Why is our WordPress guide better than a printed book?

  • It’s always up-to-date and doesn’t contain outdated information
  • It’s free to use and includes easy-to-click links
  • It contains many explaining images for extra clarity
  • It’s easy to follow and bookmark

Why should you build your website using WordPress?

At the time of writing this guide, WordPress occupies 32% of all the websites on the Internet today. It’s the world’s most popular content management system.

Here’s how the distribution is, in comparison with other platforms and content management systems, according to Kinsta.

Platform % of all websites % of CMS market
WordPress 32 59.5
Joomla 3.1 5.7
Drupal 2.0 3.6
Squarespace 1.4 2.5
Wix 1.0 1.8

WordPress has long been the number one choice for millions of individuals and businesses of all sizes. WordPress powers the small guy. It also powers several big name brands. You can use WordPress as a blog, a small business site, a large portal, an online magazine, a job board site, or whatever you can possibly think of.

The sheer reach and popularity of WordPress are enough for you to drop all other considerations and just run for WordPress without looking back.

With WordPress, you get the following benefits:

  • Fast & Easy Given how expansive WordPress is, literally every web hosting solution allows you to Install WordPress in less than 5 minutes flat.
  • Helpful community There’s an entire ecosystem of products, services and a thriving developer community around WordPress. If you ever need help, you’ll never be left in the dark.
  • Design it yourself There’s no need for designers and developers when you are looking to design and manage your websites. WordPress builders such as Divi, Beaver Builder, and Elementor have changed the way you design and manage your WordPress websites.
  • Lots of designed themes There are a lot of premium themes, plugins, and tools available for WordPress.
  • Supercharge your marketing From a marketing perspective, absolutely every marketing tool that you might want to add probably integrates with WordPress.
  • Publish quickly You can design your website in less than a day and get your unique, future million-dollar, blog started.

With that out of the way, let’s proceed with step-by-step instructions on how to host, install and build a WordPress site.

Step 1: Domains, Hosting & Installing WordPress

Getting a Domain Name

Your domain name is your website name. It gives your website or your brand a unique identity. Purchasing a domain name makes you the sole owner of that particular domain.

Your domain name can end with the familiar “.com” or “.net” or one of the several new extensions available for domains today such as “.video”, “.agency”, “.design” and more.

Tips to Choose Your Domain:

  • If you have a business or if you are starting a personal website, your domain should ideally be the name of your business or your own name.
  • Domain names should be easy to remember and without any tricky characters.

You can purchase your domain from name registrars such as Godaddy, Namecheap, however…

Bluehost provides a free domain with any web hosting plan you pick. So, you don’t have to buy a domain name separately, which usually costs $10 to $12 per year. We will cover it in the next steps under “Get a Web Hosting Plan“.

Hosting your WordPress Website

Your website is a collection of code, files, scripts, images, and text. All of this is data that needs to be hosted on a server.

Instead of actually buying and maintaining a server all on your own, you could just “rent” space on a server managed and hosted by professional companies called web hosting companies.

When it comes to hosting WordPress websites, you have two distinct options:

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most popular option among several WordPress website owners due to its low costs, ease of management, and worldwide availability.

Shared hosting is when a web hosting company hosts your website on a server that’s also privately shared with other website owners to essentially make hosting available to you at a much lower cost.

Some of the popular shared hosting providers are:

Note: For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using Bluehost as an example.

WordPress Specialist Hosting

Some web hosting companies specialize in hosting WordPress websites specifically by using technology, infrastructure, and tools very specific to the needs of advanced WordPress websites.

These services would be necessary if your website traffic grows heavily past the 10000 users / month mark. As these services are much more expensive we’ll stick with the shared hosting option for now.

Let’s start building: Get a Web Hosting Plan

In the previous steps you learned about domain names and hosting options. Remember, I told you, that you can get a domain free with Bluehost

1. Get your web hosting from Bluehost

Go to Bluehost and click on Get Started.

Bluehost start screen

2. Choose a plan

The Basic package is more than enough for you to get started.

You also have the option of selecting the Choice Plus or Pro which gives you:

  • Automatic website backup to obviate the need for you to manually backup your website regularly.
  • Domain privacy is also a good thing, if you intend to keep the domain owners identity a secret.

3. Select your domain

You have three options:

1. Create a new domain

Enter the domain name of your choice (along with the extension such as .com or .org or others) and click Next. If the domain you entered is already owned by someone else, just try a new domain below until you’ll get a confirmation message:

2. Use a domain you own

If you already have a domain name (purchased elsewhere like Godaddy.com), use this option instead and click Next.

