biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: get a website in a weekend

by Grace Bonney

today we’re fortunate to be sharing what has to be one of my favorite biz ladies post we’ve ever run. amanda from the stylish copywriter and Better Than Chocolate Web Design is sharing her complete primer for building a website in only one weekend using wordpress. amanda will be breaking down the process step by step and, as a user and huge fan of wordpress, i’m really excited to see all of this information written out so clearly and simply for everyone to use. it’s rare that someone sits down and shares all of this detailed information so freely, so i’m incredibly thankful and grateful for amanda taking the time to do this. this is a MUST READ if you’re considering opening a shop/site/blog and need to get started without spending a lot of money. in the article amanda will cover:

  • buying and setting up a domain
  • how to install wordpress
  • customizing your site with themes (including her favorites)
  • adding a logo to your site
  • customizing your site’s sidebars
  • adding calls to your social networking pages (facebook, twitter, etc.)
  • adding content to your site

CLICK HERE for the full post and to start setting up your website after the jump!

Get a website in a weekend – with WordPress!

Web designers are expensive. And that puts you, the owner of a lovely little fledgling business (or perhaps even a bigger one), in a bit of a pickle. You know you need a website, but you don’t exactly have $1000 (let alone $5000, which is what it can cost for a super fancy site) lying around to pay someone to make one for you. And as much as you may think of yourself as a DIYer, the idea of attempting it on your own can be a little scary.

But take heart! Believe it or not, there’s another way to get a website up and running, and it doesn’t have to take forever, cost an arm and a leg, or look hideous. In this Biz Ladies article, I’m going to give you a cheap and speedy roadmap for getting a good-looking website up and running in one weekend – no weird programming, coding, or technical stuff required.  All you need is a few hours and an internet connection. Read on to learn how to create some website magic!

Meet your new best friend: WordPress!

If you’ve spent any time online in the past few years, you may have heard the term “WordPress” thrown around (fast fact: Design*Sponge runs on WordPress!). But you may not know exactly what it is, which is completely understandable, because it’s all a little confusing. In a nutshell, WordPress is a content management system that takes care of the behind-the-scenes technical stuff you need to run a website. The other thing it does is act as a simple interface that lets you update content on your site. WordPress offers a great way for non-technical people to establish an online presence, because it’s incredibly easy to use. And the bonus is that it’s free!

Now, let’s clear up a couple of things that you may be wondering about. The first slightly confusing thing about WordPress is that there are two versions of it: one is the “hosted” version (http://www.WordPress.com), and the other is the “self-hosted” version (http://www.WordPress.org). What this means is that you can choose whether you want to have a blog that lives on the WordPress.com website (think “http://yoursite.WordPress.com“), or you can have one that lives on your very own spiffy domain (think “http://www.yoursite.com“). Today we’ll be learning how to create a site that will live on your own domain. Doing it this way makes you look professional, and it also gives you more control over your site, now and in the future.

The second slightly confusing thing you may have heard about WordPress is that “it’s just for blogs”. Happily, that’s just not true. (For example, the site for my web design company, Better Than Chocolate, runs on WordPress – and it’s totally blogless). In fact, you can use WordPress to create almost any kind of site, and it’s GREAT for making informational or “brochure” websites (which is the kind of site that most Biz Ladies need for their businesses).

Of course, you can still add a blog to your site if you like. That’s the beauty of WordPress: what you do is totally up to you.

So without further ado, let’s dive in!  You’re 5 steps away from having a website of your very own!

1.  Buying your domain and your web hosting space

To create a WordPress-based site, all you need is 1) a domain (otherwise known as the address you type in when trying to visit a site, like designsponge) and 2) a web hosting account with a company that offers one-click WordPress installation. There are lots of web hosting companies that offer this, so it’s up to you which one you choose, but I’m partial to Green Geeks*. I like them because they’re environmentally conscious (300% green, to be exact!), because you get a free domain when you sign up with them, and because they make everything super simple for a non-techie who’s eager to get a site online. If you want to go with another web host, that’s fine too – just be aware that you may have to buy your domain separately, and make sure that they offer a service called “Fantastico” (this is the tool that facilitates the one-click WordPress installation).

Note: the Green Geeks link above is an affiliate link. This means that if you click it and sign up with Green Geeks, I will receive a commission for referring you.

2.  Installing WordPress

Don’t let the word “installing” scare you. Fantastico makes it incredibly easy to get set up with WordPress. Once you’ve signed up with Green Geeks or another web host of your choosing, just follow these steps to do it:

