How to Create a Website (for Dummies)

Creating a fully-functioning WordPress website in a day
Last updated December 12, 2018
Posted by Luke      4 Comments

Something many people say to me is “I just have no idea where to start when it comes to making a website.”

I get it. 

They look complex, it seems like a lot of work.

But it really, really isn’t anywhere near as complicated as it looks.

In this post, I’m going to be teaching you how to create a website as a beginner.

Whatever type of website you wish to set up, there is one platform that is almost always suitable for you: WordPress.

WordPress is free, so I’m not shilling you this on some mad money-hungry mission, I just think it’s the best (by far) for pretty much any online business.

As a platform, it powers over 25% of the pages on the entire internet, so it’s pretty big, and sites built on it can be extremely effective at ranking in Google — something that can’t be said for most sites built on basic drag-and-drop ‘website builders’.

Wix, a popular website building platform, infamously lost a $50,000 SEO challenge that they created and had a huge advantage in.

I don’t need to sell you on WordPress any further because if you think it’s not for you…well…this tutorial won’t be for you. It’s the only method I’m teaching about as it’s the platform I use on all my sites.

One thing I will say upfront is don’t go to the WordPress website to try and start this.

There are two different types of WordPress, one of which is absolutely not the version you want, and if you go to a hosting provider first and install it that way, you’ll always end up with the correct one.

Just follow my steps below and you’ll be good.

Whilst WordPress is free, you will need a small amount of money in your budget to buy a domain name and to buy a hosting package — the two things you need to have your own site existing on the web.

Here’s the cool thing:

Whilst creating ClicheWebsite.com, I screenshotted the entire process.

That means I can walk you through how to set up a website whilst I show you exactly how I set up this website.

I’m not really sure why I described that as ‘cool’ but whatever. 

How to Buy a Domain Name

This step is really easy. 

Just like buying any other product online, you just need to go to a website that sells domain names, search for a name that is available (there’s more on that in my lesson on branding), add it to your basket and hit purchase.

I bought clichewebsite.com and a range of similar domains from 123-reg —no affiliation.

Try to grab the .com and .co.uk for your chosen domain name at a minimum.

How to Host & Set Up Your Website

Now that you know how to purchase a domain name, we’re going to move onto looking at how to actually get your site on the web; hosting.

Think of hosting as like buying ad space in a newspaper — an example perfect for all you 80-year-olds out there.

Your domain is your advert, but no-one will see it unless you buy the space in the paper to place it. 

There are a huge range of companies you can choose from to find suitable hosting, and pricing varies significantly too.

I’m using managed hosting here, which, put simply, is just better than the cheaper ‘shared’ hosting.

The two companies I recommend here, Kinsta and Tsohost, are both companies I am affiliated with. The only reason I am affiliated with them is because I actually use them myself and can recommend their services as a result. 

I used shared hosting for years, and still do on some of my sites, and for that I use Tsohost.

I’ve always been impressed with their service — they’ve saved my bacon more times than I can count via email and on live chat — but I was on the lookout for something faster and just…better.

After doing research and speaking to a few guys that are smarter than I am, I decided to try out Kinsta.

You’ll see the various aspects I was impressed with as we move through the tutorial, but I want to say this upfront so that you don’t have to read through everything before deciding on the best option for you:

I believe Kinsta is the best option for those of you looking to make a great site that runs fast. They also make it easy to set up some of the more technical aspects of site creation.

Setup was the easiest it’s ever been for me — perfect for those of you daunted by code or jargon — and this site runs significantly faster than any of my sites on shared hosting (0.1s server response time vs 2.4s average response time on my other sites, and speed matters).

I believe Tso is a better option if you’re starting on a much tighter budget; they’re extremely cheap, but don’t offer some of the features that impressed me most when it came to Kinsta. Check out Tso here.

Please remember, all of the above is just my non-expert opinion. That’s not me being modest; I really don’t know what the fuck I’m doing most of the time. 

This guide is now going to focus on setting up a site on Kinsta, but for those of you going with the lower-budget Tso approach, it’s still easy to get up and running.

Buying Your Hosting Package

I’ll be straight with you, the main reason I decided to go with Kinsta over arguably the biggest name in the managed hosting space — WP Engine — is the price.

