A WordPress Tutorial Site for Beginners
Scroll down to find the first steps to build an amazing WordPress website. This site was built using the exact steps that are outlined below!
Step 1: Find a website name
Coming up with a good website name that is not already taken can be difficult. Don’t get hung up on this step. Too many times I have failed to build a website that would have been great because I got hung up on choosing a name and then lost interest. If you are stuck you can:
1.1) Choose an available domain that is simply OK. You can begin to build your website on this domain and always switch it over if you come up with a better name. The most important part is to start DOING.
1.2) Use Panabee.com to help generate a unique website name. This is the best website generator I have seen, as it uses a variety of creative algorithms to generate names based upon your desired keywords. It also tells you whether or not this domain is available for purchase, which is hugely valuable.
1.3) Another name generator is Impossibility.org –> it automatically appends adjectives/verbs/nouns to your keyword to generate a list of available websites.
Step 2: Buy a Domain Name
So, you have chosen a name. Now it is time to put your money where your mouse is and become the proud owner of a piece of digital real estate:
2.1) Some people are not a fan, but I use GoDaddy.com to buy my domain names. See the pro-tip box to find out why.
2.2) The other popular option is Namecheap.com. Their base prices are cheaper than GoDaddy, but GD can be cheaper if you would just read that pro tip already.
2.3) Most domain names are not expensive. If you are a beginner, don’t buy a domain that is more expensive than the base rate. You can always do this down the road once you have proven that your idea is actually something that you want to follow through with.
2.4) The default GoDaddy domain purchase is to have your domain auto-renew after 1 year. Do this. Having a $12 charge show up on your credit card a year from now is much less worse than losing your coveted domain name because you didn’t choose to renew.
2.5) Upon purchasing your domain, be sure to confirm your purchase via email (GoDaddy will send you an email).
Having Trouble Buying a Domain?
A detailed blog post on the subject will be coming soon.
Pro Tip #1: Use Honey to Save Money
Install the Google Chrome “Honey” plugin. This is a Chrome app that accesses a database of coupon codes and applies them to your cart at checkout. It ALWAYS finds me codes for GoDaddy that allow me to buy the $12.99/yr domains for as cheap as $0.99/yr (although it is usually $2.99). NOTE: Some people are wary of chrome plugins because of their ability to access data. Please do your own research and assess your preferred level of risk before downloading.
The plugin as it appears on the GoDaddy cart page.
Step 3: Host Your Website
Now that you have bought your domain on GoDaddy, I am going to keep this simple and tell you to also buy your hosting with GoDaddy (tech nerds are already lining up with pitchforks outside of my house).
3.1) Go to GoDaddy, click on the “My Account” button in the top header.
3.2) Open the accordion option that says “Domains.” You should see the domain that you just purchased. Under the column that says “Associated Products” click the “none” button. This will take you to a new page.
3.3) On this new page, click the second accordion option that says “Activate your Domain.” If you are only building one website, select the “Web Economy Hosting” option (see screenshot below). If you plan on building multiple websites, you can host them all on one GoDaddy account if you purchase the slightly more expensive “Web Hosting Deluxe” package. Select your option and click “Add” and then click “Next”
3.4) You should now be at your GoDaddy cart where you can again use Honey to see if any coupons will be applied to your hosting. I recommend purchasing the 1 year hosting option.
The stupid shirt page
Success!!! This is what your site should look like if you go to your domain name after installing wordpress
Step 4: Install WordPress Application
Now it is showtime! You have your domain purchased and hosted. If you went to your site right now, you would see the ironically uncool hawaiian shirt image that says “Future Home of Something Quite Cool.” So, how do you install WordPress on your GoDaddy site?
4.1) Log in to your GoDaddy account and click the “My Account” dropdown in the top header, then click “Manage My Hosting.” It should take you to a new page where you need to click the green “Manage” button corresponding to your hosted domain
4.2) Depending on whether you purchased economy or deluxe hosting, this next step may vary.
Economy: Click the WordPress application under the “Web Applications” section. A modal will pop up and you will need to click the “Install WordPress” button near the top of the modal.
Deluxe: Click the “Applications” section in the “Account Snapshot” panel on the right side of your screen. A modal will pop up and you will need to click the “Install WordPress” button near the top of the modal.