    Log in to your web host’s client area or control panel (usually it’s called “CPanel”) using the username and password that your web host emailed to you when you signed up with them.
    Find the “Fantastico” or “Fantastico Deluxe” icon and click it.
    Under “blogs” in the left-hand column, click the “WordPress” link.
    Click the “New Installation” link. A new page will load with some weird-looking text and boxes. Don’t let them intimidate you. I promise this is easy.  :)
    Leave the first two boxes as-is.
    Under “Admin access data”, choose a username and password for yourself. You’ll use these to log in to your site when you want to add content and make changes. Be sure to pick a tricky password, and write it down for future reference.
    Under “Base configuration”, enter the nickname you want to use for yourself on your site (for example, if your name is Sarah Smith, you’ll probably want to choose “Sarah”).
    Enter the email address you want to receive website-related notifications at. This needs to be a valid email address (choose one that you check often).
    Enter the name you want to give to your website. The name should be an accurate representation of your business (e.g. “Sarah’s Home-Baked Cookies”).
    Enter a site description that describes what your business does and that includes some keywords that people might use when searching for a service like yours on the internet (e.g. “Melt-in-your-mouth cookies delivered right to your door across New Hampshire”).
    Click the “Install WordPress” button.
    You’ll be taken to a page that has will say something like the following:
    Install WordPress (2/3)
    The MySQL database and MySQL user xxxx_wrdp1 will be created and used for this installation.
    You chose to install in the main directory of the domain yourdomain.com.
    Click on Finish installation to continue.
    Click the “Finish installation” button, and you’ll be taken to a confirmation page.

Now try visiting your domain by typing it into your browser’s address bar. If you followed all the steps correctly, you should see your website, complete with your title and description somewhere near the top of the screen.

Now let’s move on to the fun stuff!

3.  Sprucing up your site to make it look the way you want it to

Unless you really like white and blue, you’re probably thinking that your site is looking pretty plain at the moment. Chances are, it’s not exactly what you had in mind for your online presence – so let’s talk about how we can make it look a heck of a lot better.

WordPress makes it VERY easy to do this with “themes”. WordPress themes are like a new outfit for your website. When you switch your theme, the colors, graphics, and layout on your site change almost instantly. Many themes are free, and there are thousands of them available. On top of this, you can change themes as often as you want, totally transforming the look of your website in about three seconds.

To choose a theme for your site, the first thing you need to do is log into WordPress. The place to go to do this is http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin (just replace “yourdomain” with the domain you picked when you signed up with your web host). Enter the username and password that you chose when you installed WordPress via Fantastico, and click the “Log in” button.

The page that will load on your screen is called the WordPress “dashboard”. This is your home base for managing your website’s content and its look and feel. Right now, we’re interested in making the site look better, so look for the “Appearance” header in the left-hand menu and click it. A sub-menu will appear underneath it. Look for “Themes”, and click that. At the top of the page that loads, click the “Add New” button, and you’ll be taken to a page that lets you search for a theme by color, number of columns, width, features, and subject. You can also search for a theme by name (in case you’ve heard of a good one that you want to try).

Go ahead and start searching for a theme that fits what you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that the more search parameters you enter (i.e. the more boxes you tick on this page), the fewer results will come up (and sometimes you’ll get none at all). That’s why it’s also fun to click the “Featured”, “Newest”, and “Recently Updated” links along the top of the page. You may find an amazing theme that way. Or, Google “best free WordPress themes” for even more ideas.

Recommended themes to check out:

To help you get started, let’s look at some recommendations for free themes that are simple to customize. The reason that easily customizable themes are so great for business websites is that they let you tailor your site to your branding. That means you have some control over colors, and if you have one, you can include your logo in the site header.

Theme #1 to check out: Guerilla v2

To grab this theme for your site, start by pasting this link into your web browser’s address bar and hitting enter: http://www.giantthemes.com/download/1. Now, follow these steps:

    • When prompted, save the file to your computer.
    • Log into WordPress, go to the Themes area, and click the “Add New” button at the top of the screen.
    • Click the “Upload” link near the top of the page.
    • Use the “Browse” button to find the file you just downloaded on your computer, double click the file name, and then click the “Install Now” button.
    • Go back to the Themes page, look for the “Guerilla v2” square, and click the “Preview” link underneath it. This will give you an idea of what your site is going to look like once it’s “wearing” this theme.
    • If you like the way it looks and want to switch to the theme in question, click the “Activate” link underneath its listing on your Themes page.
    • Check out your site’s new look!

You can customize this theme to make it look more like what you want, so let’s play around with some of the options. You should now see “Guerrilla Options” listed under “Appearance” in your left-hand menu. Click this link, and you’ll be taken to a page that lets you choose from “Default”, “Light Grunge”, and “Dark Grunge” looks for your site. These are different colorschemes (all of which are quite nice, if you ask me).  :)

Theme #2 to check out: Bueno

To grab this theme for your site, paste this link into your web browser’s address bar and hit enter: http://www.woothemes.com/free-themes/Bueno

Now follow the steps for installing the Guerrilla v2 theme, above.

When you’re ready to customize the theme, look for “Bueno” in your left-hand menu and click it. You’ll be taken to a page where you can upload a logo, choose from a number of colorschemes, add a favicon (the tiny square icon that you see next to the address bar in your browser), and more.

Theme to check out #3: Thrilling Theme

To grab this theme for your site, paste this link into your web browser’s address bar and hit enter: http://www.thrillingheroics.com/download/thrillingtheme

Now follow the steps for installing the Guerrilla v2 theme, above.

To customize this theme, look for a new item called “Thrilling Theme Options” that has appeared in your left-hand menu and click it. On this page, you can choose your theme stylesheet (i.e. your colorscheme), among other things.

