Hello! I am so excited that you’ve decided to download this 7 day guide to build your own website! I know how overwhelming it can be when you are starting out, so I wanted to create a document that could walk you through every step.
My name is Jacinta, your humble WordPress web design tech whiz and online marketing consultant. I’m a reserved, yet highly motivated and adaptable digital marketing expert ready to use my online marketing knowledge to help your business be seen online and ramp up your sales.
I have been creating websites for over 15 years, I basically taught myself when I created a little side hussle back in 2004.
In 2006 my daughter was born and I decided that I didn’t want the 9 – 5 lifestyle so I created my second website “Equinestaff” a horse employment agency.
Dabbling with both my little businesses I gained experience and a passion for web design and WordPress and started offering help to friends with their websites and from there Thomas Web Designs was born.
I also love horses, dogs, cats, country music, chocolate and most of all helping people. I help family focused entrepreneurs build top ranking, self-managed websites, help work through any wordpress tech issues and set up with hosting, blogging, SEO and social media, so they can earn more money and live their dream life.
If you’re ready to get your business online, and seen on social media and all search engines then check out my blog, biz resources, jump into my free Facebook group and of course contact me at any time.
So without further ado, I hope you enjoy setting up your website with this 7 day guide.
Domain Name, Hosting, Change your DNS (Nameservers), and WordPress Install
Hey, it’s so awesome that you chose me to be part of your new business / website / or blog journey. Before your business or blog website can be seen online you need these three things: a domain name or URL, website hosting; and a platform to share your content on the internet.
I have split Day 1 into two parts. This is because we cover quite a lot, so I would suggest taking a reasonable break in between. Now let’s jump in and get you started!
Let’s start with your domain name. This is your website address / domain name / URL etc. You can have any domain name as long as it’s available. You can use your name, your business name, your business keyword, or just a fun name if you prefer. There are many places you can purchase a domain name from, it really doesn’t matter, I have purchased domain names myself from many sites including Crazy Domain Names, GoDaddy, HostGator, Bluehost, SiteGround and have been in charge of domain names for clients that have bought them from places including Netregistry, Melbourne IT, as well as smaller local domain name companies. I also sell domain names as part of my services. It usually comes down to the price factor and what company you prefer to deal with. For the purpose of this lesson, I’m going to walk you through purchasing your domain name through Crazy Domains.
Before you get ready you need to have these things:
– A domain name idea plus a few backup ideas
– Your credit card
If you are purchasing an Australian or country domain name. e.g. .com.au or .co.nz etc. you will also need your Australian (or other country) registered business number. You don’t need this if you are only purchasing a .com or .net etc domain.
When purchasing a domain name, you have a number of options. Let’s say I wanted my web address to be ‘thomaswebdesigns’. Depending on availability, I might be able to choose from the following:
If your business or blog is in Australia and only serves people within Australian then a .com.au domain name is perfect for you, or you can also pick a .net.au or .org.au. A .org.au address however, is normally only used for not-for-profit organisations. A .com domain name is ideal for business that serve customers outside of Australia, although sometimes it’s good to buy both the .com and the .com.au domain name to cover all bases. You can also purchase specialised domain names like .sydney or .melbourne etc. I don’t particularly use or recommend them unless you have a specific reason to as they are more expensive. Keeping in mind, domain names have no influence in Google search ranking factors and only a tiny influence with Bing searches for when you start to market your website in search engines. .com and .com.au are more well known but you really want something that is going to be easy for your audience to remember.
Okay STEP 1, let’s jump onto Crazy Domains and where it says ‘Get your domain name’, type the domain name you want in there.
If it comes up with ‘Sorry, your domain is registered!’ this means your particular domain name has been taken. You have the option to backorder this domain to help you acquire it. You can pay to get reminders if this domain name is ever available, but I would move on and go for another one, or you could be waiting years and years to secure your domain name. If you are really struggling to come up with a great domain name then pop into our Facebook group and ask our community for some suggestions.
STEP 2, once you find an available domain name, add it to your cart and go to checkout. Domain names are usually $38 or less, unless you purchase a specialised domain name. Once you click on the Buy now button you are taken to the checkout page to pay, before you check out, you will notice a few ‘Extra Services’ options.
These are completely up to you, but here are my thoughts on the ‘Extra Services’ offered:
Personal email – I would suggest giving this a miss. When we set up your hosting we will set up your email alongside this and if you want a calendar to share with your staff members then I suggest you use Google calendars as this is free which can also be set up later.
Website Hosting – I personally find that Crazy Domains has slow and unreliable hosting so would also pass on this option. Below I will take you through purchasing your website hosting through another company that is much faster and more user friendly.
