How To Create A Website For Free And Make Money Tutorial: the Definitive Guide (Part 1)

How To Create A Website For Free And Make Money Tutorial: The Definitive Guide (Part 1)

If you are asking the question, how can I create my own blog or website. This How To Create A Website For Free And Make Money Tutorial will teach you step by step how to create a free blog website.  I know, because about ten years ago I first did it, and I haven’t stopped making websites since.

This how to create a blog for free and make money tutorial is NOT going to show you how to create a starter website on some free plan using a subdomain (known as Web 2.0’s).  

This guide Will show you how to create a blog/website for free the way professional web designers do. A site without restrictions that you own and can make money with however you like. 

The beginners guide will show you how to avoid the mistakes I made, when I first started building websites.

In the first part of this tutorial, you will learn what it takes to make a fast, clean and well designed blog for free from scratch, without code or professional help. 

How To Make A Free Blog On WordPress

There are three elements to create a professional website for a blog or business etc.

  1. A domain name
  2. A content management system to create your content
  3. A web host to store your website on the internet

If you already have a domain (the name of your website), great.  If you don’t have a domain you will need to buy one.

Purchase a domain

Purchasing a domain name is not as easy as you might think. Simply because dot com domains are the most popular and more than likely your first choice is already registered. 

The TLD (top level domain) is important. My advice is to register a dot com domain name where possible. 

You can get a domain from many places but I purchase mine from Namecheap.com

Choosing the Best Website Builder

People need websites for many reasons.  Some blog about life, others need a website for business, others want to generate leads and sales.

Whatever the reason, various website platforms are available for you to start your own website.  To name a few, there’s Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, and the 800-pound gorilla in the room, WordPress.

Each has their own pros and cons.

Creating a website for your business is one thing, setting it up for success is another.  It needs to load quickly, look great on all devices and run smoothly. Which is why choosing the best blog builder is important.

If you’re starting a blog or need a website for your business, I recommend WordPress. 

Hands down, WordPress is the most popular platform available to make a business website on your own for free. This is for good reason.  Its versatility is why I’m going to use it to show you how to make a website for free.

Why Use WordPress to Build a Blog?

Many moons ago, I heard about WordPress but at the time it didn’t interest me because I already had a website builder.  But one day, that all changed.

During a conversation with a friend, WordPress came up and I learned that the platform had evolved. I was intrigued.  The next day I decided to give it a try. A few dozen websites later and WordPress only gets better which is for me it is the best website builder.

It’s such a great platform, you can start just about any type of website.  It’s a very versatile content management system. In fact, whether you’re blogging for fun or looking to make money online, WordPress is an excellent tool. It is the king of DIY website builders.

Make a Website with WordPress or WordPress, Huh?

Back in the day, WordPress was singular.  Today, there are two versions of WordPress to choose from today, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The former is a closed-off hosted version, while the latter is an open source, self-hosted version.

You can start a website for free on WordPress.com without purchasing a domain name.  This is because your site will be a sub-domain. A sub-domain is basically a domain within a domain. An example is yourwebsite.wordpress.com.

As I mentioned already, I’m going to show you how to make a free website with your own domain so we won’t use WordPress.com for this.

WordPress.com has its uses but like other hosted platforms you’re somewhat restricted.  You don’t truly own your website. 

Their terms and conditions state;

“If we find your site or any of its content to be in violation of our policies, we will remove content, disable certain features on your account, and/or suspend your site entirely”

This means they could potentially delete your site if they believe you’re in breach of their terms and you won’t have a say in the matter.

The alternative is to use WordPress.org which is what I recommend.  This way you own your website outright, can self-host it anywhere and change hosts if needed.

Best of all it’s completely free to use.

Choose a Web Host

Self-hosting means you can host your website or blog with any hosting company.  If you’re tech savvy you can host it on your own server. If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you need a hosting company.

There’s no shortage of hosting companies to choose from.  Each has different products like shared, virtual, cloud and dedicated hosting. Some specialize in WP and will manage the whole thing for you.