The packages were slightly cheaper, although admittedly didn’t quite offer as much in terms of views, storage space or bandwidth, but I felt Kinsta’s limits were more than adequate enough for me to go with.

Buying the plan is straightforward, and I guess most of you will go with the $30/m option (I see no reason to not go with that and then just upgrade when necessary). 

I’m actually incentivised to tell you to buy a more expensive package so go on, buy the $900/m package, I fuckin’ dare you.

Simply choose your plan and then checkout as you would with any other online purchase.

I’m sure you’re capable of buying a product on the internet.

Once your purchase has gone through and you’ve logged in, you’ll be greeted with a nice clean dashboard:

And the reason it’s so clean is because there’s nothing on it.

Let’s get to work on adding our basic details!

Click the ‘Add Your First Site Now’ button and you’ll be greeted with this pop-up:

Most of it is really straightforward to fill out.

Choose the location closest to you or where your audience will likely be based.

Fill out the name of your site, your shiny new domain that you should have purchased in the first step of this guide, your site title — this can be changed easily, so don’t worry about putting anything but your website name again here — and then things like your admin details.

Make a note of your admin details somewhere on paper — remember to throw them away later on. I wouldn’t recommend making a note of them on your computer, unless you’re using an encrypted password manager, due to the risk of hacks.

If you wish to sell products on your site then tick the ‘Install WooCommerce’ button and the ‘Install Yoast SEO’ button. If you don’t want to sell products, just install the latter. 

Neither of those plugins are essential, they’re just my recommendations. They’re free.

Once you’ve filled all of this in and clicked ‘Add’, you’ll need to wait a few minutes for it to process on the Kinsta back-end.

In the background, your site automatically installing and setting up WordPress.

Go make a cup of tea or watch a YouTube video and then before you know it, your site will be ready to get started on.

Updating DNS Settings

The website name will turn purple (you can refresh the page to check) once you’re able to get started on it, and the first thing you’ll need to do is something that sounds extremely complicated to someone that’s never done it before — change your domain’s DNS settings.

If you don’t change your DNS settings, your site will look a little something like this when you try log in or visit it:

Fortunately, it’s extremely easy to make the required changes. 

Within your Kinsta dashboard, click onto ‘Kinsta DNS’ in the left-hand menu. 

You’ll then want to click the ‘Add Your First Domain’ button. 

Once you’ve added it, you’ll be given four nameservers that you’ll need to change within 123-reg or wherever you purchased your domain from.

It’s a simple case of clicking onto my domain within my account page of 123-reg, then clicking ‘Change Nameservers (DNS)’.

Again, all of this looks so much more complicated than it actually is — it’s just clicking a few links and copying and pasting some information.

Once I’ve clicked to change my nameservers, I simply copy and paste the DNS information displayed on Kinsta, in order, into the relevant boxes before clicking ‘Update’:

The only other thing required is to add ‘A’ records within your Kinsta DNS page. 

It’s not really necessary to learn what this is, you just need to do the following…

Go back into your domain in Kinsta and click ‘Add a DNS Record’, then add two for your domain; one with and one without the ‘www.’, copying the IP from your dashboard:

You’ll see shortly that I actually didn’t get this step above right myself — I missed it entirely — and I had to jump onto live chat to get it fixed. 

Everyone gets stuck, everyone makes mistakes, so don’t worry if things are getting a bit tricky for you.

Hop onto live chat and almost all hosting providers will help you get set up from start to finish.

Before we can move on to the next step, we need to make sure the DNS has propagated. 

I have no idea why all of these words sound so confusing, but they’re nothing to be worried about.

This took around 10-20 minutes for me, and you can check the progress of your propagation at DNS Checker for free.

I’d load up the DNS checker and then go and take a break — you’ve earned it. 

You’ll know when propagation has been completed because all of the locations will have green ticks beside them, and your website will now be showing a page like this instead of the default hosting one:

Installing HTTPS

The next thing I’m going to show you is setting up HTTPS; making your site secure.

Being a secure site gives it the padlock symbol in the browser — non-secure sites have a warning now that you’ll see in the image above.

HTTPS sites are also given a small ranking boost in Google, and fortunately for you it just takes a few clicks to get it set up.

Usually with free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates you have to remember to manually renew them, but that is all handled for you here.

