This tutorial is for anyone that still hasn’t set up a website because they’re intimidated or think it’s too complicated.
I’m about to show you just how quick and easy it is to set up an awesome WordPress website that looks great, that’s perfectly optimized for the search engines, that does well on the social networks and that screams “this is an authority site that you should buy stuff from!”.
So without further ado – lets jump right into it.
🖊️ If you’d prefer a written guide then continue reading…
Step 1) Getting a Domain Name and Web Hosting
The very first thing that we’re going to need to do is get a domain name and a web hosting account for our website
Our domain name is simply the website address that people will go to visit our site. So for example Amazon’s domain name is Amazon.com and yourself can be WhateverTheHellYouWant.com.
Domain names cost about $10/year and are super simple and easy to register.
Then we’ll need a web hosting account to store our website on. Web hosting is also very easy to set up and will cost you less than $10/month. But I’ll be showing you how you can a huge discount on your web hosting account so that you pay much less than that.
So first lets get our domain name. I get all my domain names from NameCheap.
They’re cheap and they offer free privacy for all of your domain names which means that nobody can look up your domain name to find out your personal details.
Just head on over to NameCheap, enter the domain name that you want to register and hit search to see if it’s available:
For example, if I wanted to set up a website about reptiles then I might try something like LoveReptiles.com.
And I can see right here that this domain is in fact available to be registered:
Usually I recommend going for the dot com if you can get it and trying to keep your domain as short and brandable as possible. Avoid domains like ReptileInformationAndKnowledge.com like the plague.
Then once you’ve found the domain you want you can just add it to the checkout, make your payment and boom you now own that domain name:
Next we need a web hosting account. The host that I recommend is HostGator and I’ve used them to set up countless profitable niche sites in the past. They’re cheap, they’re reliable and they allow you to set up WordPress in just a few clicks:
Once on their site you then want to select one of their plans:
Personally, I recommend going with the “Baby Plan” since it will allow you to set up as many websites on the one account as you want for no extra cost. So if you end up setting up several different websites you’ll still only pay the one low monthly cost.
Then at the checkout you can enter the coupon LAZYCOUPON to score your first month of web hosting for just $0.01 or up to 60% off your total order:
Full disclosure: when you use this link and coupon code I will get a commission at no extra cost to you which is how I’m able to justify putting out these tutorials. Thanks!
Then once you’ve made your payment there’s just one last thing that we need to do before we can begin setting up our WordPress website and that’s to link our hosting account to the domain name that we just registered.
So head back over to your NameCheap account and click the “Manage” button next to the domain you just registered:
Then look for the section labelled “Nameservers” and select the “Custom DNS” option:
Then in the two fields marked “Nameserver 1” and “Nameserver 2” you want to enter the nameserver addresses that you will have been sent in your email after signing up for your HostGator account:
Just copy the addresses into the fields on NameCheap, click save and just like that your domain name and hosting account are now linked.
Step 2) Setting up WordPress
Next it’s time to Install WordPress and the good news is HostGator makes this extremely easy to do.
First just head on over to your HostGator admin control panel. You’ll find the login details in the email that they sent you after signing up:
Then click the “Quick Install” option:
Then choose the “WordPress” option:
Next choose your domain and click “Next”:
Then enter your site name, a username for your WordPress account, a name, an email and hit the “Install” button:
And just like that WordPress is now installed on your site.
Here you’ll see the username and password that you can use to login to your WordPress control panel which you’ll want to save these somewhere for future reference:
If we go to our site now we can see a very bare-bones website up and running:
It looks kind of bland right now but don’t worry because we’re about to totally customize it and make it look awesome by installing a theme and all that good stuff.
But before we do that there’s just a couple bits of housekeeping that we need to do first to make sure that our site is set up just right.
So first head over to your WordPress control panel by going to YourSite.com/wp-admin and entering the username and password that you received after installing WordPress:
Then head on over to the “Settings” section, then “General”, then enter a description for your website in the “Tagline” field and click “Save Changes”:
Next go back to the “Settings” section and choose “Permalinks”. Here you want to select the “Post Name” option and then click “Save Changes”:
Basically, this make your website page addresses look much nicer. So instead of seeing a random bunch of numbers in your page addresses such as LoveReptiles.com/?p=32543643 we will instead see addresses that look more like LoveReptiles.com/chameleon-care/.
