- Change the setting to “Custom DNS”
- Copy and paste “NameServer 1” from SiteGround onto the line in Namecheap
- Copy and paste “NameServer 2” from SiteGround onto the line in Namecheap
- Click the green checkmark and you’re done!
You may have to wait up to 48 hours for this process to be completed before moving on with building your website. Don’t build your site until you’re notified that your site is complete. Otherwise, any work that you’ve done will disappear! (Ask me how I know this!)
STEP 4: INSTALL WORDPRESS
When you purchase hosting through SiteGround, they will send you an email instructing you to sign in to the Customer Area.
When you do that, you’ll see a popup that will walk you through the setup process for your new WordPress website.
STEP 5: INSTALL + CONFIGURE YOUR SSL CERTIFICATE
An SSL certificate authenticates your website and establishes an encrypted connection between your website and the people who visit it.
Confused? Just think of it as a traffic light.
If your site has an SSL certificate, Google will give you the green light and the first part of your URL will be https://
You’ll also see this before the URL:
If your site does NOT have an SSL certificate, Google will give you a red light and the first part of your URL will be http://
You’ll also see this before the URL:
You want your visitors to feel secure so don’t skip this important step when you’re setting up your website!
How to install your SSL certificate:
- While you’re in the cPanel inside SiteGround, scroll down to the section labeled “Security”
- Click on the “Let’s Encrypt” icon (if you don’t see it, click the arrow to the right of “Security” to open the section)
- Select your domain from the dropdown
- Select “Let’s Encrypt SSL”
- Click the Install button
Configure your SSL certificate:
- While in the Let’s Encrypt section, go to the “Manage Let’s Encrypt Certificates“
- Under “Action” click “Select an Action” and choose “HTTPS Settings“
- A popup will appear – go to the “HTTPS Enforce” section and click the button from off to on
- Click OK to save
Make sure the SSL certificate is working correctly:
- Go to your internet browser and type in your domain name with https:// in front of it
- You should see a lock appear in front of your domain
- If you don’t, reach out to SiteGround’s support and they’ll help you out (they have excellent support!)
STEP 6: CHOOSE A WORDPRESS THEME
You survived the techie stuff! Congrats!
Once you have your domain, hosting, and WordPress set up, you can design your site!
You can choose a template (also called “theme”) to help you build your site. You can choose either a free or premium theme.
A theme is what’s going to help you design the look of your website without the hassle of building it from scratch using code.
You can find free WordPress themes within your website dashboard. How cool is that!?
When choosing a free theme, focus on the overall look. The colors and images can be changed later when you design your site but the location and sizes of the images might not.
There are thousands, and possibly millions, of WordPress themes available. Don’t waste too much time choosing one.
Your website will evolve as your business grows and you learn more. Choose something simple if this your first website. It’s more important to focus on getting clients than building a website when you first start your VA business.
To install a free theme on your site:
- Go to your website dashboard
- Go to “Appearance” then “Themes” (located in the left-hand column).
- Click “Add New Theme“.
- Filter the themes at the top by featured, popular, latest, and favorites.
- Click “Preview” to take a look at the theme (sometimes it doesn’t actually look very pretty though).
- Click “Install” to install the theme to your site.
- If you don’t like the theme, you can just choose another theme to install. Just be sure to delete the old one.
To design your site with a free theme:
- Go to “Appearance“, “Themes” then “Customize” (or just go to “Appearance” then “Customize”).
- Go through each of the sections listed to customize the look of your site.
- Edit to your heart’s content (just don’t edit the CSS if you’re not familiar with code).
You can also find premium themes that are more customizable.
Popular ones are Divi, Beaver Builder, and Elementor. These themes are some of the top used themes because they feature an easy to use drag-n-drop system that allows you to create a completely customizable site. I use Divi on both my sites because I want total control over the look of my sites.
You can also purchase beautiful themes from Bluchic. They have WordPress, Elementor, and Divi themes.
STEP 7: DESIGN YOUR SITE
Whether you choose a free or premium theme, you’ll want to have a clear picture of what your brand looks like before designing your site.
Here are my best branding tips for virtual assistants if you haven’t already been through this step of building your business.
Once you’ve installed your theme, all you have to do is update it with your branding, add pictures, and write the copy for each of your pages.
I recommend having at least these 4 pages:
You can always add to your website, make changes, and improve things as your business grows. For now, just start simple and get it done so that you can move on with getting clients and making money.
Not sure what to say on your website pages? I have copywriting templates inside the Introvert VA Club!
WORDPRESS WEBSITE RESOURCES ROUNDUP
NameCheap — My favorite place to purchase domain names for all my websites. It’s affordable, easy to use, and easy to maintain!
SiteGround — I recommend SiteGround for website hosting because it’s reasonably priced, they’re reliable, and have excellent customer service. I’ve tried other web hosting companies and SiteGround has been by far the best.
Divi — I recommend the Divi framework to design your site. There is a learning curve to Divi, but what’s really cool is that you can create the site you want. You’re not stuck with a theme’s design. It’s a drag and drop system that makes it easy to design a website.
BeaverBuilder — Another drag and drop system that makes it easy to build a website yourself. It’s very similar to Divi with a bit of a learning curve but a ton of customizable options so you get exactly the website you want!
Elementor — A popular drag and drop website builder that makes it easy to customize your website design. It’s similar to Divi and Beaver Builder.
Bluchic — This is a great place to purchase gorgeous themes geared towards female entrepreneurs.
We’ve covered a lot in this post! I hope that it helped you set up your WordPress website with ease.
Just remember, getting clients is more important than tweaking your site over and over. You can always go back and edit your site so get it set up and go get those clients!
Did you like this tutorial? You’ll find more like this inside the Introvert VA Club!