Most start a new website using shared hosting with companies like those listed below.

  • Bluehost
  • Siteground
  • GoDaddy
  • HostGator

You’ll see many blogs recommend hosting with one of these companies with of course an affiliate link. But here’s the thing, it is almost always low quality shared hosting.

Shared hosting is terrible no matter how good the web host is.  The reason why is that you’re sharing a server with other websites. This can be thousands of websites depending on the server.  

Shared hosting leaves your website fighting for resources. And what happens if there’s not enough server resources?  Your website suffers. 

On top of this, if one site gets hacked or infected with malware, it leaves the rest of the websites vulnerable.

What’s The Alternative?

It’s next level hosting with no upfront cost and no contracts.  You can cancel anytime.  But you won’t want to once you sign up.

Keep reading.

Flywheel web hosting is one of the best hosts I’ve used.

  • It runs on Google Cloud (real cloud hosting). 
  • It’s specially crafted for WordPress.  
  • It’s optimized to be lightning fast.
  • Secure by default (No need for third party security plugins).  
  • Free SSL security cert for your site which is important for any website today.

Flywheel manages security and performance of your website so you don’t have to.

Flywheel has great customer support and a knowledge base to help you out.  For the monthly price (not annual), there’s little else out there that comes close to their quality and value.

To be clear, it’s aimed more at developers which is why it’s so good. That said, it’s straightforward to get it up and running. 

I’ll show you how.

To be clear, Flywheel is not a free web host. But what is different is you can sign up and build a whole website for free on their platform.

To get started with Flywheel sign up for a free hosting account.  Then check for their verification email and follow the instructions to verify your account by SMS.

How to Install WordPress on Your Web Host

This section shows you how to create a new WordPress website on Flywheel.  If you’re looking to move an existing site over from another host, Flywheel will handle that move for free.

Step 1: Create a New Site

WordPress is a software and must be installed on your host’s server before you can use it.

Once you have verified your account, go to your Flywheel dashboard and click on the green Create a New Website Button to get started.

Flywheel signup step 2

Add your website details.  Then create an admin user for your website.  This is the login and password you will use to login to your website.

Flywheel signup step 3
Flywheel add user details

Choose to pay later and select your preferred data center which will host your site.  I recommend choosing the closest server to your visitors for that extra bit of speed.

Flywheel signup pay later

Then click the green Launch Demo Site Button.  Flywheel will magically install WP on their server.  The site will appear in your Flywheel dashboard when it is ready!

Flywheel Launch demo site

This is your development site.  It allows you to design your site for free in private, away from visitors and search engines until it’s ready to launch.  

Web design professionals use dev sites to develop websites from scratch.

When you’re ready, you will push the finished development site live.  This step involves pointing your domain name at Flywheel’s servers. I’ll post a guide when I’m done.

Configuring WordPress

WordPress and Flywheel make installing your website very easy.  You can begin designing a website right away, which is a mistake newbies often make.  

Before that, there are some important WordPress settings that should be configured first.

WordPress Dashboard

To login to your new website from the Flywheel dashboard, click on the WP-Admin button on the top right of your screen.  Because it’s a development site, it is set to privacy mode.  You will need your Flywheel generated username and password. You can find this in the dashboard sidebar.

Enter the username and password when requested and Flywheel will bring you to the login page of your website.

wordpress login page

Default Settings

Now that you’re logged in you can take a moment to get familiar with the dashboard menu on the left of your screen along with the toolbar at the top.  

WordPress Dashboard

WordPress comes ready with a bunch of default settings.  You don’t need to worry about most of these because they’re not important.  But, there are a few that need your attention now.

General Settings

Under general settings is where you find the website name, tagline, URL, language and time-zone.  Most of these settings can be left alone unless your blog is non-English and are outside the United States.

One setting that can be changed is Memberships. This really depends on the type of site you’re building.  If it’s a store, then you may want to allow customers access their accounts. In this case, you can tick the box to allow any visitor to register on your website.

