Setting up a wordpress website for close to free…in 3 simple steps

How to start a website for close to FREE

How this guide is structured

  • Why is a website so important
  • Basic Steps – 3 Simple steps to set up your wordpress blog
  • Should you start a free blog?  Or, a super low cost one?
  • General costs of starting a site (it’s less than you think)
  • WordPress.com vs wordpress.org – don’t make this mistake
  • Detailed steps – 3 Simple steps w/ screen shots and guidelines.

 

Why is a website so important?

Nowadays, you need to have a website for your business.  It’s expected.  A website is your online business card…and it can become so much more.  And, it works for you 24-7.

 

If you don’t have a website, it looks rather unprofessional, and many of your customers won’t take you seriously (regardless of your business).  It may signal that your not tech savvy, less convenient and behind the times.  It can also signal that your business isn’t doing very well (after all, how come they couldn’t afford to do a website?).

 

How to start a website almost freeBut, more importantly, it’s a huge business building opportunity.  Your website helps build your equity and shows your customers the breadth of services you provide.  Your website can drive traffic to your “store” no matter what type of of business you have.  (BTW, my website accounts for about 1/3 of my business…and it was all incremental!).

 

Your website works for you 24-7 – while you sleep and while you are helping other customers.  It allows your customers to contact you any time it’s convenient for them – late at night, weekends, etc.  You can create contact form (or even a calendar for them to set an appointment) so they can email you requests or even set up appointments on their own.

 

And, best of all, it costs less than you think!  I’m going to show you how you can quickly and easily set up your own website…for close to free!  And, yes, you can do this yourself.

 

So, what are you waiting for?

 

Basic steps to setting up your own WordPress Site:

There are 3 basic steps to get started on your site (and you’ll find the details below).

  1.  Choose a website name (and register it) – (I recommend GoDaddy)
  2.  Choose a hosting company (I recommend bluehost)
  3.  Set up wordpress and connect your site

 

But, first, I want to give you a bit of background on free vs. paid websites, and why it’s worth it to get a paid website that you OWN.  (And, you’ll see, you can do this very inexpensively – for as little as a few dollars per month + the cost of a domain name (for as low as $1/year).

 

I promise. This is simple!

 

Should you start with a free website or one you own?

It’s very tempting to start with a free website, especially when you are starting your business and/or limited on funding.  But, take it from experience (as I tried this) and don’t do it!  It’s a waste of time as your site won’t go very far.  And, then later, when you want to start a real website, it will just take longer and cost you more (plus, you’ve given up a big business opportunity.)  You’ll be wasting a lot of time.

 

With a website that you own, you have a lot more flexibility on how to design your site, you can have a simple domain name (which makes it easy for your customers to find you) and you increase your searchability on google and other search engines.  Believe me, this is worth it!

 

Besides, it doesn’t cost that much to start you own WordPress site that you OWN.  In fact, you can get started started for less than $100.  (And, if you want to do it very cheap, you can probably get one started for less than $25, and I know you can afford that.

 

General costs for a website:

Many people think it costs more than $1000 to create a website.   And, yes, you can easily spend this (or more).  But, you don’t need to when you get started.

 

There are 4 main costs that go into a website:

1.  Buy a domain name (e.g. TheFlooringGirl.com).  This will generally cost you $1-$20/year.  Not a big investment.  Check out GoDaddy as they tend to have the lowest prices. $.99 .COM domains!

 

2.  You need to purchase a hosting service.  This is where your website is housed, so others can view it.  This will generally just cost $5-10/month.  I recommend BlueHost as they have the best value out there.  Bluehost is reliable and they have excellent customer service.  They are available by phone 24-7.  They can also guide you through the process of setting up your site.

Bluehost now offers hosting for as low as $3.95/month.

