How to build a WordPress site – where do I start?

I have a special guest post to share today from my go to girl, Madeleine. I have worked with her for over a year now and I couldn’t imagine her not being an extended part of my team. She helps me and quite a few other photographers and wedding suppliers I know with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling. Without further ado…

How to build a WordPress site – where do I start?

First of all, I’m thrilled to be asked to write for so many photographers who are keen to learn how to build a WordPress website. I know it can be quite daunting, so rather than gorging on all the WordPress articles in the world, like I did a few years ago, you can read this one and receive all the information you need to know! I’m not going to advocate that you go to Wix or any site builder like that, simply because they have limited functionality. When it’s time for your business to grow and therefore your business website to do more, it’s a challenge to transfer over your content. Squarespace is a cool tool, but I do find it has limitations, and my heart is personally set on WordPress, so I’ll be talking to you about that today.

First up, there are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is the free version that has limited functionality (good for your couples to create wedding websites on actually) but not a professional site. The second version is WordPress.org where you pay for external hosting and you can make into an all singing all dancing website. Or, you know, one that shows off your photos beautifully and will make your couples want to book!

So, here’s how to start:

Sit down with a cuppa and get your notebook, a pen and your wallet out; you’ll need your card to pay for a couple of things.

Do you own a domain name?

Firstly you need to purchase your domain name.

I like to use http://www.namecheap.com (although there are others out there such as GoDaddy or 123reg) because it’s super simple and easy to use. Plus they have great live support.

So, to see if your desired domain is available, type your desired domain into the search bar.

If it’s available, there will be a number of options available to purchase it such as .com, .co.uk, and many others

The industry standard for commercial businesses is – .com or .co.uk

If that’s not available then .co is contemporary and trendy at the moment, or you could try a different combination, so you could add wedding photography to the domain or fineartphotography instead of just your name e.g. fionasweddingphotography.co.uk rather than fionakelly.co.uk

The domains are cheap to buy per year, but Google loves you and respects your site more if you buy for several years at a time, so if you’ve got the cash upgrade to purchase for 5 years, that is best.

Do you have a host?

Next, you need somewhere to host your website, your own corner of the internet on which to build your own home i.e. your website.

I recommend Siteground – I increasingly move clients to this space and many experts who have been around a lot longer than me recommend it too. They’re also brilliant at live support. Go for the basic package to begin with as you don’t need anything more. Logging into Siteground you’ll be asked to hook up your domain name with your hosting. They’ll walk you through this but they also have an online tutorial and even better, name cheap also have live chat now so if you do get stuck you can go back to them and ask for help there. If you want to go cheaper and also eco-friendly then I hear great things about EcoHost.

Now it’s time to install WordPress.

Assuming you’re using Siteground, go to cPanel and under Installers, select WordPress.

Here’s a full guide on how to install WordPress on Siteground – don’t be scared, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Like I say, Siteground are very helpful and will walk you through the process. (I don’t mean to make this sound like a Siteground sponsored post because it’s not, I just really like them)

Do you have a look in mind?

Once WordPress is installed, you need to choose a look. I imagine you may have heard of various themes you can purchase like ProPhoto and more. I would personally start off with something cheaper, ideally free as you’re starting out.

Here’s a great range of options: http://themeforest.net/tags/photography

Be sure to look for the following points

– Fully responsive (not just mobile friendly, like ProPhoto has two versions of your site, one for desktop and one for mobile)

– Great reviews

– Good support system

– Clean design

– How the theme lays out the images

Here are some more themes to look at:

https://colorlib.com/wp/photography-wordpress-themes/

http://enviragallery.com/best-free-photography-themes-for-wordpress/

http://www.nimbusthemes.com/free-photography-wordpress-themes/

http://athemes.com/collections/best-photography-wordpress-themes/

My advice to you – don’t get too hung up on this part. I know plenty of creatives get stuck on how the template looks, but actually further down the line you can work with a developer (or learn how to do it yourself) to create the look you really want. Also, please read the documentation that comes with any theme you purchase.

You can download your selected theme by doing this:

  • Log in WordPress admin.
  • Select the Appearance panel, then themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Find the theme that you downloaded just now
  • Use Upload link in the top links row to upload a zipped copy of the theme.

Plenty to be getting on with there. In the next post I’ll be talking about which pages you should be considering on your website.

Huge thanks to Maddy for this great advice. I hope you find it useful. If you know anyone this will help please do share this with them and if you want to leave a comment I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

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