Today, I’m going to show you how to build your very first website! It’s not as hard as you think . . .
I built my first website many years ago and I’ve been building websites for clients and myself ever since. I’ve learned what do but most importantly, what not to do!
I’ve boiled it down to the bare essentials you need to know in an easy step-by-step tutorial that’s perfect if you’re a complete beginner.
Follow my step by step guide and you could have your very first website up in under an hour!
In this guide, I’ll walk you through all the necessary steps (no extra steps or fluff). You’ll learn how to choose a domain name, get web hosting and set up your site so you can get it published ASAP.
Who knows, your first website could be the start of something big. Perhaps it’ll bring in a steady stream of income or lead to a life without a boss . . .
The first step is to get your first website up and running, so let’s get started!
You can click on the hyperlinks below if you want to skip to the chase (choose web hosting and register a domain name), or simply follow along step-by-step.
Quick Navigation Links
- Step 1: Define Your Website Goals
- Step 2: Choose Your CMS Platform
- Step 3: Choose a Domain Name
- Step 4: Choose Web Hosting
- Step 5: Register Your Domain Name
- Step 6: Install WordPress
- Editor’s Thoughts and Final Words
If you’re a beginner, I highly recommend you follow along step-by-step so that you have a good understanding of the whole process.
Step 1: Define Your Website Goals
Before you start building your website you need to know what you’re trying to achieve. Is it going to be a business website, blog or portfolio site?
Below are a handful of questions you need to ask yourself so that you can build your website accordingly.
Questions to Ask to Define Your Goals
Do you want to:
- Sell your products or someone else’s online?
- Start your blog to make some side income?
- Take your brick and mortar business online?
- Increase awareness of your brand?
- Get people to sign up for your newsletter?
- Build your website to showcase your art or photography portfolio?
- Start your blog to write about and share your passion?
The list is pretty much endless but these topics should cover most people’s needs. Once you know what your website’s goals are, you can start the process!
Step 2: Choose Your CMS Platform
Now that you’ve decided what your website’s purpose is going to be, you’re going to need to choose a CMS platform. And no, you don’t need to have any tech skills!
What is a CMS?
A CMS platform or Content Management System is a framework that you’ll use to build, maintain and update your website. At their core, CMS platforms are software that helps make the process of creating and managing a website a whole lot easier.
A CMS is your best friend and allows you to do the following:
- Edit your website from the domain, instead of from your web hosting server files, which is a big pain in the you know what . . . (we’ll learn about web hosting later)
- Full customization of your website’s layout, logo, color scheme, settings, etc.
- Create, add or modify a post or webpage.
- Add a newsletter email address sign up form or pop up.
- Link videos and add pictures to your website.
- Install plugins to add more functionality to your website.
- Add products and a shopping cart.
- Share on social media.
- Use templates to design pages fast.
You get the picture . . .
List of CMS Platforms
A CMS can vary widely in terms of cost, ease of use, flexibility and the type of websites they are best suited for. As you can imagine, there are many CMS platforms. None are perfect and they all have their pros and cons.
The most popular platforms for blogs and websites are:
There are also many niche platforms geared towards specific types of websites such as eCommerce stores:
If you’d like, you can do some research, read reviews or watch videos to find the best platform that suits your needs.
Or, you could take my expert advice and go with my top recommendations below.
I know I’m making a big assumption here but I’m guessing that you want to get your first blog up and running, or perhaps just a simple website.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to build something other than your first website such as a custom site, web application or complicated tool, then you may need to hire a web developer.
For your first blog or a simple website, I strongly recommend the following top three different options:
Best CMS Option – WordPress
When choosing a CMS platform, you should consider your budget, technical skills and the type of website you want to create. But, you’ll be able to skip pretty much all of this if you follow my lead.
Without hesitation . . .
I highly recommend that you build your first website or blog on WordPress. It’s the king of the hill and the reason why greater than 40% of all websites on the internet are built on WordPress. That’s more than 400 million websites!
If you want complete ownership and control over your website, then a self-hosted WordPress site at WordPress.org is the way to go. Especially, if you’re a business or blogger that want’s to make money from your site.
Plus, it’s a fantastic blogging platform that makes all the website customization super easy and intuitive from the admin dashboard. Another advantage is that there are nearly 60,000 plugins to choose from which’ll allow you to design your website exactly how you want it.
You do have to pick and choose which plugins to use as you do not want to slow down your site or introduce security risks to your website.
Here’s my list of the best WordPress plugins you should use on your first site without sacrificing speed or security.
The other option is to build a free site on WordPress.com but you won’t have full ownership or control like you would if you go with the self-hosted option above.
CMS Alternative 1 – Squarespace
Squarespace is another website builder that comes with it’s advantages and disadvantages. This is not a full review but I go into enough detail to highlight whether or not it’s a good choice for you.
On the plus side, Squarespace is an easy platform to use and doesn’t require any coding knowledge. Squarespace provides users with a wide range of website templates and designs to choose from, so it’s easy to create a professional-looking website.
However, there are some drawbacks to using Squarespace.
One downside is that it can be more expensive than other website builder platforms, so it may not be the best option if you’re building your first site. On the low side, it will cost you at least $14 per month.
