Are you full of ideas to start a website? See someone having a website and think you can do better than that? Or are you just passionate about something that you’re dying to share it with some people? Do you want to know how to create a website for free step by step?
I’ve got you covered.
Today we are going to look at creating a website with WordPress for FREE!
For those of you who don’t know about WordPress (really!?) here are a few facts! (Psst. Forbes uses WordPress!)
- You can choose from more than 350 easy-to-use themes for any type of business, portfolio, or blog.
- You can choose fonts, colors, and add your logo and custom CSS to make your website your own.
- Your site will always be available, secure, and automatically backed up. Anti-spam protection is built into every WordPress.com site.
With this aside, we now have to choose between WordPress.Com and WordPress.org.
Don’t be confused, you’re here for a free website so I will tell you straight ahead that you need wordpress.com. But, I also want to talk a little about wordpress.org, which is the self-hosted version of WordPress.
Which means, when you choose wordpress.com, you don’t have to worry about hosting and any other stuff. But, with wordpress.org, you need to host your website on your own.
Do the words hosting, domain etc look new to you? Learn about them on my post Blogging Terminology (1 minute read)
Why on Earth would I ever do that you ask? Here’s why:
The Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
The Number One difference is Monetization! You can monetize your blog when you self-host your WordPress i.e use WordPress.org and also keep 100% of your profits.
But, with WordPress.com, you can’t monetize your blog at all if you’re using the Free version (in reality, you can but very little. Once you reach 25,000 page views a month, you can apply to try a feature called ad control).
If you are upgrading your wordpress.com, you can monetize your blog but you will have to split 50 percent of your revenue with Automattic(the people behind WordPress.com).
Another one is control over your site. With a self-hosted WordPress, you can use any themes, plug-ins. You can almost do whatever you want with your site.
With the free version, you almost have no control over your site.
With an upgraded version of WordPress.com, you can control your site to some extent. But, generally greater levels of control call for a more expensive upgrade.
I’m confused! What do I choose?
You’re here that means you want a free site! Go ahead and choose WordPress.com.
Despite having several benefits, WordPress.com is still a good choice in several situations. Like, you want to know if blogging is for you, or if you are doing it as a hobby, or for any other reason. That’s ok. WordPress.com is a great choice for beginners.
I use self-hosted WordPress right now because that is what meets my requirements.
Once you use WordPress.com and start your blogging journey, anytime you feel the need, you can switch to WordPress.org. Don’t worry a bit!
If you want to use WordPress.org, check out my step by step guide here.
Let’s get started with How to create a Website for FREE Step by Step:
I’ll first tell you how this post is organized.
- Signing up for your Free Website
- Overview of our brand New Site
- Have a look at the structure of WordPress
- Create a Page and Post
- Take care of our Menu
- Customize the site to suit our needs
I’ll run you through all this step by step.
Signing up for your Free Website:
Let’s start by going to https://wordpress.com
Once you click on “Get Started”, you’ll see this screen. Select a layout for your homepage. I’m selecting one to display a welcome page for my site on the homepage.
Depending on the layout you choose, you see a list of themes.
I’m selecting the first theme because it looks decent, plus really don’t overthink it. People tend to spend way too long on selecting a theme (I’m guilty)!
After selecting our theme, we can choose a name for our site.
A few tips on naming your site are:
- It is a good idea to associate your domain name with your business, niche or topic so that people will have a good idea of what your website is about just by looking at your URL.
- You also want to keep it as short as possible so it’s easy to remember
I’m choosing the name “digitalcosmosexample” because my website is digitalcosmos.online and this is an example that I’m building for you!
As you can see WordPress also offers you a few options which would require you to upgrade your plan.
If you want to continue using the service for free, chose the first option (the one with wordpress.com extension). That’s what I did.
Once you’ve selected a domain, you have to select your plan. WordPress gives you a comparison of the features that will be available to you in various plans.
Like before, if you’d like to continue this service for free choose the first option (Select Free).
Once you select a plan, you are asked to create a WordPress account. If you already have one you can use that.
If you want to create a new one, enter your email id(Gmail, outlook etc), username and a strong password.
