“Looking for the ultimate guide on how to start a blog or website with WordPress (not word press)?”
Follow the steps in this WordPress Web design guide to build a blog or small business website (including themes, hosting, design, and more) quickly, and start making money online.
From a business perspective, it is important to keep blog or website design and development times short so that you can focus on getting traffic and making money.
WordPress design considerations should take into account both time and cost to produce the best blog or website possible, in the shortest amount of time, for the least amount of money.
This guide will highlight the different ways to build a website with WordPress, help identify the right option for your blog or small business website, list some of the best WordPress theme design services, and provide further reading for WordPress related blogging, marketing and SEO.
Hosted WordPress vs. self-hosted WordPress
The first decision you need to make is whether or not you want to host your own WordPress blog, or use the hosted version. Here’s what you need to know about each…
Hosted WordPress sites are free, quick and easy to set up at WordPress.com.
Hosted WordPress sites have limitations that may not be suitable if you want to customize and improve the performance and SEO of the default WordPress platform.
However, tens of millions of bloggers use hosted WordPress sites for their blogs.
It’s important to note that you can purchase a domain name for a hosted WordPress site, so that your blog or small business builds up SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and starts driving traffic.
Self host WordPress
Self hosted WordPress sites (available for free from WordPress.org) require you to find a Web server, domain and hosting. This makes it slightly more difficult to get up and running. However, there are many excellent hosting services that cater for WordPress (discussed later), so don’t be put off by the slightly steeper learning curve.
Self hosted WordPress sites give you complete Web design and development control, making it far more flexible and powerful option for building WordPress sites.
Self hosted WordPress sites can be customized using HTML, CSS, PHP, as well as various SEO techniques. Many millions of bloggers and small businesses use self hosted WordPress.
Choosing between hosted or self hosted WordPress
Choose self hosted WordPress if you want more flexibility and control and don’t mind a little bit of extra work at the start.
Choose hosted WordPress if you are happy with a basic WordPress blog and don’t want to have the hassle of finding a separate Web hosting service.
How to create a WordPress blog
Creating a new hosted blog on wordpress.com is easy, so I won’t go into it in much detail here. Browse to WordPress.com, create an account, click Create a new blog, and follow the instructions.
To set up WordPress on your own PC (so that you can design and develop it before deploying to the Web host’s servers), you will need to follow these steps:
- Download and install a Web server package (with PHP and MySQL). I recommend XAMPP
- Download and extract a copy of WordPress to the Web server root document (most likely in C:xampphtdocs).
- Rename the extracted WordPress folder to the name of your new blog or website (i.e. C:xampphtdocsmyblog)
- Browse to http://localhost/phpmyadmin in your favorite browser
- Create a database with the same name as your new blog
- Click on the Privileges tab and Add a new User to the database you just created – with all permissions. Make sure you remember the username and password of the database user (you’ll need it in the next step)
- Browse to http://localhost/myblog in your browser (be sure to change myblog to the name of the WordPress folder)
- Follow the installation instructions and supply the database, user and password as requested
If all goes well, you will be able to log in to your new WordPress website. You can create as many WordPress blogs and sites by repeating this process (just change the folder, database, user and password each time).
WordPress domains and hosting
Buying a domain name for a hosted WordPress blog is easy. Go to Add a domain under the Store tab in your WordPress admin dashboard and follow the checkout procedure.
With a self hosted WordPress site the process is slightly different because you can pick and choose the best hosting service. Most hosting services also come with domain registration facilities, so you can do everything in one place.
Check out The best small business web hosting services, 2012 to find a high quality hosting service.
I also recommend you check out WP Engine – a specialist WordPress hosting service.
WordPress design, themes & templates
Having a bit of CSS (Cascading StyleSheets), HTML, PHP and other Web related skills and experience is a big plus when it comes to customizing and designing beautiful WordPress themes.
From both a blogging and small business perspective, a WordPress theme can help set the tone, look and feel of a website.
A professional, easy-to-understand, clean and lightweight theme can help convince readers to convert (buy stuff, sign up to a newsletter, etc).
The temptation is to go overboard with all the bells and whistles. Be careful not to overload your site or slow it down too much.
Google takes page load time into consideration when calculating where pages appear in search results, so fast pages are good pages.
The good news is that there are many great WordPress design services that can help you get exactly the look and feel you want without having to spend time fighting with code (good news if you’re allergic to programming and Web development).
Top WordPress design, template and theme services
Here’s a list of the top WordPress design services that you can use to find the right theme for your site:
WordPress blogging, marketing & SEO
Once your WordPress blog or website is up and running, it’s time to start adding content and generating revenue.
The following articles and resources will help you master blogging, marketing and SEO techniques:
- Top 5 weekly SEO tasks for bloggers and small business
- Top 10 priorities for starting a blog or small business website
- Free eBook: Small business SEO
- Free eBook: How to make money online using SEO, marketing, blogging & social media
Landing pages & squeeze pages in WordPress
If you’re interested in making landing pages to increase conversions and sales on your WordPress site, check out Max Foundry, which specializes in sales and squeeze pages for WordPress.
Phew! That’s a lot to take in at one go. Take it one step at a time and you’ll find the WordPress is an excellent platform for blogging and making money online.
Have you already started a blog? Share your WordPress advice, tips and experiences in the comments below, or follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to continue the conversation.