Not only does this look a hell of a lot better to your visitors but it helps Google to better understand what your content is about and will ultimately help you to get better rankings in the search engines down the track.
Then the last thing we need to do before we can customize the style of our site is head over to the “Posts” section and then “All Posts” and delete any sample posts here:
Then we want to head over to “Pages” and choose “All Pages” and do the same for any sample pages here:
And now we’re ready to customize our site and make it look awesome.
Step 3) Installing a WordPress Theme
The next thing we are going to want to do is to install a dope looking WordPress theme.
We can do this by heading back to our WordPress control panel and then going to “Appearance”, then “Themes” and then “Add New”:
And from here we can basically choose from thousands of different themes that will totally customize the way that our site looks:
There are themes in every kind of color scheme and style imaginable so no matter what kind of look you are going for there is bound to be a theme that matches that aesthetic vibe that you are after.
Alternatively you can also do a Google search for “Free WordPress Themes” to find tonnes of cool free WordPress themes that you can download and then upload to your website.
If you’re just starting out then free themes are a great option. When I first started I used free themes on all of my sites and have built plenty of profitable sites in the past by doing just this.
The other option that you have though is to invest in a premium theme. Personally, I tend to use premium themes on my sites these days because they tend to look a bit better and have more options for customization. If you’re looking for some good premium themes I’d highly recommend checking out Elegant Themes where you can download and use unlimited themes for the one low annual cost:
However for this guide I’m just going to use a free theme to show you that you really don’t have to go for a premium theme to set up a decent looking site.
For this Reptile example site I’m going to install this theme called “Neville” which I found after doing a Google search for “Free WordPress Themes”:
To install it I just need to download the theme and then go the “Themes” section of my WordPress control panel and click “Upload Theme”:
Once the theme is installed you can then just click “Activate”:
And now your site is sporting a brand new theme:
Now the site still looks a bit bare but don’t worry because we’re about to customize it to get it popping.
After installing a theme you’ll usually see a new section somewhere in your WordPress control panel where you can then customize the theme by changing colors, fonts, uploading logos and all that kind of good stuff.
In the case of this theme we just need to go to the “Appearance” section and then“Customize”:
And here you can see all kinds of options for customizing how your site will look:
Here you can play around with all kinds of settings whether it be switching up the color scheme, adding background images or borders or changing the font styles on your website.
And of course it’s here that we can also upload a logo for our site by going to “Site Identity” and then “Select Logo”:
I’ve said it in the past but I’ll say it again. You’d be amazed at how much a good logo can transform your site and make it look a trustworthy and authority site. So it’s crucial that you upload a decent logo and don’t just stick with the default setting.
Step 4) Creating a Website Logo
If you’ve already got a logo then sweet. You can just go ahead and upload it and skip this step. But if you don’t then you have a few different options.
If you’re slick with graphic design then you can of course design something yourself. However if you’re not then you should be wary of doing it yourself. I’ve seen a lot of people with zero graphic design skills make logos that turn out to be absolute abominations that totally ruin any credibility their site would otherwise have.
If you are dead set on doing it yourself and don’t want to spend any money then the best way to go about it is to search for “Free Logo Creators” in Google. There are a bunch of different tools out there that will allow you to create your own logo which you can then upload to your site:
Another option is to outsource your logos to someone else. There are plenty of sites out there offering services for this but just as an example if you were to head over to Fiverr and do a search for “Logo Design” then you will find a bunch of people offering logo design services for relatively cheap prices:
Or you can do what I do for many of my sites which is is to head over to Graphic River and go to the “Logos” section to find thousands of cheap, pre-made, high quality logos that you can edit and use on your site:
For this example I’ve searched for “Lizard” and have found a bunch of different options:
This one right here looks pretty dope so I’m just going to purchase it and then download it:
Then you can open the logo file in something like Adobe Illustrator, edit the text, save the file and boom your logo is done. If you don’t currently have Illustrator you can get a free 10-day trial over at Adobe.com which is all that you need to do this.
Often when it comes to logos less is more so try not to go for something too complicated. If you think about most of the biggest websites in the world they all utilize simple yet distinct logos on their site. So try to do the same with yours.
Then once your logo is done you can just upload it and click “Publish”:
And now your site is rocking a brand new logo:
At this point your site should be starting to come together and look more like an authoritative site.
Step 5) Installing WordPress Plugins
Next it’s time to install some WordPress Plugins which can add all kinds of cool features to your site with just a click or two.