Domain Privacy – When you purchase a domain your details are shown on a domain database called Icann Whois. Some companies hang out here and contact people that buy a new domain name to try to sell them services. If you are concerned I would suggest paying the extra $12 or so per year to keep your information private.
STEP 3, once you confirm your purchase you are asked to login or register. Assuming you don’t already have a Crazy Domains account so click on sign up and fill in the details. Again ignore the upgrade options of ‘make your domain faster’, ‘protect’ and ‘list your domain’ as I will go through options later on and most of these can be done for free. Now click confirm and purchase. You will be taken to your domain dashboard. You can now log out but remember your login details as you will need to jump back in later. You should get a confirmation email as well regarding your new domain name that you will just need to click on to confirm. Don’t forget to join my FREE Facebook group, so you can get further help and advice.
Hosting, Change your DNS (Nameservers), and WordPress Install
Hosting is a service that allows your website to be viewed on the internet. Once you purchase hosting you will be provided with a server that has a certain amount of space for your website, if you go over the space or disc allowance then your website will most likely go down or you will then need to purchase more server space. A hosting provider can host your website and/or email address on their server and depending on what type of information is on your website/emails will depend on how much space you need. If you have a basic business website with a dozen images and regularly get business emails without large image files then a server space of 500mb is suitable. If you have a large website with a large amount of traffic or images added daily, such as directories, job boards, classified sites, ecommerce websites or large blog sites then you will likely need more website space.
As a do-it-yourself(er) you are best to start with say 500mb to 1gb and upgrade as you need to. The other thing you want to look at is the type of website hosting. There are many types of hosting from shared, dedicated, managed etc. Dedicated hosting is more expensive and unless you have a large business then you are best to start with basic ‘shared’ hosting. Dedicated hosting is extremely fast as it has almost all the products required to optimize your website and you have complete control over the server. If you’re going to go down this route, I would recommend Amazon web services. Shared hosting can be a little slower, but you can definitely speed your website up with a good hosting provider and a few website hacks. For most websites then shared hosting is completely fine.
Okay, now let’s get started and purchase your website hosting.
STEP 1, jump onto the Siteground website. I have used many hosting providers and helped clients improve their website speed and I believe Siteground is one of the best for people that want to manage their hosting themselves.
STEP 2, click on WordPress Services on the menu and choose a plan.
STEP 3, choose the ‘Startup package’, this gives you plenty of space to start with. It’s usually on special for around $4.95 per month plus GST, for the first 12 months.
STEP 4, now go ahead and click Get started. You are then asked if you have a domain name or if you want to purchase one. Click on, I already have one and type in your new domain name you bought through Crazy Domains. (The reason why I didn’t get you to buy your domain name here is that it’s a little cheaper through Crazy Domains and I believe it’s best to have your domain name and hosting separate.) Now compete your personal and payment details. Again there are add ons they will suggest you to buy such as ‘SG Site Scanner’. During the set up, I will walk you through installing a free program to handle this for you, so this is not needed.
STEP 5, once you have made payment, you will receive confirmation of your website hosting via email. You need to login and find your nameservers (DNS). If you go to ‘My Account’ at the top of the page and click on cPanel, then on the left hand side you will see the name servers which are normally something like. ns1.sgp30.siteground.asia and ns2.sgp30.siteground.asia (see next page for picture) If you don’t see the cPanel to start with click on the Launch setup wizard and click on Don’t need any help and then click Confirm, agree with their terms and complete then the cPanel will appear.
STEP 6, now go ahead and open up another web browser internet tab and login to your Crazy Domains account at www.thomaswebdesigns.com.au/crazydomains. Go to ‘My Account’ and click on Domain and then <your domain url>. Scroll down until you see Nameservers and delete the 2 or 3 that are currently there and replace them with the ones you found from your SiteGround account and click Save. You can now log out of Crazy Domains and close that tab so you are only seeing your SiteGround cPanel.
STEP 7, you should have the SiteGround ‘cPanel’ opened up, if you accidentally closed it, that’s okay, log back into siteground.com, click on My Account at the top of the page and click on cPanel. On the cPanel page you need to scroll down and click on WordPress Installer.
Click on install now (see screenshot on the next page).
Where it says “Choose Protocol”, just stay with http:// for now and choose your domain
name and leave the directory blank. Add your site name and description (note this can be changed later) choose a username and password, (when picking a username I would advise you to either use your name, your full name etc, or your email address, don’t use common usernames such as admin or administrator, or the name of your website) add your email, you don’t need the Multisite or the plugins limit login attempts or the contact forms plugin or any theme (I have better options I will show you later) so leave these and everything else unticked or as none. Now go ahead and install.