After that, WordPress will send a confirmation mail to your email id. Make sure you confirm it and click on continue.
Well well! We have our first site up. Congratulations.
Now as you see, it does not look entirely like our site with the stuff already on it.Let’s make it our own. Before that, let’s take a tour of our brand new site.
Overview of our brand New Site
Let’s take a tour around our site. Firstly, we see our site on the right. What’s this light colored thing on the left? This is the Dashboard.
The dashboard is where you edit the site. When you log into the site as admin, user, or with any other role, you see the dashboard. I’ll talk more on user roles later.
If we scroll down a little, we see the menu.
This theme has one menu location called the primary menu area which is located right below the header area. A theme can have multiple menu areas, located anywhere.
Generally, most themes have one or two menu areas, and one of them appears at the top most section of the site like in my site (digitalcosmos.online). As you see, this site currently has 4 pages. Home, About, Contact and Blog. We’ll add more pages later.
Now, if we click on the blog page, we see a post. Posts appear on the blog page (more on this in the next section).
What else do we see? We see a sidebar! It has two widgets, the search bar widget and a social media share buttons widget(more on this in the next section too).
Now if you log out of your site, you can view it as everyone else sees it. And you also won’t find the dashboard!
Let’s have a look at the Structure of WordPress:
What have we seen till now? A homepage, a few other pages, posts and a sidebar.
You already have a basic idea of the structure of WordPress. WordPress at its core is made up of pages and posts.
The home page is a special page (in most cases), as you see, it has a different layout than the rest of the pages.
It is what appears when you type in your website into the search bar. The other pages will have a URL like yoursitename/about or yoursitename/contact etc.
On this site, the homepage has no sidebar, it has a full width. While the other pages have a sidebar. This is the case for most themes(the layout of the site entirely depends on the theme you choose).
Also, the homepage on this site gives some information on the website. It could have equally had one that displayed my recent posts(had I chosen that layout).
Now, you can set any page you like as the homepage, but there is generally an option to set this kind of special layouts for functionality and aesthetics purposes.
Then you have posts.
Generally, in WordPress, you have the option to set any page as the blog page(the page where posts appear). For this site, there is a page called blog, which is set as the blog page, how convenient!
This is where your posts appear. So when you write you next post, head over to the blog page to find it. Now that we have discussed a little, let’s dig a little deeper.
If you find this a little confusing, do not fret. Just ignore it, you can do wonderfully without this, but it is quite handy!
I’m going to talk about Categories.
When you write a post, you have the option to set a category.
For example, if you are a Food Blogger, and your new post is a Vegan recipe. You can then create a Category called Vegan Recipes and add it to that (we’ll see how later on).
How this helps is, you can add this category to the menu so that your vegan readers don’t have to scroll through all your posts to find Vegan Recipes. They can just click on the Menu item called Vegan Recipes and find them all right there.
How awesome! And this is just one use of categories.
With the most important things known to you (Yay!), I have a few(actually only two) other things to talk about.
The first is the sidebar.
As I have shown in a pic before, the sidebar on this site has a search bar and social sharing icons. But it is so versatile, you can do wonders with it. Have your social media feeds, your favorite quotes, your photo, recent posts, and many more!
Lastly, I want to talk about the footer. I’ve not shown you this before (I forgot to take a picture before editing the site. Don’t get confused).
This theme has three sections in the footer. Again as with the sidebar, you can add any widgets here.
There are widgets for all of these.
A widget is a bit of code. If you want to add a text widget, there is a widget called just that, you can add it to your widget area (sidebar/footer) and write anything in it.
Create a Page and Post
Let us first talk about creating a post because that’s what you would probably be doing most of the time.
Create a Post
Before we get started, as you have seen, there is some content on this site, you can choose to keep this as is and delete the content you don’t want. Or you can delete all this content. I’m going to continue without deleting anything.
But, I’ll show you how to delete in case you want to.
Go to Settings, and scroll down to this option called “Start Over”. That’s all.
Moving on to creating a post, on your dashboard, you see an option called Blog Posts, click on that create a new post.
Just add your title and content. Make sure you add your keywords.
Once you add your content, it’s time to add some categories. I’ve stated the importance of categories above so don’t forget to add them. Let’s see how.