Firstly, from within ‘Tools’ in the Kinsta dashboard, we’re going to click ‘Enable HTTPS’:

We’ll then click ‘Next’:

It was at this stage that I jumped onto live chat to a) ensure I was doing things correctly — I wasn’t, but hopefully you have done as I have written the correct steps above, and b) test their customer service, as that’s the main area I’d been impressed with Tso in the past.

Just a couple of minutes after sending my message, I got a great response answering my questions and solving my issues — like I said, don’t be shy to jump on live chat if you get stuck.

The issue I had was that I hadn’t set my ‘A’ records in the DNS stage that we have just covered, and therefore propagation hadn’t completed, which meant I couldn’t generate my SSL certificate.

Once you’ve clicked ‘Generate Certificate’, you’ll again have a small amount of waiting whilst that is processed.

After 5-10 minutes, refresh the page and you should see that the certificate has been successfully generated, as the button will have turned green:

If you check your site now…

…well, you’ll still see that your site is insecure.

The final stage is to request that Kinsta forces your site onto HTTPS.

I usually do this myself, but Kinsta prevent this from working to stop people from screwing up their whole site.

So, jump onto live chat if you haven’t done so already, and ask if they can force your site onto HTTPS. 

If there’s one thing I love in life as a lazy person, it’s getting other people to do a job I could easily do myself. 

Adding a CDN

Something that’s great for increasing speed and reducing page load times is a CDN — a Content Delivery Network.

A CDN, put simply, just makes sure your content is delivered to your audience from a server that is close to where they’re based.

Less distance for the information to travel means faster loading times.

Within the Kinsta dashboard, we just need to go to the CDN tab and then click ‘Add Zone’.

And then…well, that’s it, actually.

A number of people prefer to use Cloudflare for the CDN because it offers other features like DDoS protection amongst various other things, but setting that up is one for another lesson. 

Recommended Plugins

Plugins are what you use to add features to your website that it doesn’t have already.

To add these, and to change the other things that I’m talking about in this post, you’ll need to log in to WordPress. You should have hopefully written these login details down earlier. 

When you first set up your site, you’ll have Akismet Anti-Spam installed — I recommend keeping that plugin and setting it up, but I recommend removing the other default ‘Hello Dolly’ WordPress plugin because it’s pointless.

You don’t want to go crazy on installing plugins.

Every single one will increase the size of your site, which is highly likely to make it load more slowly.

Realistically, you’ll probably end up with 15-25 plugins on your totally finished website.

A number of popular plugins are speed related; WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache, the two most commonly installed in this are, but Kinsta has their own caching system which prevents you from installing these (and seems to run really fast). 

The main WordPress plugins I recommend are:

  • EasyAzon: for adding Amazon affiliate links that directs readers to their local Amazon site (essential for conversions to track). I actually use the paid, pro version of this.
  • Google Analytics by MonsterInsights: a nice and easy way to set up Google Analytics, with additional features.
  • Yoast: we already added this when we set up the site. It’s the best SEO plugin for WordPress, hands down.
  • Redirection: for adding redirects if you remove or change a post or page’s URL.
  • Table of Contents Plus: this adds a ‘contents’ section to the beginning of your posts and is effective for increasing your organic traffic.
  • ThirstyAffiliates: for cloaking affiliate links, so instead of them appearing as something ugly like ‘kinsta.com/r?=zg14uglybaby1’ they show up as ‘clichewebsite.com/go/kinsta’.

Most of these appear to be really boring. I get it.

Sometimes, boring plugins get shit done.

You can add and change so much about your site with plugins. Add social media buttons or boxes, email opt-in boxes, integrate an online store and way more.

Anything you wish to change or install…you can probably change or install. 

You don’t even need to know the name of what you’re looking for.

If you have an idea for what you’d like to implement, for example ‘comment box email subscription’, you’d probably get back relevant plugins for getting people to subscribe when they leave a comment.

Ideal WordPress Settings

Rounding off the most boring of back-end website setup, let’s look at the sexy world of WordPress settings.

Let’s go through this page-by-page in the settings panel:

The ‘general’ settings page is nice and easy. 

It’s mostly down to your personal preference; setting a good title and tagline for your site, choosing things like what day you want to be the first day of the week…

Yeah, I don’t think you need help here.

On the ‘Writing’ settings page, I also think there’s nothing you need to change really. Again, it’s personal preference.