Adding your logo to your site

If you have a logo for your business, you’ll definitely want to put it on your website. Many free WordPress themes let you do this (including the three that I listed above). Here are the instructions for how to do it:

    Log into your web host’s CPanel. Things are going to look a little weird and scary again, but don’t worry. You’re in good hands. :)
    Look for the item called “File Manager” and click it.
    A window will pop up, prompting you to choose one of 4 items. Choose the second one (Web Root) and click the “go” button.
    Click the “new folder” button that appears near the top left of the page.
    A pop-up will appear. In the first box, enter the word “images”.
    Leave everything else as-is and click the “Create New Folder” button.
    The pop-up will close, and you’ll see a listing of the files and folders that are associated with your website. Look for the folder called “images” (that’s the one you just created), and double-click it.
    Now click the “upload” icon near the top left of the screen.
    Click the first “Browse” button and find your logo file on your computer (it should be a .GIF, .JPEG, or .PNG). Double-click the file name.
    Wait for the upload to finish (keep an eye on the blue progress bar), and when it says it’s complete, close the browser window.

Make note of this location, go back to WordPress, and open up the options page for your specific theme. Each of the themes I mentioned has a box where you can enter the URL for your logo. Simply paste it in here, save your options, and your logo will appear on your site.

Customizing your sidebars

Unless you pick a one-column WordPress theme, your site will have at least one sidebar. A sidebar is the portion of the site that’s narrower than the main content area. It’s a good place to put information that will help promote your business and enhance your visitors’ experience on the site. In WordPress, the things you will put in your sidebar are called “widgets”.

Let’s talk a bit about what widgets you should include in your sidebar and how to add them. If you log into WordPress, click “Appearance” in the left-hand menu, and then click “Widgets” underneath that, you’ll be taken to the page that lets you control your sidebars and widgets. There are a few pre-programmed widgets listed in the main area of the screen, and if you want to have any of these in your sidebar, you can just drag them over to the right-hand side of the screen. You can also reorder your widgets by dragging them up or down within the sidebar area on the right side of the page. When you add or reorder widgets and save your changes, the changes will automatically be reflected on your website.

Below is a basic list of the widgets that you’ll probably want to include on your site, along with instructions on how to add them to your sidebar(s):

A “search” bar (so that people can find what they’re looking for on your site): This is one of the default widgets available in WordPress. Just drag it over from the main area of the Widgets screen to the sidebar that you want it to appear in.

A text widget that tells people your address (if you’re a brick and mortar business): Drag the “text” widget into your desired sidebar area, enter a title (such as “Where to find us” or “We are located at:”), and in the box below that, type your address, phone number, and other good stuff. Then click the “Save” link.

Links to your business’ Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare profiles or pages (and potentially, other social media sites): There are a number of ways to give your visitors easy access to your various social media profiles via your sidebar, but one of the easiest is to use a WordPress plugin like Social Homes.

Plugins are things that extend the functionality of your WordPress site. When you install a plugin, oftentimes it will automatically give you a widget that you can add to your sidebar. This is the case with Social Homes.

To install Social Homes, follow these steps:

    • Log into WordPress and click on “Plugins” in the left-hand menu.
    • On the next page, click the “Add new” button at the top of the page.
    • Type “Social Homes” in the search bar and click the “Search Plugins” button.
    • Look for Social Homes in the list of search results (it should appear at the top of the list), and click on the “Install” link next to it (at the far right of the page).
    • A pop-up window will appear. Click the orange “Install Now” button.
    • The pop-up window will close, and you’ll see a message confirming that Social Homes has been installed. Click the “Activate Plugin” link.
    • Now click on “Widgets” in the left-hand menu (under “Appearance”).
    • You should see that a widget called “Social Homes” is now listed in the main part of your screen. Drag it over to the sidebar that you want to put it in.
    • Now fill in the Social Homes form, adding the URLs for your social media profiles. You can also change the title from “Social Homes” to something else, such as “Follow us” or “Find us on…”
    • When you’re finished, click the blue “Save” button. Your social media links should now appear in your sidebar.

Note: if Social Homes isn’t your cup of tea, you can also check out Retaggr or Follow Me.

4.  Adding content to your site

Obviously, no site would be complete without content, so now’s the time to add some to yours. For a non-blog website, you’ll primarily be making use of WordPress “pages”. (A blog site would primarily use WordPress “posts”). Before you start entering text for your pages, you should take some time to map out your content plan for your site. What pages do you want the site to have? How do you want to break down your information to make it easily found and understood by your target customer? For example, you’ll probably want to have an “About” page, and then maybe a “Services” page and a “Contact” page.

For every page that you want to have on your site, you’ll be creating a corresponding “page” in WordPress (easy enough!). When you’re ready to go, log in to WordPress and click “Pages” in the left-hand menu. Now click the “Add new” button at the top of the page. On the next page, you can enter a title for your page and your body text. If you want to finish working on it another time, you can click the “Save draft” button and come back to it later. Once you’re happy with how your page reads, click the blue “Publish” button, and a link to the page will appear on your site, in your navigation menu.

To create all your other pages, all you have to do is repeat this process. If you want to edit them later, you can do so easily through the Pages section in WordPress (just click the “Edit” link next to the page you want to edit).

