How to Build Your Own Website In a Weekend Using WordPress

Is it possible to build your own website in a weekend? Absolutely. Set a couple days aside and let’s finally get your website checked off your to-do list!

Building your own website isn’t as scary as you think. You don’t need to know how to code, and modern website builders let you drag-and-drop pictures and text into place. Building your own website is a hundred times easier now than it was even ten years ago!

It’s a good idea to secure your domain name and hosting as soon as possible, even if you don’t plan to get started right away. It will take Google awhile to recognize you – as in several months – and you really need Google to recognize you so it can start sending you visitors!

Without any further ado, let’s dig in! This article will help you build your own website (using WordPress) in a weekend!

Why Do I Need My Own Website?

Having your own website instantly helps you look more credible, lets your customers find you (instead of needing to chase them!) and expands your business beyond your immediate network.

If you’re using a platform like Etsy or Upwork to sell products or find freelancing work, you can save a ton on transaction fees by hosting your own website instead. (You’ll have to market yourself, but let’s be honest: you have to market yourself when you use other platforms anyway. May as well point your efforts towards your own website.)

Having your own website can also just be a fun way of sharing your hobbies and interests with others. And a great learning experience!

Ingredients of a Website

This might seem like a lot, but the first 4 steps go together, so they take about 2 seconds. (Okay fine, 3 minutes.)

You can agonize over choosing a theme if you like (we both know you’ll agonize over it, so no shame). But other than that, you can have a website and blog up and running in… well, two days!

  1. Web hosting. If your website was a house, this would be the land it sits on.
  2. Domain name. The address to your house where people can find you. (www.myglorioussexywebsite.com)
  3. SSL certificate. This is like the building inspector coming by to slap a sticker on your house that says yup, it’s safe to come inside.
  4. WordPress. WordPress is the house itself. It’s like buying a pre-fab that comes all set up for you, and you just have to decorate it.
  5. WordPress theme. This is how your website is decorated. There are both free and paid themes available. Both are MUCH cheaper than hiring a web developer.
  6. WordPress plugins. This isn’t a necessity, but if you want your website to do all kinds of random, amazing extra things there’s about 938 plug-ins for WordPress you can use.

Alright, let’s put on your hard hat and gloves and get started.

1. Get web hosting

Web hosting is basically the storage space on the internet that your website lives on. Setting up web hosting in 2022 is infinity times easier and less annoying than it used to be. Years ago, you had to be a genuine computer hacker out of a movie to figure it out, but now you just get to feel like one!

At the moment I’m recommending A2 Hosting. I dig them because they’re inexpensive, blazing fast, and they make the whole signup-and-start-using-your-website process a piece of cake!

Some hosting providers (not naming names) make you jump through a bunch of hoops to get your domain name, SSL certificate, and hosting all talking to each other. It’s a lot of puzzle pieces that have to work together. I still have bald patches from it. And I’m a computer nerd so setting up websites is something I do for fun on a Friday night.

Needless to say I’ve spent enough time comparing different hosting plans that I’m happy to recommend A2 Hosting. Everything just works right out of the box. Also did I mention they’re blazing fast?

Their startup plan is $2.99 USD a month for 3 years (so $107 to have your own home on the internet. So worth it, my dude.)

It’s worth noting that after 3 years the price goes to $10.99/month (the first 3 years are discounted). Typically as your traffic grows, you end up needing to upgrade your web hosting plan, so this is pretty standard. In my opinion, it’s worth it even at that price point! There are cheaper web hosts (again not naming names…) but they’re nowhere near as fast. So more headaches for you and your visitors.

A2 Hosting also has the most generous refund policy out of any of the web hosts. They let you cancel any time, even after 30 days, and will refund you for the time left on your plan that you haven’t used.

You get a domain name, SSL certificate, and e-mail address along with it, and their customer support is super helpful and friendly if you happen to need them.

Plus they have a one-click WordPress install which is just chef’s kiss. 😘👌

2. Pick a domain name

A domain name is the www.mywebsite.com that you type into your web browser.

If your domain name isn’t taken, most of them are priced around $15 – 17/year.

If your domain name is something super common and popular, you’ll have a lot less luck in the cheap domain name department. So may the odds be ever in your favor, friend.

You can purchase a domain name separately from your web hosting, but I highly recommend you just buy one at the same time. That way you don’t have to do anything special to get your domain name talking to your hosting account. (Something I’ve spent my fair share of time on the phone with customer service about.)

A2 Hosting lets you register for a domain name at the same time as your hosting plan:

This could be your chance before someone grabs this million dollar domain name! 😉

3. What the heck is an SSL certificate?

Have you ever been surfing the web and suddenly your browser says “This website is NOT SAFE! Turn back immediately!!” That means the website’s SSL certificate is missing or expired.

You probably took your browser’s advice and turned right back around, right?

Or you live on the edge and visited the website anyway. I could make some other assumptions about your lifestyle here but I’ll keep them to myself.

An SSL certificate is an extra layer of security and is especially important if you plan to sell anything on your website.

