So you want to start your very own homestead website, well I can help you out with that.
I have been using WordPress on Bluehost for many years and while I did have to learn a lot to make my blog do everything I wanted it to do, Bluehost and WordPress made it as easy as possible. In this post, I’ll clearly explain how to get started, and also some tips to help you make your site successful.
Bluehost makes it easy to set up a WordPress blog. All you have to do is:
Create your Bluehost account. (This is an Affiliate Link)
Pick a domain name (Don’t worry, I’ll explain what you need to know here)
Install WordPress in a few clicks
Log in to your WordPress site and start designing (SUPER easy)
Get traffic to your new site (I have some great tips for this!)
The first step is to start your Bluehost account. Click here to check the current price of Bluehost. Clicking the link will open in a new tab.
I remember being nervous before starting my first Bluehost account, wondering if this was the right host for me. I’ve remained a loyal Bluehost customer because they are CHEAP, reliable, have surprisingly good customer support, and they make the technical part of working with WordPress really easy.
The Tech Stuff Is Easy
When you make a website, you’ll have lots of pictures and text for people to see. Those picture and text files will be on a computer somewhere in the world. That’s your hosting. When you buy hosting, you are paying a company to make your website files available to anyone.
You will also need to choose a “domain name” to put on your Bluehost account. A domain name is the .com name that you pick so people can type it in and find your website. This website’s domain name is smalltownhomestead.com, for example. You could pick a “.net” or a “.co.uk”, but I recommend sticking with a .com domain name even if it’s hard to find one that’s available. Don’t stress over this because you can always change your domain name later and redirect if you have to.
You used to need to type computer code to make your website, but WordPress completely solves this. WordPress is free software that you’ll put on your hosting account to make it incredibly simple to put pictures and articles on your website.
You may have heard of free blogging platforms like blogger, Tumblr, etc. These solutions aren’t adequate for any serious website project. Using the WordPress software on Bluehost, you’ll be able to endlessly customize your site, add powerful functionality with a few clicks, and you’ll OWN your site and have total control of it.
Not to mention, free blogging platforms don’t have any tech support like you’ll get with Bluehost. I’ve completely erased my site before on accident and with a quick phone call they got it back in just a few minutes. Awesome!
Step 1: Create Your Account
The first thing you will do is to create your account. Click this link to start your Bluehost account in another tab. Then you can come back to this article in this tab to follow the tutorial to get you started.
When you create your account, you’ll have options for the basic, plus, or prime plans. I recommend starting with the basic account for your first WordPress blog. You can always upgrade later if you need too.
Step 2: Choose a domain name
On the next screen, you’ll choose a new domain. This is the .com name of your website.
You WILL be frustrated during this step as you’ll likely find that all of the short and easy names are taken. My recommendation is to not stress over this. Just pick one!
Step 3: Uncheck all the boxes
On the next page you’ll be given a bunch of options for add-on services from Bluehost. Hint: you can actually just uncheck all the boxes and save some money. You don’t need these additional services.
Now you’ll need to create a password to access your Bluehost account. Your account is now set up.
Step 4: Install WordPress on Your Hosting
WordPress is software that gets installed on your hosting (the computer that makes your website available to users). For example, WordPress makes it so you can just press an upload button and attach a picture to your post instead of writing out HTML code to attach that picture. It makes writing on your site fast and easy.
On most hosts, installing WordPress is a pain that involves downloading and uploading files, creating databases, and using an FTP client. On Bluehost, it will do all that for you and walk you through the process automatically.
Start by logging in to your new Bluehost account. Click the blue “log in” button.
Now they’ll invite you to pick a theme. A “theme” is the basic layout of your site. Choose a free theme from the list. Don’t even think twice about which to choose right now. I’m going to talk about themes further down. You can change to a better theme after getting your site set up.
Now you’ll click on the Blue “Start Building” button. This will take you over to your site’s WordPress dashboard and WordPress will be fully installed on your site.
If you have any problems with any of these steps, Bluehost has excellent technical support. You can click the chat button on their website or call their support number any time and they’ll get your site straightened out right away.
Step 5: Log in to Your WordPress Site
The Bluehost part is done now and you’ll only RARELY even need to access your Bluehost account.
Right now, you’ll access your WordPress site by clicking on the blue button I mentioned above.
In the future, you access your WordPress site by going to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin (obviously, the “yourdomainname.com” needs to be whatever domain you chose). Remember that “/wp-admin” part. That’s what you’ll type in every time you want to get into your site. You’ll type it thousands of times over the coming years.
Now you’ll log in with the username and password for WordPress that you either set up when you installed WordPress, or if you didn’t pick a user/pass, then Bluehost will have emailed you the user/pass.
How to Get Traffic to Your Website
Now that you have a WordPress website up and running, you will of course want to get traffic to it. LOTS of traffic!
Getting people to your site and learning to monetize it are in-depth topics.
But here are the most important things you can do to get traffic.
Write long articles. It may seem like you’d want to write short, quick posts that quickly give someone an answer to a question they googled. Over and over again, I see that the top Google search results are long, meaty, extremely helpful posts.
Don’t quit too soon. It’s perfectly normal when you start a new blog to get less than 50 page views per month for the first few months. Google takes a LONG time to test your site out and see if it belongs in the higher search engine rankings. Then, about 8-12 months after you write your post, it starts taking off on Google. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see any progress in your first 6 months.
