How to Start a Website

So you’re just getting started on this new adventure and you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing?  Friend, you are not alone!  Many many people just like you walk this road every single day and the key is to just take it one step at a time.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting right where you are, and have since learned everything I can get my hands on regarding design, code, and everything else involved in website creation.  I’m here to help guide you through this one baby step at a time. Imagine me sitting right along side you at my coffee table and we are doing this together… because my big fat God dream is to absolutely do that!

Step One: Let’s decide on a name

Choosing a name for this big adventure you’re embarking on is no easy feat.  It takes time and patience to find that perfect name that fits your hearts desire.  It also takes time to find the perfect name that isn’t already taken!  That my friend, is the hardest part of this process.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with some brilliant business name and then I go check to see if the name is available and sure enough it’s not.  Before you let your heart get too settled on a specific name, you’ll want to do 2 things: Google it, and search to see if the domain is available.

So what is a domain?  A domain is your address on the internet.  Just as you would give someone your mailing address for them to mail you a letter, you’ll want to give your friends a domain address to be able to find your online home. You can search domain names right here to see what is already taken and what is available.

Why do we need to google the name?  If you want to name your new business Gold & Silver, but you google these words and several other businesses come up, you’re not only going to be competing for google ranking alongside those people with the same business name, you also may run into trademark issues depending on the nature of the other businesses with the same name.  Trust me, you don’t want to get months down the road and get a Cease & Desist letter because your business name is conflicting with someone else. Think of a unique name and take your time!

Once you’ve decided on a name and have discovered the domain is available, it’s time to actually purchase that domain. You can use a service like GoDaddy to purchase your domain but more than likely you’re going to be ready to get your website started immediately, so I recommend moving to the next step and doing your domain and hosting all at the same time.

Step Two: Purchase Domain & Hosting

The next thing we want to do is secure that domain name that we’ve spent so much time thinking up.  There are a few hosting companies that allow you to get 1 free domain when you sign up for a hosting package, so I recommend doing this step all together.  If you’ve already purchased your domain elsewhere, don’t worry… I’ll cover that as well!

So what is hosting? Let’s think of this like we discussed above with your domain being your address.  If you give someone your address to your home, your home is sitting on a piece of land.  The hosting is like the land for your online home.  It consist of servers, files, and databases that keep your site visible and on the internet.  No website exists without hosting.

The hosting company we recommend is SiteGround.  SiteGround’s process is very simple and easy to understand for someone starting out, just like you!

When you go to purchase hosting, you’re going to be asked which hosting package you’d like to select. I recommend that since we are going to be using WordPress (more on this later) that we choose on of the WordPress Hosting Packages. These packages get you started for very little start up cost, and again, includes your domain in the setup process.

Differences in the plans:

StartUp – This package is good for one site and up to 10,000 visits a month and is the most basic plan they offer.
GrowBig – With this plan you are able to host multiple websites within one account, get a free SSL Wildcard for 1 year, and their Backup and Restore service which I find to be very very important especially as a new site owner.
GoGeek – This plan includes all that you see above, as well as more storage space, allows for more site visitors,  and offers 1-click WP staging which is also a helpful feature to test out updates and new themes or plugins.

After you select the package you’d like and hit Get Plan, you’ll be taken to this screen:

startawebsite-getstarted

You will choose whether you already own your domain or you need one.

You’ll proceed from here and fill in all your personal information and your payment information. You can also choose whether you have a site to transfer over or not here as well.

At this point, you have reserved your domain name, paid for your hosting account, and installed WordPress!  You are almost there!

What if I have a domain already but need to transfer it to my hosting provider?

You can absolutely transfer an existing domain to your host. For example, if you purchased a domain at GoDaddy and then hosting through SiteGround, we need to now tell Godaddy where our domain hosting is.  The process here is called changing our nameservers so that it points to the servers now at SiteGround.

Immediately after you complete your order if you’ve selected this option of I already have a domain, you will get an email that has your nameservers in it.

startawebsite-nameservers

You will use these nameservers with your domain registrar to point that domain over to your new hosting account. Here are the instructions for the following companies that you most likely used as your domain registrar.

Please note that this process can be a little tedious so if you’re having trouble don’t hesitate to contact your domain registrar and they would be happy to assist.  Also keep in mind that when you have to update your nameservers, this process takes 24-48 hours to complete so you won’t be able to work on the site until that completes.

Step Three: Login to your new website

Immediately after your complete your order from Step Two, you’ll receive an email with the link to login to your new site.  It will always look like http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin.  You will use the same login credentials you used when signing up above.

Step Four: Choose your Theme

Now this is the fun part!  You get to play dress up and choose the best design for your needs.  We offer many many different themes that can be customized to match your own colors and all you’ll do is insert your own content. 

Step Five: Install your Theme and Start Blogging!

You’re almost there! You’ve got a WordPress site set up and you’re ready to get started! WordPress automatically adds an out of the box theme to your site when you create a new install, so you’ll want to upload your new theme and override what is there.

Next you’ll purchase any of our themes, you’re going to download a .zip file to your local computer. NOTE: Do NOT unzip these files. Once you’ve downloaded your files, login to your new WordPress site. Once you’re logged in, you’re going to be on what is known as the WordPress Dashboard. You should see a column on the left hand site that looks similar to this:

startawebsite-dashboard

You’ll see the APPEARANCE tab on the left and when you hover over that, you’ll see THEMES as your first option. Click on that and this is going to take you to a screen that will show you all the themes currently installed on your site. We now want to upload our own, so we want to hit the ADD NEW button in the top left of the screen and then UPLOAD THEME. You’ll choose the zip file of the theme you’ve purchased from us.

Depending on if you’re using a Genesis or Kadence theme, the setup instructions are slightly different. You can see the instructions for Genesis here and the ones for Kadence here.

From there, you can customize the site to your liking! All of our themes are completely customizable and versatile.  We have put together step-by-step tutorials for each of our themes so that you can get things set up like our demo site. We also offer customization packages for those who want to use our theme but want something a bit more custom and don’t know how to make those changes themselves.