Yes, you read that right. I set up my ENTIRE website for about $500. I bled, sweat, and cried (a ton) as I learned the ropes of WordPress customization.
**Before reading this post, I must issue a warning. The process was extremely difficult (since I figured it out without a step-by-step guide) and there were several times where the process didn’t seem worth it. But less than 1 month later, my website is finished, and the results are GORGEOUS.
I am going to teach you HOW I did it so you can save your blood, sweat, and tears for another project.
Step 1: Domain & hosting
Find a website, also called a domain, you would like to set up your business on. As I was searching for the perfect domain, seeing that my name was available (www.rachelpedersen.com) was actually a huge motivation. I used HostGator to purchase the domain, and then also to host my website. It’s incredibly affordable and very easy to use. Use the code RachelPedersen25 for 25% off!
Step 2: Theme
Choose WordPress as your host within HostGator, and then you get to find a WordPress theme. Go to your WordPress admin login, and search for a theme within “Appearance” on the left side.
I personally used the WordPress theme Enigma, which is super easy to use. There are hundreds of options, and usually cost between $29-$65. As a general rule, the less expensive a theme, the less customization will be able to be achieved. Once you choose a WordPress theme, you are ready to begin the customization!
Step 3: Customization
This is where the real fun begins. Try to use high quality photos for main photos. The homepage is a great place to feature a photo of your store, restaurant, products, food, etc. If your business is not brick-and-mortar based, you can use photos from a website like StockSnap.io or Gratisography.com to evoke a feeling of your business. One of my favorite ways to customize these photos is on the free/cheap PicMonkey website. This website has STUNNING fonts, objects, banners, etc. for customizing images. This is where I create about half of the graphics on my website, and the Royal (paid) features are absolutely irresistible.
Depending on your theme, you will be able to tweak the fonts, colors, background, and more on your site. You can also determine whether you want blog posts on your homepage or on a separate page by choosing “static homepage” or “latest posts”.
Step 4: Widgets & Plugins
You might be wondering what the importance of these are… Well, imagine your website is a black dress. By itself it may be a nice piece of clothing, but it is not yet a head-turning outfit. The widgets and plugins are the earrings, necklace, lipstick, and heels, that make your website a stylish work of art.
Here are a few of my “can’t live without” plugins:
Sumome: An amazing plugin allowing you to capture the email addresses of your customers!
Yoast SEO: This analyzes each of the pages on your website, and makes sure that Google is easily able to crawl/rank your website. I love the easy success indicators of Yoast (green means good, red means double check the section), since SEO can be very difficult to wrap your mind around.
Naked Social Share: Naked gives you easy to use sharing options to increase your fanbase’s engagement on social media. This plugin and I are on a break, but we will be getting back together soon;]
MailChimp: Technically MailChimp isn’t a plugin, but it is an email service that has amazing plugins and integrations with WordPress websites. The newsletter and email templates are some of the easiest to use, with drag and drop sections for true customization. MailChimp even has a free option as you build your fanbase!
Step 5: Traffic
Now that your website is built, it’s time to build your following on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, LinkedIn, etc! Create great content on your blog, on social media with a program like Canva.com, and SHARE. This is the surest way to drive quality traffic to your website.