Note: don’t forget to set up a front page for your site. Your front page should be a welcome page that succinctly tells visitors what your website is about. Give this page a title of “Welcome” or something similar.

Now we need to tell WordPress which page should be the first page that people will land on when they visit your site. To do this:

    Log into WordPress and click “Settings” in the left-hand menu.
    Click “Reading” underneath that.
    Where it says “Front page displays”, choose “A static page”, and with the drop-down menu, pick the page that you want to be your front page.
    Click the blue “Save Changes” button.

And now for one last very important step: WordPress has a hard-to-find setting that, when left unchanged, will seriously limit your site’s visibility on the web (definitely NOT a good thing!). To make sure that your site will be found by the search engines, you need to do the following:

    Log into WordPress and click “Settings” in the left-hand menu.
    Click “Privacy” underneath that.
    Make sure the top option is selected (“I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers”), and click “Save Changes”.

5. If you like, add a blog to your site

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve now got a fully functional website up and running, all on your own. That’s pretty huge! But maybe you want to take it one step further and throw a blog into the mix. After all, when it’s done right, blogging can really help you gain traction with your audience and customers, not to mention that it’s a great way to build your brand online.

Adding a blog to your new WordPress site is a piece of cake. Just follow these steps to do it:

    Log in to WordPress and click “Pages” in the left-hand menu.
    Create a new page with the title “Blog” (the body of the page can be empty) and publish it.
    Now click “Settings” in the left-hand menu.
    Click “Permalinks” underneath that, and select the “Month and name” option.
    Click the blue “Save Changes” button.
    Click “Settings” in the left-hand menu.
    Click “Reading” underneath that.
    Make sure that your front page is set to be “A static page” and that your “Front page” is the one you want it to be. Now, next to wear it says “Posts page”, choose “Blog” from the drop-down menu.
    Click the blue “Save Changes” button
    Start blogging! To write a post, just click “Posts” in the left-hand menu in WordPress, and then click “Add new”. Writing a post is exactly like entering content into a WordPress page, except that your content will appear on the blog section of your site. When you’re ready to publish your post, click the blue “Publish” button.
    So that’s it! If you’ve completed my five steps, you now have a snazzy, fully functional website that you can happily refer friends, family and business prospects to. Who would have thought that it would only take a few hours (and zero scary computer knowledge) to do it? :)

Better Than Chocolate creates sinfully gorgeous, satisfyingly fast WordPress-based sites for impatient entrepreneurs. Amanda from Better Than Chocolate has set up a special discount just for Design*Sponge readers at this top-secret page: http://www.betterthanchocolatewebdesign.com/hello-designsponge-readers/, so click on through if you’re interested!

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  • Awesome post! I’ve been hesitant for ages about domains/sites/Wordpress and how to go about obtaining that stuff.
    I think I have found my weekend project! Thank you so much!!

  • It must be fate. I set up a new wordpress blog just days ago and have spent the last couple of nights struggling to works with css. As a creative person, this coding can comes across as a danger zone! I’m so excited to begin this step-by-step guide that seems to be just for me! Amanda, I think I love you!

  • So glad for this post! I have been wanting to switch my website from blogspot to wordpress for a while now, any advice for how i can use my current domain name but switch to wordpress? i am not the most tech-savvy person so i really appreciate all your hard work into this article. thanks!

  • Oh this is perfect. I’ve been putting off downloading wordpress.org for a work project I’m doing for at least 3 days! Thank you sooo much for the step by step guide! It just already seems easier with the info coming in a friendly Biz Ladies post on D*S.

  • Thank you sooooooooo much!!!!! I can’t believe I will finally be able to have my own domain! Not everybody would share these secrets so freely! Huge thank u!!

  • This makes me want to get started right now! I put up a WEAK website for my business last year, but I didn’t have the know how to make it look ANYTHING like my product. I can’t wait to get started with this!!

    THANK YOU so much!!

  • Hi everyone – I’m so glad that you’re excited about the article! I’ll try to answer any questions you may have here in the comments. :)

    Dana: to make the switch from Blogger to WordPress, you’ll need to do the following:

    – Buy your web hosting space (as explained in the article)
    – Check the email they send you upon signup and look for the “nameserver” info in that email
    – Log in to your account at the website you bought your domain from and change your nameservers for that domain to the new ones that you found in your email from your web host (if you’re not sure how to do this, I’d suggest contacting your domain company for help on this)
    – Install WordPress on your new web space (i.e. do all the things in step 2 from the article)
    – Transfer your Blogger posts and subscribers over to your new site: to do this, I’d recommend following the steps listed at http://www.mamablogga.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-migrating-from-blogger-to-wordpress/. You only need to start reading/doing things at the part where you see “Prepare to transfer your feed”.

    I hope this helps! :)

  • WOW!!! What a lot of FREE info. Thanks for your generosity. I only wish I had something to put on the web, I would start immediately. Anyone have any suggestions?

  • Thank you so much for being so generous with this information. I have found it extremely helpful!

  • Thank you so much for this. I’m definitely going to have find some free time to sit down and digest all of this free info.

