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What do a startup founder, a lawyer, and a freelance photographer all have in common? They all need a website.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to establish a brand, generate leads, build credibility, or earn revenue. Websites are a necessity today for your business’s success.
But the question remains how do you create a website in 2021?
Luckily, we have excellent website hosts and website builders to do the hard work for us. But you still have to make some crucial decisions.
Our team has created hundreds of websites over the years, using every platform and tool you can imagine. We know what to do. We also know what not to do.
Read on as we walk you through the entire process of creating your first website with Bluehost and WordPress.
Why Creating a Website is Worth It
Creating a website is wholeheartedly a worthwhile investment. It gives you access to a global audience, establishes credibility, and eliminates geographical barriers to expand your customer base.
Sure, you can use social media to reach out to more people. But you’re still at the mercy of algorithms and the ever-changing rules that don’t do much to give you the stable base you need to bolster your business’s growth.
And let’s not forget the thousands of other businesses you’re competing with for your target audience’s attention on these social platforms.
What happens when Instagram changes its algorithm again? Or when your loyal fans stop interacting with you because they can’t see your posts on Facebook?
If that’s the only way to stay in touch with your audience, it can be catastrophic.
But when you create a website, it’s yours. You don’t have to worry about changing algorithms or checking to see if your devoted fans can still see your content. You get the control and flexibility a website provides while establishing your business as a trustworthy brand.
Your website is a valuable piece of online real estate that also acts as your biggest salesperson. You decide what it looks like and how it functions while ensuring constant contact with your customers and fans.
The Investment Needed to Create a Website
You can technically build a website without paying anything. However, there are very limiting stipulations to free websites, and you probably won’t be satisfied with the finished product. When you build a site on a free platform, you can’t use your own domain name, get minimal storage and bandwidth, are stuck with ads on your site, and miss out on critical features.
While you CAN build a site for free, we don’t recommend it. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to site step those limitations.
All you need is a reliable web hosting service and you can hit the ground running. Bluehost is one of our top picks for beginners and offers plans starting from just $2.95 per month—less than a cup of coffee.
Every Bluehost plan comes with one-click WordPress installation, automatic updates, and a free domain name for the first year. So, you get everything you need for your entire website by signing up with one provider.
So, your minimum investment is $2.95 per month. This will increase a bit if you opt for premium plugins and themes, which can range anywhere between $5-$100 per month. There are also themes you can buy for a one-time fee rather than paying monthly.
We also recommend getting additional security for your site, which is an additional $2.99 per month (we discuss this more in Step 4).
If you choose to hire a developer to build a custom WordPress theme with additional built-in features or companion plugins, your cost could skyrocket up to $10,000. But we recommend holding off on this until you have the money to invest back into your business.
As for the time involved, you can have the initial concept of the website up and running in just a few hours. However, expect to spend at least three to five days designing your website, creating copy, and perfecting everything.
The exact duration depends on the complexity and how fast you master the platform, but it’s still a good estimate to have in mind.
11 Steps to Create Your First Website
Without further ado, let’s take a look at how to make a website from scratch in an hour—or two.
Step 1 — Head Over to Bluehost.com
Bluehost is a leading web hosting service that has many things going for it. It’s reliable, offers amazing feature-rich hosting plans, and more importantly, it’s dirt cheap.
Click on this link to go to Bluehost’s website. When the webpage opens, you’ll see a Get Started button. Click it.
Step 2 — Select a Web Hosting Plan
Bluehost currently offers four hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro.
Under every plan, you’ll see a clearly drawn-out feature breakdown, along with the cost per month. An interesting thing to note here is the longer your commitment, the cheaper your plans are.
Since this is your first website, you’ll want the Basic plan. It has everything you need at an incredible price of $2.95 per month with a 36-month commitment. You can always upgrade your plan later as you start scaling your website.
Choose your hosting plan, and hit a Select.
Step 3 — Figure Out Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your website’s address. For example, ours is www.crazyegg.com.
It’s what your customers will type in their web browser to see your content. Precisely why it should be relevant, catchy, and reflect what you plan to do with your business as closely as possible.
You may encounter some challenges here.
First and foremost, your prospective domain has to be available. If you use common words and keywords, it’s likely the domain will be taken by another business.
