A beginners guide on how to build a WordPress website from scratch for your small business.
In this step-by-step tutorial I will show you how to build a WordPress website for your business.
NOTE*** The content on this page contains affiliate links, so I receive a percentage of the product purchased. All the details are on the disclosure page.
This is good news if “build a website” been on your small business to do list for a while.
Do you want to build your own web site and start promoting your business online right now?
I know you are probably overwhelmed with the amount of information out there on the internet.
Seriously, you have like a million things to do, run a business, get clients, return phone calls, deal with inventory, go to trade shows, eat lunch… yeah when you get busy you have to remind yourself to eat.
As a small business owner, you are trying to everything yourself on a shoestring.
Spending weeks researching and learning to build a website for your small business is not an option.
Hiring a web developer to code a website is way outside your budget.
Plus, once you have someone code your website, you are locked into paying them to maintain it for you. You have to call them to change every little thing.
Of course you could build a website on a website builder like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, quickly and easily. The problem is that your site is on rented space that you can’t move out of.
Wix, like the other sites, has a data ownership clause that allows them to take advantage of your content.
These website builders are what people call “what you see is what you get” or WYSIWYG. Meaning you are seeing on your computer screen what you are creating on your website.
They have quick drag and drop features but lack the ability to grow with your business.
WordPress is quickly becoming just as easy to drag and drop build with plugins, themes and the Gutenberg update. But we will get to all that later.
Since you are still reading you are must be thinking that WordPress is the best choice for your small business website but here are some more reasons.
“WordPress is used by 59.9% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 32.9% of all websites.” By w3techs.com
WordPress.org is the most popular content management system that is used by over 70 million websites.
(WordPress.COM is a platform, like Wix, which is not the same as the WordPress.ORG. Ugh, so confusing! )
All of my blogs are now built on the WordPress platform – well except the one stuck on Wix.
I am working on switching it over to WordPress but I will have to start from scratch.
WordPress is the best choice because you actually own your site and your content – like a business location.
More benefits of WordPress
- wordpress.org is a free open-source software
- It is powerful and fully customizable
- It is responsive and most themes look great on mobile
- You don’t need to learn code (yeah!) because you can install themes and plugins
- The new WordPress Gutenberg update has block system resembling the drag and drop features of a website builder
- It it is scalable because you can start small with just a few pages and grow into bigger a website with more features.
Of course, since WordPress is so popular there are tons of tutorials and guides on every aspect of website building.
Enough information to make your head spin and end up a rabbit trail. That’s so confusing and stressful.
I’ve already scoured the internet for all the answers, built websites, made a bunch of mistakes by trial and error and did all the stressing out for you.
Now let’s focus in and get down to business at hand: Building your small business website on WordPress.
If you prefer to follow a step-by-step course you can sign up for my free WordPress website for your small business class.
This step-by-step tutorial has lessons and videos that are easy to follow for any beginner.
Before we get completely down to the details, let’s do a quick overview of how to build a WordPress website for your small business.
Although most of the work goes into building your brand, promoting your online presence and creating content, the technical part can be simplified to a couple of basic steps.
- Planning your website
- Choose and register a domain name
- Buy hosting
- Install WordPress
- Design your website with a theme
- Create your essential pages
- Start promoting your site
Are you still with me? Let’s get deeper into the details of building your WordPress from scratch.
I know you are hoping to jump right into the technical website building strategies and tools.
Just like when you started your own business, you need to do a little planning first.
Step 1. Planning Your Business Website
Of course, you want a website to be the base for your online business strategy.
But what do you want the website to do? What do you want you site to look like? How will you build your business brand with your site?
To start laying the foundation for your website, you have to be clear on your business plan, your ideal customer and the goals for your website.
The first thing you should do is take some time to look at other business websites.
Go ahead, check out your competition. What do you like about the site? What can you do better? What information do you want to include?
What do you want your website to do for you?
I have provided a list below and you can simply fill out the checklist and keep it on hand.
Will you be using your website to:
- Establish your expertise or have an online portfolio?
- Build your brand
- Attract prospects and generate qualified leads?
- Build your email list?
- Improve customer experience and supply additional value?
- Showcase and sell products in an online store?
- Encourage social media engagement?
- The next question that will guide you is: Who is your website for?
In addition to your goals, you want your website to enhance your business brand.
It is time to gather the branding materials that you already have for your business and maybe fill in some weak areas.
You should have these branding materials on hand to refer to while you are building your site.