Tip: If you’re creating a blog or site for your company, I recommend you don’t allow registration.

User Profile

The only user profile available on a new blog is your own because you are the administrator of the site.

I recommend changing your administrator display name for security purposes.  If you don’t change it now, your admin username can be publicly shown on all your posts which is a big security no-no.

Here’s how to change it.  

Using the menu on the left of your screen go to Users » All Users and click on Your Profile.

On your profile page scroll down to where it says ‘Nickname (required)’. You will see your admin name in the field.  Change this to anything else.

wordpres nickname

Underneath this, where it says ‘Display Name Publicly As’ use the dropdown box to change this to the new nickname you just created.

wordpress display name

Permalinks

Next, I recommend setting up your Permalinks structure.  Permalinks are the permanent URLs to individual pages and posts, as well as blog categories and tag archives.  They help organize your web pages in a logical manner which helps users navigate through your website.

There’s two recommended permalinks structure.

On the left menu hover over the Settings tab and click on Permalinks.

permalink settings

If your website is a blog and you plan to cover several categories, I suggest checking the radio box for ‘Custom Structure’ then delete what’s in the field.

Underneath the empty field are several tags. 

If you plan on creating a large website with thousands of posts in different categories, click %category% %postname% to populate the empty field.

custom permalink structure

If your website is going to be a small niche website select %Post Name%

Lastly click save at the bottom of the page.

Whichever option you choose, both URL structures can improve the aesthetics, usability and are important for SEO.

That’s all you really need to worry about for now regarding your WordPress settings because the rest are set to default. If you prefer, you can go through each and change the settings accordingly.

Customizing Your Website

The beauty of WordPress is in its flexibility.  It is extremely customizable with almost endless possibilities.  Customizing it involves the use of themes and plugins.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

WordPress uses website templates called themes to store all HTML/CSS code.  This code controls the general appearance of your website and some core functions.  WordPress will not function without a theme. This is because a theme defines things like a website’s primary colors, header, footer and menus. But don’t worry, the official WP theme comes preinstalled to get you started.

Out of the box a WordPress website is pretty basic, but it has great potential which is limited only by your imagination. 

<a href=”https://ctt.ac/7am1y”><img src=”http://clicktotweet.com/img/tweet-graphic-3.png” alt=”Tweet: Out of the box a WordPress website is pretty basic, but it has great potential which is limited only by your imagination.

” /></a>

default theme

You can of course change themes at any time, and with WordPress, there is no shortage of choice. Many are free themes while others are premium.  Both free and premium themes can be outdated or poorly coded.

Choose wisely. 

A poorly made theme can lead to all sorts of problems like bugs and security issues.  It’s important to pick one that is kept up to date by the developers and follows WordPress best practices.

If it’s a basic blog you need then the official WordPress theme, Twenty Seventeen should suffice.  Just be aware, customization for non-coders is very limited.

If choosing another theme,  don’t get sucked in by all the shiny bells and whistles on display.

A good theme should have the following characteristics.

  • Lightweight
  • Fast
  • Flexible
  • Extendable
  • SEO friendly
  • Follows WordPress Best Practice
  • Free Version

You can choose any new theme by hovering over the Appearance tab on the left menu and clicking on Themes. On the next page click on the Add New button to bring you to the theme installation page.

Adding new themes

On the next page, you can use the search box to type the theme name and WordPress will locate it for you or you can upload your own. Once found you will need to click Install followed by Activate.

How to find a new theme and install it

After you’re done with theme selection you can begin customizing the look and feel of the website header, footer, and website colors.

In the Appearance section, click on Customize. This will open the theme customizer with a new menu.

wordpress theme customizer

The menu in the customizer varies with the theme activated.  Some themes will have more options than others and you will need to play around with the available options of your chosen theme until you’re satisfied with the way your site looks.  That said, all will have some common settings like Site Identity, Colors and Homepage Settings.

Site Identity

In the Site Identity section you can add a site logo, edit the website name and tagline.

Site identity section

Colors

The color options are very limited in a theme like Twenty Seventeen as can be seen below.