STEP 8, once WordPress is installed then you will be able to access your WordPress website. Make sure you write down and save your username, password and login link. Please note if you can’t access it, you may need to wait up to 12 hours as sometimes it takes a bit longer to connect your domain and hosting together. Still stuck? Remember you can contact SiteGround customer support at any time or ask in our Facebook group.
Basic WordPress Walkthrough
It’s now time to start creating your website. Go ahead and login www.<yourdomain.com>/wp-login.php or www.<yourdomain.com>/wp-admin.
Once you have logged into your website, the Dashboard backend will look similar to this (see screenshot). This is the area you add all your content, blog posts, make edits etc. To view your website, mouse over your site name on the top left and right click and your website will open into a new web browser tab.
The menu section on the left hand side are the main areas you work through and depending on what website theme and plugins you have installed onto your website will depend on what other menus appear.
Let me explain what a theme and a plugin is.
A WordPress theme is a bunch of template files that have been designed by a WordPress developer of how a website can look and what it can do. A designer or yourself can then modify this theme to change the way the website looks. They are basically premade layouts that are uploaded onto your website to make it look a certain way without having to create the website from code. There are other website builders including Wix, Joomla, Squarespace to name a few, but like many I believe that WordPress has more functions and more themes available to make your website designed how you want it. There are heaps of FREE themes and then there are premium website themes that can cost around $50, $100 or more.
Plugins are little pieces of software that can add more functions to your website. e.g. you can add a shopping cart plugin, or a contact form, or a slider or a calendar to your website. Whatever you are thinking of adding there is most likely a plugin to install for it. Just be careful as adding too many plugins can slow down your website which takes it longer to load so people can get annoyed and stop visiting your website. As plugins are created by many different website developers and are updated often to improve their function, some plugins clash so having too many can cause errors on your website.
On the left hand side you will see a list of headings and once you click on each heading you will see additional headings. The main headings are:
Dashboard this is where you can get a glimpse of new WordPress information and news, and your website activities. I personally never read anything on this page and you may personally feel there is no need to really worry about it. Under Dashboard you will also see updates. It is essential to keep your WordPress website current, so regularly updating can help prevent your website from getting hacked or having any errors causing your website to go down. The four things you need to worry about keeping updated are your WordPress version, theme, plugins and doing regular backup’s incase something goes wrong (we will walk through this tomorrow). Most likely your WordPress will automatically updates itself, read more information about automatic updates here. Plugins also need to be kept updated, please be careful as some plugins can crash your website as they may not be compatible with your theme or other plugins. Before updating your theme make sure you have a child theme installed which we will talk about tomorrow. Please check out our WordPress maintenance packages if you are not comfortable updating these yourself.
Posts are usually used for writing news or blog posts in. They can be set up on the home page or on a special blog or news page (or whatever name you want to call it). If you have a look you in posts you will see a post created called Hello World, you can go ahead and delete this and we will get to creating article blog posts later on.
Media is stored in this area. You can resize images, find the image URL, delete unused images to help save website storage and plus go through and check that all of your images have keyword titles, description and alt tags which is great for SEO (I have mentioned SEO a few times and we will go over it in detail on Day 7, but it’s basically what you need to do to increase traffic to your website so you move up in organic searches).
Pages all your main pages of your website are found here, you can add or edit page information. Different pages on your website can be named Homepage, About Us, Services, Products, Shop, Contact Us etc. You can add content (text and images) onto your pages.
Comments If you have a blog under posts then this is where the comments that people write will appear. You have the option to approve or delete each comment.
Appearance is the main area where you can create your website or blog design. The first step is to choose a theme. The WordPress theme library has a large choice of free themes available here however for the purpose of this we will be installing a premium theme that is completely customizable. They are definitely worth investing in and will nearly always be better than any free theme, you will see this once we organise this tomorrow.
The Customize area is where you can change the look of your website, (once we install our theme tomorrow we will go through this).
Menus is the place you add and change your ‘Navigation Menu’.
Widgets is the area you control your ‘Sidebar’.
Background is where you can control the main background colour of your website and Theme Editor is where you can customize plugins, however I don’t recommend you touching this unless you are an advanced php website editor and have added a child theme to your website.
Plugins is the main area where you add different functions to your website which we will go through tomorrow.