How to Monetize Your Website
If you’re here, it’s likely because you want to build a website with a purpose. For a lot of people, at least part of that purpose is to earn an income.
There are a few ways that I monetize my websites to start earning money. These are listed in the order that I do them.
- Affiliate Marketing. This is where you link to other people’s products and earn a commission for the referral. The easiest affiliate program to get started with is Amazon.com. There are thousands of other affiliate programs out there like Clickbank and Share-a-sale.
- Advertising. Without considerable traffic, it’s hard to earn much income from advertising. Since advertising only earns about $10 per 1,000 pageviews, I really wouldn’t worry about advertising until you reach about 30,000 page views per month.
- Information Products. These are your own digital products that you sell on your site. They can be ebooks, videos, audio guides, really anything that you can think of that people can download. I don’t recommend that you start making information products until you have a strong audience. And only sell them if you’re willing to make an ongoing commitment to your site. As soon as you start selling stuff on your site, it gets less passive. No matter what your product is, there will be some amount of customer support required.
- Physical Products. You can also make or source a physical product to sell from your site. This makes your site even less passive. However, it can be a good way to further monetize a website.
Do These 10 Things As Soon as WordPress Is Installed
Let’s get your website set up right the first time. Follow these 10 steps before you do anything else.
Set up Permalinks. Every time you make a new webpage or write an article, WordPress will automatically create a URL (web address) for that page. WordPress has a template for what this address should be so it’s not just totally random. The bad news is that the default template won’t make sense to anyone but you.
If you stick with the default, all of your pages and posts (articles) will have an address with the format “yoursite.com/?p=102.” Changing your permalinks will remove the gobbledygook at the end and make it more memorable.
It’s easy to change. When you log on to the WordPress dashboard for your site at yoursite.com/wp-admin, go to the left side menu and hover your mouse over “Settings”. When the drop down menu appears for settings, click on “Permalinks.” Then pick a new template for your permalinks. I like the one called “Post Name”.
Back up Your Site. You need to do this.
If you save a backup regularly, it won’t matter if something breaks or if your content gets deleted. You can quickly revert to a previous version of the site and you’re back up and running.
If you use a good host, like Bluehost, your site will get backed up for you. If you have a problem, just call them and they’ll get your site back up and running in minutes. They’ve done it for me. Still though, it’s a good idea to save a separate backup at least occasionally. There are many good backup plugins you can use for this. Just pick one and use it. I will talk about plugins next.
Delete All the Plugins and Install These Ones. Plugins are just little software programs that add features to your WordPress website. WordPress already comes installed with a few plugins and you really don’t need them. So delete them.
On your WordPress dashboard, on the left side menu, go to “Plugins” and click on “Installed Plugins”. On this page, you can check the box next to each plugin and then, using the drop down that says “Bulk Actions”, select “Delete”. Confirm that this is indeed what you want to do.
Now, go to the top of the Plugins page and click “Add New”. The page to add plugins has a search box. Type each of these into the search box and install and activate the following plugins.
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
- Shortlinks by Pretty Links – Best WordPress Link Tracking Plugin by Blair Williams (not the paid pro version, the free one)
- Spam Honeypot by Matthew Turland (Search “Matthew Turland” and you’ll find it)
- Yoast SEO by Team Yoast
Install a Good Theme. A WordPress theme is basically the framework for making your site look awesome. The theme determines the layout, fonts, and functionalities.
There are many free WordPress themes. These themes usually aren’t very versatile or customizeable.
There are lots of great premium themes out there that aren’t that expensive. A good one is called X Theme but there are many great, well designed, reliable paid themes.
Now, don’t go looking to customize your site beyond what the theme is designed to do. Before you buy your theme, explore their site and look at demos. Make sure that at least one demo looks how you want your site to look. One big mistake that people make is that they buy a theme, install it, and then try to make their site look a way that their theme wasn’t designed for. It’s like swimming upstream.
Start Writing Good Posts. Now it’s time to get writing. To attract users to your site, you’ll want to write good content that isn’t too short.
Resize Images Before Adding Them to Your Site. Pictures are an important part of a website. But a lot of people make the mistake of uploading full-resolution images. If your picture files are too big, it will make your web pages load slowly. Nobody wants that.
Whether you use Photoshop or the free website ResizeImage.Net just make sure you scale down your photos before uploading them to your WordPress site.
Sign Up for Amazon Associates. If you want to make a passive income from your site, the first affiliate program you need to sign up for is Amazon Associates. Just google “Amazon Associates” and sign up, it’s free.
Block Spam Comments. You may have noticed that I recommended you install a plugin called Spam Honeypot. This helps to catch a lot of spam comments that people post on your site. But it won’t catch everything.
Spam comments make your site look trashy so in addition to using the Spam Honeypot plugin. Go to “Settings” and click on “Discussion” on your WordPress dashboard. Here you can actually disable comments if you don’t want to worry about them. What I do is under “Before a Comment Appears” I check both boxes. This allows me to look at all comments before they go live on my site.
Be Authentic and Helpful With Your Content. The best approach to getting lots of satisfied users on your site is to be remarkably helpful. Write articles that answer people’s questions and solve their problems.
Change the Password to Your Site to Something Hard to Guess. You might be surprised how often WordPress sites are being hacked. People have computers running algorithms trying to guess admin passwords for WordPress sites constantly.
Let’s Do This!
Starting a blog is exciting. Almost everyone in the world has a computer that they can use to access YOU and your ideas through your blog. Don’t give up when you get bored of writing after a few weeks.