WordPress color settings

Other themes will allow you to easily edit the color of text in the headings and body and the color of menus.

WordPress color customizer

Homepage Settings

The Homepage settings section is important because you can choose what’s displayed on the front page of your site.  This can be your blog page where posts reside that updates as you publish each new post in reverse chronological order (classic blog) or a custom home page.

If you want to keep your site’s homepage and blog pages separate choose ‘Static Homepage’.

If your website is a blog, then it makes sense to keep the home page and blog page one in the same.

If you’re going with the ‘Static Homepage’ option, you can create a homepage now by using the Add New Page option.

WordPress homepage settings

Don’t forget that you must click the publish button for the changes to go live and changes are permanent.

publish theme changes

Take the time to go through each setting tab in the customizer, testing out different things until you’re happy with the look of your blog.

Plugins & Essential Features

Plugins are what add features like popups and forms etc. to a WordPress website. Plugins are critical if you can’t code and want to have a full featured site. These are essentially apps for your site and there are thousands to choose from.  

Like themes, you’re going to want to stick to reliable, well coded plugins that are kept up to date by their respective developers.

I’m going to run through some basic features that are essential for your site and the plugins that will help you implement them on your blog. 

  1. Contact Form Plugin 
  2. Google Analytics Plugin
  3. Email Marketing Plugin
  4. Image Compression
  5. Security Plugin
  6. Backup Plugin
  7. SEO Plugin

Contact Forms

Contact forms provide your visitors with a means to get in touch with you on your website.  This can be for a multitude of reasons. Generally, you’re going to need a basic contact form for your contact page and/or a signup form for your monthly newsletter.  Having a contact form plugin helps to create these quickly and easily.

Contact form plugins give you the ability to create a range of forms.  From basic email signups to advanced multi-step forms without knowing how to code.

There are several to choose from like Caldera Forms, Ninja Forms and WP Forms. For this guide, we’re going to use Ninja Forms.  Their free plugin is simple and straightforward for what we need.

If you’re looking for more functionality Ninja Forms have a premium version.

Installing the Plugin

To install Ninja forms, go to Plugins » Add New and search for the plugin by typing Ninja Forms in the search box.

Searching plugins in wordpress

Click Install followed by Activate.

Building a Form

A Ninja Forms tab will appear in the WordPress menu. Click on it to open the Ninja Forms plugin dashboard.  You will see that the plugin comes with a contact form preinstalled. The form is pre-built, so we do not need to configure its settings.

If you want to preview the form, click on Contact Me to open the form in a new browser tab.  On the form page, choose Preview Form. This will open a website page, so you can see the form in action. The form inherits the styling from your Theme.  To change this, you will need to upgrade to a paid version.

Ninja forms dashboard

Add the Form to a Page or Post

There are two easy methods to add the contact form to a page or post.  The first is to copy and paste the short-code into the desired page. The other is to embed it directly from within the page itself using the Add Form button. In this case it’s the contact page.

how to add contact form shortcode

Of course, you will need to create the page or post before you can do this.  To set up your pages follow the instructions in the ‘Setting up Pages’ section of this guide.

Google Analytics

If you don’t already know, Google Analytics is a free service from Google that tracks and reports website traffic.  It is an essential tool to help you better understand your visitors and how they interact with your site.

To get started with Google Analytics, you will need a tracking ID. You will first need to create an account.

  1. Go to google.com/analytics.
  2. Set up a property (this is your website) in your Analytics account.
  3. Set up a reporting view in your property.
  4. Copy the tracking code.
  5. Install the tracking into the Head section of your website.

One of the easiest ways to do this for beginners is to install CAOS for Analytics. CAOS stands for Complete Analytics Optimization Suite.  Not only is it a breeze to install, the plugin allows you to optimize Google Analytics for your website by storing the tracking ID locally.  Storing it locally can help you follow the EU’s GDPR, if it applies to you.

When you activate the plugin, go to Settings » Optimize Analytics to configure the plugin.

