Essential Tips for Getting Started With WordPress

WordPress is scary. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was using WordPress for the first time and spending hours trying to figure out what to do and how to make my dream website. I have had several people ask me for WordPress tips, so I thought I would make a short and to-the-point post to help them and you out.

Step 1: Pick a Hosting Service

What is a hosting service? Hosting services store website information on servers. Whatever hosting service you choose will be where all the data from your website is stored, including WordPress itself.

There are services that provide free hosting and there are services that require payment.

Free Hosting:

While free hosting services don’t use WordPress, I still think it’s a good idea to go over it to make sure you are making the right choice with using WordPress. With free hosting, the obvious benefit is not needing to pay for your website. The disadvantage is that your website domain will include the host name. For example if would follow a format such as www.yoursitename.hostingservice.com

  • Weebly – Very versatile and includes pre-made layouts.Also includes a paid option. Use of a unique domain requires paid account.
  • Wix – Super customizable. Choose from pre-made layouts and customize to fit your style. Also includes a paid option. Use of a unique domain requires a paid account.
  • WordPress.com – Layouts are very limiting. Also includes a paid option. Use of a unique domain requires a paid account. Cannot be transferred to WordPress.org hosting.
  • Blogger – Easy to install pre-made layouts. Layout customization can be complex if you don’t know html/css. Does not include a paid option but unique domains can be connected without any purchase. For example you could buy a domain name from a site such as GoDaddy and connect it to you site.wordpress.com address to redirect to your new www.sitename.com address. I LOVE this option and use it for my blog www.spacexplorersam.com. If you are solely going to be blogging I suggest this option.

If you have picked free hosting, proceed to step 4.

Paid Hosting

Paid hosting is very different than free hosting services. The role of a paid hosting services is strictly to hold your website’s data. When using paid hosting it is necessary to use software to make your website, usually WordPress which is an open-sourced (free) content management system. Most paid services are compatible with WordPress and actually include automatic installation of WordPress onto your site.

  • BlueHost – Includes WordPress installation
  • HostGator – Includes WordPress installation
  • SiteGround – Includes WordPress installation. I use SiteGround on this website!

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  • Wix – Not WordPress compatible. Provides its own content management.
  • Weebly – Not WordPress compatible. Provides its own content management.
  • WordPress.com – Not WordPress compatible. Provides its own content management.

If you have picked paid hosting, proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Buy a Domain (Your Site Name)

Domain names can be purchased with your paid hosting which makes things very easy. This could be the best choice for you if you want everything done in one transaction and don’t believe you’ll be switching hosting services. However, you can also choose to pay for hosting from one service and paid for a domain from another host. This is a good choice if you think you might ever change your hosting provider.

For this website, I chose to buy my hosting from SiteGround and my domain from GoDaddy. To connect the two take a bit more effort and steps, but it honestly wasn’t too difficult and I feel like having my hosting and domain separate keeps everything more organized if I were to ever switch hosting services. Also, If you are buying more than one domain it is nice to use a separate service because you can keep all your domains together. This is what I do! I have multiple domains through GoDaddy but they each use a different hosting service (spacexplorersam.com uses GoDaddy and blogger, radwrite.com uses GoDaddy and SiteGround).

Step 3: Connect WordPress to Hosing

This is where things can get pretty confusing. At least, when I first got started with WordPress this is the step where I got stuck. However, don’t worry too much because my biggest mistake was not reading the instructions for installation like, at all. I can only speak for SiteGround because that is the service I used. Here was my process:

  • I selected my hosting option (GrowBig) and went through the checkout process.
  • Chose not to buy a domain through SiteGround
  • Input my domain name (purchased in advance through GoDaddy)
  • A screen automatically appeared asking me to choose a software to install on my site. Choose WordPress.
  • Then create your new WordPress account information and select Confirm.
  • Complete Setup.
  • Now you have WordPress installed onto your hosting platform.
  • Login to WordPress using the account details you created. There should be a link within your SiteGround account or go to yoursite.com.wp-login.php
Image taken from SiteGround instructional page.

Step 4: Find Your Layout

Now you’ve done all the hard steps. Time for some fun! WordPress has a lot of functional layouts that you can choose from. Installation is super easy and customization is not too hard. It all just requires a extra time and a lot of patience. If you don’t have the time or just don’t want to bother with designing your own layout, there are many people and businesses that provide affordable services to help you out.

For this website I chose a pre-made layout provided by WordPress and customized it to my liking. It took around two days of constant editing and many mistakes. But I am super happy with how everything turned out!

Step 5: Create Site Pages

Depending on the type of website you are creating, your site will have different pages. Here are some examples:

A blog site

  • Home (blog)
  • About
  • Contact
  • Tags

A Portfolio

  • Home
  • About
  • Portfolio
  • Contact
  • Blog

A Freelance Website

  • Home
  • About
  • Portfolio
  • Services/Fees
  • Contact
  • Blog

Congratulations! You’ve successfully set up your own website!