- Basic business plan with your mission statement
- A description (or even sketch) of your ideal customer
- Your logo in a jpg file format
- The tagline or slogan for your business
- Summary about your business
- Your short bio and information about your story with the business
Step 2. Buy a Domain Name.
Your domain name is the address of your blog and should match (or coordinate with) the name of your business.
The domain name looks like www.YourBusinessName.com.
Frequently your business may be a name that is a domain that is already taken. Such as Valley Photography or ABC Plumbing are all long gone.
Here are some tips to choosing the best domain name to go with your business if you cannot get an exact match:
- 1. Choose one that is available in .com or an appropriate extension
- 2. Include a location
- 3. Include a keyword
- Easy to remember
Using these tips I found www.VailPaintPro.com still available if a paint company in Vail wanted to use that one.
Don’t use dashes, abbreviations, numbers or purposeful misspellings that are hard to remember.
With that said, write down variations of different names that you like.
I suggest using the bulk search function on NameCheap.com. Choose the option to only look for the names with a .com ending.
Once you find the name you want to reserve, go ahead and buy it. (Unless you are planning on buying your name from your host, move on to the next step)
Most names are less than $12 a year at NameCheap.com This is where I have many, many domain names registered.
Pro tip: Make sure to register yourself as the domain owner, don’t let a web developer or business manager own the domain.
Step 3: Choose a Host
The web host is the home of your blog and all your content.
The most important things for web hosing are:
- *Page load speed – so readers are not waiting for your page to load
- *Uptime -because you want your site up and running
- *Costumer support – especially critical for beginners
I’ve tried a few different hosts and I have migrated websites between hosts.
SiteGround is my favorite and where I host this and my other blogs.
They fit the 3 most important things to look for in a host. Plus, they are consistently recommended by website developers for managed WordPress hosting.
The number one thing I like best is the support.
For a small business owner with too many other things to accomplish – fast technical
The last chat session I had them add a domain, install WordPress, activate the SSL certificate. All in less than 12 minutes.
Yes, you read that right, you can skip the next steps by just asking SiteGround to help you!
*If you do have a Wix site you can follow the instructions here to move the site to SiteGround. Better now than later.
Step 4. Activate your Domain and Install WordPress
If you chose SiteGround, activation and installing WordPress is easy with just a couple of clicks.
As I said above, you can simply open chat and ask them to do everything for you. Easy- peasy OR
Installing WordPress is easy with the one click installation.
SiteGround walks your through installing WordPress here.
If you chose a different host, here is a step by step tutorial outlining how to install WordPress on many different hosts. https://www.wpbeginner.com/how-to-install-wordpress/
If you already started a web site and decide to switch to SiteGround- it’s so easy. I did that recently. All you have to do is buy a plan and contact them. They will move the site for free. And V
Step 5: Get Familiar with the WordPress Dashboard
After you load WordPress, you can access your website from the address that will look like https://mydomainname.com/wp-admin/ with the user name and password you created.
Or from the My Accounts tab on SiteGround and choose the “Go To Admin Panel” green button.
Then, if you are like me, you will just sit and stare at the screen. Actually, you won’t because I am walking you through this.
Just take a minute to orient yourself on the WordPress Dashboard.
This is like your command station for your website and looks like this:
See the options on the far left in the gray column?
As you begin to design your website, the pages and posts sections will list your landing pages – such as your home page- and your blog posts.
The appearance tab will list your available themes. Click there and notice the free theme that is preloaded. We will talk more about themes in the next step. For now just know it is there.
The next choice down in “Plugins” which we will talk about in future steps.
Go ahead and click on each
If you get lost just go back to the “Dashboard” option at the very top.
Step 6: Install Plugins
A plugin is a piece of software that is loaded to your WordPress site and extends the features and functionality of your website.
Each plugin adds a special customization such as search engine optimization (SEO), displaying traffic statistics, processing payments, collecting email addresses and speed optimization.
You will install a couple of basic plugins here.
The good news is that the plugins I suggest here are free.
In the next
You will see the “Plugins” link on the left side of your WordPress Dashboard. This is the place to go to install the recommended plugins
Once you choose “Add New” you will need to use the search function on the right side of the page. Type in the name of the plugin and it will appear first on the list for you to choose.
These are the basic additional Plugins that recommend to get you started. For each, search for the name, choose install then activate.