Optimize Google Analytics Plugin

The plugin has basic settings set to default which should suffice.  The only thing you need to do is paste the Google Analytics tracking ID into the available box and save the changes.

google analytics plugin basic settings

The plugin has advanced settings for better optimization, but I suggest leaving most of these alone for now until you know what you’re doing.

That said, you may need to use the Anonymize IP setting if required by law. This tells Google to hide all your website users’ IP addresses.  The feature is designed to help site owners comply with data protection laws in some countries.

When a visitor lands on your website, your Google Analytics tracking code collects their IP address. Although you can’t see their IP in Google Analytics, your account still collects this data.

When a visitor lands on your website, your Google Analytics tracking code collects their IP address.  Although you can’t see their IP in Google Analytics, your account still collects this data. To follow the new EU privacy laws GDPR, you need to ensure ‘Anonymize IP’ is on.  This feature prevents the GA tracking code, collecting personal data.

To be clear, it doesn’t matter if you or your website is not in the EU.  What matters is if an EU citizen visits your website and their personal info is collected in anyway by your website.  If you’re using Google Analytics, you’re collecting their personal information.

Non-compliance with GDPR can potentially carry heavy fines so it’s better to be safe than sorry.  After all, if you own a site with content that is accessible to any user, anywhere in the world, then it is a good idea to use this feature.

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps you interact with your visitors while promoting your website and brand. You can use email to keep in touch, build relationships and promote services.  It is a very cost-effective and personal way of communicating with subscribers.

To use email marketing two things are needed;

  1. Email marketing platform
  2. A website signup form

Mailchimp is probably the best-known email marketing platform but it’s certainly not the best.  Thankfully there are plenty of alternatives to choose from. Personally, I like ActiveCampaign, Aweber and GetResponse. These are powerful, affordable and have free trials.  

If you are looking for a tool with email marketing, messaging, marketing automation and sales features, go with ActiveCampaign. 

For enterprise level email marketing, checkout GetResponse.   

If you want a powerful yet simple tool to build lists and send follow-up emails, I recommend Aweber. 

  • Aweber ($19/m 500 contacts and unlimited sending)
  • ActiveCampaign ($15/m 500 contacts and unlimited sending)
  • GetResponse ($15/m 1000 contacts unlimited sending) 

At the time of writing, I believe the only GDPR compliant of the three is ActiveCampaign.

To set up email marketing on your blog you will need to create an account with your platform of choice.  After that you will need to download their plugin and follow the instructions to create a signup form.

You can then place the signup form throughout your blog posts and pages.

Image Compression

Why is image sizing and compression important?  Simply put it keeps image size down without losing too much quality so that images don’t slow down your blog for visitors and search engines.  

There is nothing worse than a web page that takes too long to load.  Or worse, it doesn’t load fully at all.

One free plugin I find that works well is WP Smush.  It’s very easy to use and does the job.

Tip: I size images in a photo editor before uploading them to WordPress. Then compress them with a plugin.  Every little bit counts.

Security Plugin

Any web host that provides hosting will take some measures to protect their servers and your website.  However, if you’re using basic shared hosting the real onus is on the website owner to protect their website.

If you don’t take your website security seriously you will more than likely be hacked at some stage.

The good news is you’re not allowed to install a third-party security plugin if using Flywheel hosting. Why is this good news?  Because Flywheel takes care of it at server level and will do a far better job than your third-party plugin.

Backups

Whichever host you decide to use they will most certainly have a backup feature.  But, I like to keep my own backups, and I like to keep them off site for extra protection.  I will try to apply the 3-2-1 rule. 3 copies, 2 off-site, 1 hard copy.

I know, I know.  How do you hard-copy a website?  I’ll let you figure that one out on your own 😀

I use All-in-One WP Migration for back-ups.  It’s so quick and easy to back-up your entire site with AOIWPM that it takes one click.

