How to Build a Wordpress Website or Blog

Easy 4-Step Guide for Beginners (updated Dec 2020)

Hi, I'm Ray. I learnt how to build websites in 2008 even though I cannot code (and still can't). 

In 2014, I became inspired to put together the detailed website guide (Wordpress) you see below, and have helped numerous people set up their website.

If you want to create a Wordpress website or blog, this page is complete with step-by-step instructions and tools to get your Wordpress site set up in no time.


If you just want to set up a website in a FAST and EASY way, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND my NEW Website Setup guide on another platform instead. I started this website on Wordpress in 2014, and have now MOVED the entire website to this platform, because it's so much easier.

Deciding between Brizy Cloud vs Wordpress

Since I provide 2 Website Setup guides, I'll like you to make an informed decision on what to go for.

  1. Brizy Cloud (recommended) - Super easy, non-technical, you don't have to worry about hosting, site maintenance and upkeep.
  2. Wordpress - Need for hands on hosting, maintenance, troubleshoot plugin conflicts, website security. Open source and powers 1/4 of the world's websites.

I would compare using Brizy Cloud to using an iPad, and compare using Wordpress to assembling computer parts to set up your own computer.

It's a decision between "it just works" vs "full control".

Brizy Cloud
Wordpress
Ease of Use

Super easy to get started and continued updates.

Easy to get started, takes work to maintain and keep up.

Speed

Hosting taken care of and with global CDNs = SUPER FAST website for your visitors!

Depends on Webhost and price you pay. But shared hosting can be slow.

Cost

Only $49/year for ALL features. That's $4/mth.

There are some very attractively priced shared-hosting plans - about $4/mth. Wordpress itself is Open Source and free to use. Themes and Plugins have both free or paid options.

Maintenance

You don't have to worry about it.

You have to take care of EVERY aspect of maintenance. Plugin conflicts, security, backups, website uptime etc.

Security

Security is taken care of, you don't have to worry about it.

Very prone to hackers. You can install some security plugins.

Features
  1. Create webpages: YES
  2. Build Pop Ups: YES
  3. Create a Blog: Coming Soon (Q1 2020)
  4. Ecommerce: Coming in 2021


Brizy has the essential features to create websites quickly. Blog and Ecommerce features are on the way.

  1. Create webpages: YES
  2. Build Pop Ups: YES (e.g. Thrive Leads)
  3. Create a Blog: YES
  4. Ecommerce: YES (e.g. Woocommerce)


Wordpress has the inbuilt blog and website functions, and can be extended via plugins (free or premium) to other functionality.

Multiple Websites

3 websites: $49/ year (~$4/mth)

Unlimited: $99 / year (~$8/mth)

Depends on your Webhosting plan, but some offer multiple websites.

Ownership

You rely on Brizy's platform to make edits. You can, however, export your site as HTML and host it elsewhere.

You fully own everything, the code, the files, relying on open source Wordpress.

Recommendations

  1. Create Websites - Brizy Cloud: My recommendation for majority of newbies creating basic websites is go with Brizy Cloud as it's just so easy.
  2. Start a Blog - Wordpress: If you are looking to start a blog, my recommendation is to go with Wordpress - because despite some of the technical challenges, Wordpress is the best blogging platform right now, and you can follow my Wordpress Website guide on the details.
  3. Build an Online Store: If your main aim is to create an Ecommerce store, it'll probably make sense to do so on Shopify instead as it has all the Ecommerce specific tools and add-ons you may require. (Online Store Guide)

Table of Contents

The best way to make use of this guide is to click on the sections below which will navigate you to each areas, then come back here for more.

Step #1:

Installing the Website

Step #2: Changing the Design (Theme)
Step #3: Adding Content

Step #4:

Adding Features (Plugins)

Create a Logo
Useful Tips
Selling Products on Your Website

My Favorite Plugins

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Prefer to follow through a video instead? Watch this here.

Step #1 - Installing the Website

Before getting into it, you'll need to know that it will cost you a bit of money.

The website itself, powered by WordPress, is free but extremely powerful.

domain name (mywebsite.com) and webhosting (someone's computers to keep the website running) are the costs to building a website.

It usually costs about $12/year for a domain name (or free in my case) and $4/month for webhosting to maintain a website.

