Broke man’s guide to starting a blog / Website / eCommerce site

A guuide to starting any Website

Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 08:44 pm

A guuide to starting any Website

Intro

This is a guide about starting a website. The assumption is that you have no idea where to start. But you are very motivated to learn whatever you need to learn.

This is a guide that will revolve around WordPress (WP) . Maybe. Just maybe . In future there will be a more popular. And an easier to use CMS for creating Websites. More popular and easier to use than WordPress [ In future ].

We are not there yet. So we’ll keep everything WP.

This article will be long. Feel free to scroll through and read only the parts that are interesting to you. I also don’t remember the last time I read any blog post from top to bottom. Read it all. Or the parts that are important and interesting to you.

We’ll learn different things. Some will be new. Some will be insightful. Some will be recycled news. Nonetheless, it is very important to be open-minded and willing to learn. Not just willing to learn but to be excited to try out the new things you learn.

General parts of getting any Website

This part will look at various skills , necessaries and guides. They will cover basics for whichever website you want to build . Be it a blog, info Website or an ecommerce Website.

Keep in mind we are using our Website Builder as WordPress (WP) . So everything will revolve around it.

Note

There are two parts to WordPress. There is the WordPress platform . This is found at wordpress.com . It is a platform where you can create your account and start your blog. Your blog will be at yourblogsname.wordpress.com .

Then, there is also the self hosted WordPress . With self hosted WordPress you will need to have hosting and a domain.

We’ll be concentrating on self hosted WordPress because it has a lot of flexibility in terms of growth. With a self hosted WP website, you can grow in any direction you want.

Let’s get started…

Web Hosting and Domain

You need Web Hosting. And there are a lot of options out there. Even in your own country, wherever you are, there are web hosts to choose from.

If you go to Google and search for   Web Hosting Company. You will get bombarded with so many options.

The good thing is, exporting WordPress to another Web Host is very easy. And you can even find people to do it for you for as low as $5 on fiverr.com .

What this means, is that when you are starting out, be open minded to use any reliable Web Host. Speaking from experience, do not buy Hosting for more than one year.

However good the offer is . Do not give in !

You should buy hosting and the domain from the same company. In most cases the Web Host will give you a free domain with your new hosting account.

In my case, I currently Host my Website on Bluehost  and the domain is managed by Namecheap . And then again, I have lots of different domains with different Hosting and Domain Registrar Companies.

Shared hosting is the most affordable.  And for a new WordPress website, that will do for you just fine.

I have hosted my website for a very long time on BlueHost . And I don’t have any major complains .  You can try them out .

The buzz

Currently the buzz is cloud hosting. You may have heard of Amazon Web Services (AWS) , Microsoft Azure or Google’s Cloud platform .

I’ve experimented on AWS . And for a small website it is very expensive to run your Website on AWS.

I once came across a question on a forum which was asking, “between AWS and Shared Hosting which is cheaper ? “   . I never comment much on forums so I didn’t . Here is the answer:

Shared Hosting is very cheap compared to AWS. Don’t ever compare these two.

If you are a bit tech savvy , the cloud platforms you can check out are Digital Ocean and Linode . If you are interested in learning more about any of the above cloud platforms , set up your free trial account and play around with things .

I provide video courses (  Bizanosa Academy ) and my videos are served from S3 which is a cloud storage on Amazon Web Service .  So there is a whole lot more on the cloud platforms other than just hosting your WordPress Website.

Final advice, when starting out, go for shared Web hosting . Check out Bluehost or NameCheap .

This will be the largest or the only cost you may incur when starting out with your Website.

Installing WordPress

Now you have Web Hosting .

Most Shared Web Hosts are using something called Cpanel  for managing your Website. Once you buy your account you will have access to the cPanel.

Read / Watch more about the cpanel here ( Short Tutorial about the cPanel ) .

Nowadays, nearly every WebHosting Company boasts of One Click WordPress install .

In this step by step video I show you how to install WordPress on BlueHost . I have also written a post below it. A post on how to install WordPress on other Web Hosts via the famous One Click install.