As a comparison, a self-hosted WordPress site on average will cost you less than $3 per month (web hosting and free domain for a year), which is less than a fancy Starbucks cup of coffee. That’s a huge difference . . .
While Squarespace is fairly easy to use, it is not as flexible as some other CMS platforms when it comes to customizing your website. You simply won’t have as much control as you would on WordPress.
CMS Alternative 2 – Wix
Wix is another popular option for building your first website, and of course, there’s both good and bad.
Wix is a very user-friendly platform that makes it easy for even those with no web design experience to create a professional-looking website. Wix offers a wide variety of features and templates to choose from, so you can customize your site to fit your specific needs.
One downside of Wix is that it can also be more expensive than some of other web CMS platforms. Wix is on par with Squarespace and will cost you a minimum of $16 per month. Both Wix and Squarespace have other premium plans that go up to nearly $50 per month!
As with Squarespace, Wix also has some limitations in terms of how much control you have over your website’s code.
Overall though, Wix is a great option for you if your looking for an easy-to-use platform to create a beautiful website, and you aren’t worried about the higher monthly cost.
Step 3: Choose a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is an important part of building your first website. It is the URL that people type into the browser address bar to search for your website:
When I built my first website, choosing the domain name for it took longer than it should have. While you shouldn’t rush this part, you don’t want to spend days or months on it either.
Having gone through this so many times now, I’ll be able to help you choose an awesome domain name for your new site.
I’ve outlined everything you need to know about how to choose your very first domain name in my easy step-by-step process!
Perhaps you already had a domain name chosen or you read through my blog post and came up with the perfect domain name. Now it’s time to see if the domain name is available.
Verify Domain Name is Available
Verifying whether your domain name is available or not is an easy process. Below are just a few options of many, but I find them the most helpful.
My go-to source is the GoDaddy Appraisal Tool. Not only can you verify if your chosen domain name is available but you can also get an estimate of the value of the domain name.
- Type the domain name you’re thinking about into the “Enter a domain name” search bar.
- Tap on “Get Value”.
Within seconds you’ll get the estimated value and whether or not the domain is available. If you scroll down further, more available options appear as alternatives for you.
Bluehost has a similar search tool for domains but what I like about Bluehost’s tool is that it’ll give you different variations in case your domain name isn’t available.
- Type the domain name you’re thinking about into the “Type your desired domain here.” search bar.
- Tap on “Search”.
Scroll down and you’ll see a long list of variations.
Hopefully you were able to find a great domain name. Now that you have an available domain name chosen, it’s time for you to set up web hosting.
Step 4: Choose Web Hosting
In order to setup your WordPress blog or website, you’re going to need good web hosting.
A web host provider hosts and manages your website files on a web server so that anyone online can connect to your website.
You do need to make sure that you don’t choose a dodgy web hosting company.
For beginners, I highly recommend Bluehost since it is cheap, reliable and they offer a one-click WordPress install. Most of all, I like that they’re always available 24/7 via chat and super helpful.
Believe me, this is great if you ever get in a pinch and need help right away. I’ve used the chat many times and their wait times seem to have decreased over the years to less than a minute, which is awesome!
My assumption is that you want to go with the lowest cost option overall. So, I do want to point out something very important before you settle on a web host provider. You’re going to notice that most web host providers provide a free domain name for the first year, which is great.
What they don’t tell you is that after the first year, they are going to charge you anywhere from about $12 to $15 per year for domain privacy alone. And believe me, you need domain privacy because it keeps all your personal information off public record.
But don’t worry because I’m going to show you how to get your domain privacy for free.
Another point worth mentioning is that web hosting providers typically charge more for domain name renewals starting in the second year. But, if you follow my steps below, you’ll be able to save a ton of money on renewals in the long run as well.
Sure, the upfront cost is a tad bit higher because you’ll need to purchase your domain name. But, this is the best way to go hands down. In the end, it’s going to be your choice depending on your situation.
I’m going to show you exactly how to get web hosting with Bluehost, and then your domain name with a domain registrar that offers free domain privacy (forever), and also one of the cheapest renewal rates.
Overall, this is definitely the winning combination for your first site and the best value for your hard-earned money!
Bluehost is the go-to web hosting provider for beginners for the simple reasons I stated above. They’re cheap, reliable and fast when it comes to setup. Plus, they’re only a click away if you need help.
Bluehost was my first web hosting provider and I never had any problems whatsoever. I had them for a long time and I really appreciated that their tech support team was always right there in case I had any questions.
So, without further ado, let’s get you started with your very own Bluehost web hosting!
First, you’re going to want to go to the Bluehost website and choose a plan. I recommend the Basic Plan which is super affordable. Click on “Select” for whichever plan you choose.
On the second page, scroll to the bottom and click on “I’ll create my domain later”.
Next, you’re going to fill in your account information, package information, package extras and payment information.
One thing to note is that you don’t need any of the package extras, so go ahead and uncheck all the boxes. In my blog post about WordPress plugins, I go into detail on how to make your site super secure with an awesome security plugin for free!
Then, when you’re all done, click on “submit”.