3. If you can’t seem to decide right away

You can also decide this later. Just click on I’ll create my domain later.

4. Fill in your details

Start with Account Information:

Next. For Package Extras, we’d choose the options shown below.

  • Domain Privacy hides domain owners data which by default is publicly accessible.
  • Codeguard Basic offers daily backups and One-Click Restore to save and revert your site’s data if something happens.

To finish the registration, enter your Payment Information.

After clicking Submit you will see a confirmation screen. Bluehost will also send you helpful emails with all the details you need (such as domain and hosting details, ftp addresses and support links).

Installing WordPress in Bluehost admin

Log into your Bluehost account. After you log into Bluehost, you’ll be able to see the following dashboard. Under the “website” section, look for “Wordpress” and click on it.

Follow the easy setup wizard and you’ll be able to set up your WordPress website in three clicks or less.

For installation to progress, you have to select the domain on which you want your website installed as shown below.

Leave the “directory” field empty.

In the next step, give your website a name (title), your primary email address, admin username, and an admin password.

Check all the boxes as shown above, and click on next.

Your website will now be installed on the domain you selected. At the time of this writing, a default WordPress theme called Twenty Nineteen will be automatically installed.

The site you installed will live on http://yourdomain.com [replace “yourdomain” with your actual domain name]

However, you are the admin of your site and you can log into the backend of your site by using a URL like https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/

This information will be displayed soon after you install your site.

When you click on your own link, you’ll see a login screen. Enter the username you’ve created at the time of installation and password to enter your WordPress dashboard.

Step 2: Using themes For Your WordPress Site

WordPress works with themes. It’s these themes that’ll determine how your WordPress website looks and functions. Each theme comes with functionality and features that make that particular theme unique.

WordPress also ships with a default theme called “twenty nineteen”. You could use this theme if you like.

But let’s dig into other options that we have available to us.

There are plenty of free and paid WordPress themes that you can purchase and download from the market. You’ll never be short of inspiring designs that you can use for your business.

After installing WordPress on Your domain, you have several ways to decide the theme for your Website.

Option 1: The WordPress Themes Gallery

By default, WordPress will be installed on your domain with the WordPress’s default Twenty nineteen theme. Additionally, you’ll be asked to select a theme from inside Bluehost while installing (above).

In case you want to change your theme or explore new themes, log into the back end of your WordPress, and you’ll find the familiar WordPress Dashboard.

How to Install a WordPress theme?

On the left side panel, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New

Choose from “featured”, “popular”, “latest”, or search for a particular free theme if you have something on your mind.

Find the theme of your choice, hover on the theme and you’ll see options to “Install” or “preview”.

Option 2: Themes from marketplaces & third-party themes

Apart from the main WordPress repository for themes, there are thousands of developers, theme development companies, and marketplaces you could purchase or download WordPress themes from.

Exclusive Theme Developers

  • Studiopress.com
  • Yoothemes.com
  • athemes.com

Theme Marketplaces:

  • Envato.com
  • Creativemarket.com
  • Templatemonster.com

Installing a Purchased WordPress theme

If you purchase themes from any other place (apart from the official WordPress directory), you’d get a “.zip” file as a part of that purchase.

From within your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearances > Themes > Add new > Upload theme (upload the whole .zip file)

Once your theme is uploaded, you have to activate it and your website will start to look like the bought theme. Now you just have to customize it, to make it your own.

Step 3: Customize Your WordPress Site

Customize your theme by using WordPress Customizer (Appearance > Customize) and Theme Options (if your particular theme allows it).

The basic steps when you customize are to:

  • Upload your logo
  • Upload your website favicon
  • Change colors of your theme (depending on your brand), if your theme allows for this.
  • Change layouts.
  • Edit your permalinks
  • Other settings

To start customizing, look for the option “Customize” in your WordPress dashboard (left side panel):

You’ll get to a panel that looks like this:

Click on each of those settings in your customizing panel to change various aspects of your site. General settings, navigation settings, headers, footers, menus, and more.

On the left side panel, go to settings, and click on “General”.

At the top of the options list on the “General” settings page, add a title for your website (usually the name of your brand or business) and add a tagline for your business (You can always change these later).

Next, click on “settings again” and click on “Permalinks”.