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I too have been hesitant about domains, etc. but your article has been an inspiration and the catalyst to get me started!
    Hugs from me to you!

  • This is exactly my goal for this weekend … to set up my Web site. Thank you!!

  • This is EXACTLY what I needed–thank you so much! I plan to get a website THIS weekend, thanks to this post.

  • Thank you so much! I’ve been poking around WordPress wanting to launch my own site, but give up before trying. Your post is a lifesaver. Thanks again.

  • Seriously… BLESS you for sharing this information with us. I’ve tried several times (in *vain*) to set up just a very, very simple webpage — with NO success. I’m am incredibly grateful to both Amanda and D*S for being so generous in sharing this information. Thank you!! :)

  • Amanda,
    I setup a wordpress.com “hosted” site, and paid for the upgrades to take the “wordpress” out of the domain and have access to css coding. What is the difference between having a hosted site with these upgrades and having a self-hosted wordpress site? Thank you so much for graciously offering to answer questions.

  • Hi Sydney,

    It sounds like the upgrade that you paid for is the one that they describe here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/

    If you’ve paid for this upgrade, you have your own domain name now (which is a good thing!), but you won’t have the ability to customize your site as much as you would if you had the self-hosted version of WordPress, because your site is still hosted on the WordPress.com servers – and they have put certain limitations in place.

    From what I can tell, you can customize the look of your site through the Custom CSS Editor, but you need to know CSS in order to do this.

    If you don’t know CSS and you want greater control over your site, I would suggest starting fresh with self-hosted WordPress, on a web hosting account that you sign up for yourself. You’d just need to point your domain to your new web space by changing your nameservers. Here are instructions for how to do that: http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/domain-management/#update-name-servers

    And if you’re interested in learning some CSS in order to customize your WordPress.com blog, here’s a link that may help: http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/

    Good luck! :)

  • Any tips on how easy (or hard) it is to switch a domain name from another ‘free website building site’ over to WordPress? I’m kind of nervous about that part.

    I feel like I could have a better ‘homemade’ site over on WordPress rather than where I’m currently. I also think it might be easier for a future paid web developer to work within…

  • Thanks for the post! I was thinking of starting a site as my summer project :) How much does it usually cost to purchase a domain name and is it a one time deal? Do you think this would be a good way to do a family tree/heritage site or has anyone used something pre fabbed? I’ve worked on school sites that you can imput various media.. I want to include info, pictures, dates etc.. and import a lot of things if possible down the road.. thanks again!

  • This is SUCH great timing! I was planning to migrate my blog to wordpress this week and this is the extra kick in the pants to do it, and do it well.

  • wow, thanks for all of this info! i’ve been playing around with a wordpress.com account for my new small biz, but i think you’ve won me over on .org. worth the effort and not as scary as i imagined! two questions:

    -how do i go about having an email address with my domain name? e.g. jess@yourdomain.com
    -any rec’s for accepting credit card payments/other options for ecommerce sites in wordpress?

    thanks again for this GREAT post!

  • WOW! I’ve owned my domain name for months but couldn’t figure out what the heck to do next. Now, an hour after reading your post, my website exists! (Granted, there’s no content, but first things first is awesome.)

    I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your incredibly generous, useful, easy-peasy post. You have simplified what was truly impossible to understand.

    A thousand thanks, Amanda. No, ten thousand.

  • Wow, this is fantastic, thanks so much for all this useful information, i’ve been puzzling over this whole web thing for too long!

    I wonder if you can help with a specific query…
    I have a wordpress blog and have purchased a domain name from http://www.123-reg.co.uk – which is not yet being used for my blog or anything else. I would like to transfer my blog to this domain name and have more flexibility over the style/appearance etc and introduce a gallery and links to my etsy shop, but the web host doesn’t seem to have ‘fantastico’…. any tips on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

  • Juliette: I think you might be talking about Blogger? Check out the comment immediately above yours to see instructions on how to switch your domain over from Blogger to point to a self-hosted WordPress site. :)

    Ashley: It usually costs about $10 to buy a domain for a year (although you get a domain free with a Green Geeks account). If you’re buying a domain separately from your web hosting space, you can get domains for less than that per year if you agree to purchase the domain for 2 years or more (from a company such as GoDaddy).

    Jess: Once you’ve signed up with your web host, you should be able to create an email account associated with your domain. If you sign up with Green Geeks, you log into your control panel, click “Forwarders” under the “Mail” header, and fill out the form to create an email address that will forward to one of your existing email addresses (such as your Gmail or Hotmail address).

    Alisha, Jenna, Laura, and Misha: thank you so much for your amazing feedback! It definitely put a smile on my face!

  • goodness gracious, where was this post when i created my blog two months ago? fortunately, i’m technically-minded enough to wade through all of the steps you listed above, but it still took a whole day to figure out how to connect my hosting account to my domain name. sheesh. i’m glad i made it out alive and i’m so glad that this post will help others create their own blogs and websites!

  • This is wonderful!! I am currently looking into websites and domine! Thank you so kindly for sharing!! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

  • Thank you so much for the tip on Green Geeks. Used your associate link. Was really excited to see that they have such great support for drupal. Love all the biz ladies posts but this one was very timely for me. Thanks again!