Congrats, you just purchased web hosting for your very first website!
To begin, there are a ton of web hosting alternatives and it will take you days to browse and research all of them, literally . . .
So, instead of giving you a long list of web hosting providers, I’ve boiled it down to a handful.
These are both affordable and reliable choices for your first website:
In the end, I do still recommend Bluehost for your first web host.
One additional feature I like about Bluehost is that they also have an affordable hosting plan for unlimited websites. This is great if you end up building more than one site.
Never say never . . . most successful website owners usually own more than one site.
Step 5: Register Your Domain Name
To register your domain name you’ll need to choose a domain registrar. A domain registrar is a company that manages the reservation of internet domain names.
As you might be guessing, there are a number of domain registrar choices. Quite honestly, you only really need to consider one of them. My domain registrar of choice for you is Namecheap.
I’ve been using them for years and like that they’re very affordable, especially if you’re purchasing your very first domain name. First time buyers always get a big discount!
I also like that they offer free domain privacy forever and that the yearly renewal cost is far less than other registrars such as GoDaddy.
With that said, follow the steps below and I’ll help you get your first domain registered lickety-split.
First, go to the Namecheap website and enter your chose domain name in the search bar where it says “Register a domain name to start”.
Then, click on “Search”.
Since you’ve already verified that your domain name is available, your domain name should come up with a green check mark. The first time buyer code is usually NEWCOM698 and should be shown to you next to the green check mark and domain name.
Click on “Add to cart” in green.
You don’t need any of the extra choices. Click on “Checkout” in red.
Next, click on the “AUTO-RENEW” toggle for both Domain Registration and Domain Privacy.
Type in your Promo Code for first time buyers on the right hand side and click on “Apply” in red. Then, click on “Confirm Order” in red.
Create an account or log in to your existing Namecheap account.
This is important.
On the page that comes up, double-check that your domain name is spelled correctly and it appears the way you want it. Make sure that Domain Privacy is also included and that you’re Renewal Settings look good.
Next, enter your payment details and click on “Pay Now” in red.
Congrats, you’ve just purchased your very first domain name!
Assign Bluehost Nameservers
Now you’re ready to assign the Bluehost nameservers to your domain. Basically, you need to point your domain’s settings to Bluehost.
The two Bluehost nameservers are:
There are two ways to go about this. The first is to call Namecheap or get on a chat with them and have them change the settings for you. The other is to log on to your Namecheap account and change them yourself.
Either way works but quite honestly, the quickest way is to simply do it yourself since it takes seconds.
Here’s how to do it:
- Log into your Namecheap account if you’re not logged in already.
- Click on “Domain List” on the left.
- Tap on the “MANAGE” button to the right of your domain.
- Scroll down a bit until you see “NAMESERVERS”.
- From the drop-down menu select “Custom DNS”.
- Copy/paste the Bluehost nameservers into each of the two lines.
- Tap on the green check mark.
Congrats, now you’re basic setup is complete!
Step 6: Install WordPress
The last step is to install WordPress onto your site. This is also super easy and once you’re done, you’ll be able to design your site to your liking.
This step requires you to do the following:
- Log into your Bluehost account.
- Click on “My Sites” on the left-hand side.
- Then, click on the “Create Site” button on the right-hand side.
- Enter your website info “Site Name” and “Site Tagline”.
- Enter your domain name and uncheck all the plugins.
- Click “Next” to install WordPress.
Bluehost will email you your login details.
Now you can see your new WordPress site by clicking on “Log into WordPress”. Doing this will take you to the admin dashboard of your first website.
Congrats on getting to this point as you have officially completed a major milestone!
The next step is to install a WordPress theme which you can read about in my easy-to-follow blog post called “Why The GeneratePress Theme For Bloggers Can’t Be Beat”.
There are plenty of premium themes out there but GeneratePress is the very best theme for your new site . . . no question!
Editor’s Thoughts and Final Words
I congratulate you on taking the initiative to set up your very first website. Many people think about doing the same but never pull the trigger.
I was in your shoes once and I’m so glad I made the decision to take action, and set up my first website. It’s opened up a whole new world for me and has taken me from a visitor of websites, to a creator of websites.
Just like me, you may realize that one of the secrets to life is the need to create. The fact that you’re creating propels personal growth and perpetuates new ideas to flow.
“Magic happens when you realize that becoming a creator is far better than being stuck a consumer all of your life.”
Website building has been the vehicle that has helped me accomplish new goals and dreams! Most of all, it has helped me grow as a person and become better all-around.
My first website literally changed my life and it could very well be the same experience for you!
Whatever your reason is for creating your first website, I encourage you to stick with it and follow through and continue taking action. Continue to want to learn, grow and stay on that path.
Be sure to read all of my related articles. They’re designed to weed out all the unnecessary noise and help you focus on the most important steps to this whole process.
I don’t want you to waste your time on the things that don’t matter. My past experience is baked into them so that you can maximize your time and save money.
You live a busy life as it is.
I understand. I’m right there with you.
In the end, if you follow along, you’ll be able to avoid all the money and time sinks I’ve experienced over the years to get to this point.
All the best . . .