There are lots of Tutorials that will teach you how to install WordPress . Even on YouTube there are lots of Tutorials .  On the menu, up there. You can go to Bizanosa Academy. And then join the WordPress course and the Video Blog Course . You will learn all you need to learn about these WordPress parts.

At this point, you have WordPress installed.

Get a Free WP Theme

I will start by saying, you can use a free or a premium theme.  I’m not a fan of premium themes.

Most of them are bloated with too many features and too many files. That is why you will be getting yourself a nice free WordPress Theme.

There are blogs out there dedicated to WordPress. Some specifically to WordPress Themes .

Here is what you are going to do to get your theme.

  • Go online (google) and search for the theme in the niche that you want your blog to be .

Example :  Best Fee WordPress Theme for fashion Blog  or Free WordPress Theme for a portfolio Website , Top Free WooCommerce Themes  . etc .

  • Click on some result. Go through the Themes . If one impresses you, find out more about it and download it.
  • Before downloading , ensure it is a theme on WordPress.org . Look at the reviews. Look at when the theme was last updated. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are using a dead Theme project.
  • Download it and try it out on your Website . Create some pages and get a feel of the theme ..
  • If it does not please you, try another theme.

Feel free to get a premium theme if you want to. Just bear in mind that , there are so many great Free WP Themes.

Basic Plugins for any site

For a new Website there are a few WordPress plugins that are necessary to have . Of course if you go on a journey around the internet you will find that the list may vary. Basically it is a matter of opinion .

Therefore I will give you a list off of my own opinion .

Just necessary

These are some necessary ,valuable and convenient plugins.

Jetpack has a lot of features. On certain Web Hosts, eg Bluehost , it will be installed along with WordPress. Install jetpack. Some things are activated by default. While others will require you to go into the Jetpack settings and Activate them.

Before you can use JetPack you will need to connect it to your WordPress.com account. So create an account on wp.com . Watch the video below  to see how to set up Jetpack on your WordPress Website.

Akismet is a security plugin . It will help you fight off most spam.  Akismet ships with WordPress . It will already be installed in your WordPress Website. However, you must activate it and connect it to your wp..com account. Watch the video below for a step by step guidance .

Contact form Plugin

Contact form 7 is one of the oldest serving Contact Form plugins. It is widely used. And has lots of integrations .

For example, you can add emails for people who contact you into your email list. This would be possible via other contact form 7 addons. Contact form 7 has lots of addons for you to choose from.

  • JetPack Forms

If JetPack can do it, I don’t need to install another plugin for it. Once you activate Jetpack, this option will be available.

In the WordPress Editor, there will be an option to add a contact form. Next to the “Add Media “ button you will see a “Add contact form” button.

Once you learn how to easily navigate your way around WordPress, these will be very easy things to accomplish.

Security Plugin

WordFence security will help protect your website against attacks.

Join this WordPress Video course and jump to the section on security. You will find an in-depth lesson on WordFence settings .

Are there other security plugins? Of course there are. Feel free to go online and sort them out.

SEO Plugins

Yoast SEO has a good reputation. And lots of Wonderful features. You can use it to greatly optimize your posts, pages and media content.

In the above Video Blog course (Here). There is a section on SEO. I used Yoast to optimize a post . Feel free to skip to that part on SEO .

A beginners SEO plugin. Works great too.  Feel free to try this one if Yoast SEO seems too much to handle.

Cache Plugin

This is the most used. The most loved and the highly rated cache plugin. I do not use it. Had issues with it on my website.

It is good . And in my opinion, it is definitely the best. In the WordPress Video Blog course you joined (above) . You will find a section on WP speed . W3 Total Cache settings are explored in depth.

This is also highly rated. And most used . It lacks a few features of W3TC . People still love it and use it. Use W3TC instead.

This is a very simple plugin. It works great. Has lots of features too. WP Fastest Cache also has a Pro version.

Please: Do Not install all of them . Just one will do. Okay ?

Social Media

This plugin automatically shares your posts to social Media.

What is the benefit of this?