I don’t post via email and I don’t see why you’d want to really when you could just as easily post — whether you’re on your phone or laptop — via the back-end of your site.

Like, it’s not 2006. Who’s sat there thinking ‘damn, I wish I could get onto my internet browser right now. I know, I’ll use my email to publish something new on my website.’

I was alive in 2006 and making websites in 2006 and I don’t ever remember needing to publish via email.

Within your ‘Reading’ settings, you’ll choose if you want your home page to be your recent posts or whether you want it to be a traditional static home page.

A home page is a much better choice for any site that isn’t a blog, newspaper or magazine.

To change this, you’ll need to make sure you have created a page (in the ‘Pages’ tab of WordPress). You’ll also need to create a blank page called ‘Blog’ or similar to set as your ‘Posts’ page. 

In the ‘Discussion’ settings, I remove pingbacks and trackbacks from showing on my article as I don’t want random peoples links showing up on my page. Weird that they even offer you this, but they do.

With regards to receiving comments, I basically set them up so that I have full editorial control — publishing my praise and deleting any criticism (not that I get any criticism because I’m perfect, just check my comments section if you don’t believe me). 

OK, serious bit of insight here:

You may be liable for comments published on your site, at least that’s what my ridiculously expensive legal counsel told me during my repeated threats of being sued. 

Even though they’re opinions or thoughts left by other people, you own the site they’re showing on. I guess it’s kinda like when people upload copyrighted content to a site like YouTube, and then YouTube themselves are liable for that so they have to remove it.

So, even for your own peace of mind that someone can’t talk shit about you and have it published for the world to see, I do recommend ensuring you run your comments section like a dictatorship.

I always publish every comment that isn’t spam or a blatant advert.

The final settings tab we’re going to look at is the permalinks page.

My one small criticism of Kinsta here is that, for some reason, they default your permalinks to the top ‘Plain’ URL setting. 

The plain URL option is worse than when my dad left.

If you’re easily offended, please know that I’m always joking. I don’t have a dad because I am a product of immaculate conception. 

Plain URLs mean that when you publish a post, instead of it appearing as reallyniceurl.com/my-beautiful-links they show up as something like cancer.com/?p=173.

Not only does this choice look terrible, but it’s awful for SEO, too.

I recommend going for either the ‘Post name’ URL setting, or the ‘Custom’ setting like I do, where I set it to show the category and the post name by default.

I don’t recommend showing the date in the URL.

It makes your post seem outdated in the future even if you keep it fresh; bad for Google, bad for getting shares, bad for your bank balance.

Themes & Making Your Site Look Good

Here’s where stuff starts to get exciting. 

Like, as exciting as making a website can get. Which isn’t very.

In the Appearance tab, and then into Themes, you can delete all of the default WordPress themes because they fuckin’ suck.

Click onto the theme, then hit the ‘Delete’ button in the bottom right. 

You’ll need a new theme before you can delete the one that you currently have activated.

Let’s take a look at finding, installing and making your new website look great.

Click onto ‘Add New’ and you can look through the WordPress repository for themes.

Every single one of the themes in this repository is free. 

Some are freemium, meaning you get the basics of the theme, but then you can pay to upgrade to get new features.

I have used free themes and made a successful site from it, but most people will recommend going to a site like ThemeForest to pick up a theme for around $50.

I’ve bought like 20 themes from there in the past so can wholeheartedly recommend it.

As for creating and editing the rest of your theme, it will be hard for me to teach you; every theme’s settings is different. 

However, most themes allow you to click ‘Customise’ in the ‘Appearance’ menu and then you can go through each aspect of your theme step-by-step.

You can usually change things like your header, your footer, your site’s colours, how many columns your site’s structure has, etc.

The obvious first thing to do is to add yourself a logo.

Here’s me making the version first of the logo of this site in Photoshop. 

Literally first attempt:

I changed the theme since originally screenshotting this process, and maybe I’ll change the logo too at some point, but you’ll see in my lesson on branding that I don’t really care for logos too much. 

Edit: Would you look at that? I did change the logo. To something else intentionally quick & easy, requiring minimal thought or design expertise. 

Once you’ve started playing around with the design of your site, I think we can safely say that you’ve finished the website setup process. 

If you were following along, congrats! 

If you need still need some inspiration for the type of site you can create (in terms of how you’re going to make money from it) then I’ve written about some different options below.