So it’s best to opt for unique domain names.
Bluehost gives you two options when setting up your domain: Create a new domain and Use a domain you own.
Under Create a new domain, you can search for available domains and decide on an extension. On the other hand, the Use a domain you own option allows you to continue using your existing domain name (if you already own one).
Don’t worry too much. If you’re feeling uninspired, you can always skip this step and create a domain later.
Step 4 — Create Your Bluehost Hosting Account
Enter your personal information and billing information to finalize the purchase of your Bluehost web hosting plan.
Fill in all the fields carefully to avoid errors.
Bluehost also gives you the option to buy additional features and add-ons to enhance your website’s functionalities.
Of all the Package Extras, we recommend purchasing SiteLock Security – Essential. This add-on will boost your website security to keep cybercriminals and spammers at bay, and considering it’s your site’s security we’re talking about, paying $2.99 a month is a good deal.
Codeguard Basic is another excellent add-on to get automated daily website backups. This will ensure you never lose any progress. If you need to choose between the two, go with SiteLock Security.
And it’s okay if you want to stick to just the hosting plan! No pressure.
Finally, add your payment information. Check the terms and conditions checkbox and hit Submit.
Boom, you now have a brand new Bluehost account.
Step 5 — Install WordPress
Installing WordPress may sound complicated, especially when you don’t have any previous website building experience. However, it’s actually super easy with Bluehost.
Technically, you can install WordPress manually. But since Bluehost offers one-click installation—-for free—why go the hard way?
To start, you have to verify your Bluehost account.
Open the email you used for creating the hosting account, and confirm your details to log into your customer profile. You’ll be redirected to your Bluehost account once you click on the link in the email.
Click on My Sites on the side menu bar, followed by Create Site button.
Enter the name of your new website and the username and password you want to use for managing your WordPress site. There may be some extra bits of information you need to fill in, but they’ll be fairly easy to answer.
Bluehost will also suggest a few optional free WordPress plugins to install at this stage. We recommend going with the flow since most of them work wonders to boost your website‘s capabilities.
Done with everything? Select Next.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress with Bluehost.
Step 6 — Set Up Your WordPress Website
This is where things will get more detailed, so be prepared! Take a ten-minute break, hydrate, and focus.
Log into your WordPress account. You’ll see WordPress’s main interface in all its glory.
Go through every tab and section of WordPress’s menu bar carefully to familiarize yourself with the WordPress UX. Most of them are self-explanatory, like Posts, Media, Pages, Comments, and Settings.
Our focus here is to fine-tune basic settings to improve your experience later. Here are three things to do right away to get started:
1. Finalize Your Website Title and Tagline
Click on the Settings tab on the WordPress black menu bar on the left of the screen, followed by General. Type in your Site Title and Tagline in the respective fields.
Adding a tagline is optional. If you don’t have a tagline for your website, you can leave it blank. You can also change or updates these later.
2. Set Your Website Permalinks
For those of you who don’t know, permalinks define how the individual web page addresses or the URLs of your website will look like.
You want to choose the most optimized URL structure for SEO purposes—not to mention, it also looks better aesthetically.
To do this, go to Settings, followed by Permalinks from the main WordPress sidebar. You see a list of options on your screen. Check the Post name field.
3. Make Your WordPress Website Public
You have to make your website public if you want Google to find an index for your website.
To do this, head over to Settings and click on Reading. Uncheck the Discourage search engines from indexing this site option under the Search Engine Visibility field (or ensure it is not checked).
Step 7 — Select and Install a WordPress Theme
WordPress themes decide the look of your website. And while you can change themes, you do want to put some thought into selecting a theme for your website. Once your site is fully up and running, it can be much more difficult to change themes and ensure all content is copied over correctly.
Right now, you have a default theme. But with just a few clicks, you can give your site a unique look and feel.
Open the official WordPress.org directory.
You’ll find tons of free and premium themes to browse. What’s more, you can check out third-party websites like ThemeIsle and aThemes too if you want even more options.
If the theme you like is available in the official WordPress.org directory, you can install it directly by following the instructions below.
On the main WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance, followed by Theme. Select Add New at the top.
