I've been at this website stuff for quite a few years. In the beginning, I was given the advice to start out with a WordPress self-hosted website. They made great cases for why I should do this, but did I listen? Nope…I learned the hard way! Most likely, your favorite websites and blogs to read are hosted on WordPress.
About two years ago, I would spend hours learning how to write code just so I could have something that I saw and liked on other sites. They never worked quite right. This year I took the leap and decided to just do the WordPress thing already! I've really enjoyed the change thus far, but I am super annoyed at all the broken links I have now (I am sure it annoys you as well…I'm working on getting them fixed) Some nights I just want to kick myself that I didn't listen!
So I am adding my own voice to many others…build your website on WordPress.com (not WordPress.org)!
Find a Hosting Service
I use A Small Orange to host both The Tutor House and my private tutoring website. Their customer service is pretty amazing! I was having a duh moment when I was updating my Nameservers. I used the Live Chat and had my question answered in one minute.
It gets better…in the middle of the night when I was tweaking the last little thing on my Meridian Idaho Tutor site, I completely screwed it up. Yep–it went from lovely to yucky in 10 seconds flat. I flipped! It was 2 am and I thought no one would be around at A Small Orange to help. Boy was I wrong! I clicked on their handy, “Ask a Question” box and got help immediately. They worked tirelessly to help me figure it out. Seriously–love them!
I am an affiliate, so if you do decide to go with A Small Orange. It doesn't cost you anything extra either. A Small Orange is offering a 15% off coupon for new customers. Enter promo code: thetutorhouse15. I know you'll enjoy working with them too!
There are a lot of great tutorials out there, but I wanted to show you how to make a site from beginning to end. Head over to my DIY Website page to watch the tutorials. I cover everything from purchasing a domain and hosting, installing WordPress, and then I show you in-depth how to customize a theme. A cheat sheet is included!
Check out the results of those tutorials!
Find a Theme
After you get your site started, you'll need to make it professional looking. This is when you decide what it will really look like and upload images to make it pretty. You'll need to find a theme for your WordPress site.
There are lots of free WordPress themes out there. The only downside to free is that you may see it on several websites (but I think that is only a small drawback) and some web developers don't provide any updates or support for their free themes. I've rounded up a few free themes that I think look sharp and professional. Check them out below!
Template Express has sleek theme called: Formation
Check out VP Themes free one called: Felicity
Theme Horse has a fresh theme called: Interface
Shop it Press has an awesome theme called: wpGumby
Make it Your Own
After you settle on a theme that you like, you'll need to upload your theme to your self-hosted website. In your WordPress dashboard, click on Appearance. Then select Themes. Finally click Upload. This is where you'll upload the theme file you downloaded. It will be a zipped folder.
Each theme will have ways to customize it. I had a friend of mine take some pictures of just me the last time we had family pictures taken. So glad I did that because they ended up being perfect for this project. I created most of my images in Pixlr.
Want to check out my newest WordPress site? Visit it here. You'll notice the theme I chose is mobile responsive. It looks great on any device! I used their free theme and I am thinking about upgrading because the results are fabulous. With the upgraded version, the pretty buttons you will see under my slider will become clickable–which is important when you think about how you use a mobile device.
If you want to watch a step-by-step tutorial, check out the DIY page! Building your own site will be challenging work, but I think you'll enjoy the results and benefits!
What about you? What's holding you back from building a site of your own?