One or Two people may click your shared post on social Media. Then go to your blog and read it. If they love it they may share it (rarely happens) .

This plugin also has an advanced option to automatically share old posts.

The reason  I love this plugin is because :

#1. It supports lots of Social Media Networks,

#2. It supports custom post types { Very important to me I tell you }

I don’t have a video tutorial on this. I bet you should be able to find some on YouTube. If and when I do one, I will add it here.

As the name suggests it revives old posts. It will share all your old posts to the social Media Networks you share it to.

Ever since I installed this plugin, my Alexa ranking slightly improved. I don’t know what that’s  about. Alexa.com is a web analytics website that purports and believes that it lists the rankings of all websites. Some investors actually look at your Alexa ranking before taking action. Yap !

The free version of the Revive Old Posts plugin does not support custom post types.

Install it and connect it with your social Media of choice.

  • Jetpack Publicize

Jetpack publicize. Shares your posts to social Media as soon as they are published. I wrote something small about jetpack sharing here .

Jetpack Publicize can be found in your WordPress Dashboard.

Go to settings then Sharing . You will find the options there.

You can see a trend here. You must be willing to learn a few things . These are simple things to learn. One step at a time my dear friend .

Set Up the basic pages

Depending on your website you will need to have some pages . The following are some pages you will need to have (Others are, may need to have / not a must)

Home page

If your website is just a blog. Your home page can simply be a listing of your latest posts. With WordPress, this happens automatically depending on your theme.  Just learn WordPress .

For other  Websites / Blog you can design the home page as you wish. It’s your website remember ?

About Us

Let people know what your Website or Blog is about.

What should they expect on your website?

What will they benefit on your Website?

Contact

First you’ll create a new WordPress Page. You can add a contact form . A link to your Facebook page/profile . Or just type your contact details.

Portfolio

This will surely depend on what you do and what your website is about.

If you are a Marketer , a Copywriter , a Graphic designer , photographer, Web Designer or any other creative. A portfolio is a good way to get social proof.

A portfolio page can be as simple as, one page where you list everything you’ve ever done. Or just the ones you are proud of. Here is an example of my portfolio website . Note that it is a full portfolio website made from one of Anders themes .

In your case, a simple page can just do. Add images . A description . And a link to each project.

Or you can find and use one WordPress portfolio plugin here on WordPress.org.

If you have past projects, showcase them. That’s the purpose of a portfolio.

Starting just a Blog

If your interest is a blog. A place where you can write your thoughts , ideas or stories, then this part is for you.

This part is specific to WordPress . And comes after WordPress Installation .

Pages to set up

For your blog, the basic pages are the ones we mentioned above. We spoke distinctively  of, the  About page, Home and Contact page.

Feel free to add any other pages that you may deem necessary.

Blog Content

You can write your content on the fly. Just go to your WordPress Dashboard . Click on Posts and Add new. Then type in your post content. That’s one way.

Or ..

You can write your post / article on your MS Word . Or any Word Processor .Then just paste it into your WordPress Editor .

Before publishing, always make sure to work on each post’s SEO . Install one of the SEO plugins mentioned above.

Or

Write posts in advance. Write your posts in advance and then go to your WordPress Dashboard and schedule them.  Sometimes I do this too.

If you have set up social Media Auto-sharing. By using one of the plugins you read above . Then, as soon as you hit publish, your post will get posted to the social Media of your choice. And you can expect some readers.

Content Marketing

 

Social Media

One of the best and easiest ways to get your content in front of people is to share your articles on social Media.

Distribute your links on different social Media Networks . Some will get clicked on , others will not. That’s how it is.  Just keep sharing.

 

YouTube

If you can create video tutorials. Or any kind of videos . Post them on YouTube and link back to your Blog, that’d be great for content marketing.

Always brand your videos with your blog/website link. It may get shared. And some people may want to know more about the video creator (you).

You can add a read more link on the description part on YouTube. At least then, people who want to read more, may be motivated enough to visit your website.

 

Email

Who knows? May be you already have an email list. Send them a link to your blog posts.