Once the plugin is installed, go to the All-in-One WP Migration » Export and use the export tool to create a full website backup.  The dropdown field will allow you to export it to several destinations.

how to back up your website

The quickest method is export to file. This creates a special .wpress file which you can download to your computer for safe keeping.

Just be aware that if you ever need to import a backup, the free version has a 500MB upload limit and you will need to install their extension plugin for this. 

SEO Plugin

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) structures your website in such a way that search engines can crawl your blog and understand what it’s about.  This helps Google rank your site in the SERPs (search engine results pages) so people interested in your content can find it.

I’m not going to get into SEO too much in this guide because the topic is vast.  What I will say is that with the right theme and settings, WordPress can take care of 80-90% of SEO for you.  So, for a website in an non-competitive niche, you don’t need any SEO plugin starting off.

By following this guide and some do’s and don’ts, you will have 95% of SEO taken care of.  

Do

  1. Use a good host.
  2. Use a well coded, SEO friendly theme.
  3. Post quality content that answers a question or provides useful info.
  4. Structure the navigation of your website logically ensuring that users can easily browse your website.
  5. Avoid duplicate content and pages.
  6. Keep page and post titles to about 60 characters.
  7. Describe clearly what the page is about in the very first paragraph of the page.
  8. If blogging, avoid posting short content less than 600 words. Try to keep a mix of short posts (600 words), medium length posts (roughly 1500 words) and long posts (2,000 words and up). FYI, this post is over 13,000 words.
  9. Keep posts focused on the topic.
  10. Keep image size and thus page size low.

Don’t

  1. Don’t copy content from other sites.
  2. Don’t autogenerate content.
  3. Don’t use spammy distracting ads on your site.
  4. Avoid posting little or no content.
  5. Avoid low quality content.
  6. Don’t spout negative or harmful content.

The above lists are by no means exhaustive. Google has a 200 page document setting out general SEO guidelines and it’s a recommended document to read.

Regardless of the above, a WordPress SEO plugin can be useful when starting out.  Useful features include generating a sitemap which helps Google bot crawl your website.  This is necessary on large sites so that search engines can make sense of your site.

Some say sitemaps are not necessary on smaller site, but it might be a good idea to have one nonetheless because it will clearly define your site to Google.

Another useful features of an SEO plugin are meta-descriptions, content analysis and schema. 

A free SEO plugin, I highly recommend installing is Rank Math. It has more than enough features in the free version.

Pages & Posts

There are two types of content pages in WordPress, pages and posts, and often beginners get confused between the two.  Each has a different purpose.

Posts are the content pages of your website’s blog.  Blog posts are pages listed in reverse chronological order on your blog’s home (archive) page.  Older posts are archived based on date and are organized based on categories and tags.

Blog posts encourage interaction with readers through a built-in comment feature and are published with a time and date by default for use with RSS feeds.  Bloggers use RSS feeds to deliver weekly and monthly email newsletters which can be automated through third party services like Drip.

A website can have as many pages and posts as it needs.

Pages

Pages are used for static “one-off” content.  Because there is no time and date tied to pages, they are not included in your RSS feeds by default.  Pages are meant to be descriptive and once created are typically left alone. That means you typically don’t want much interaction from your users on static pages.

Different to posts, pages are organized in a hierarchy. For example, you can have a single top-level page with multiple sub-pages.

Common Pages

Every website including a blog will have web pages. Some might be common pages and others unique to your site.

For example, almost every website should have:

  • Home page
  • About Page
  • Contact Page
  • Legal Pages

Home Page

This is the front page of your website. As mentioned in Step 5, Customizing Your Website this can be a custom page or set to display your latest posts.

About Page

On this page you should write a description of the person or company behind the website and add some photos.  This can help your website build trust with visitors to your site.

Contact Page

If you would like to allow people to get in touch with you a contact page can be useful.  It can be as minimal or as detailed as you would like. If it’s a company blog, then you may want to add phone numbers and an address and contact form.  If it’s a personal blog, you may just want a contact form.

Terms of Use

This page sets out your terms and conditions for visitors and customers using your site and should not be skipped.  There are online services which can generate this for you or you can engage professionals but this will cost you. You could also visit similar sites to get an idea of what’s included and compile your own.