On the dashboard, you now see an option to add Categories and Tags, click on that.
By default, WordPress has a category called Uncategorized. This is what all posts fall under unless you give a new category. You can change your default category in Settings.
I want to add my post to be under a category called “Quotes”. Let’s add that now.
Once, you click on “Add New Category”, a window pops up.
Type in the name you want. Below that you see an option called “Top Level” and other existing categories.
If you select “Top Level”, it will be a new category. I am choosing that.
If I select “Uncategorized”, this new category called Quotes will be a sub-category under “Uncategorized”.
And once you add a new category, select the category/s you want this post to fall under.
(You don’t always have to add new categories, you can just add them under a category you find appropriate if it already exists).
Also, I’ve added a few tags I found relevant to this post.
Let’s add a featured image.
Click on the option called featured image and select an image that you like.
You can select an existing image or add a new one using the option “Add New”/”Add via URL”.
You may select several options,
like, if you want to display your sharing buttons (social media sharing) and like buttons.
You can also add your slug, which is how your post name appears in the slug.
If you name a post “How to make Coffee in 2 steps”, WordPress generally makes it yoursite/blog/make-coffee-2-steps. You can choose to change it.
You can also add an excerpt of your posts. This is what appears below your link in search engine results and other places.
There are options to add your location, choose to have comments enabled/disable for each post.
There is also, and option for Pingbacks and Trackbacks. If you wonder what they are, read on.
Suppose you are A and your friend(or anybody) B has a website. When you write something on your site with a link to a page/post in B’s website, you can send them a trackback.
B can choose/decline to accept the trackback. If he accepts, the trackback appears in the comment section of the page/post, with a link back and excerpt of the page/post on A’s site.
They are similar to Trackbacks but, they are automatic in that when you post something with a link to B’s website, they are automatically notified about it. You don’t have to send a trackback.
They also appear in the comment section if you accept, but they only feature a link back but no excerpt.
So, if you allow trackbacks/pingbacks you allow people to notify you if they link to your site.
They sound amazing! Why would I disable them?
As wonderful as they are, they are so often misused by spammy sites. Almost 99% of the trackbacks/pingbacks are spammy sites trying to get a link from your website.
You’d have to spend a lot of time moderating your comment section. Most of the people don’t use it anymore as the downsides hugely override the upsides.
That’s it. We have our post ready. Let’s move on to creating a page.
Create a Page:
Click on “Pages”. You see a list with “Published”, “Drafts”, “Schedules”, “Trashed”.
They mean what their names suggest. You can save your partially writtedn pages as drafts. You can even have your pages to be scheduled at specific times (on your high traffic days, a birthday post etc).
Click on the “Add” button on dashboard to add a new page.
As you can see int the picture below, add your title, content. You can even edit your page URL here.
On the left, you can see something called “Page Attributes”. On clicking, it gives you a few options.
Firstly, you can select if this page is a top level page or a sub page to another page.
There is also an option to select page templates. The default template for this theme is a side bar on the right. There are two more options, one is a full width no sidebar template which you can select if a page requires not having a sidebar.
Another option is the Homepage template. As we see, the homepage has a very different layout. You can have other pages with such a layout too.
There is also an option to add order to your pages. They appear in the order you give them starting with zero.
If you are only doing this to order your pages on the menu, you can just give them all an order zero and drag the content of menu to a position you need. We’ll see how to do this when we talk about the menu.
Once, you are done with all this click on publish.
Now, if you go to the homepage, you can find our new page on the menu.
Let’s take care of our Menu:
We can edit our menu in two ways.
One is in the theme customize section, the other in the Menu section.
I usually use the Menu section because it is much more powerful and easy though you can make quick edits in the customize section.
Click on “Menu” on the dashboard. As we saw this theme has one menu area (below the header image).
Currently, we have three options for our menu.
Default menu has all pages present on our theme.
The primary menu has a few pages currently. You can add or delete pages to it. You can have as many such options as you need.
Social Menu for this theme has social media links.
Different themes come with different inbuilt menu options, and you can always add a menu like you need. It is very easy to do.
You can add pages, posts, categories and custom links to a menu.