If you know the name of the theme you want to install, enter the name (we chose the “Hestia” theme) in the search bar, and click on Install under the desired theme.
After the installation process is complete, click on Activate to enable it fully on your website. This button will automatically pop up in place of the Install button after installation is done.
The process will be slightly different if you want to download and install a premium theme.
Follow the instructions to download your theme. Generally, the files are downloaded in a .zip file format. Save it to your desktop.
Return to your WordPress dashboard, and click on Appearance, and then Themes. Select Upload on the Themes page.
Click Upload Theme. This will open a file input selection dropdown. Click Browse… and choose the .zip file you just downloaded. Click Install Now.
Step 8 — Choose and Install Appropriate WordPress Plugins
If themes make your website look better, plugins make it work better.
As mentioned previously, Bluehost installs a collection of WordPress plugins by default, such as Akismet Anti-Spam, Google Analytics, Jetpack, OptinMonster API, and WP Forms Lite. You can also install additional plugins based on your requirements.
At the same time, you don’t want to go overboard with downloading plugins. Too many will only slow down your website—something you want to avoid at all costs!
Consider your needs as you browse through plugins. You may want help with SEO or a contact form or social media sharing buttons–there are plugins for almost everything. And remember, you can always add more plugins later as you build your site.
Here’s how to download a plugin:
- Go to your WordPress dashboard.
- Click on Plugin, followed by Add New.
- Type the name of the plugin you want to install in the search bar.
- Click on Install, and once the installation is complete, Activate.
The plugin is now added to your WordPress site, and you will see it listed in your WordPress dashboard menu. Click on the plugin to view and change settings, add content, and more.
Step 9 — Create Pages for Your Website
This is where you create high-quality and excellent content for your website.
Pages are things like Homepage, an About page, a Contact page, or a Portfolio page. You can also consider adding a Blog page to your website to attract visitors and help with SEO.
Here’s how to add pages and post to your website:
- Select the Bluehost menu within your WordPress dashboard.
- Click on Content, followed by Pages. Select Add New Page.
- The entire canvas is yours! You can write and do whatever you want.
- Hit Publish when done.
You can edit and revise pages whenever you want, as well as adding new pages at any time.
Step 10 — Improve Your Website’s Navigation
At this stage, you’ve checked off all the essential tasks.
The only thing left is adjusting your website’s navigation to make your content more digestible for visitors. Plus, it doesn’t hurt you to score brownie points with the SERPs too!
Here is how to adjust your menus and widgets.
1. Adjust the Menu
Your choice of theme will determine the number of options available to you concerning your menu settings.
To open the menu panel, click Appearance and then Menus on your WordPress dashboard sidebar.
On the left side are all the pages you can add to a menu, while the right side covers the menu structure and its settings. You can drag and drop the menu items to reorder them however you want.
Once you’re done, click on Save Menu to save the settings.
2. Adjust the Widgets
Widgets are a block of content you can place in different places around your website. To open the Widget page, go to Appearance on the main dashboard, and click on Widgets.
Here’s what it should look like:
To add a widget, you’ll have to grab it from the left-hand side and drag-and-drop it to your chosen area on the right. Again, you have free rein over how to design your website—just ensure you prioritize things from the customer‘s viewpoint for best results.
Your site is not live yet, so you can preview the site and see how everything looks, and continue to adjust the menus and widgets and change themes until you’re happy with the results.
The design and layout of your site are what takes the most time in this whole process.
Step 11 — Launch Your Website!
Bluehost provides a “coming soon” page automatically when you first install WordPress. It’s a default setting designed to give you privacy while working on your website before showcasing the final result.
Now that you’ve (finally) designed the website of your dreams, you can go ahead and launch it to make it live! Click the Launch your site button in the Bluehost WordPress dashboard.
Your first website is now live and public!
The first thing you want to do is sit back and watch your hard work come to life. Looks amazing, right?
Next up is following best practices to boost your website traffic. One of the best ways to do this is by creating blog posts and other marketing assets and publishing them on your website.
This involves tons of steps: conducting keyword research, applying SEO best practices, monitoring progress, building an email list… the list goes on.
Think of it as a continuous process where you always aim to improve and scale higher. Here are two Crazy Egg posts to put you on the fast track to success: