The Ultimate Guide To Building A Personal Website

This guide was originally published in March 2012. Since then, hundreds of students (and even non-students!) have created their own personal websites using it. As it is one of the most-viewed articles on College Info Geek, I keep this guide very up-to-date, and it’s current for 2018.

What’s the #1 networking tool you can have in your arsenal as a student? I’ll tell you this right now: it isn’t your resume. 

Resumes are boring. Career experts tell you to make your resume a one-page, size 11 Time New Roman document printed with black ink with no pictures. Seriously? How are you supposed to represent – and differentiate – yourself with that?

Plus, your resume becomes static and outdated the moment you hand it to someone. You can’t update resumes you’ve already given out – you have to make new copies.

That’s why you need a personal website.

A website is the complete opposite of a resume. Everything bad about resumes can be fixed simply by having a website. I’d go as far as to say that not having a website is like shooting yourself in the foot – it’s that useful.

4 Reasons Why You Need to Build Yourself a Website

1) A website isn’t static; it’s dynamic. It’s ever-changing. The moment you accomplish something, you can add it to your website. When you complete a project, you can put it in your portfolio for all to see. You don’t need to print new copies of it and send it out to your contacts over and over; you just update it. People can continually come back and see what you’re up to.

2) Having a website makes you more findable. If all you have is a resume, you have to go out and hand it to people to get your name out. If someone wanted to look you up on the internet and you didn’t have a website, all they might get is a Facebook or Twitter profile.

However, if you have a website, you can be found by a much wider audience and control what it is they see first. This is key for establishing your personal brand and for highlighting your accomplishments.

I’ve been offered jobs, met clients for my web design work, and gotten interviews simply because I have a website. If I didn’t take the time to create one, I’m confident that I wouldn’t have been found.

Make sure you can be found!

3) Not many people have one. Personal websites may be more common in 2018 than they were ten years ago, but the vast majority of students and job seekers are still relying on resumes and job search websites.

Succeeding today requires that you make yourself stand out, and having a website can help you do that. It shows that you’ve taken the time to learn how to do something fairly technical, and it shows that you have some skills other people don’t have.

4) You gain some new skills that can be very useful in the future. Learning how to build a website involves a number of different skills, especially if you get into customizing and optimizing things. Even if you’re not looking for a job in a tech field, having these skills can give you a leg up.

Say you’re applying for a job in advertising. If you can tell the interviewer that you’re not only a great marketer, but that you also have knowledge of the web, you become a much more attractive candidate.

Convinced Yet?

I sure hope so, because this guide is going to teach you exactly how to build that awesome website! I spent over 15 hours writing this guide (as well as taking screenshots and editing them) with the intent of making it the ultimate resource for getting yourself online. When you’re done, you’ll have established a great online presence.

If you want to see some personal website examples before you get started, here’s what mine looks like today:

My Personal Website

This is my personal website.

(By the way – if you like my website’s design, later in the guide you’ll find an in-depth video tutorial that will show you how I created it using a free theme. Keep an eye out for that in Step 3.)

I’ve also made sure to keep all the previous versions of my website accessible for you to check out. Here’s the version I used for most of college, which does a lot more to highlight my achievements and goals as a student:

Thomas Frank's student personal website

The personal site I used as a college student.

Here’s another great example – this is my girlfriend’s portfolio website, which she uses to showcase her illustrations and graphic design work:

Anna's Graphic Designer Portfolio Website

My girlfriend Anna’s portfolio website – a good example to look at if you’re a graphic designer.

I’ve worked hard to make this guide as comprehensive, yet accessible as possible. It’s a bit of a long read, but that’s because it takes you from literally nothing to having a finished website.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to:

  1. Get a domain name and web hosting for your site
  2. Easily install WordPress (my website builder of choice) and get all of your content up on the web with no coding knowledge needed
  3. Make your site look good with a great-looking theme
  4. Optimize your website’s speed, security and more with plugins and widgets
  5. Improve your site’s SEO and find resources that can teach you how to take your site even further if you want

You can treat this list like a table of contents; if you’d like to jump to a specific section, just click it. Otherwise, feel free to truck through the whole guide in order.

What you need to know beforehand:

  1. How to use the internet
  2. How to follow directions

What you don’t need to know/have beforehand:

  1. HTML, PHP, CSS, Javascript, JQuery, XML, XSLT, Ruby, Zend, Python, Flash, MySQL, Nginx, Apache, or any other language
  2. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, or any other program – these can be very useful for customizing things later down the road, but to get up and running all you’ll need is a web browser.
  3. Kung-fu, Naruto jutsus, or rocket surgery

Seriously, building a website isn’t hard and you don’t need to know any code. Knowing code can be useful for tweaking and customizing things later, but you can get the basics down without knowing so much as a lick of HTML!