Here's the exact steps that I took when I set up BoostrapWebsite in 2014. It only took 5 MINUTES.

#1 - Decide on a Domain Name

I first had to decide what domain name to use (i.e. web address). After brainstorming, I decided on BootstrapWebsite.com.

This, in my opinion, is an important step, because once you settle on your domain name, you are going to set up email accounts like yourname@yoursite.com, and people will associate you with your domain name, so choose carefully and take some time. 

l like domain names ending with .com. Other great options are .net or .org

Use this tool to check if the domain you want is available.

#2 - Choose a Webhost

In order for your website to be shown to visitors around the world, it needs to be installed on a special computer (called a server), rented from a webhost.

A webhost is like a landlord from whom you choose to rent a place to place your website. Even though there many landlords out there, I’ve heard of many horror stories of people with their webhosts.

Just imagine what you’ll do if you rent your place from a difficult landlord – the same is true with webhosts.

Some of the better known webhosts are BluehostHostgator, Siteground & WP Engine.

I use Bluehost because of their reliability and affordability. I also like it that they throw in a free domain name for 1 year. Here's what I did:

(p/s: you're free to use any webhost you like, but this guide will cover my personal experiences using Bluehost)

Signing up with Bluehost...

I selected the 36 month plan, since it's cheaper in the long run. Since then, Bluehost has come up with a $3.95/month starter plan. You can choose whatever plan you feel comfortable with.

(p/s: since I've been getting numerous questions on Bluehost, please click here for the FAQ and answers)

Once I've successfully signed up, I was provided with login details to log into the Bluehost dashboard.

Again, you're free to use whichever webhost you like. Personally, I find Bluehost to be very reliable and customer friendly, and I've never looked back at my decision.

#3 - Install Wordpress

Once you're logged into the Bluehost dashboard, you'll see the screen below. If you've used other webhosts, the interface will look different, and available options may be similar or different.

Select Install WordPress

You'll be brought to another page and click Install

Install the website on the free domain you obtained

Login details will be provided to you on the screen and in email.

To login, go to yourwebsite.com/wp-admin

Logging in, you'll be brought to the Admin area of the website for the website owner. 

Admin area (to owner)

Website (to visitors)

As you can see, it is really a few clicks, and takes a total of 5 MINS to having and running a fully functional website. It is certainly doable by yourself, as long as you have a computer and an internet connection.

Step #2 - Changing the Design (Theme)

The great thing about WordPress is that you can basically change the look of your website, simply by changing your theme.

Thousands of free and premium themes being churned out by developers on an every day basis since WordPress is the gold standard for websites.

Once you've successfully installed WordPress, you'll be provided with a default theme. I'll show you how you can change your theme to something that you'll like.

One thing to note - you can change your theme at any time, without affecting any of your published content! Your theme is really a 'skin' to how your website looks.

Installing a Theme

Free themes can be easily found and installed in the WordPress repository, and you'll only need to search for them in your Admin area. Alternatively, you can browse free WordPress themes here.

Go to Appearance > Themes

Click Add New

Find the theme you want, and click Install. By default, installed themes are not activated, so be sure to click Activate to use it.

If you've purchased a 3rd party theme, you can simply download the zip file provided, and upload it into WordPress with a few clicks.

Choosing a Theme

What to look for in a theme?

  • Mobile responsiveness: This means that your website will look good on any desktop, tablet or mobile phone, regardless of your device. The website contents should fit into the various screen sizes (instead of the entire website being crammed on a tiny screen). This is really important, as theme makers have to make themes responsive right from the start - you cannot easily make a non-responsive website responsive. Also, Google will rank responsive sites above non-responsive sites. See video below.
  • Design: You'll probably want to choose a theme that fits into the look and feel that your website is trying to convey.
  • Theme layout: this refers to the structure of the theme – where the menus, sidebars are located. While this is part of design, it'll be good if you know where you want your sidebar and menus to be located. The video below illustrates what this structure means.

Premium Themes

Free vs Premium Themes:

There are plenty of free themes in the WordPress depository, which you can easily select and install.

You can also find free and premium themes outside of the WordPress repository.