Types of Site You Can Create

Before choosing the niche that you’ll call your home until you make enough money to finally move out of your mom’s basement, I want to quickly cover the different types of site you could create.

Most you reading this will already know that you want to create an affiliate blog, or that you’ll want to create an online store, or that you’ll want to sell hard drugs on the dark web, but for those that don’t yet know their chosen path, you can start here.

What type of site are you going to make?

Affiliate Blog

This is my favourite style of monetisation for a number of reasons.

Affiliate sites are just so easy to set up and run; you could have a website set up with products generating sales in just a day or two.

There are no customers or clients to deal with, no orders to process, no complaints to put right — have you met people before? People are disgusting. 

Affiliates get a bit of a bad wrap sometimes — fairly, most of the time — but I actually think the approach is really good when done in a fair and transparent way, i.e. the affiliate has actually used the product they’re reviewing, and they’re reviewing it fairly even though they earn money when people go on to buy it.

You’ll often find affiliates just recommending the most expensive products, or the ones that pay the biggest commissions, rather than being genuine.

People are free to do as they wish, I guess, as long as the use of affiliate links is disclosed.

The downside to affiliate blogs is definitely the risk associated with them; you have no reliable source of income.

Online Store

Got physical stock that you want to sell?

If so, you already know your chosen business model — why are you even reading this?

Looking to sell physical products, but not sure what?

The strategies for choosing your niche will mostly be the same as with any other site, although you will also need to find products that you can sell at a reasonable profit margin — assuming you don’t currently have the capacity to handle and ship thousands of orders a month, that is. 

Dark Web Drug Shop

No, not really.

I don’t even know why I include these stupid jokes that no doubt hinder my visibility and sharability and brandability and apparently all of the abilities.

Agency/Services

Perhaps you have a service that you can offer your readers, and you can use your website content to bring in targeted leads.

For example, look at the world of online marketing agencies.

The vast majority of agencies in this space — especially those at the top of the game — put the effort in to create content teaching people how to do exactly the same service they provide.

Why would this be?

Well, they build up an audience of people that they know need their help.

If readers choose to learn the techniques from the tutorial content and put them to good practise, they’ll be very likely to re-use, share or link to the original resource that taught them in the future — helping the agency get exposure to new people.

Or, the reader could decide that they actually can’t do it themselves, and they’d potentially invest in the agency’s services.

If you have any service that you can offer, starting a site around that subject could be the key to your success, and your customers or clients could find you almost completely passively — they’ll come to you, rather than you chasing them. 

Courses

A lot of high quality information can be packaged into a course.

And if the high quality information is valuable, that means people will pay for it.

Originally, my beginner blueprint (of which this is lesson 1 of 8) was meant to be a paid course.

I was gonna charge like $999 or $749 or $499 or an ever-decreasing price because actually you know what I like giving everything away.

If you have information that’s worth sharing and people would pay for it…why not charge for it?

If you want to create online courses and release them via your website, I would recommend trying to come up with set rules for yourself for what you’ll give away for free and what you’ll charge for.

This is why I could never make it work for me; I want to give away my best stuff. 

That makes it hard to then charge for other things, when you know you’re already giving away the best stuff free of charge.

Maybe you can make a success of this method.

Membership Platform

A method that’s growing in popularity is membership platforms.

Having people paying monthly or annually can be huge compared to people just buying one-off products like courses or physical goods.

The money rises massively, even with only a small amount of customers. If you have 100 people paying $25 a month, that’s already $30,000 in annual revenue.

The obvious trade-off with this is that you need a product or service that continually delivers value every single week.

This could be a vibrant community, private tools, regularly posted new information, all of the above, none of the above, I don’t fuckin’ know just use your brain would ya?

Patreon

If you release everything for free, your most supporting and loyal of readers or viewers might be willing to help fund your project so that you can do bigger and better than ever before.

The beauty with this method is that if people don’t want to contribute, they don’t have to.

They can still enjoy everything you have to offer, with the exception of some of the bonus perks you offer to patrons — if you want to.

There’s a few ideas for you.

I hope you’ve found this post useful.

Let me know what you think, or any questions you may have, in the comments below. Negative comments will be reworded as erotic fan fiction.

Read next: How to Choose a Niche You Can Make a Success In

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