Privacy Policy

This is another important page that should not be overlooked.

As a website owner, you may need to address national or international privacy laws by setting out a privacy policy.

In a recent update WordPress took steps to help you address this by including a new Privacy option in the Settings tab in the dashboard. These settings allow you to create a new privacy page which will include help and suggestions for your Privacy Policy.

Keep in mind, you will need to use this resource correctly, provide the information within the Privacy Policy, and to keep page content current and accurate.

You can continue to add pages as your site grows.

To get started with new pages go to Pages » Add New.

how to add new pages in wordpress

On the next page you will need to;

  1. Name the page
  2. Set the page attributes
  3. Add content
  4. Save & publish the page

First, enter the name of the page.  For example, if this is the page where you describe who you are and what you do, then this is your ‘About’ page.

On the right of the screen there is a sidebar with widgets including publishing tools, page attributes etc.  A widget is a small block that performs a specific function.

The publishing widget is used to switch the page between draft, pending review and live versions.  Now is the time to hit the Save Draft button to save the new page title you just created.  It’s good practice to save changes regularly otherwise you may lose content.

how ot save a draft page

Remember, as an admin you can preview draft pages, but it can’t be seen on the front end by visitors until you publish it.

Page Attributes

The page attributes widget allows control over the design and structure of pages template.  The page attributes widget does two things:

  1. It defines the type of page, parent or sub-page.
  2. It defines the structure of the page through the template setting.

Parent

This feature is important for website navigation and is going to tie in with the custom permalinks you defined in the website settings earlier.  If you don’t know the difference between parent and sub-pages, a parent page is a top-level page in a website. It displays directly after your domain name in the URL of your site e.g. mywebsite.com/support.  

A sub-page requires a parent page and displays after the parent page in the URL e.g. mywebsite.com/support/knowledge-base.

You should think about this before your website goes live because changing it after the website goes live will lead to problems, namely broken links on your site.  Broken links should be avoided and fixing them will take time to fix.

For a small website, the, homepage, about page and contact page are typically parent pages.

Template

The page template is set to the theme’s default template as standard.  Depending on your theme, you may have several templates available such as ‘Full Width Page’ and ‘No Header/Footer Page’.  Setting the page template comes down the design you’re going for.

If you are stuck with the default template, you are going to be limited in what you can do with the design and layout of the website page using the customizer.

Page Content

The large white area in the center of your screen is the content editor called Gutenberg. This is where your content like text and images go. There are a number of ways to add content to the Gutenberg editor.

To add content, click on any of the plus signs on the page and choose from the various content blocks available.

Adding content blocks to WordPress using gutenberg

If adding headlines and text use the heading and paragraph blocks. If adding images to the page, you can use the image block and so on. 

When you’re finished adding the content you must hit Publish for your page to go live on the web.

When you’re finished adding the content and making changes you must hit Publish for your page to go live on the web.

publishing a web page

Page Builder 

If you want to design great looking pages but have no HTML and CSS knowledge, you are going to need a design tool. 

A page builder is a front-end design tool that allows you to create beautiful looking pages without knowing code. 

From the text on a page to the header, footer and custom mobile designs, a page builder gives you the ability to completely transform a website.  

Several page builders are available to choose from but not all are created equal. From experience, the only page builder I currently recommend is Elementor. 

Elementor is available to install free of charge. Just go to the ‘Add New’ plugin section in your WordPress dashboard and type Elementor in the the search bar. WordPress will show you all Elementor related plugins in the search results with Elementor Page Builder being the first. Install and activate the plugin to get started.  

Next, open the page you want to edit and click the big blue ‘Edit With Elementor’ button.  This opens the page builder editor. 

At first, it will take a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it, you will see why it has over three million active installs. 

Elementor is a drag and drop page builder. To begin designing your pages, drag any widget from the left menu and place it on the right. 