A WordPress installation modal will appear. IMPORTANT: if you have more than one domain, be sure to select the domain name where you want wordpress installed. MORE IMPORTANT: don’t change the “directory” that the WordPress application is being installed to (unless you really know what you are doing). If this is not your default hosted domain, GoDaddy will automatically install the WordPress application to a folder titled the same as your selected domain, which is what you want it to do.
Create your wordpress admin username and password — be sure to write this down somewhere somewhere so you remember it.
4.3) It will take a few minutes for GoDaddy to install WordPress on your selected domain. If you don’t want to wait, no worries, they will send you an email when it is finished.
4.4) Now, if you go to your domain, you should see the shirt image replaced by a default WordPress “Hello World” page. Step 5 is where the real fun begins. I am talking nightclubs in Vegas after winning the lottery sort of fun!
Step 5: WordPress Login
It is time to login to your site backend and start to turn your website into the thing of beauty that it was always meant to be.
5.1) Go to the nameofyoursite.com/wp-admin – Bookmark this address so that you don’t have to type it in every time.
5.2) You should see the infamous WordPress login page. Type in the username + password that you wrote down from step 4.2
Note: WordPress comes pre-installed with some themes, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to use the theme that I used to build this WordPress tutorial site. I will tell you all about it and how it has changed my life in Step 6.
Take a quick second and sign up for the WordPress Themes Tut newsletter – a great way to have new WordPress tips delivered directly to your inbox:
Step 6: Install Your WordPress Theme
One of the reasons WordPress is so powerful is because of all of the themes and plugins that are available to help make your site sexy and functional.
6.1) There are thousands of WordPress themes on the internet, but let me save you some trouble and tell you that the folks over at Elegant Themes are killing the game. As opposed to paying a one-time price for one usage of one theme, Elegant Themes (ET) has developed a business model where you pay a yearly subscription ($69) for access to all of their themes and resources. Not to mention that their new theme, Divi, is the gol’ darn sweetest thing I have ever seen. So, for the sake of continuing this tutorial, head on over to ET and sign up for an account so you can download the Divi theme => Get it here*
6.2) Once you have signed up for an Elegant Themes account, go to the Themes section and click the download button next to the Divi theme to download the “Themes Package” in .zip format. No need to unzip this bad little puppy now, or ever — Note: the process would be the same for any theme on ET. This will download a zip file to your computer.
6.3) Head back on over to your site WordPress admin and click “Appearance > Themes” on the dashboard side panel. This will take you to the Themes page where you will see all of the installed themes (WordPress pre-installs some themes for you, but they won’t show up unless you activate them).
6.4) At the top of the “Themes” page, click “Add New” which will take you to a new page where you should select the “Upload” option. Proceed to click the “Choose File” option and upload the .zip them file that you just downloaded. You should see a “success” message upon successful upload.
6.5) Head back to the Themes page by clicking “Appearance > Themes” in your dashboard menu. You should now see the Divi theme (or whatever inferior theme you just uploaded) as a theme card. Hover over this theme and select “Activate” …Boom! Your site is now infinitely better, and without you having to touch a piece of code. Head on down to Step 7 to see how to start using your new theme.
*Note: I am such a huge fan of the Divi theme and was telling so many people about it that I felt compelled to sign up for an affiliate account. Therefore, I want to be honest and tell you that I do get paid a bit for each purchase made from my referrals to ET, but I would never link to a site that I wouldn’t personally vouch for regardless of financial compensation (and the trickle of money helps keep this site running, baby!)
Pro Tip #2: Cost Calculator
At this point, you have probably shelled out a bit of dough and may be worrying about how things are adding up. I wanted to break down the expenses that I have discussed thus far:
Purchasing a domain name for 1 year (see Pro Tip #1): $2.99
Purchasing hosting for 1 year: $50 (may be as high as $80 depending on GoDaddy promotions)
Purchasing an Elegant Themes subscription for 1 year: $69
Your total cost: $121.99
This is equivalent to one night of drinking in Los Angeles. Stay home and nerd out for a night and reap the rewards later in life!
If you try to pay someone to build you a custom website, you could be looking at costs potentially exceeding $5,000. If you feel so inclined, you can send the money saved, $4,878.01, to me via Venmo –> email me about my details!