  • Amanda, I was actually thinking about switching from Moonfruit. Can I build on my own .com name at WordPress.org if it’s currently over on Moonfruit? I just need to have my current site running while I work on building the new one. Thanks!

  • Thanks so much for this post! Creating a web site has been on my to-do list for too long-but this article has really given my the confidence to tackle it head on.

  • Wonderful information Amanda! Thanks for your generous spirit.
    I second Jess’s question above about “any rec’s for accepting credit card payments/other options for ecommerce sites in wordpress?” Also, is it possible to have customers enter their information so that it’s not “public” on WordPress if, say, you were doing custom monogramming, etc.? Or maybe that’s getting outside the scope of this program?…
    Thanks for any direction you can provide.

  • This is AMAZING! Question: is there any way to import previous posts from blogger if we want to switch over? Or would it need to be done manually?

  • Given me the kick up the bum I needed to finally get my website built – thank you so much!

  • How wonderful – and how generous of you! This is valuable information and I really appreciate it. I need to update our website and now I feel more confident that I’ll be able to come up with something that will work for us.

  • Hannah: Before I give you some pointers, could you tell me if your WordPress blog is a blog that’s hosted at WordPress.com?

    Juliette: I’d never heard of Moonfruit before today, but if your own your domain, you should be able to point it to your new web hosting space (the space where you would install WordPress). Did you buy your domain via Moonfruit, or through another provider, such as GoDaddy?

    Jess and Susan: There are quite a few e-commerce plugins available for WordPress (some free, some not). These plugins can turn your WordPress site into a full-blown shop. Just Google “WordPress e-commerce plugin” to see what’s available. You would install this plugin using the same steps that I detailed in the article re: installing “Social Homes”. Another option is to use PayPal to accept payments on your WordPress site (you would create a PayPal account and then use their button creator tool to get the code to add to the page you want to accept payments on). And yet another option would be to link from your WordPress site to an external e-commerce site that you have an account with, such as Etsy or Big Cartel.

    Beth: Yes, you can import posts from Blogger into WordPress! Instructions can be found here: http://www.mamablogga.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-migrating-from-blogger-to-wordpress/

    Everyone else: can’t wait to see those websites once they’re up and running! :)

  • Oh, how I wish I’d of seen this article 4 months ago – my website would’ve been a breeze!!!

    As it were I managed to muddle through, guessing and trialling all of the way. Luckily it didn’t turn out too shabby in the end! Love WordPress…would never go back!

  • thanks amanda!!! once i got into green geeks (used your link) i found where to do the custom email and appreciate the feedback on e-commerce options. thanks! :)

  • FYI: I signed up with Green Geeks last night and used the coupon code SAVE25NOW and received 25% off of my total!

  • Thanks for the e-commerce leads– this will be extremely useful! Much appreciated, all the best to you!

  • Thanks for the simple explanation. I just set up my own blog in the past couple of months using WordPress, and this definitely clarified a couple of things. I’m totally still learning as I go!

  • So incredible to have all this detailed advice. Thank you, thank you! This makes me want to create a site for my business on WP and just my Blogger blog to WP. Awesome tutorial!

  • I was wondering how to customize the font size and color when using a theme and self hosting? I know CSS but I’m not sure what to edit and if I can edit through the dashboard.

    Thanks so much!

  • What an amazingly clear article. I feel like “The Little Engine That Could” “I think i can, I think I can!” ;-)
    Creating a blog is my summer project. You have been enormously helpful. Thank You!

  • THANK YOU! Just the other night I was bemoaning my lack of web skills during a lengthy “what am I doing with my life” moment. But now this makes it seem so much less intimidating!

  • I love love love this post! I have worked with WordPress for a couple years now and found it pretty agreeable. I’m getting ready to do an overhaul on my site with a new theme, adding some new content and a blog. Btw if looking for good free themes – Smashingmagazine.com is another resource I go to – they’ll do theme “round ups” (which you can find by searching their site). Good luck to all the newbies out there – you will get the hang of it and on the way there will be plenty of community support (another great part of wordpress)! Enjoy.

  • p.s. – really wishing I had known about Green Geeks when my hosting was up for renewal. Totally keeping them in mind when it comes up again though – thanks for the tip cause every little bit helps our earth.

  • I’ve been here a couple times and it looks like your articles get more informative each time. Keep it up I enjoy reading them.

  • Hannah: I would suggest that you sign up with a web host that offers Fantastico (such as Green Geeks), because without that, installing WordPress will be much more complicated than you probably want it to be! Once you’ve got your web hosting account, you can log in to your control panel at 123-reg.co.uk and change the “nameservers” for your domain to the ones listed in your welcome email from Green Geeks. That’s all you need to do to “point” your domain to your new webspace – and then you can move forward with installing WordPress on your web hosting space. :)

    Ana: For most themes, you wouldn’t be able to edit that sort of thing through the dashboard. Some themes will give you options to change font size, etc. through the theme’s specific options page, but if your theme doesn’t, you would need to go into the theme files on your server and edit them via FTP. These are located in the “wp-content” folder, and then the “themes” folder, and then the folder for your specific theme.