On the permalinks page, we need to change the WordPress defaults. Select the permalink as shown below, which should be something like https://yourwebsite.com/post-name/

Creating pages

Next up, let’s add basic pages to your WordPress website.

From the WordPress menu to the left, click on pages and start creating your first page.

Two ways to edit content

From WordPress 5.0 the Classic Editor pictured below is replaced with the new Gutenberg Editor. The only thing that changed it the way to edit content, everything else stayed the same.

To learn about the new editor or how to change back to the old one, please read our WordPress Gutenberg Editor Tutorial next.

Click on Pages > Add New:

Give your page a Title, write some content and click Publish on the right side of the screen.

You could start by creating a few simple pages as follows:

  • Home
  • About
  • Services
  • Contact

Creating & Managing Blog Posts

Just as you’d add and manage pages, you can also add and manage blog posts. From the WordPress menu, click on Posts> Add New and repeat the steps of adding Title and some content.

Managing Menus

Your theme will allow you to display your main menu(and secondary menus) in various locations, depending on design. You can easily manage menus by going to Appearances > Menus.

Click on “Menus”, and then add pages, links, and other elements to your menu. On the right side, you can also change the position of each block inside your menus.

Step 4: Setting up Your Blog

By now, you’d normally have your domain, a web hosting package with WordPress Installed. You’d also have used a free WordPress theme or purchased (and uploaded) a third-party theme to your WordPress website.

After initial customization (like adding your logo and changing the colors to get your website on brand), it’s time to set up your blog.

WordPress was originally built for blogging, so adding a blog to your website is often as simple as adding an actual page and marking this page as the “blog home”.

Create a page and give it a title as “Blog”. Be sure to have another page titled as “Home”.

Go to customize, and choose from settings to set your “blog” page as the page that shows blog posts and another page ( e.g: Home) to be set as the main homepage for your website.

Step 5: WordPress Plugins You Should Use (& Why)

WordPress functionality comes from its rich ecosystem of plugins built by plugin developers, businesses, and several others who are a part of the global WordPress community.

According to CodeinWP, there are over 50,000+ actively managed plugins in the community today. Listing all of the plugins is pointless. However, there are some tried-and-tested plugins that you’ll absolutely need for your new WordPress website.

Note: Don’t go overboard and upload too many plugins. If you have too many plugins, you risk slowing down your website along with some security risks, vulnerability, and more.

WordPress for Dummies suggests that you use these WordPress plugins:

Google Analytics By MonsterInsights

Instead of getting your hands dirty and messing with code — or hiring a developer — to add Google Analytics tracking to your website, just use the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.

With more than 15 million downloads, the popular analytics plugin is all you need to easily connect your WordPress website with Google Analytics. Once you upload and activate the plugin by connecting to your Google Analytics, you’ll have a holistic view of all the traffic your website gets along with plenty of rich data that Google Analytics provides for you.

Yoast SEO Plugin

WordPress is already SEO friendly, right out of the box. Yet, there are several steps you’d need to take while optimizing each page and blog post for SEO. Thankfully, the Yoast SEO plugin does all the heavy lifting for you.

Yoast SEO plugin is a free plugin that you should upload to your WordPress website. This plugin takes care of all the groundwork you need to do for optimizing your website for search, for social media, and to help you do on-page SEO for each page and blog post that you’ll publish.

Contact Form 7

Your website visitors should find it easy to get in touch with you, reach out to you with questions, or start conversations with you. Forms are the way all that communication happens between you and interested visitors. Contact Form 7 is a reliable and versatile forms plugin for WordPress giving you an easy way to create forms for your contact page, recruitment, surveys, marketing, and anything else you’d need forms for.

Sucuri

For most WordPress websites, security is critical. As established before, successful WordPress websites require active security management.

Sucuri is a complete security solution and boasts of the most comprehensive tools and support for WordPress security.

By uploading the Sucuri plugin, you can take a seamless approach to WordPress security, analyze threats, prevent hacking, and more.

Jetpack

Think of Jetpack as a collection (or a suite) of plugins instead of just one plugin. Jetpack comes with plenty of functionality that you’ll find useful to manage and run your WordPress site. As of 2018, Jetpack has everything you need to design, promote, and manage your WordPress site including popular features such as:

  • The ability to design your WordPress site, use new themes from marketplaces
  • Compressing images and videos to help boost your site speed
  • Comprehensive security features to keep your website protected
  • Enhance your visitors’ user experience by adding search features such as ElasticSearch
  • Get access to website related analytics and statistics
  • Schedule promotions to social media sites in advance
  • Take daily or regular backups of your site.