You can install plugins by going back your WordPress control panel, heading to “Plugins”, then “Add New” and then searching for the plugin that you wish to install:
And really, plugins are one of the best things about WordPress and one of the many reasons that I build all of my sites using WordPress.
There are literally thousands of pre-made plugins that other people have created that you can install onto your site in just a couple of clicks. No coding stuff yourself, no hiring expensive web developers, just search for the feature you want and install a plugin.
To get you started here are a few plugins that I highly recommend which I use on pretty much every site that I own:
Social Pug: This is a social plugin that will help our site to perform better on the social networks by adding prominent sharing buttons to all of your content. There are a tonne of different social plugins out there but I really like the way this one looks and functions. It’s free to use but there’s also a paid version with some extra features you can pick up for around $30 bucks.
SEO By Yoast: This is a simple free plugin that I install on all of my sites which helps to better optimize your site for the search engines so that you can rank better in Google and ultimately get more traffic. I’ll be covering more about exactly how this works in the next step.
Akismet Anti-Spam: This is a nice plugin that’s very effective at stopping comment spam. One thing you’ll find once you start to get a bit of traffic to your site is a lot of people will try to post spammy comments on your posts. To stop spammers in their tracks just use this plugin. It’s so popular that you’ll usually find it comes pre-installed with WordPress but if not you can just search for it.
ReSmush.it Image Optimizer: As the name suggests this plugin will compress any images that you upload to your website which will help your site run faster. This not only helps to keep more visitors on your site but since site speed a factor in search engine rankings it will also make Google like your site more.
Now obviously there are a tonne of other plugins that you can install depending on what features that you are looking to add but for now I’d just stick with these essentials as they give you most of the features that you need to get started.
Step 6) Creating Website Content
Now that we’ve customized our site a bit and have installed a few plugins it’s time to create some content.
And we can do this by heading over to “Posts” and then “Add New”:
From here we can then enter a post title up the top and begin to write our content in the main editor.
You can then add some images by clicking “Add Block”, choosing “Image” and then uploading your image:
To add titles you can choose “Add Block” and then select “Heading”:
You’ll also find a bunch of other elements that you can add by using the “Add Block” feature including lists, buttons and so on.
Mostly though I like to keep my posts pretty simple. They usually consist of just a few titles, some paragraphs and some images:
To add links to your content you can simply highlight any text that you want to link to another page and then click the link button, enter your link address and then save it:
You can also click on your images add a description for each of them on the right hand side:
This will help Google to understand what your pictures are of which is good for ranking in Google as well as getting your images to appear in the Google Image search engine.
Once you’ve finished your post you can then scroll down to the “SEO by Yoast” section (which is the plugin that we installed earlier) to optimize your site for the search engines and preview how the site will look in Google.
By default Google will just pull the first few lines of your post for the description that it shows in the search engines but with this plugin we can create a custom description so that it looks a bit better:
Then we can also head over to the “Social” tab to change how this post will show up on Facebook and Twitter:
You can set the title, description and thumbnail image to customize how your links will look when they get shared.
Next head over to the “Featured Image” section on the right hand side and upload a featured image:
This image will usually show at the top of your posts and be used as a thumbnail for that post across your site.
Finally you can choose a category for your post. Categories allow you to create sections on your site with similar related content.
Since this is a brand new site I don’t yet have any categories so I’ll just create a few like “Chameleons”, “Bearded Dragons”, “Iguanas” and “Turtles”:
For this post I’ve just selected the “Chameleon” category since obviously that’s what this post is about.
Then we can just click the “Publish” button:
And now your post will be LIVE on your site:
And here’s what it looks like after adding several example posts in this way:
Once you add your first few posts your site will really start to pop.
Next we can head back to the WordPress control panel and set up some pages by going to “Pages” and then “Add New”:
Then main difference between the “Page” option and the “Post” option is that whilst posts will appear in on your homepage and category sections your pages wont.
This means pages are good for creating stuff like “About Us” pages, “Contact” pages and all those kind of things that you might want to create but which you don’t want appear in your main list of content on your homepage.
Creating pages works exactly the same as creating a post. Just enter a page title, your main content, any other elements you want to include and then hit “Publish”:
And then you’ve got a page all set up:
This is a pretty basic example of a page but by including elements, images and all that good stuff you can really make any kind of page that you want.