Most browsers will give visitors a giant warning message if you don’t have one, so it’s definitely in your best interests to have one. (Otherwise 30% of your visitors will be turning away before they even see your website.)

With A2 Hosting, your SSL certificate comes with your hosting and it just works without you needing to do anything extra. Totally painless! (And I actually mean “painless”, not like when the dentist says it.)

They give you the option to upgrade your SSL certificate, but you don’t really need to. Just skip that part:

4. Install WordPress

Don’t sleep through this part! It’s the key to it all. Make sure the WordPress install is selected during check-out, and that you write down your log-in details:

What the heck is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system. Basically it provides the structure to your website, and includes a blog with no extra effort on your part. (You don’t have to use the blog part if you don’t need it.)

WordPress is already set up to make the search engines happy, so your website will eventually start showing up on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. Then your customers can find you! (Instead of you needing to chase them down all the time.)

WordPress itself is free to use, which is just crazy given how powerful it is.

It has so many features, so don’t feel like you have to know what everything does right away (or ever). Give yourself a few weeks to get used to it all. I go into some of the most important parts further down in this article.

Like anything else, it will seem overwhelming if you try to be an expert on day one. But if you pick something each day to learn about, pretty soon you’ll know your way around no problem.

WordPress Tip: the content is separate from the design

With WordPress, your pages and blog posts exist even if you decide to change your theme in the future.

You can have any number of themes. If you wanted to change your theme up every Wednesday you totally could. Not recommended though, because that would be a pain in the ass.

How to log in to your WordPress dashboard

You might automatically be redirected to your WordPress after you sign up for web hosting.

If not, to find your WordPress dashboard, type in your domain name you registered for into your web browser with /wp-admin at the end, and log in. (You wrote down your log in details in the last step, right?) So if you took my suggestion above, it would be www.myglorioussexywebsite.com/wp-admin.

This is what a WordPress dashboard looks like before you go nuts and install 3,847 plug-ins!

  • Posts: Posts are part of your blog. These are more time-sensitive than pages. For a more in-depth comparison of posts and pages, see this page.
  • Media: All photos and videos you upload to your website are stored here, so you can upload them once and use them in multiple places.
  • Pages: Pages are the basic structure of your website. You can get as creative as you want with this, but most websites have a home page, about me, and contact page at the minimum.
  • Comments: By default, your website visitors can comment on your posts, but not your pages. All comments you receive on your site will show up here in one central place for you to manage.
  • Appearance: You can find your theme and theme customization options in here.
  • Plug-Ins: This is where the fun and magic happens. WordPress has hundreds (thousands?) of plug-ins to extend the capabilities of your blog. I highly recommend just getting to know how WordPress works without any plug-ins first, and then add new ones only if you need something.
  • Users: WordPress sites are capable of having multiple authors, and even subscribers. You probably wont have to mess with this stuff at all if you plan to be the only person using your website!
  • Tools: Includes some options for resetting your website back to factory default and importing and exporting blogs. You most likely wont need to use these!
  • Settings: Pretty much speaks for itself!

5. Pick a theme

If you couldn’t tell, I spend approximately 72 hours a day tweaking my website’s theme. (If you could tell, thanks!) I do this because I hate myself, and not because it’s actually necessary.

Tweaking your theme is not necessary at all!

You can just pick a nice theme that you like, pop in your logo and text, and maybe change the color scheme to suit your brand.

From your WordPress dashboard, you can find themes under the Appearance menu:

(The Theme File Editor is the only real Danger Zone of WordPress, so don’t touch that one unless you’re a genuine computer hacker out of a movie.)

Many many many free themes can be had if you Google “free WordPress themes.” Or you can search for new themes inside of WordPress.

Picking a theme shouldn’t take you longer than like an hour, but we both know you’re probably going to spend like a week doing it and that’s fine. I already forgive you.

Change your permalinks

I’m not sure why, but WordPress defaults to showing the date in your URLs, even though Google doesn’t like that. If you please the almighty Google, it will eventually send you visitors without you having to make any additional efforts. So we need to switch that permalink structure to the post title instead. Fortunately that’s not super complicated.

You can find your permalink structure under Settings > Permalinks.

Change your permalink structure to “Post Name” to please the almighty Google

How to maintain a WordPress website

You made it through the fun part! Hope you still have all your hair.

Maintaining a WordPress website is also not as scary as you think. You’ll want to set your theme and plug-ins to update automatically if they aren’t already set to it. Then you’ll probably receive 2,248 e-mails a week letting you know that things have updated!

Some extra stuff you don’t have to do (but you can if you want)

Bonus: Make your first post

You don’t have to use your blog at all, but the more content you have on your website, the more time visitors will spend there and the more genius they’ll think you are. Posting on your blog also gives you more chances to show up on Google for different searches.

You might know what categories you plan to post about right away, or you can write a bunch of posts before you bother rounding them up into categories. Either way works.

Bonus: jazz it up with beautiful stock images

If you need images for your blog, here are some websites where you can find high quality stock images that are totally free to use (even commercially!):

Be aware that copyright law applies to websites, so make sure you ask for permission before using anyone else’s images on your blog!