Users depending on what functions and features are installed on your website will depend on how many users you have. You should check that all administrator uses are correct, including name, email address etc, I often find clients have their administrator user with an incorrect email. If your website is hosted or managed by someone such as myself at Thomas Web Designs you will notice the administrator with their name and email, please leave this user so your website can continue to be managed. Some directories, classifieds, bookings, e-commerce shops, jobs websites may have other users including subscribers, shop managers, vendors etc, they are all your users of your website. The administrator users are however the only ones that can edit your website so make sure you know and trust your administrator users.
Tools I personally never use this section but you can read more about this here.
Settings are the general settings for your web page, while we are looking around there are a few settings I’m going to get you familiar with now. First up click on Settings then General. You can go through and check these.
- Site title is where your business or blog name will be.
- The Tagline explains your website in a few words, it’s your sites’ slogan, or tagline, if you can’t think of anything at the moment you can go back to that later, just delete the “Just another WordPress site” you are better off leaving this blank if you can’t think of anything at the moment.
- WordPress Address (URL) contains your WordPress core application files are located here, please don’t change this.
- Site Address (URL) is what people type in their browser to reach your WordPress site is located here, please don’t change this.
- E-mail Address is the e-mail address that WordPress will send messages regarding the administration and maintenance of your WordPress site.
- Membership anyone can register – check this checkbox if you want anyone to be able to register an account on your site, however I would advise you to keep this unticked unless you are going to adding a membership function in later on.
- New User Default Role this pull-down box allows you to select the default role that is assigned to new users, I would leave this on ‘subscribers’ for now, and I would advise you never to put this on administrator as you don’t want people being able to register and access your website’s backend.
- Site Language the WordPress dashboard language.
- Timezone from the pulldown box, choose a city in the same time zone as you.
- Date Format the format in which to display dates on your site, I normally leave this.
- Time Format the format in which to display times on your site. I normally leave this.
- Week Starts On select your preferred start date for WordPress calendars from the drop-down box Monday is the default setting for this drop-down, I normally leave this.
- Once you have gone through all the general settings, click on Writing under ‘Settings’.
- The ‘Writing’ section controls the interface you use when writing new posts for blogs or articles. Before you say to yourself, “I’m a business website and don’t need blog posts or articles on my website”, think again. Providing free information for potential clients is a great SEO tool. Say you have a cleaning business, then write a few articles on cleaning tips, or great products to use during cleaning, this will help to drive traffic to your website. I would personally leave everything how it is in this section, as later on we will install a different email marketing platform.
- Post via e-mail this allows you to send an email that is then published as a blog. Truth, I have never personally used this or had any clients use it. I would recommend using an outside email marketing campaign or a different plugin to send blog posts directly to your clients email addresses instead. You can read more about this here.
- Blog by Email we will be registering for a different email marketing platform later on.
- Update Services so many great debates about this. I have worked on hundreds of websites from beginner to very advanced bloggers and designers. I have only seen this section used a couple of times. One website was badly blacklisted and even after we removed these, six months later they are still blacklisted, however another site get heaps of page views per month. It’s something you would need to do a lot of research on. For now I recommend leaving this as is and coming back to it again when you are thinking about SEO and marketing.
- Once you have done that click on Add New to create a new page and call it home. Go ahead and save it as we will add contents tomorrow to it and jump back down to settings and reading. Click in the static page radio button and from the drop down choose home page. Now the post page you can leave blank. Normally if you have a standard WordPress theme you can make this your blog post page however as we are going to install a special WordPress theme with an awesome blog page so we can leave this blank.
- Blog pages show at most [X] posts – Enter the number of posts to be displayed, per page, on your website. I normally leave this as is.
- Syndication feeds show the most recent: [X] posts – Enter the number of posts people will see when they download one of your site’s feeds. I normally leave this as is. For each article in a feed, show: Determines whether or not the feed will include the full article or just a summary. I normally leave this as is.
- Search Engine Visibility I leave this as is as to make money from your business or blog then you need it to be seen on search engines.
- Now go ahead and click on Settings > Discussion. This section allows you to set the options about comments. You can decides if comments are allowed on blog posts, I normally keep everything as is but just have a brief read through.
- The ‘Media’ section controls the various settings related to images and other media that are used in writing posts and pages. I would personally leave this as is for now.
- Click on Settings > Permalink Settings. Permalinks are the permanent URLs to your website pages and posts, as well as categories. I personally have this on posts as it’s the best web link structure and search engine friendly.
Wow what a day, go ahead and log out. I hope you really enjoyed Day 1, tomorrow we will install your website theme, the essential plugins and work on your website layout.
If you haven’t joined the FREE facebook group already, please do so and introduce yourself, let us know a few things about yourself, and/ or your business plus what your new domain name is.