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Build a small business website and reach your customers online
You’ve started your business, designed your logo and started a few social media accounts. You know a small business website is next but your overwhelmed with the idea, or can’t imagine spending thousands of dollars on a website for a brand new business.
I got you!
I’m going to walk you through the steps of setting up a simple website for your business. By the end of this post, you’ll have a homepage all set up and ready to promote!
Before you set up your small business website
A few things to know before you set up your website. First, DON’T USE WORDPRESS.COM! This is different than using a self-hosted WordPress.org site. You want WordPress.org because it is more flexible and allows you to use plugins. WPBeginner has a great post on why you should choose WordPress.org.
Second, you’ll want to figure out your branding first. Set yourself up with a business name, logo, colors, etc.
Third, please don’t use Bluehost to host your site. I know there are a lot of tutorials that encourage Bluehost, but I used them at first and my site was down all. the. time.
Hosting: The server where your website lives. When you use WordPress.org you buy your own hosting and your site is “self-hosted.”
URL: The address of your site. This starts with https://www and is in the bar at the top of your browser.
SSL Certificate: A security certificate that connects your site to a readers browser securely. A site that has an SSL certificate starts with https:// and a site without one starts with http://
Theme: The theme is installed on WordPress to give your site a “look.” The theme tells your site what colors to use, what fonts to use, what the header looks like, etc.
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Hosting and URL
My favorite host to use is Siteground. They have amazing customer service and have been able to help me with any issue I’ve brought to them. And, when you buy hosting through them you get a free SSL certificate (more on that later) and can set up a custom email using your URL!
Start with just the basic Start-Up shared hosting plan. It’s only $3.95 per month and will last you up to 10,000 monthly visits.
Once you’ve chosen your plan, Siteground will give you the option to purchase your domain. You can search for a domain name ahead of time on Namechk.com. It will tell you if the domain is available plus if that name is available on tons of different social media sites. It’s nice to be able to keep the same name on all your accounts.
When you have your hosting and your domain you’ll be ready to install WordPress!
Using your cPanel to Install Security and WordPress
Login to Siteground and click on the tab that says “My Account.” Your domain will be listed and to the right will be a button that says “Manage Account”, click on that.
On the next page, click the red button that says “Go to cPanel.” Scroll down to the “Security” section and click on “Let’s Encrypt.” This is where you will set up your SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate is a security measure that is becoming more and more important to Google. If you want to rank on Google search, then you NEED an SSL certificate!
Once you are in the Let’s Encrypt area, scroll down to the Install new Let’s Encrypt Certificate area. From the drop-down menu choose your domain and then make sure the button for Let’s Encrypt SSL is selected. Then hit install and you are all set!
How to Install WordPress
Return to cPanel Home and look for the Autoinstallers section near the top. Click on WordPress and it will open a new page.
Under the “Install” tab, click on “Quick Install.”
For “Choose Protocol” you want https://
Then choose your domain name from the drop-down menu.
You can leave the next section blank or type in dir.
In the “Site Settings” area you are going to type in your business name and tagline/description.
(Don’t enable multisite)
The “Admin Account” area is where you will enter your login information for WordPress. Your username can just be your name. The password should be super strong so you don’t get hacked. They will give you a red, yellow or green bar to indicate the strength of the password.
The “Admin Email” should be an email you currently have access to.
In the next section, you can choose the default language.
In the “Plugins” section I like to add Loginizer to help prevent unauthorized logins.
Then just choose a theme from the drop-down menu, you’ll change it later, hit “Install” and you’re done!
To login to your new site go to yoursitename.com/wp-admin and use the sign-in info you just set up.
Siteground will now walk you through the next few steps when you log in!
Installing a Theme
Now that you have WordPress set up for your small business website, you’ll want to purchase a theme.
Why not use a free one? Because many of the free ones are not well coded and can cause you many headaches. Plus, using one of the themes I recommend will be much more secure and help you avoid being hacked.
The Genesis Framework is like the frame of your house. It gives it structure but doesn’t give the house any character. The Child Theme is the outside appearance of your house, the colors, cute front door, and flower garden.
My site uses Genesis and a child theme called Gallery Pro.
Choosing a Theme
You can start browsing the themes in Studiopress. When you see one you like, click through for more info and then you can choose “Live Demo” (just under the blue buy button) to explore the theme more.
The themes from Studiopress are already mobile responsive and customizable, so just look for a theme that you like the look of.
Once you have chosen a theme you like, you are going to buy the Genesis Framework and the theme. It will ask you to create an account and pay.
In your dashboard, you’ll see a blue download button next to Genesis and your theme. Download both of them to your computer.
Login to WordPress like I showed you above and in the left-hand menu hover over “Appearance,” then select “Themes.”
At the top click “Add New.” When it reloads, click “Upload Theme.” Click “Choose File” and select the zip file for the Genesis Framework. Then click “Install.”
Once that is installed, do the same process over again for the child theme.
Now, on the main “Theme” page, hover over your child theme and chose “Activate.”
This is going to make that theme active, but your site will still not look like the demo in Studiopress, we have to customize it!
Customize your Theme
This is where it gets a bit tricky. Each theme is a bit different in how it is set up.
First thing is to go back to your Studiopress dashboard and click on the “Setup Instructions” button next to your theme.
These are the directions that go to your specific theme.
In WordPress, hover over “Appearance” and choose “Customize.” This will load the WordPress Customizer where you can see your site on the right and there is a big long menu on the left.
Each of those menu items will customize a different aspect of your site.
Your theme setup instructions will walk you step by step through how to set up your site like the demo.
How to learn WordPress
This was all the basic information you needed to get started but WordPress is a beast with a huge learning curve. Luckily, my friend Grayson on iMark Interactive has put together a FREE WordPress course that will teach you a ton more.
Understanding WordPress is a very comprehensive course that will answer tons of your questions. Plus, Grayson is a super techy guy that you can hire to help you should you get really stuck. His rates are sooo reasonable!
Don’t forget that you have access to lots of help through Siteground if you get stuck on any part of this installation process.
WordPress can be overwhelming but take your time, take a deep breath and keep plugging away at it! You’ll have a beautiful small business website before you know it!
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