 

3.  Optional:  You can buy a theme for your site.  Themes allow you to customize your site and make it look prettier.  This is a one-time cost that generally ranges from $40-$100.  I highly recommend the Genesis Framework.  It’s probably the most popular and best supported theme out there.  And, it’s rather easy to use.  But, you don’t need to do this right away – you can do it later.  (Note: This site is using a free theme called “Twenty Sixteen.”  I plan to upgrade it later.)

 

4.  Optional:  You can pay a web designer to set up your site and design it.  This is where you would spend the majority of your budget.  And, importantly, it’s optional.  And, you can choose to postpone this.

 

Total Costs:

So, as you can see, if you factor in the required costs that you need to pay for, starting a website can be as low as $5-$50, and if you upgrade to a theme $49-$150.  Those prices are very affordable.  (Please note that you need to pay for hosting each month, regardless of whether you do this yourself or pay a designer, so that will cost $48/year.  Again, not bad.

 

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Before I get started, a word of caution.  Many get WordPress.com and WordPress.org mixed up.   Don’t fall into this trap!

 

WordPress.com is free and you don’t want this.  WordPress.org allows you to own your site and have full control.

 

If you do WordPress.com, your site will have wordpress.com in the domain name (e.g. yoursite@wordpress.com).  This will lengthen your domain name (not good for business cards or other marketing communication, nor telling people verbally) and doesn’t look professional.

 

With wordpress.com, you also won’t have the ability to leverage most of the added plugins you’ll want/need (and you’ll appreciate this later).  You will have limited ability on the design of your site (and it will look less professional) and will have difficulty monetizing your site (if that’s a future desire for you) or doing e-commerce.

 

Some of these drawbacks may not seem like a big deal when you’re first starting, but they will definitely hurt your website down the road.  And, if you later switch platforms after your site is well established, it’s much more difficult and time consuming.

 

WordPress has a good combo of simplicity and depth.  So, it’s easy to get started and it has the capability to allow to grow as you have more needs.  It’s great for both regular websites and blogs.   It’s user friendly and allows you to create and and adapt pages without having to understand html or coding.

 

So go for WordPress.org and set it up right from the beginning.  If you follow my guidelines below, you’ll see how easy this is.

 

Basic steps to setting up your own WordPress Site:

  1.  Choose a website name (and register it) – (I recommend GoDaddy)
  2.  Choose a hosting company (I recommend bluehost)
  3.  Set up wordpress and connect your site

 

And, voila!  You have your own website!  (more details below)

 

Now, you just need to add your content.  And, believe me, this is something you can easily do.  After all, it’s YOUR business, and who knows it better than you do?

 

By the way, if you want to pay designer to make your site prettier and/or a copywriter, be my guest.  But, this is a bonus.  For those who are working on a budget (and I know there are a lot of you out there), get started by doing this yourself.  Then, later, after your site has generated more business for you, upgrade it.

 

When I started my first site, I paid a web designer a very small amount to get it set up.  At the time, I was trying to grow my business and couldn’t afford to pay much more.  But, after my website started to generate more business for me, I invested in a professional logo and then a new header and several other marketing enhancements.

 

Then, 2 years later, I paid a professional web designer to improve my site.  I’m happy I did it that way.  I did what I could afford and jumped in. That way, I got started sooner and generated more income sooner without spending an arm and a leg.  This was much smarter vs. just waiting.

 

Remember, your website is a living document.  You can continue to edit it after it goes live.  In fact, it’s better if you keep adding to it and improving it (this can actually help you with the rankings).  Don’t strive for perfection.  Instead, strive for a quick launch and continuous improvement.

 

Now let’s get started on your new wordpress site

1.  Choose a website name (and and register it)

Here are some good guidelines when choosing a domain name:

  • Choose a name that is meaningful and memorable.  Shorter in general is easier to remember.  It’s ideal to include a keyword(s) in there that relates to your topic.  Or just use your business name.
  • Use a “.com” name whenever possible.  First, it’s much easier for people to remember (and type in correctly).  Second, it looks more professional.  Third, many experts believe that this leads to better search results.
  • Try to avoid hyphens or numbers.  These get confusing and with numbers, many don’t know if it’s the number or the word spelled out.