Estimated time to complete this tutorial: 1-2 hours (you’ll spend the most time on non-techy stuff like writing your content).

Note #1: If you get stuck at any point in this tutorial and need help, I’d be more than happy to assist you. You can get in touch with me on Twitter or via email. I’m serious – please ask me questions if you get stuck. I’d hate to see anyone go through a bunch of work and not end up with a great-looking site.

Note #2: I recommend some specific products and services in this tutorial. Be aware that these aren’t your only choice; they’re simply what I use personally and recommend.

Full Disclaimer: If you choose to use the domain and hosting option I recommend in this tutorial and click my links to get to it, I’ll earn a commission (though there is no extra cost to you – it will actually be quite a bit cheaper since I’m able to offer a coupon code). I want to be very clear that there are definitely other good choices for your domain and hosting out there. This is simply the one I’ve been using since the beginning, and I’m very satisfied. If you do choose to use my link, thank you! 

Alright, enough with the preliminary stuff. Let’s start building your site.

Step 1: Get a Domain and Hosting

The first step to building your personal site is to choose how you’re going to have it hosted. There are a number of ways to put up a website. For instance, you could just create a free blog at Weebly or WordPress.com, or even Tumblr.

However, I believe it’s a lot more impressive to have a self-hosted site with an actual domain name (not a subdomain). This will look a lot more legitimate and will show that you’ve taken the time to learn how to actually build a website, which can differentiate you from the crowd.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. One of my favorite entrepreneurs, Srinivas Rao, gave this tip for aspiring bloggers:

“If you want to be taken seriously , then make sure you have a self-hosted WordPress blog.”

So while it’s up to you in the end, I would recommend self-hosting your site. Still, having a free site on WordPress.com or another place if you’re on a tight budget is much better than not having a site at all!

Now, before we get into all the nitty gritty step-by-step stuff, there’s one thing I want you to think about first: your domain name. And the first rule of choosing a domain name is…

Don’t Register SailorMoonFreak94435.biz, Dummy.

I can’t stress this enough: you need a good domain name. (side note: I thought real hard about registering that domain as a joke, but eventually decided against it) Follow these criteria for the best results!

  • If it’s at all possible, make your domain name your first name + your last name.com. That’s seriously the best option for memorability and SEO (aka how high you show up in Google).
  • Your name will probably be taken, though. I certainly couldn’t get thomasfrank.com, so I had to go with thomasjfrank.com instead. If your name is taken, you can throw in a middle initial or maybe even your full middle name if it doesn’t make the domain too long.
  • You can also use a clever play on your name if none of the above works. I’d be totally cool if my Twitter name was my domain  name – tomfrankly.com would be pretty memorable! In fact, that domain will direct you to my personal site as well.
  • Don’t use numbers in your domain name, and only use dashes if you absolutely have to.
  • If a .com domain isn’t available (this is the most preferred extension), then .net, .org, .co, or .me are fine substitutes. A .us is alright, but I would stay away from things like .info and .biz.
  • There are also lots of weird new domain extensions these days, like .limo and .pizza – but my opinion is that going with a more established and recognizable extension will help you avoid confusing people.
  • Above all, make sure your domain’s spelling is very easy to get correct for someone just sounding it out. This way, you’ll be able to mention your domain easily in casual conversation, and the person you’re talking to will be able to find it without worrying about the spelling. This tip really applies to everything – for instance, it’s a lot easier to tell people my Twitter handle, @TomFrankly, than it is to tell them the username I used to use for everything in middle school, electrick_eye. The goal is to make it easy for people to find you.

So once you’ve thought of a good domain name, let’s kick off this whole website-building process by getting your domain and hosting.

Time to Get a Domain and Web Hosting.

It used to be that you had to buy your domain name separately from your web hosting. Now, however, you can get them from the same place, right at the same time. Buying them separately is still an option, but it’s so much easier to get them together.

I’m going to use the combined method in this tutorial to keep things simple; however, you can always get in touch with me if you want help setting them up separately (or for anything else).

Note to your wallet: this is the only part of the process that will cost you any money. Hosting isn’t free. However, it doesn’t have to be that costly, either – and I believe the small cost is worth the boost having a website gives to your personal brand and credibility.

There are literally a zillion options for web hosting out there. You can go with a shared account, a VPS, or go crazy and pay for your own dedicated server.

You could even get geeky and host your site from your own computer – though I don’t recommend this as you probably don’t want to deal with the security risks of running a web server, and any time your computer gets turned off (e.g. during power failures and when you have to move out of your dorm), your site will go down. Still, it’s an option.