The key benefits of a premium theme:

  • They are typically mobile-responsive (though not all)
  • Some themes are highly customizable (you can change the sidebar, colors, fonts etc)
  • Great additional features may be pre-installed (ideally a great page-builder comes with it)
  • The design will be well thought out
  • Many (not all) premium themes will provide some form of email support
  • You will also not get into those situations where you'll need to pay to upgrade for more features (this has happened to me for free themes).

I found it is better to start with premium themes than pay for upgrades.

Elegant Themes

My favorite place to get a premium theme is Elegant Themes. The theme I originally used on Bootstrap Website, The Divi Theme, is also from Elegant Themes.

Elegant Themes produces beautiful WordPress themes that look not only great, but are also highly easily customizable by the user.

Building pages are also really easy with the inbuilt Divi Builder that comes along with the themes. Simplicity is key.

These are 2 of their best themes ever - The Divi Theme and Extra Theme.

The Divi Theme

The Divi Theme, along with all the other themes in Elegant Themes, are highly customizable and easy to use.

Here's an example of how easy it is to customize the font, color, styling of the theme.

The inbuilt Divi Builder makes building stunning webpages a breeze.

Elegant Themes are beautiful, and really easy to use yet highly customizable.

I highly recommend it if you're a beginner looking out for a premium theme, because it's so easy to use it to get started.

(p/s: since I've received numerous questions on Elegant Themes, please click here to refer to the FAQ and answers).

Once you've purchased a theme, click here to learn how to install purchased themes.

Themeforest

Another great place to look for professional, premium themes is Themeforest.

Themeforest is a marketplace for theme makers to sell their themes. It is full of high quality themes for purchase, and you can view the ratings and comments of themes. 

Don’t know how to choose?

Since I received questions on this, I've put together a guide on choosing a theme from Themeforest. Click here to learn how to install purchased themes.

Most Recommended Wordpress Themes

Divi Theme

Astra Theme

Themeforest Themes

Step #3: Adding Content

Adding content in WordPress is easy. No, you don't need to know how to code, and I'll share with you how it works.What you need to know is there are 2 types of content, namely Pages and Posts.

Here's an example below:

Pages

Posts

Pages are usually single page information. Most people commonly use it to build pages like Home, About, Contact, etc.

Posts are really blog posts, and the difference mostly is blog posts can be a chronologically series of posts that you write and readers can follow.

Basic Content Editing

Pages and Posts both make use of the Visual Editor below.

Adding Text

You can use Headings for different headers of your content. You'll use Paragraph for normal text.

Adding Images

To add images, click on Add Media.

Adding Links

To add links, highlight text or image, and click Insert/edit link

Adding Videos & Maps

Adding special content like videos and maps is really easy as well. Check out the below quick tutorials:

  • Adding YouTube / Vimeo videos to your site
  • Adding Google Maps to your site

Last but not least, here are some video walkthrough on adding content in WordPress.

Advanced Content Editing

If you're building more complex looking pages, inevitably you'll end up needing Columns, Buttons and Boxes.

WordPress (since the 2019 Gutenberg update) does now come an editor with some of these capabilities, but are still quite limited in my opinion.

In order to do create beautiful websites (and not just a basic blog), here's some of the best premium plugins that I've personally used, which you may like as well.

To learn how to install plugins, jump to the section below.​

1) Divi Builder by Elegant Themes

3) Thrive Architect

Thrive Content Builder (now renamed as Thrive Architect) is my favorite page builder, and what I used rely on when putting together content in Wordpress. It's simple, drag and drop functions, make creating content fun.

If you're building a simple, basic site, you might just want to rely on the inbuilt Gutenberg editor within Wordpress.

If you're still looking for a premium theme, I highly suggest you check out the Divi Theme, which is a simple, beautiful, highly customizable theme, which comes with theme with a super easy to use, drag and drop page builder - Divi Builder.

If you want to build a large amount of content, want to make it look attractive and stand out, I cannot speak more highly of Thrive Architect. That's what I use for all my Wordpress websites and absolutely LOVE  it.

Arrange Menu Items

At any given time, you can easily arrange the Menu options.

You decide which of your pages to add to Menu, and simply drag and drop to rearrange or nest them. Depending on your theme, you may even be able to create multiple menus (e.g. 1 top menu, 1 footer menu).

Place Widgets on Your Sidebar

Widgets are little things that you add to your sidebar.

To access it, go to Appearance > Widgets

To use a widget, simply drag and drop what you want to your sidebar.

Check out the video below on Menus and Widgets.

Step #4: Adding Features (Plugins)

Plugins is just a fancy term for Apps that add new powerful features to your website. 

Some of them include: blogging plugins, speed, SEO, forums, social sharing, image gallery etc.

Thousands of developers build free and premium plugins which make WordPress incredibly powerful because you can add all sorts of functionality to your website.

A lot of times, you can get a lot done with just free plugins alone. In fact, I've always used free plugins up to prior to this website.

Browse popular free plugins.

Installing Plugins

There are so many useful free plugins in the WordPress depository, and you can easily install them with the following steps:

Go to Plugins > Add New

Search for the plugin by its name (only works for free plugins)

Install the plugin

By default, installed plugins are not activated, so you'll need to click Activate

If you've purchased premium plugins outside of WordPress, you can also install them using other methods here.

Recommended Plugins

Regardless of what kind of website you’re building, having security and back up in place is just crucial to your site’s long term health. What’s more, there are great options available for free.

  • Security: To protect your website against attackers (even if you're just starting up), you'll need to have security. I've always used Wordfence (free) to secure my website against attackers. Learn more about it.
  • Backup: It is important to do regular backups of your site, in case anything goes wrong. I've always used UpdraftPlus (free) to do daily backups. See how I set it up.
  • Speed: Everybody likes a fast website (including search engines). 2 great caching plugins to choose from - WP Super Cache (free) and W3 Total Cache (free), but you should really read my entire post on speeding up a website.

Most Recommended Plugins

Thrive Architect

One of the easiest way to edit your pages, creating landing pages and more.

Thrive Leads

One of the best ways to create pop ups and generate leads on your website.

Shortpixel

Super compress your website images automatically - small images = fast websites!

That's It - You Have a Working Wordpress Website!

With the steps above, you will get your website up in no time!

To make it even easier to follow through, you can watch the video walkthrough of the guide below.

Have fun!

Everything below are additional "bonus" tips that you can follow through in your own time.

Useful Tips

Here's some other tips that you might find useful in your website / blog building journey.

List of things to do after installing WordPress:

Speed Up Your Website

There are numerous factors involving speed:

  1. Install a caching plugin like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache: Caching creates static version of your webpages, meaning faster page loads.
  2. Optimize your images with Shortpixel: This compresses your image to be much smaller in size than necessary. This means faster loading times for your visitors! You can optimize images manually each time, or use their plugin to automate the process.

Create Daily Automated Backups

Install a backup plugin and create automated backups.

I use Updraftplus to schedule daily updates, which you can connect with cloud services like Dropbox.

Anything can go wrong with plugin conflicts, or hackers compromising your website. This is a key step each time you set up a Wordpress site.

Secure Your Site against Attackers

Install a security plugin like Wordfence.

Since Wordpress is used throughout the web, many attackers target Wordpress website. Installing Wordfence is one of step I take immediately after setting up my Wordpress website.

Selling Products on Your Website

You may be running a website/blog but may also have products to sell to your readers.

For example, you’re a fitness instructor and you may want to sell meal plans, courses, ebooks, fitness equipment and training programs.

The options below are my favorite ways to sell on your blog/website.

Selling Physical Products

If you have built your website on Wordpress, one of the ways to add Ecommerce capabilities is Woocommerce.

This assumes that your website already has SSL installed (Bluehost provides a free one and is installed automatically by default without you needing to set it up).

Search, install and activate Woocommerce.

Set up the various aspects of your Woocommerce store.

Add your products and details.

Make sure that your store is set up to accept online payment methods.

  1. Connect to Stripe to accept credit cards.
  2. Set up PayPal Checkout to accept payments via PayPal.


If Ecommerce is your main focus, however, and you haven't started on Wordpress, and if you're serious about selling physical products, there's another great platform (Shopify) that I highly recommend you use instead.

This robust platform is built and specifically catered to selling products, and you'll save a huge amount of time and headache with it.

Selling Digital Goods

To sell digital goods on your website/blog, one of the best ways is to use this awesome service called Sendowl.

Sendowl provides a simple checkout process, delivery of your digital products (e.g. eBooks, songs, videos, spreadsheets), and collects your customers' information, and you can easily add buttons like what you see in the videos below.