You can use GoDaddy as they tend to have the lowest prices. $.99 .COM domains!  If your desired name isn’t available brainstorm on variations (e.g add in your city or state initials at the end).

 

If you’re having challenges coming up with a name, try BustaName to help you brainstorm.

 

2.  Choose a hosting company

By the way, it’s generally a best practice to host your site at a different place than where you bought your domain name, as that way you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.

 

I recommend bluehost.  They have great support services and have the best value out there.  In fact, you can sign up for as little as $3.95/month.  (You can always choose to upgrade later).

 

 

When you’re on the site, click the green “get started button.”

Get started with bluehost - starting a website

It will then take you to a page where you can choose a plan.  If you’re just getting started, it’s fine to just select the least expensive one (currently, it’s on sale for just $2.95/month.)  You can always choose to upgrade later.

Bluehost hosting rates

 

So select your plan.  Then, you have a chance to enter your domain name – either buy a new domain name or use one that you already have purchased.  (see step 1).   To buy a new name, choose “new domain” on the left.  If you already have a domain name, choose “transfer domain” on the right.

Choose to transfer or create a new domain in bluehost

You’ll then enter your account details.  From here, you can choose your contract period – 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, etc.  Obviously, the longer your contract period, the lower your rate.  This is up to you.  If you are just experimenting with starting your 1st blog, you may want to sign up just for 12 months, vs. if this is your established business, you may sign up for 36 months.

 

From here, you’ll have some options to upgrade.  Generally, most of these aren’t needed.  For example, I opt out for domain privacy protection, search engine jumpstart (seems to be a gimmick) and google apps for work.  Most of these can done via wordpress plugins (most of which are free).

 

Then add your credit card details and select “next.”  Then, you’ll go to a confirmation page, and bluehost will email you your dashboard information with your username and password.

 

3.  Set up wordpress and connect your site

Now you just want to connect your new site to bluehost and install wordpress.org.  This part is FREE.

In the email that bluehost sends with your username and password, they will also send a link to your dashboard.

 

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options you see on the dashboard.  Don’t worry, you won’t need all of these options.

 

Bluehost cpanel - getting started with your wordpress blog

 

Click on the icon for “install wordpress.”  It’s in the “website” section.  From there, you’ll see a new screen where “WordPress” is on the left.  Choose this option (“Use wordpress.”).  The next screen will take you to WordPress Do it Yourself (free).  Then on the upper right, click the green “install” button.

 

From there, you simply select the domain name that you chose at the earlier step.  (leave the right hand side blank as you want to install it to the root (and not any specific folder).  Then hit the green button “check domain.”

 

From there, you’ll receive an email with all of your wordpress login info.

 

And, voila, you are done.  You now have a website!

 

From here, you can start adding content and even upgrade to a theme (which will help make your website look prettier).  I will be writing another article on this soon, but I will say that I highly recommend the Genesis Framework for a theme.

 

REMINDER:  Be sure to save all your passwords and login info in a safe place.

 

So, if you haven’t already, let’s get started.

 

Here’s the link again – Let’s get started on bluehost

Get started with bluehost - starting a website

Some basic pages you’ll want to add right away

  • Home page
  • About us
  • Contact us
  • More detailed pages about your services
  • And, then, you can start a blog.

 

Soon, I will be creating a detailed guide on the next steps after you set up your site.

 

Other useful articles:

 

 

 

 


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Debbie Gartner

Dynamo Debbie Gartner is a professional blogger and marketing expert. She is the owner of Dynamo Marketers and The Flooring Girl. She has over 20 years experience marketing for Fortune 500 Companies and running her own small business. You can get FREE marketing tips in her newsletter.

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2 Response Comments

  • Bob Crane  November 15, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Thanks Debbie, very good info, and so well presented!
    bob

    Reply
    • Debbie  November 16, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks so much, Bob. I really appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Reply

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