And yeah, this wasn’t really a tip… More of a helpful aside.
Step 7: Setting Up Your Homepage
It is a sunny day, your theme is installed, and you are feeling good… until you go to your website domain and see that it looks nothing like the theme you installed. Let’s change that by setting up your homepage.
7.1) On the WordPress dashboard, go to the “Pages” section and click “Add New.” Title this new page “Home” (or whatever you want) as we will shortly set this page as your homepage.
7.2) Once you have titled your homepage, I would suggest typing a dummy sentence, e.g. “This is a test to make sure the homepage works” into the body of the page.
7.3) On the right side of the page, click the blue “Publish” button. You have now created and published a page call “Home”
7.4) To set this page as your default home, go to the “Settings > Reading” section on the left dashboard panel. On this page, change the option under the “Front Page Displays” by selecting “A Static Page (see below).” You will then want to click the “Front Page:” dropdown and select the page that you just created titled “Home” — Lastly, click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
7.5) Now, if you go to yourwebsitename.com you should see the default front page as being the “Home” page that you just created, which you can verify by seeing if the dummy text from step 7.2 is being displayed.
You are probably still thinking, “this page looks like crap, how do I make it look awesome?” –> In the next section we will start using your theme to make a visually stunning site.
Pro Tip #3: Use Divi's Pre-made Layouts
Divi comes pre-installed with page layouts. Not only can you use these to quickly build your website layout, but loading one up is a great way to experiment and see how elements in the builder translate to the finished product.
BEFORE you start building any elements on your homepage, click the “Load Layout” button at the top of your page builder. Load up “Homepage” and publish the page to see what it looks like. Once the page is published, tweak various elements and update the page to see how the changes translate to actual changes on the website.
Note: loading a layout will replace any work you have already done, so be sure to do this on a brand new page or before you have done any work, so that you don’t lose your progress!
Step 8: Making Your Site Gorgeous
In this section, I am going to tell you how to get started using the Divi theme to make your website the envy of the internet. Note: if you decided not to use the Divi theme, your theme should have came with a readme file or have online documentation on how to implement it.
8.1) Go back to the “Pages” section and click on the “Home” page that you created in the previous step. Underneath the title, click the button that says “Use Page Builder.” This is the most powerful feature of the Divi theme. The theme has an entire drag & drop backend that will allow you to build the elements of your page.
8.2) Because there is too much to discuss in this section, I recommend playing around with the builder by adding sections and modules and learning by doing. Try adding 3 images in a row or adding a full-width slider.
8.3) Another reason why I am such a huge fan of the Divi theme is because of the resources provided by Elegant Themes:
-IMPORTANT: check out the Divi theme readme for all of the info you would ever need to know to work with your theme.
-If you have questions about the theme: check out their forum specific to the Divi theme.
- Check out the ET blog for WordPress tips, advice on themes, and some pretty fantastic freebies.
Step 9: Tweaking WordPress
Before you start sending around your website link to friends and family for heaps of recognition and approval, you should take a moment to tweak a few things in WordPress. Click the tabs below to see how to perform each of the actions.
1) Go to the “Settings > Permalinks” section of your dashboard menu.
2) The most common option here, is to change the url structure to “post name” as this looks the cleanest and will most likely yield you the most SEO juice (search engines will be able to find you better). Do this by clicking the radio button next to “post name”
3) Save changes
IMPORTANT: This will change all of the links on your blog. If you have already linked to places within your website, you will need to go back and change these links to reflect the new link structure.
If you installed the Divi theme:
1) Go to “Appearance > Divi Theme Options” in the lefthand menu of the dashboard.
2) Under the “General Settings” tab, the first field will be a place to upload your logo. Click the “Upload Image” button and upload your image.
3) Once the image uploads, you will probably want to ensure that “Medium” or “Thumbnail” is selected under the “Size” header and then select the “Use for Logo” button.
This is an easy one to do that is really important for looking professional and helping with SEO. Not to mention that this will be visible in the google results.
To change your site title and tagline, simply go to “Settings > General” and type in the new site title and tagline at the top of the page. BE sure to “Save Changes” before leaving the page.
Step 10: Advanced Learnings
This section is coming soon. In the meantime, please drop me a line with any questions you may have or recommendations for what I should write about next!