- Yoast SEO – Yoast analyzes almost everything on your post for search engine optimization and helps you connect easily to
- Askimet AntiSpam – If you have comments enabled on your site, this plugin will help you sort the spam from the true useful comments.
- Siteground Super Cacher If you are on SiteGround you should install this caching plugin to help
yousite load and run faster. (if you are not on SiteGround install W3 Total Cache for free)
- WooCommerce – if you plan to sell products on your site WooCommerce will make it easy to get your shop set up and selling quickly
There are thousands of plugins available. Some excellent and some useless or even risky for your website.
So my recommendation is to start with these plugins and get comfortable with operating and maintaining your website.
As your business grows you can search for more plugins specific to the needs for your site.
Step 7: Choose a WordPress Theme and Design Your Business Website
The theme is how your site looks, like what you want your store-front to look like. Or how you would decorate your house.
This is an essential step in building your brand, which we worked on in the first step and will return to again.
So, if you are bootstrapping and do not have money to invest, you can easily choose a free theme. In fact, once WordPress is installed your website you will have a couple of free themes already available.
You can browse through the themes available by looking in the Themes section of the dashboard.
Click the “live preview button” to see how each theme will look.
I suggest creating your website with the help of a page builder plugin. The combination of a page builder and a theme to make creating pages easier and more intuitive experience for you.
A page builder allows you to work with drag and drop elements and see what you are building.
I suggest only two combinations of page builders and themes.
The first suggestion, the theme
- Astra Theme or Ocean WP theme
- Elementor page Builder
The Astra sites plugin is free and can be used to load pre-made templates to your site. Then all you have to do is customize the design in the template.
- Divi theme by Elegant Themes
- Divi Page Builder
Once you buy Divi you must download the files from the Elegant themes website and upload to your themes on your site.
With Divi and the Elegant Themes package, two additional plugins are included for free. You simply save these files to your computer. Then upload and activate under plugins (directions in step 6)
As with my first suggestion, you can load the pre-made designs, change a few images and text and have an amazingly professional looking WordPress website from scratch.
Step 8: Design and Brand Your Website
Branding is important to your business and your brand online should match your brick and mortar (or face to face or Etsy) brand.
In step 1, you collected your branding information so you would have it on hand for this step. Now is the time to standardize your online and offline presence.
The WordPress dashboard has a place under “Appearance” and “customize” to add your branding information. Then you will see that all your content will begin to have a consistent style.
Go the Appearance – and in the column that appears choose Customize.
You will set up some basic information in each of these drop-down menus:
General Settings: The title, tagline and site icon go here. The site icon is the little favicon you see in the browser when you hover order your URL. A very basic logo or letter representing your business should be loaded in the site icon.
Typography– you can set a certain font styles to be standard across your website.
Buttons – You can style your buttons on your site so that each appears in the same color and style. You can choose one of your branding colors and ad it here if you do not like the pre-formated color.
Home Page Settings – As a small
The other settings for Footer and Menus will be set along with the Essential Pages. You will need to publish your main pages first and then arrange them in the Header and Footer.
Step 9: Create Your Essential Pages (Home, About, Contact, Disclosure)
You have so much hard work to this point! This will be an exciting step, where your small business WordPress website really starts coming together.
step you will create the essential pages and the menu for your website.
The pages you should include: will depend on the goals of your business but generally include: home, about, contact, and legal pages.
You can read more about the pages to have on a WordPress website.
The good news is that both Astra sites and Divi theme have some amazing templates for home, about and landing pages that you can download and customize.
The templates make creating these pages quick and easy without coding or building each part of the page.
I know many people lost struggle with creating these pages because they think they are not good at writing about themselves and have to idea what to say.
In the free WordPress Website
Writing the About Page:
The most important information to have on your about page is:
- What is your business and what do you do?
- Who are you and what do you do in the business?
- What is your expertise?
- How can someone contact you?
Writing Legal Pages:
In addition to your basic business pages you will need to cover your legal bases. Websites need at least 3 pages, sometimes more!
You need legal pages to comply with the law, protect your intellectual property, deny personal liability, disclose affiliate relationships, protect user privacy, explain your website rules and more…
Make sure to check with your lawyer about legal requirements for your small business website.
Here are a couple of options for you
- WordPress Legal Pages is a plugin that can be installed to add legal pages to your website.
- The option that I chose is Amira Law’s super affordable legal bundle and downloadable the files. The files are word templates, with fill in the blanks and easy to follow instructions.