Other Blogs

Find blogs that are in the same niche you write about. Comment on these blogs and leave a link back to your website. Leave a link that’s related to the post or blog. Don’t go about leaving links haphazardly .

Based on my Google Analytics, I just realized I should do more of this. People actually click these links if they seem interesting enough.

 

Give Free stuff on Your blog

Give free stuff and brand them with your website’s link. And also use them to collect emails . Speaking of which , learn Mailchimp and use it to do your email Marketing.

The general goal is, personal branding. Let everyone know that, that useful marketing guide they got, came from you and your website.  Put your Website Name and link in there.

If the free stuff you provide, get shared. It is up to you to make sure it can always be traced back to you. Sehr wichtig . Very important .

 

 

Guest blogging/ Guest posting

I don’t know much about this. I don’t know where to get started. But I’ve heard it works great . So feel very free to go online and search more about this.

Necessary plugins

The necessary plugins for your blog, should be no different from the ones above.

Unless you want to step-up your blog to something more, the plugins mentioned above should suffice.  in the section about Basic plugins for any Website, we mentioned various plugins for various tasks. Those should be good enough for your new Blog.

Starting a basic Website

You may want to set up a basic website. An information website where you can direct people for more information. More information about what you do and what you can offer them.

It is my hope and belief that your ‘simple’ website should also have a blog. Plan for it too. With WordPress , blogging capability comes by default . So there is no reason for you not to have a blog.

For this simple website, let’s take an example of a Freelancer. You already are a freelancer. Or you want to get started in freelancing.

Your website will contain your contact information. Something about you. The description of the service you offer . And, advisably, some past projects you’ve worked on.

Let’s look at what this part entails. Make sure you have also gone through the above section on starting a blog.

Pages to set up

We are using the example of a Freelancer as we’ve agreed above. So. What are some necessary pages for your Website?

These are pages that should be on your website. You can add others too. For your freelance site, make sure you have the following.

Contact Page

Most definitely, people will need to be able to contact you. You should add a contact form on this page. You may add your phone number and tell people the best way to reach you. And also tell them the best times to contact you.

It’s all entirely up to you. Just ensure that there is a way for people to reach you.

About Page

An about page is like an anchor to the whole website. This is what I mean. Let’s say someone lands on your website through one of your blog posts. They came from google search results. If they like what they read they’ll want to know more about this website.

Where are they likely to go next? You guessed right. The About Page.

On the about page, tell your visitors something about you. Not much. Tell them relevant things. Write about what your website is about. What are the goals and objectives of your website?

Your website’s about page should clearly articulate what your entire website is all about.

Services Page

This is self-explanatory. What services do you offer? Provide as much information about each service or product.

If you have a brochure, you can put it here for prospects to download.

Explain all your services clearly. You may also tell people who your services are targeted at. And tell them the procedure for hiring you.

Past Projects/ portfolio

If you have done some past projects, this where you can showcase them.

This is a nice way for you to demonstrate what you can do.

Here’s the thing. When people come to find a service provider online, one of their major fears is losing money. And wasting time. So before they hire you, they always just want to be sure that you can do what they are paying you for.

If you have worked with some real businesses, mention them here. The truth is, no one will trust you the first time they encounter you online. There has to be some kind of social proofing to get them to trust you. That is to say, if other people trust you, then you must be trustworthy. And they will consequently trust you too.

Home Page

The home page is the overall landing page of your website. As a Freelancer, you need to treat your home page as a serious landing page.

In that regard, you need to articulate what your website is generally about. You should also include a few Testimonials and past projects if you have them. Tell your visitors how it all works. That is, the step by step process of hiring you. The process from start to finish until you deliver the final product/service . And the procedure for you getting paid.

You should even create an FAQ page. Try to anticipate what questions your Website visitors will have. Compile them . And then provide good answers for each.

You can link to the FAQ page on your menu. Or just put all the FAQ on the Home Page.  It’s your website, do what you prefer.

Think of the Home page as a one stop Information center .

Testimonials

If you have Testimonials , compile all of them and put them in one page.