  • Thank you for this fantastic article! I have been toying with the idea of starting a site rather than just having a blog, but had set it aside as “too much to learn right now.” I can get going now thanks to you!

  • By the way wordpress 3 came out recently. The bad news we have to wait 6 months before the plug ins will be upgrated. By the way making money blogging is a good idea. Low entrance cost.
    Good luck to all of us.

  • I have been toying with starting a blog or creating a website, but have been a bit intimidated. Thank you for this step by step guide, with this info I think I can conquer it!!

  • What a generous, open sharing! Thank you so much. This is so inspirational!
    Do you think the WordPress tool is search engine friendly enough, or do you suggest adding a plug-in for SEO? i understand that they have one.

  • I can’t begin tell you how awesome this is, this is a dream come true. I have been putting this off for over a year and now I have no excuse not to make a website. Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Thanks so much for this post, have got a new blog up and nearly running. Amazing!

    HOWEVER, I have a question which I am sure is simple to solve but just can’t seem to get it to work.

    At the moment I have a home page, a blog page, a contact me page and about page. However, i don’t want to have a home page and a blog page…i want to just land on my blog page. How can I do this??

    In “reading” section it won’t allow you to have the front page and the posts page as one and the same?? Am consused and so close to being where I want to be!


  • Hooray! Thank you so, so much for this article! It got me inspired to make a wordpress.com brochure site for my organizing biz and it was so quick and easy! http://organizingaplomb.wordpress.com/

    I do have a question if anyone might know — can I get rid of the “Comments closed” boxes on my pages without enabling comments or editing the CSS? (Free wordpress users can’t edit the CSS.)

  • Lisa: You should be able to achieve this by going to the Reading Settings page and picking the Front Page Displays: Your Latest Posts option. :)

    Jenny: Great-looking site! Love the mint/seafoam green! Have you tried changing he setting that disables comments on ALL posts and pages? I believe that will get rid of the comments section altogether.

  • is it possible to make certain pages password protected. eg to have Retail info visable to all public, but keep Wholesale details only available to retailers who have been approved?

  • Accidentally deleted the sidebar php and now have no sidebar on my site. Any ideas on how to get it back?
    Thanks a million for this blog, so excited to finally get going!

  • Ben: Yes, this is definitely possible. When you’re editing the page that you want to password-protect, look at the area of the screen above the blue “Publish” or “Update” button, and where it says “Visibility: public”, click the “Edit” link, choose “password protected”, enter the password, and click OK. Now save your page, and it should be protected.

    Monica: I love your business concept! When you say you deleted the sidebar php, do you mean that you deleted the file from the server?

  • I cannot thank you enough for this post. After reading this, I decided to try a DIY site instead of hiring a web designer. Two days later I had a beautiful website and I’ve been editing content all week. So, so helpful!

  • Thanks so much for this blog entry. I have a quick question. I went through all the steps after clicking on Fantastico and it asked me to fill out a description of my site which I did and it now appears on the header of my site. I don’t like what I wrote and want to change it but can’t work out how. I tried to go back through the steps on the Green Geeks control panel but since I”ve already installed WordPress it won’t let me do it again. Any help would be great. Thanks!

  • Thanks for the thumbs up for my business concept. Yes, we accidentally deleted the file from the server! Where to find one to copy and paste? We have tried ones from other templates, but they don’t come up with the right features. If someone could go into the same template as I used, copy it and paste it here, I could then put it back. I used the Nishita theme.

  • I have tried installing Nishita again, but word press won’t let me. How do I get rid of the original one so I can install it again and use it?

  • Well, I’ve been fiddling for hours and learning a lot. Please ignore last 3 pleas for help, I have managed to find a way to get Nishita working properly – the problem is that is HAS NO SIDEBAR FUNCTION! So deleting it made not difference.
    I have added a sidebar php from another source.
    NOW my question is: how do I add a function php in appearance editor, since Nishita does not have one at all?
    Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • IMMENSELY GRATEFUL for your time and generosity, Amanda!!! Major karma points headed your way =)

    I’m having trouble incorporating my logo. I’m not sure if its a problem with the file (I’ve tried different sizes and types -jpg vs. png) or if I’m entering the wrong logo url. I promise I followed direction =P

    Also, I suppose it’s too much to ask if I’m able to edit the colors of the guerrilla theme, aside from the given options?

    A million thanks!

  • Hi and thank you so much for this outstanding tutorial. I can’t wait to build my wordpress site.

    I already have web hosting at GoDaddy. They have a feature where you can set up a blog or website on WordPress, but they don’t seem to use Fantastico. Can I make a website using your tutorial if I go through GoDaddy?

  • Jennifer, here are a few things for you to try:
    – Can you access the image at the URL that you tried to upload it to? (I.e. http://www.yoursite.com/images/logo.jpg) . If not, it sounds like you uploaded the file to the wrong place.
    – If you CAN access the file at the expected URL, make sure that you typed it correctly in the logo URL box under Guerrilla Theme Options.
    – If it’s still not working, try uploading a different image (not your logo) to see if another image will work (this will help you to establish if the problem is with your image).