Organizing Pages in the Header and Footer:
Once you have the essential pages created, and everything is published, you can organize them in the header and footer.
On the WordPress Dashboard under Appearance choose Menus.
You can choose which pages you would like to be in the header and footer.
Also, you can add an outside shop, such as your Etsy shop to your navigation. Add a name such as “shop” and custom link. Viola a link to your Esty shop appears right on the top of your new website.
Step 10: Write a Blog Post!
Yeah- you made it all the way here! Congratulations!
You may have heard of blogging as an online marketing strategy for your business. Although blogging takes extra work (and writing) some of the benefits of blogging include:
- Increase your Domain Authority which is how important you are in Google’s eyes which ranks you higher in search result pages.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is part of the point above and is a huge topic. Basically, new posts and more keyword rich content on your blog will help your website get found.
- Develop relationships with potential customers. Creating content that speaks to your audience or solves a problem for them will move them from knowing you to liking and trusting you.
- Build brand identity and awareness by being seen on various online platforms.
The drawbacks, of course, are the amount of time and commitment involved in producing quality content on a regular basis and then promoting it across the internet world.
If you decide to incorporate a blog into your online marketing strategy you will need to create -and stick to- a writing schedule.
With all that said here is the technical side of “how to write a blog post”
To start a new post – go to the Dashboard menu and choose Post.
The drop down will have an option for “Add New” and is shown in the figure above.
You will see a section “Enter title here” where you can type the title or headline of your post. Then under that is the area for writing content.
Just start writing in the blank box or add a text box from the editor. You will notice that you can add different boxes for Title, Paragraph, Images and other things you may want to add.
Your first post can be an introduction to you and your blog. Or you can leave that for the About Page and jump right into content.
Your first several posts (or all posts even) should be pillar content. These posts will go in depth on a topic for your target market. As your blog grows you can interlink and refer back to these foundational posts.
Once you are done writing – publish your post. Which sounds fancy but it is as simple as pressing the publish button.
You are officially a blogger – you have a blog post out there on the internet!
Step 11: Grow Your Business Online,
Once you have built your business WordPress website, you need to promote it!
Nothing will magically happen once you hit publish. In fact, no one will ever know you exit if you don’t promote your own website.
Sad but true. I was so nervous to hit publish the very first time as if someone would stumble on my website and know that I was a complete newbie.
There were a total of 0 people who accidentally stumbled on my site.
Plus, Google doesn’t even start to index your site and your posts for a while. So make sure you walk get set up with Google Analytics through the Yoast Plugin.
Harness the Power of Social Media
Now that you have a website, you should update your online business pages and social media profiles.
Then share, share, share!
Share your website on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other social media platform you are on.
You can create a mini-press release for your business to celebrate your achievement of building a new website. Share this across social media and create posters for your business.
In addition, do a live video
Pinterest is a social media – search engine mix. This platform generates most of the new traffic to many blogs and websites.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Neil Pastel said “SEO is the most cost effective method of marketing for small businesses with a low marketing budget.”
You can use SEO to attract potential customers to your site by publishing content that addresses the pain points of your potential customers. Just like you and me, they head straight to Google to solve their problems.
I suggest you write with keywords in mind and use the Yoast plugin to help you master writing your posts for SEO.Search engine optimization is important for people to find you on Google, but that takes time.
So make sure your posts are optimized for Google but focus on promoting in the ways I discussed above in the short term.
I hope that you were able to follow this step by step tutorial to build your small business WordPress website from scratch.
After you have created your WordPress website let me know the URL in the comments below. I would like to be the first visitor! And you can encourage other business owners that are feeling overwhelmed with the task of making a website.
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About Dr. Shauna Kocman
Welcome - I am Dr. Shauna Kocman
May I help you build an online presence for your small business?
I could tell you about my Ph.D. in engineering, or show you my curriculum vitae or discuss online learning… but that's so boring and stuffy.
I know you are busy!! You just want to grow your business - like yesterday!
I founded Business in a Weekend for you!
As an entrepreneur, you are a true do-it-yourselfer. I know you are the same way when it comes to growing your business online.
I help you learn and implement online marketing strategies with easy to understand step by step lessons to follow.
I am available for your support and encouragement.
I enjoy working with people one on one, and I want to help you get a competitive edge in your online business.
Contact me so we can schedule a free 20-minute strategy session. You will walk away with action items to implement right now.
Seriously - Let's grab a virtual coffee together!