If you do not have testimonials, you should ask your past buyers to write something for you.

You can search for Testimonials plugins here on WordPress.org . Check when it was last updated. Check how many people are using it. Read the reviews. This is how to choose any plugin for any purpose . Or you can go online and search for something like” Best testimonials plugins” .

Some Marketing

You should look at the Marketing section of the part on Creating a blog. This part can be found above.

Social Media

You should continuously provide helpful content on your social media accounts. You should also experiment with paid promotions on social Media.

Post about topics that are relevant to your Freelance business.

Blogging

Most marketing is façade. Most marketing tactics are going to drop in value. The return from most tactics are going to drop. At the top of this list is Google Adwords.

Blogging falls into a category of Marketing that I call Longevity Marketing. I never write about trends. Trends come and go. Write about things that will matter throughout the year. Write about things that are helpful every year. Write content that will matter three to unlimited years from now.

I wrote about the Unicorn Blogger. You should read it.

Grow an email List

Use something like MailChimp (Click here to Learn MailChimp) to grow your Email List.

I am not an email Marketing expert. But I will tell you to create something priceless and give it away for free.  I am terrible at sending emails to my subscribers.

Don’t send emails every day . If you do, some or most of your subscribers will get tired of you and will stop reading your emails. Some will even unsubscribe .

And please, don’t be that fellow who only send emails when you have an ‘amazing offer’ .

Do unto  others what you’d be okay with them doing unto you. And that’s all I have to say about that .

Starting an eCommerce website

If your goal is to sell some product on your Website, then this section should be of great interest to you.

I think this is a really great thought and a perfect decision. The decision to start selling something on your Website is always better than trying to fill ads on your Website.

And you’d be surprised how easy setting up an online store is these days. Especially with WordPress , Shopify , PrestaShop and a bunch of others too. And after adding PayPal to your shop. You’ll be ready for orders from anyone online. Depends on what you’ll be selling.

You can sell anything online.

What can you sell online?

  • You may sell physical products.
  • You may be interested in selling digital products
  • You may even be interested in selling your knowledge. And hence decide to set up a learning Management System (LMS).
  • You may decide to create some sort of a membership website with subscriptions.

It’s all entirely up to you. The possibilities are there.

Some of the tools you can use

WooCommerce (WordPress)

Easy Digital Downloads (WordPress)

Shopify (Stand alone Website)

Paid Memberships Pro (Free Membership plugin)

Lifter LMS (Free LMS plugin)

WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart

Amazon Stores

Shopify Alternatives

We’ll take a deeper look at each of them below.

Selling Physical products

If you want to sell physical products, there is a lot of  logistics involved. It’s arguably more involving than selling digital products. With Physical products shipping and Location is paramount to how you run your online shop.

You will need to know which locations you’ll be able to comfortably serve. This will help you set up your shipping appropriately. Or you can choose to sell your products through amazon and let them handle the logistics of fulfillment for you.

I won’t purport to know much about drop-shipping as a business. But I’ve had lots about it. And I’ve heard it requires very little capital to get started. By heard, I mean, read. One good guide I came across online, is this Shopify Article- Dropshipping guide. It may be of great help to you.

When it comes to creating a full fledged store and selling physical products, there are so many alternatives ranging all the way from Magento, OsCommerce, PrestaShop, WordPress ecommerce plugins, Shopify and so many more.

We’ll only take a look at WooCommerce and Shopify.

Shopify

With Shopify, you won’t have to worry about things like hosting. Shopify is a hosted platform where you can go and create your store. You may create your trial account and play around with the Dashboard.

To understand Shopify better and how to use it, here are a bunch of Shopify courses/tutorials to choose from.

WooCommerce

Selling Digital Products

Selling digital products is a good way to go. This is because you don’t have to stock any inventory. A lot of people are taking this route.

What kind of digital products can you possibly sell? If you have a skill. Can you package it into some digital form and sell it? Are there people who’d actually pay to learn or master that skill.