Creating a Product in 20s

Get Customers to Buy in 20s

My Favorite Plugins

There are a lot of great tools in WordPress, but I wanted to make a special mention to 3 special ones.

Jetpack

Jetpack contains a bunch of useful features, and comes preinstalled with WordPress.

Even though Jetpack is already installed, you'll need to sign up for a free account to use it.

  1. Sign up for free WordPress.com account
  2. Activate the modules that you want

Here's some useful features I liked:

  • Stats: You can monitor visitor statistics in your WordPress dashboard. You can also download the free WordPress iOS app or Android app to check your site stats from time to time.
  • Contact Form: You can easily add a contact form for visitors to email you. Here's how to set it up.
  • Monitor: The Monitor feature can email you whenever your website is down, be it for scheduled maintenance or otherwise. They will also let you know when your site is back up.
  • Extra Sidebar Widgets: Jetpack also provides you with a bunch of extra sidebar widgets, particularly useful if you do not want to always install different plugins for it. I found the Facebook Like Box useful.

Thrive Architect

Thrive Content Builder (premium) (now updated and renamed Thrive Architect) is the page builder that I use to put together all content on Wordpress, and is remarkable in that it simplifies all the difficult elements of putting a page together. All elements in TCB is drag and drop.

Check out the below demo of building a complete page using Thrive Content Builder.

Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a pop up tool that allows you to collect emails and leads from visitors who interact with your website.

  • Collects subscriber names in addition to Email addresses
  • Opt-in sidebar widget
  • Fully customizable subscription form below your blog posts
  • Embeddable opt-in forms that you can use within any page / post
  • Fully customizable designs

The great part is that the design of your forms are fully customizable - drag and drop! 

Thrive Leads video below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As I’ve been getting similar questions from my readers (and answering them), I’ve decided to put together an FAQ for quicker access.

Bluehost Questions

How much did it cost to start BootstrapWebsite.com?

$4.95/mth (Bluehost webhosting) + $69 (Premium theme) + $57 (Thrive Leads premium plugin)

I’ll say only the webhosting (which was paid upfront) was totally necessary. I chose a premium theme because I knew I wanted the premium features & customization options – but I could always have gone for free themes instead.

I bought Thrive Leads as I did not find free opt-in forms meeting my expectations – I wanted to start right with great opt-in areas for email subscribers.

Bluehost - did you choose the "Basic" or "Plus" plan?

When I started Bootstrap Website, Bluehost only had the Plus plan for shared hosting (they changed my plan’s name to Plus after introducing the Starter plan).

The plans change from time to time, and it depends on how many websites you intend to create.

Bluehost - should I pay for the recommended extras when signing up?

When signing up for Bluehost, they will try upselling you with more features. It’s up to you, but my personal thoughts are:

  • Search Engine Jumpstart - didn’t feel it’s necessary
  • Site Backup Pro - didn’t feel it’s necessary as I had my own WordPress backup options for free.
  • SiteLock Domain Security - didn’t feel it’s necessary as I have my own WordPress security options for free.
  • Domain Privacy Protection - I didn’t pay for it
Does Bluehost accept PayPal?

Yes. At the Billing Information area, click on More Payment Options to reveal PayPal.

Elegant Themes Questions

I only want 1 theme, why do I need to sign up for a yearly plan?

Elegant Themes' model works such that on sign up of any plan, you immediately get access to ALL the great themes they have.

And it's really a GREAT deal, because at the price​ of $69, that's usually the cost for a SINGLE premium theme to be installed on ONE website elsewhere in the market.

For Elegant Themes, you can download ALL the themes they have and use them on unlimited sites.You can, of course, sign up, download all the themes and cancel the yearly subscription.​

This is what I got from the Elegant Themes pricing page:

If you cancel your subscription, then your account will remain active for the remainder of your one year term. After that, you will lose access to the members area and all new themes, theme updates and tech support. You may continue using the themes that you have already downloaded forever.

Should I sign up for the "Personal" or "Lifetime Access" plan?
  • If you're just thinking of building 1 website right now, by all means, go for the "Personal" plan.If you're in it for the long term, and see yourself building a whole bunch of websites in the future, then the "Lifetime Access" for a one time fee is a great deal.​ I got the "Lifetime Access" plan

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