The team at jetpack is constantly adding new features making it a truly comprehensive and must-have plugin for your WordPress website.

OptinMonster

Lead generation (see the last section for more information) is critical for your business and WordPress makes it easy for you to use marketing-based lead generation plugins for WordPress. One of the more popular lead generation plugin today is OptinMonster.

Optinmonster allows you to create pop-ups, opt-in forms, calls to action, full-page landing pages, welcome mats, and slide-ins to help you generate leads from the visitors you get on your WordPress site.

You can also use timed pop-ups, exit pop-ups, links that trigger pop-ups, and opt-in forms for your blog sidebar.

Step 6: Connecting Your WordPress with Google Analytics

Peter Drucker once said, “If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It”. You’d never know if you are doing well with your marketing efforts if you didn’t measure. The starting point for all websites as far as analytics, tracking, and data is Google Analytics.

Connecting your website with Google Analytics is the first step towards setting up a reliable system to measure visits to your website, where you get your visitors from, what your visitors do when they arrive on your website, how fast your web pages load, and more.

With WordPress, you could choose to add your Global site Tag manually (as above). If you choose to go this route, here’s a handy guide to add Google Analytics tag to WordPress without using plugins.

Or use appropriate plugins to easily add Google Analytics to your WordPress website. Here are a few plugins that make it easy for you to integrate Google Analytics:

  1. GA Google Analytics by Jeff Starr
  2. MonsterInsights
  3. Jetpack By Automattic

Your Google Analytics Data

After the basic set up above, wait for a day or two to let Google Analytics collect data. Google analytics will track a lot of data, including:

  • Average visits per day, month, and year.
  • Active users
  • How do you acquire users?
  • Comparative data of user sessions compared to a previous period.
  • Loyalty, engagement, and cohort sessions
  • Geographic distribution of your website visitors
  • Sessions by device type

Of course, you could get as granular and comparative as you’d like by getting into several details available to you at any time from within your Google Analytics account.

Step 7: Start Digital Marketing: Blogging On Schedule, Social Media, & Growing Your Email List

Once your website is set up and connected to Google Analytics, you are ready to start blogging for your business, sharing your content on social media, and to start growing your email list.

To start with Inbound marketing (or content marketing as it’s called), you can start with:

Blogging

Blogging for your business helps you open a window of communication with your existing and potential customers.

As you write and publish on topics that relate to your business (including how your products and services can help your audience), you start gaining readership, trust, authority, and credibility.

Blogging also starts getting you traffic (visitors). As more people find your content on the web and as your readership advances, you are priming up your potential customers to buy from you (when they are ready to buy).

Blogging gets you traffic. Some of those visitors will become regular readers. Some of those readers will eventually buy from you.

Social Media

By sharing what you publish on your blog (in addition to sharing other content that your followers can find useful and relevant), you’ll amplify your presence on the web. Additionally, you’ll also have a way to communicate with your audiences (including existing customers and potential customers).

You could have accounts across social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

Maintain your brand presence across all social networks and keep up the small talk, engagement, and traction that your content will begin to get.

Growing Your Email List

Email marketing gives a return of 4300%. In other words, if you spend $1 on email marketing, you have the potential to get $43 back on what you spent. This applies only to subscribers that you’ve earned over a period of time.

To do email marketing right, you’d have to first grow your list of subscribers by making sure that the visitors to your website (regardless of where they come from) actually sign up to an offer you’ll make.

By offering certain perks, for instance, you can grow a targeted list of people interested in your business or brand (or both:

You could give away a free eBook, white paper, a free trial, a free online course, a blueprint, a checklist, etc.

Here’s an example of Leadpages giving away 14-day free trial to grow its own list of subscribers:

Step 8: Lead Generation With WordPress

With a well-designed and active website, you can establish a brand, create good impressions, generate goodwill, and make an impact.

However, the only viable need for a website is to generate leads for your business. Whether it’s a blog or a full-fledged business website, it’ll all boil down to lead generation in the end.

There are several ways to generate leads from your WordPress website but the most important point is that the design and layout of your website are only the starting points of lead generation.