Perhaps you can create an extensive ebook. Turn it into a video course. Or make an audiobook. Or maybe you are a graphic  designer. You can design media content and sell online. Perhaps you are a photographer. You can take amazing photos. Edit them and sell them on your digital store.

Or maybe you are a model. You can collabo with a photographer, take top-notch photos. And sell them on your site as downloadable content.

You get the idea. For most digital content, you should consider using some third-party website. For instance if you want to sell ebooks you should convert them and sell them on Kindle. Not just on Kindle, sell them anywhere else you deem necessary.

On the same note if you are to sell photos, wouldn’t it be quicker for you to join some stock photography marketplace and start selling too.

While doing all the above, you can also sell digital goods on your own website. For WordPress there are a few plugins that would enable this. But I’m only going to talk about two.

Easy  digital downloads (EDD)

EDD is always the first pick for anyone who wants to sell digital products  online. EDD was solely created for this purpose. It has a great user base, great community around it and a wide range of ready made add-ons. The addons  can help you add features on your site / digital store. Some are free and some are paid.

If you are certain you want to build your brand selling digital stuff online, EDD ought to be your first choice. With certain EDD addons, you’ll have the choice of uploading your digital files to thirdparty platforms such as Dropbox and Amazon S3. This is great because it means you can sell files of any size. Most marketplaces usually have a cap on the size of your digital content. With EDD you’d be able to sell files as large as you want.

If you’ll be selling large files, never upload them to your own web hosting space. Try using dropbox or S3 to store your large files.

EDD has a fully built in checkout process. And it works with PayPal out of the box. You can add lots of other Payment alternatives using add-ons. You can even add bitcoin support on edd. It’s all in the addons.

If you want to create your own marketplace with EDD. A marketplace where anyone can upload and sell their own digital content. You’ll be glad to know that there’s a theme /addon for that.

So, easy digital downloads is a pretty good solution for anyone who’d like to get into selling digital products.

Here are some Tutorials on  Udemy for Easy Digital Downloads and here are other tutorials for selling digital products  online.

WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart

This is an all rounded, extremely simple checkout plugin that works with PayPal.  If you are selling simple digital products, this would be a good fit. You can also sell physical products with it. It is one of the simplest shopping cart plugins available today.

Setting up a product involves usage of WordPress shortcodes and you can watch quick tutorials right here on the plugin page.

Please note that it is also possible to sell digital products on WooCommerce. I will not get into the details of that. Actually there are lots of options for selling digital products on WordPress but I’m showing you the easiest path to take.

Membership Website

Do you happen to have very valuable content that you feel people would pay to read, watch or hear? It has to be really valuable content that they can’t find anywhere else on the internet.

Perhaps it may be a membership for something else. Monthly subscription to something else. It may even be an annual subscription. Only you knows what the best path is for you.

In this case you may want to create a Membership Website.  And you’ll be glad to know that WordPress has a bunch of alternatives for this. There are some paid plugins and free plugins.

I will only talk about one plugin, Paid Memberships Pro . It is a fully free plugin. You can use it to add Membership/subscription Capability to your Website. Or just create a new Membership website altogether.

Paid Memberships Pro

This is a well supported plugin. And it will be sufficient in creating your Membership website .

You may learn how to use the plugin by creating a free account on the plugin website. Once you set up the free account you will access the documentation and video tutorial.

Feel free to read more about other Membership/ Subscription plugins here , here  or here .

LMS Website

A Learning Management System will enable you to provide courses / tutorials on your website. AN LMS enables you to publish courses. It also enables students to register for the courses.

An LMS should also have the capability to handle payments for courses. Since we are concentrating on WordPress , we’ll talk about LifterLMS.

 Lifter LMS

LifterLMS (LLMS) is a free WordPress plugin with lots of great features for any person interested in creating a Website where they can sell courses.

The guys at LifteLMS have created a free Full Course on how to use the plugin. Watch it here. The good thing about LLMS is that you don’t have to create a brand new Website to add an LMS side. You can just install the plugin and set up the courses on your current WordPress install.

If you are interested in checking out other WordPress LMS options read this post on Capterra Blog .

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