Bonus: Google Site Kit

Google Site Kit is a plug-in you can download for WordPress that connects your website to Google, and gives you access to tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both of these will help you see how many visitors your website gets and to plan your content around what gets the most attention.

You can search for it on your WordPress dashboard under Plug-ins > Add New. It looks like this:

Bonus: Google My Business

If this is a business website I highly recommend creating a Google my Business account for it. Again this helps to make sure you pop up on Google when someone searches for you. Especially if your business has a physical location, this will help new customers find you.

Find a way to market your website

When you first build your website, it’s not really in a neighborhood, on a busy street, so to speak.

It’s more like your website lives on its own little deserted island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Which is to say you wont randomly have visitors unless you tell people about it.

Even Google doesn’t see your website right away. Just as an example, one website I designed for a local business took six months to show up on the first page of Google for their own name. So you can’t rely on Google to send you visitors right away. That’s more of a long-term strategy.

With that said, social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest do already show up on Google, so take advantage of them while you’re waiting! Because the owner of that same local business updated his LinkedIn with his company name, people were able to find him that way until his actual website started showing up on Google.

Here are some tips for helping people find your website and your business:

  • Add keywords to your website to make search engines happy (called “search engine optimization” if you’re a nerd.)
  • Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console so that Google sees your website faster.
  • Submit your website to Yelp and any local business directories you can think of. Your local government might have its own business directory!
  • Create social media accounts (even if you don’t plan to use them) and link your website on your social media.
  • Put your website URL on all of your in-person marketing materials!

P.S. Troubleshooting a website is not as scary as you think, either

So, funny story. One morning I woke up to a blank page with an error message on it instead of a website.

Why do I check my website every morning, I’m sure you’re thinking? To spend 14 hours making minor tweaks to the theme, obviously!!

If you’re hyperventilating just thinking about having to deal with this, calm down friend! It’s not that bad!

Sometimes WordPress can short circuit because of a faulty update to a plug-in or something like that, so you don’t need to break down, cry or blame yourself. (Although, just let it out if it makes you feel better.)

Here’s how the pros fix a website error.

  1. Go take a painkiller. (Not medical advice.)
  2. Copy and paste the error message into Google.
  3. 500 different websites will tell you how to fix it.
  4. Pick one and follow the instructions.
  5. If that doesn’t help, contact your web hosting live chat and they’ll walk you through it. They wont even judge you.
  6. Have a glass of wine to celebrate becoming a computer hacker out of a movie.

Where there’s a WordPress error, there’s a solution for it on the internet!

This website even has a list of the 100 most common ones. Don’t worry, you probably wont have every single error at once. Probably. Especially if you quit tweaking your theme every two seconds. (But I understand if you don’t.)

Stuff you don’t need to do with your website

  • Spend a lot of time tweaking the design of your website (but you can if you want to)
  • Touch any HTML or CSS code (but you can if you want to)
  • Do it all alone (you can use live chat with your hosting provider if you get stuck on anything. Plus there’s loads of tutorials on the internet)
  • Stress out about having it all perfect right away. You can just set up a “coming soon” page. Plus I promise you nobody will see your website by accident for months, unless you tell them about it.

Once you have your web hosting, you can keep chipping away at your website when you have some spare time until you’re happy with it.

Benefits of DIY-ing your website

  • You have total ownership of the whole process.
  • Unlike social media channels, you actually own your website. So you wont get banned, and your content can live here forever. (Well, as long as you renew your yearly hosting.) If you use keywords on your website so that Google knows what your blog is about, you’ll actually tend to get more views over time – again unlike social media where your posts get all the attention they were going to get within a couple days of posting. In other words, your efforts creating content for your website compound over time.
  • A website has nearly infinite room to grow and add things to it in the future. (And particularly a self-hosted website – platforms like Squarespace and Wix are limited in this respect.)
  • Hosting your own website gives you a better chance on the search engines (better SEO) than a lot of web builders or free hosting plans.
  • You can always change the theme (i.e, how your website looks) without messing up all the content you’ve posted to it. So you can use a free or inexpensive theme to start with, and down the road hire a designer to fancy it up for you, if you want.
  • If you sell physical or digital products, the fees are lower than on sites like Etsy. You pay one yearly fee for web hosting that doesn’t increase with the number of products you sell. You still have to pay transaction fees with your payment processor, like PayPal or Stripe, but these are generally around 2-3%.
  • You’ll probably want to add content your website after it’s done, and make a bunch of updates over time, so you may as well learn how it works from the beginning. Then you don’t have to pay someone to do it for you every time.
  • You’ll feel like a computer hacker in a movie by the time you’re finished.

Downsides of DIY-ing your website

  • You’ll probably have to set aside a a couple weeks to figure it all out (or more if you plan to tweak it a lot. Like I said, you don’t need to tweak it, but we both know you’re gonna.)
  • Websites involve some maintenance, like downloading updates for your plug-ins and theme, and making back-ups (but you can set all this up to run automatically.)

Conclusion

Did you find this guide straightforward and helpful? Share it with a friend because the sooner we can get everyone online the better! Happy website-ing!