This guide is for you to create a site or blog for yourself or your business. These days, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to develop your online real estate. Because it’s what it is. Investing time and effort in building your online presence is investing in yourself and your future.
You can even decide to monetize your site in the future.
Too many people spend days setting up the foundations of their sites or even weeks. They end up giving up because it is too hard. Set yourself up for success from the start. Defer the tech stuff to professionals. And focus on what excites you, create content.
What you need to create a site:
- Domain name (e.g: example.com, andrewdetiffe.com, mocki.co, etc.)
- Hosting provider to host your site, your content.
- WordPress: to easily edit your website, create and modify your content.
And if the thought of doing this alone scares you, I’d recommend a course that will guide you through this process, step by step.
The steps to create your website or blog are:
- Step 1: Choose a domain name
- Step 2: Choose a hosting provider and domain registrar
- Step 3: Set up your website using WordPress
- Step 4: Choose a theme
- Step 5: Custommize your website
Full Disclosure: This guide contains affiliate links. If you purchase web hosting or a domain name through my referral links, I earn a commission – at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Choose a platform
While this post is about creating your website and domain, I quickly want to go over the alternatives for bloggers for you to make an educated decision. There are many ways to get your content out there.
The free and easiest way is to use social media: Instagram, Youtube channel, Facebook, etc. However, by relying 100% on those platforms for your content or business, you are at the mercy of those platforms. Imagine that you have based your entire business on social media and that your accounts are suspended (for any reason). You have lost your main source of traffic. They can change the rules overnight. For example, have a look at my Google Compliance checklist.
Use social media to promote your content, not as your primary platform.
What about WordPress.com? WordPress.com is by far the easiest option to get a blog set up in minutes without worrying about cost or anything else. WordPress.com is very limited, for example, you can’t install extra plugins to enhance the features on your website (because a WordPress multisite installation powers WordPress.com, no users but the admin can install plugins). Yet, it’s a good way to test the waters and free start. You can then use a migration plugin like the one provided by SiteGround to migrate your WordPress.com to your domain.
If you are ready to put a little bit of money, I highly recommend starting your website or blog. Also known as an Authority Website. Think about that website as your online real estate. Unlike other platforms, you own the content. The platform is yours.
As you create content and value, your audience grows!
Step 1: Choose a domain name
The domain name is the URL you type to reach a website, such as andrewdetiffe.com.
There’s no need to register one at this stage if you don’t have a domain name. I’ll explain to you why in Step 2.
Guidelines before purchasing a domain name:
- Do get a
.cowhen possible. Some domains look scammy at first (like
- Domain names should be easy to type and easy to remember. Keep it short. Why? To avoid confusion when sharing it verbally when chatting with someone or during a webinar, for instance. You can use your name if you are planning on using your face at the frontline (authority website). Or even phrases if it fits your online business! For example, “ilovephotography.com.”
- Request “Whois privacy.” To make sure your contact information (Address, Name, Phone number) stays private. Otherwise, anyone can do a “WHOIS Lookup” and see your personal information.
- Do choose domains that are targeted to your audience and describe your business, product or service. Use your first name and last name if you want to be the face of what you do, such as shooting videos, writing blog posts, etc. This is why I chose andrewdetiffe.com.
Domain names are provided by a domain registrar such as Namecheap. But wait, don’t go get one just yet…
Step 2: Choose a hosting provider and domain registrar
The domain name itself is not enough. It’s like having a phone number but no phone to make and receive actual calls.
A hosting provider is where you create and host your site, your content.
Brief criteria you should look for in a hosting provider:
https(SSL) certificates included for your domain for free. I have used Let’s encrypt” in the past, this is a non-profit Certificate Authority recognized world-wide. You don’t want to have to handle the renewal of your SSL certificates yourself. Let it to the platform you will choose to go with. If you have no idea what I am talking about, that’s an extra reason to get
Free SSL Certificatesincluded!
- Whatever hosting service you choose, make sure they have an uptime greater than 99%. See SLA (“agreement”). Free hosting providers have ower SLAs as bad as 50%; your site can be down for half a day. For example, in my early days of web development, I used to be with 000webhost. My site was down a few hours a day! They also had several security breaches over the years.
1-click WordPressinstallation. You don’t want to have to deal with the complexity of setting up WordPress yourself: set up a database, backups, etc.
- 24/7 customer service. Lousy customer service is one of the reasons I left my previous hosting services.
- Last but not least, daily automated backups and the ability to restore from those backups. If there is nothing in the sales pages that mention this, send an email to the customer service. You need a retention period of at least 30 days to restore your site to “how it was” up to 30 days ago. If the customer service does not reply to you, walk away! I refer to the pain of managing your backups in a separate post about SiteGround vs Amazon AWS.
I’d recommend SiteGround as your hosting provider. I use them for all my sites. If you know of another hosting provider, but still doubt, I can review that provider for you. Let me know in the comments below.
SiteGround’s customer service is excellent. They can take care of migrating an existing WordPress site you have hosted somewhere else. At no charge. Who does that?
SiteGround hosting plans start from a few dollars a month (here is my referral discount link) and offers all the essential features for setting up a website.
Take a tour of what a siteground account looks like.
SiteGround has different plans depending on what you are trying to achieve. For quick and easy WordPress setup, click on “WordPress Hosting.”
If you are afraid to feel overwhelmed, SiteGround has a WordPress Starter plugin that takes the confusion out of building a new WordPress site. The plugin walks you through a curated number of themes and the most popular site features so you can choose what you need and launch your website more quickly.
In this step, you will request the domain you have chosen in Step 1. If you already have a domain name registered with another registrar, click “I already have.” You will be able to transfer it later on. If the domain name is already taken, you will get a similar message when proceeding:
“The domain name you have chosen is not available. Please try a new domain name search in the domain name box above.”
If your domain name is available, you will see a confirmation message:
“Congratulations! Domain example.com is available for registration with your hosting account!”
Fill in the information required.
Tadaaa’, well done! You just created your account.
Create your site
Step 3: Set up your website using WordPress
SiteGround has a WordPress Starter wizard that is going to walk you through the setup process.
You can select extra useful functionality curated by SiteGround for your site. I highly recommend Jetpack (free) as it comes with a lot of functionalities to increase the performance of your site, monitoring (such as getting an email if your site is down), cache images, etc. Jetpack add Markdown capability to WordPress so that you can write your posts in Markdown. This is what I do.
The good thing about WordPress is that you can automate part of your marketing via plugins. SiteGround starter allows you to install beginner marketer plugins in a snap: Google Analytics (free), Yoast SEO (free) to help you understand how to improve your content to rank higher on Google.
SiteGround also recommends a paid plugin (OptinMonster) to grow your subscribers list, but I’d recommend you to use AWeber as it is designed for beginners.
Step 4: Choose a theme
You can get free WordPress themes, but I highly recommend a premium theme because they have developers working on them with frequent updates. Without getting too technical, if your theme has some bugs in it (in PHP mainly), an attacker can steal some of your data or compromise your site. Trust me. I used to build websites with Joomla and had countless breaches on some of my test websites.
Import demo pages and content
The enfold theme comes with compelling demo content.
Step 5: Customize your website
Customizing your site doesn’t have to be a hassle. Enfold brings a lot more than a slick user interface. It adds drag & drop capability to your WordPress to design web pages in a snap.
If you decide to go for a free theme, you can still get a page builder capability that offers the smoothest experience with drag & drop functionality and inline editing. Use the Elementor plugin (free).
I give tips about creating content on your blog or website and how to monetize it from my my newsletter.