Most WordPress websites depend on Calls to action, buttons, and lead generation elements to generate leads after visitors arrive on your website. Here are a few examples of how leads are generated for various types of websites on the Internet:

Home Page, Designed as a Landing page

Design your website home page as a landing page and make the most of the traffic that your website receives. Landing pages as home pages are minimalistic and optimized to get you leads.

Need an example? See how Brian Dean of Backlinko has a full top section of his homepage designed like a landing page, primed to get leads:

Here’s another example of a homepage designed as a landing page by Noah Kagan (of the AppSumo fame) on his personal website at OkDork:

Use your Blog Sidebar

The sidebar on your WordPress blog comes as standard (you’ll be able to remove it completely on some themes, if you want to). You can use this real estate to collect leads since this sidebar remains the same while your visitors read blog posts.

Here’s how Tim Ferris uses his sidebar to make blog readers subscribe (or download) his popular podcast on iTunes:

Want another example? The folks at Unbounce use their sidebar to have users sign up for a free trial or to have them checkout new features within their landing page builder.

If you are planning to keep the sidebar on the blog, it’s a best practice to keep the sidebar minimalistic and add the most important call-to-action on it. You can also use your sidebar to have people follow you on social media too.

Pop-ups,Exit Pop-ups, Slide-Ins, & CTAs Under Blog Posts

By using pop-ups, slide-ins, and by adding opt-in forms or Calls to action under blog posts (or even in the middle), you can maximize lead generation on your WordPress website as you get traffic thanks to your overall Inbound marketing efforts.

Sleeknote uses Calls to action in the middle of their blog posts with a dark blue background to make blog readers take action (such as signing up for their resource guides or content upgrades):

Slide-ins appear (from the far left bottom of the page or from the left side of the page) when users scroll to a certain extent or after visitors spend certain amount of time. You’ll determine how long they should spend on a page or how far they should scroll down a page.

Here’s how Campaign Monitor uses a slide-in to generate leads from their blog:

You can also use:

  • Exit intent pop-ups Displayed when visitors are about to leave your website
  • Pop-ups, Slide-ins, CTAs under (or in the middle of) blog posts with countdown timers
  • Full-page display pop-ups (these pop-ups cover the entire page until users take action)

With WordPress, there are several ways to generate leads. However, the examples shown above are the most popular for a simple reason: they just work.

Step 9: Basic Marketing Automation Explained

Your business is already hard to run, with its own share of problems. As an entrepreneur, your time is stretched while your resources are limited. That’s why marketing automation holds promise.

Thanks to the technology available to all of us today, it’s not just large companies like Amazon that can use marketing automation; absolutely everyone can use automation.

From getting visitors to qualifying leads; from managing leads to turning them into customers, you can use business automation) in any business function. Marketing automation refers to the marketing tools, processes, and systems you’ll use to automate (or semi-automate) your marketing process.

Of all the marketing automation you can do, email marketing automation is the fastest and the most achievable type of automation for most businesses and individuals.

By using simple-to-use but highly-efficient and capable email marketing automation service provides such as Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, ConvertKit, and Drip — in combination with lead generation tools (above) — you can practically automate how you generate leads, manage your leads, and then convert them into customers.

Here’s a diagrammatic representation of how the first example of marketing automation looks like:

 

Note: Getting traffic to your website is common for all marketing automation systems to work.

There are several different processes (depending on how you do automation and your business itself) to marketing automation.

Here are a few common marketing workflows — along with possible marketing tools you could be using — that could be completely automated along with your WordPress website, without you having to lift a finger.

  • Get traffic → Generate leads using Pop-ups (Mailchimp Pop-ups, WordPress plugins, OptinMonster, etc.) → Connect with Mailchimp or Drip → Send autoresponders
  • Generate leads using Pop-ups (Mailchimp Pop-ups, WordPress plugins, OptinMonster, etc.) → Connect with Drip → Qualify leads based on “Lead Score” → Send email autoresponders
  • Unsubscribe Subscribers from your Drip email list if they don’t score above a certain number within your Drip account.
  • Segment your email list based on actions taken on your website by applying tags automatically.
  • Automatically track email list activities and track actions taken with your actual sales numbers (by linking Stripe or Paypal).

Conclusion

WordPress has the largest market share among other CMS systems for a simple reason: it’s easy to use, free to start with, provides you with several tools and apps to work with, and you have support available when you need it.

How well you use WordPress to meet your business goals is up to you.

If you feel our WordPress for Dummies guide has helped you with building and marketing your website, feel free to share it with your friends or mention it in your own blog!

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