Step 7) Creating a Custom Homepage
The other cool thing that we can do with pages is create our own custom homepage.
To do this just create a new page, call it something like “Home” and then publish it:
Then head on over to “Settings”, “Reading”, change the homepage option to “Static Page”, select the page you just created and click “Save Changes”:
And now our page will show up as our homepage:
Now obviously this page that I’ve just created is extremely boring and bland but if you wanted you could add different elements and images and whatever the hell you want to create something that’s tailored to what you’re after.
Some themes however will also have their own in built homepage builder such as this one. To give you an example of how this works I could go back to that page I just created and then choose the “Front Page” option and then republish my page:
Then I can head to my theme customization settings, click “Front Page Sections” and choose from a whole bunch of different sections that I can add to my homepage and arrange:
So for example I could click “Add Section”, turn on “Show Slider” and click update:
And now I’ve got this slick looking slider thing on my homepage showing a bunch of featured posts from my site:
To add a post to my slider I can just turn on the “Featured Article” option in the post editor and then update the post:
Then maybe I might add a “Blog Post” section to my homepage which will show a bunch of my latest posts in a list format:
Then I can hit “Publish” and now I’ve got a pretty sweet looking homepage:
The site is looking pretty dope now but there’s still a couple more things that we need to do to finish it off.
Step 8) Setting up Widgets
Next we need to customize these sidebars that appear on our homepage as well as alongside our posts:
To do this we can head back to the control panel and go to “Appearance” and then “Widgets”:
Then over to the right hand side you’ll see a bunch of sections for different sidebars which we can add widgets to:
You’ve got a sidebar for your homepage, one for your posts, one for your pages and a few that appear down the bottom of the site.
To add content to these sidebars simply choose some of the different widgets from the left hand side and drag them into the sidebar of your choice on the right hand side:
And now when we go back to our website we can see that our sidebars are populated:
You’ll find all kinds of widgets that you can add in this way including widgets that show a list of your categories, most recent posts, latest comments and all kinds of other stuff.
Step 9) Creating Menus
There’s still one more area of our site that we need to customize and that’s these menu sections at the top of the site:
Every theme will have some menus around the site which you can customize and add links to so that people can better navigate your site.
To set these up just head back to your WordPress control panel and then head over to “Appearance” and then “Menus”:
From here we can then enter a menu name and then click “Create Menu”:
Your menu name can be anything, nobody will actually see it, it’s just for your own reference.
Then we can choose the location for this menu:
Each theme will have some different locations you can set up. In the case of this theme the “Primary” menu is the one that shows up just below my logo:
Then over to the side is where we can choose what we want to show up in this menu:
You can add links to your posts, pages, category pages or even your own custom links.
For this menu I’ve added links to each of my category pages and then hit “Save Menu”:
And now when I head back to my site I can see links to my category pages right here:
When I click on any of these I’ll be taken to a page with all of my posts about that topic:
I can also customize this menu up the top as well as any other menus that appear around the site in the same way:
And after customizing my menus my site is now looking like a real authority site:
Often you’ll find themes can look a bit plain when you first install them but don’t fret because once you add your logo, content, widgets and menus it should come together nicely just like this.
Step 10) Setting up SSL
We’re pretty much done but there’s still just one more quick thing that I highly recommend doing when setting up your WordPress sites and that’s to enable something called SSL.
If you look at my website address you’ll see that next to it it currently says “Not Secure”:
This means that my site doesn’t currently have SSL enabled which is quite frankly not good. Having a site that isn’t secure not only looks awful to your visitors but it also looks bad to Google meaning it can harm your rankings in the search engines.
But don’t worry because enabling SSL is super simple and just requires a WordPress plugin.
So head back to your WordPress control panel, go to the “Plugins” section, then “Add New” and do a search for “Really Simply SSL”:
Then just install the “Really Simple SSL” plugin and activate it.
Now when we go back to our site we should see a nice padlock next to our site address:
This means your site is now secure and more likely to be trusted by both your visitors and by Google.
And that’s how it’s done folks…
That’s how you can set up your very own WordPress website that looks great, brandable and like a REAL authority website that people can trust.
Setting up WordPress sites like this might seem a bit more time consuming than other “website builders” that do everything for you in one click but honestly there is no better option if you serious about building a profitable authority website that’s perfectly optimizes for the search engines, the social networks and for all of your visitors.
Now you have no excuse not to set up your very own website.