Alternatively, Elementor comes with a pre-designed template library which you can import to a page. The templates available in the free version are limited but should be enough to get you started.  

To open the library and choose a template to import, click on the grey and white folder icon in the middle of your blank page. 

Have fun experimenting with it. Once comfortable enough with it, you can go pro with the paid version. This has even more amazing features which can take your website to the next level.  

How to Make a Blog Page (Post)

Creating a blog post is like creating web pages. Go to Posts » Add New.

adding your first blog post

On the next page you will need to:

  1. Name the post
  2. Apply the category
  3. Apply tags (optional)
  4. Add content
  5. Add featured image
  6. Save & publish

First name your blog post and apply it to the appropriate blog category from the right-hand sidebar. WordPress comes with a default category, called Uncategorized. You can choose this and rename this as your main category by going to the category section under the posts section later on. If you need to create further categories you can do it without leaving the page.

I write all my content off site in Word or Google Docs and then paste it into the text editor. This way I can easily format the text and spell check it, which you can’t do in the native Gutenberg editor.

Copy and paste your blog post content into the WordPress text editor.  Think about adding some images in between your content to break up the text for the reader.

Next, add a featured image for the post using the featured image widget in the sidebar. It’s the primary image for a blog article and can be seen at the top of the blog post often appearing before the content.  By default, featured images are usually pulled up first when sharing a link to an article on social media.  The featured image is the most important image of the article.

When ready publish your first blog post.

Tip: It’s a good idea to periodically save pages and posts when editing content to avoid losing changes.

Navigation Menus

Now that your pages and posts have been created it’s time to create navigation menus on your website so that users can easily navigate through your website.

To set up navigation menus, go to Appearance » Menus on the left.  You can also go to your Website Name » Menus on the top left toolbar.

Your website will typically have two navigation menus, a main menu and a footer menu.  Some sites have additional menus like a top-bar menu but this is down to what your website requires.  You can create as many menus as you like but for now concentrate on the top and bottom menus.

Top Menu (Primary)

The top or primary menu is your main navigation menu displayed in the header of your website.  Follow these steps to create your menu:

  1. Name the menu
  2. Apply the location where it will be displayed
  3. Add menu items

Since this is the main menu, you can name it anything, but make it recognizable like the main menu or primary menu.  At the bottom of the page, check the appropriate box next to ‘Display Location’ and save the changes. It might be shown as a primary menu, top menu or something similar.  If multiple choices are available, it is likely the first option.

choosing website menu locations wordpress

The next thing to do is add menu items from the widgets on the left.  These can be pages, posts, categories and custom links. For now, stick with your most important top-level pages.

adding menu items to wordpress menu

When the menu items are added they will appear under the ‘Menu Structure’ section.  You can then drag the menu items around to rearrange them. The menu items can be customized by expanding the box with the down arrow, if needed.

how to add menu items to wordpress website

Hit Save Menu and you’re done.

 

Footer Menu (Bottom)

Repeat the steps above for your footer menu. It’s a good idea to add legal pages like privacy and terms here.  Remember to hit save when you’re finished.

If no footer option is available in the display locations settings, you will need to add the footer menu directly into the footer widgets.  To do this go to Appearance » Widgets. 

widgets menu

In the widgets section is a list of all available widgets and widget locations.  Simply drag the Navigation Menu widget from the left into  Footer Widget 1 on the right.  When that’s done be sure to add a title and select the correct menu, then hit save.

edit footer widget

Open your website in preview mode to view the menus in place.  Your menus should now be in the header and footer.

That’s it for Now

There you go, making a website for free on WordPress with your own domain is not only possible, it’s easy.  By following this guide, you’ll be ahead of the curve and will have saved hours, if not days.

Be sure to check out my recommended resources for making great websites.

If you found this guide useful, please consider sharing it.

2 thoughts on “How To Create A Website For Free And Make Money Tutorial: the Definitive Guide (Part 1)”

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How To Create A Website For Free And Make Money Tutorial: the Definitive Guide (Part 1)

by Wes James time to read: 36 min
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