    Barbara: As far as I’m aware, GoDaddy does not offer Fantastico. It looks like they have a similar feature, called “Metropolis”. I would suggest calling GoDaddy to get some help with installing WordPress (it should be pretty straightforward), and once it’s installed, you can jump ahead to step 3 in my guide and start customizing your site. Good luck! :)

  • Hi Amanda!

    Thanks for this! I cannot seem to upload my logo either. I have tried many files and types. No luck.

    Any more suggestions on how to turn my logo into a URL would be great.


  • Fantastic!!! Just built a website following your directions! I appreciate this. I’ll spread the word this side of town!!! Thanks.

  • Thanks for the info. I downloaded the Bueno theme as you directed but when I try to upload the zip file I get an error msg: The uploaded file could not be moved to /home/pokeberr/public_html/wp-content/uploads/2010/09.

    Do you know why?

  • Hi Jen,

    It sounds like that might be an issue with your permissions on your folders in your web hosting account, maybe? I’d suggest calling your web host and asking them to help with that.

  • Thank you so much for this! I built my website using your instructions and they were fabulous! On my way to self-employment.

  • Thanks for this! This is really useful and so far all is good, but one question: I did everything but I would like to go back and change Admin access data, base configuration, and email address, etc. (for some reason my nickname shows up at the top of the website and when you click on it it takes you back to the homepage and I would like to instead put the title of my company there instead). How do I go back and modify this? Thanks so much!!!

  • Hi,

    First, thank you so much for sharing all this info. It makes it so much easier to understand.

    Second, I have the bueno theme on my blog and I keep trying to use the Linkwithin plugin on it and it will NOT work. It says “you might also like:” and the “Linkwithin” link at the bottom appears, but no pictures. Do you guys know if the bueno theme just doesn’t support Linkwithin or do I need to adjust something?? Please help!


  • WOW! okay, so it took me about a week exactly… not a weekend. BUT, I DID IT!!! thanks so much for the help. discovering this article was exactly what I needed! Many thanks!!!

  • Just an FYI, but I was using the Bueno theme and my site was recently hacked and my hosting provider said the security breech was in that particular theme. Use with caution!

  • Hi Amanda,

    First of all THANK YOU for this great tutorial!
    I own my domain name and did the workdpress install in greengeeks, but it never took me to the second “finish installation” button. When I visit my domain name i get to the “under construction” message. I did receive a confirmation email with all my installation info details, but still when i click on my domain name on the email, it goes to the “under construction” message… I appreciate your help!

  • OK, I tried installing again from the beginning and I get this message:
    Install WordPress (2/3)

    The installation can not be completed:

    – You cannot install more than one script in the root directory of a domain.

    Click on the browser’s Back button to fix reported errors.

  • Chris: You can change those settings under Settings –> General. :)

    Yanessa: Have you tried contacting LinkWithin support? They will probably be aware of any theme conflicts.

    Saige: Oh no! Thanks for making us aware! Hope all is OK with your site now?

    Salome: That’s definitely something that you should speak with Green Geeks about. They should be able to sort you out in a jiffy!

  • Hi

    And thanks so much for all this information. Do I do all the steps above if I only want a blog?

  • Wow. Thank you…this couldn’t be better timing for me and my little Indie Biz. I will be working on this over the next week!

  • WordPress really is the best option for creative entrepreneurs. I love how you can transform your website into an artist portfolio or even an online shop simply by changing the theme.

    This tutorial is wonderfully detailed. If you are a visual learner and want to *see* how it’s done before you take the leap, check out my free video training series on Mindfulbiz.com about creating your own website using WordPress.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention that it’s critical to think about the goal for your website before getting into the design stage. Make some time first to see how your website fits into your business plan. Know what you want people to do when they come to your website (your call-to-action). Set it up so that your website helps move people toward working with you or buying your artwork because people don’t usually buy on the first visit.

  • This is the best tutorial I’ve ever done. It’s so hard to try to figure this stuff out, and you made it easy! THANK YOU!!!

  • Excellent, excellent post! All I had to do was follow the instructions exactly. Now why can’t all tutorials be that clean cut. Muchas gracias!

  • Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the future. I want to encourage you to continue your great writing, have a nice weekend!

  • THANK YOU! I started a photography business part time a couple of years ago and have been wanting to have a fancy website but never thought it was possible. I tried Wix, for free, and it was too complicated and then a friend explained to me that you can buy a domain, get a wordpress template, etc. Then I found this post and bam! I am now the proud owner of a soon to be awesome photography website that looks hecka professional. I also went with the domain you recommended, per your link. :)

  • Hello! Thank you for this post. I have downloaded a theme from themeforest.net and am not sure how to get that going with WordPress. Any advice here? I am sure it’s something silly and small that I can’t find.


  • I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else
    encountering issues with your blog. It appears like some of the text on your
    content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too?
    This could be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Appreciate it

    • hey-

      we’re not having this problem when we test on all current browsers- can you tell me what type of computer you’re using and what browser (and version) you’re using so i can test?


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  • Perfect writing style, perfect research and attention to detail, not only to events but to emotions felt. Thank you so much sir for your great post on the great blog.