I’m going to select the Primary Menu as I find it easier to edit. Also, if you select the default menu, any new pages are added to your menu and I don’t want that.
I want to add my new page under “About”. So, I click on + on the right end.
As you can see, you have three options. Add the menu item above, below or as a child (this will appear as a sub-item). I will add it below About page.
You can select a menu item from pages, posts, categories, links or even tags.
I will select my new page and add it to the menu.
Yup! It appears below About page. I also want the Blog page to appear between About and Inspiring Quotes, so I will drag it into position and save it!
I hope my menu looks like I want it to. Yes, it does.
And this is how my menu looks in place. Pretty Good!
Customizing the site to suit your needs:
We’ve added pages, posts and even edited our menu. But, parts of our website still don’t look like ours. Mainly the homepage. Let’s deal with it now.
To do this go to Themes (Customize). Here you can select a new theme and also edit your current theme.
Click on the blue button on each section to edit it. I’m going to get the text on the header(I took this pic after editing sorry!)
I’m going to enter the text I want. You can preview your changes on the right, as you make them. Save and publish!
Don’t worry about the text below the Site title and Tagline, we’ll edit that too.
If we scroll a little, we can see the menu is editable too. You can tweak it a little over here if you need to. My menu is fine as is.
If you scroll further, you see that the footer is editable. It has three widgets, all text. You can click on each widget and edit the title and content.
Below this you can see footer credits are editable. If you upgrade you can have your own text. But as a free user, you have a few options to choose a way of crediting WordPress. I’ll let you do it by yourself.
Our homepage does not have a sidebar, so let us go to any other page with a sidebar. Once you go, click on the blue buttons by the widgets in the sidebar to edit it.
You can edit the contents and even add new widgets. A few widgets to name are search, text, social media, recent posts etc.
You also see an image, this is different from the image on the home page. You can change it by clicking on the blue button too.
Don’t forget to save your changes.
Let us now go back to the homepage and edit the remaining text on the header image. I am doing this later as it has to be changed at a different place.
On Themes (Customize) dashboard, click on Theme Options.
Choose Homepage Template.
Edit the text to suit your needs. I’ve also included code to add a button which links to my contact page. Here is the code. Edit the links and text in it to customize to your site.
<a href=”https://digitalcosmosexample.wordpress.com/contact/” class=”button”>Contact Us</a>
By now, you might have seen that this theme also has a video section at the bottom on the home page. You can customize that here as well!
I’ve given a link to my preferred video and added another button in the Video content.
That’s about it. We have now customized our site to suit our needs.
You can also see a few options on the dashboard that I’ve not spoken about. I will brief them to you now.
There is a “Stats” section which shows various statistics of your site, like popular days(days when your site has high traffic), popular times, how many people read your recent posts etc.
Then there is a section called “Plan“, which indicates the plan you are on, and also shows your options(free, upgrades).
The “Sharing” section is where you connect your social media accounts to the site, and also choose how your social media buttons look like.
You can add different user roles in the “People” section. Here’s a little info on different user roles.
- Administrator – nothing is off limits
- Editor – has access to all posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, and links.
- Author – can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish their own posts.
- Contributor – has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published
- Follower (public sites) / Viewer (private sites only) – can read and comment on posts and pages
People who have no user role on your site can still see your site, and post comments if you allow them to.
The “Plugins” section does not allow you to add new plugins as a free user. But it comes with a few inbuilt plugins. You can tweak them here.
The “Settings” section has many fields which are quite easy to understand. But I want to talk about two features here. The Export/Import features.
Export: If you wish to export the contents of this site to another site you can click on export (you can choose any of posts, pages, and media or all of them) and it will generate an XML file with this content.
You can upload this XML file to the other site and have all your content transferred.
Import: If you would like to import your posts, pages, and media from another site, you can click import and upload an XML file(exported from the other site).
With this information on your side, you can play around with WordPress and create and better your amazing website. I hope you have a lot of fun and wish you luck on your journey!
Thank you for reading the post. If you have any doubts please comment below or contact us.
Also, you may be interested in this free guide on traffic, which is of huge importance at the beginning of your blogging journey! Do check it out.