Since you’re probably a college student and, like me, not swimming in a vault full of money, I’m going to assume you just want something cheap that works.

With that in mind, I recommend just getting the basic shared hosting plan from HostGator. There are plenty of good hosts out there, so HostGator certainly isn’t the only one you can use; however, I’ve been hosting all my sites through them for over three years and I’ve always been more than satisfied because:

  • Their plans are pretty cheap
  • There’s almost never any downtime
  • I love having quick-install options for installing website builders like WordPress (what we’ll be using in this guide)
  • Their support is just plain badass

One time, I needed an obscure PHP server setting changed for a school project, and it was something their level-1 techs couldn’t do for me. So within 20 minutes of me asking, one of their higher-up system admins not only changed the setting, but also sent me a screenshot of the directories and commands he used to do it just in case I needed to do it on another server in the future.

HostGator, my web host of choice.

HostGator, my web host of choice.

You can also get a pretty good discount.

Since I’ve been with them for several years and am directing this tutorial at budget-conscious students, I asked if I could partner with them to offer a discount. They said yes, which is why you’ll see my bearded mug on the page when you click through.

So, use the coupon code COLLEGEINFOGEEK to get 50% off of your initial hosting purchase (or even 60% off if you choose a 3-year plan). This is actually 30-40% more savings than you’d get with the default coupon code they give you, so definitely make use of it if you choose to use HostGator. (It should be filled in when you sign up if you clicked the link above.)

So yeah. This tutorial assumes you are using HostGator; however, if you choose another host, these instructions should be pretty similar to what you need to do.

Head to HostGator and click the big button that says “Get Started Now.”

Start your journey through the order wizard by picking out a domain name. Assuming you don’t already own one, stick with default tab Register a new domain, and type the one you’d like to see if it’s available. If it is, you’ll see a screen like the one below! If not, tweak it a bit until you find one that hasn’t been taken.

Registering a new domain.

Registering a new domain.

Beneath all the domain extension options, you’ll see an option for adding domain privacy protection. 

This is a service that prevents your name, address, and phone number from coming up in WHOIS searches. Most people don’t know about WHOIS, and it used to be the case that you could get away with not having it. Today, however, spammers like to write bots that search the WHOIS database for new domains and then send spam emails to the people who registered them.

The Domain Privacy Protection option.

The Domain Privacy Protection option.

As a result, domain privacy protection is something that I recommend adding. However, it’s also an option you can add to your account later on, so if you don’t do it now (or you already signed up and forgot to include it), you’re not out of luck.

Next, scroll down and complete the next few sections:

  • Confirm that the Hatchling package is selected, and choose how many months of hosting you’d like to get up front. I recommend at least one year.
  • Choose a username and security pin.
  • Enter your personal and billing junk.
Choosing a Hosting Plan

Hatchling plan should be selected. I recommend getting at least a year.

Next, you’ll see a section for Hosting Add-ons. Honestly, I don’t think you need any of these.

In the section on Plugins, I’ll show you some ways you can keep your site secure, backed up regularly, and more likely to show up highly in Google search results (or “optimized for SEO” as we web geeks like to say) – all for free.

Hosting add-on options. I don't think you need any of these.

Hosting add-ons. I don’t think you really need any of these.

Finally, review your order to make sure everything’s copacetic, and check to make sure the code COLLEGEINFOGEEK is there to get up to 60% percent off – 40% more than their default code gives you 🙂

Lastly, hit the big yellow button to create your account.

Review your order, then create your account.

Review your order, then create your account.

Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email that contains “Your Account Info” in the subject link –  that’ll have all the information you’ll need to continue.

Step 2: Install WordPress and Set Up Your Site

Time to start actually building your site.

As I mentioned in the beginning, you’ll be using WordPress (self-hosted, not WordPress.com) to set up your site. You may have heard that WordPress is mainly a blogging platform, which is completely true. However, in recent years WordPress has become so popular and well-supported that it makes a perfect platform for building non-blog sites as well.

WordPress is famous for only taking 5 minutes to install; I say that’s way too long. Let’s do it in 2, shall we?

One of the best things about HostGator is their quick-install options for almost every popular CMS (Content Management System). Of course, they have one for WordPress. Let’s get it set up.

To start, type this URL into your browser (but replace “yourcoolnewdomain” with your website’s domain name): yourcoolnewdomain.com/cpanel.

If for some reason you can’t yet reach your domain yet (sometimes it can take a little while to set up), use the link you were given in your HostGator email listed Your Control Panel.

Log in with the username and password you were given in the email.

You’ll now be looking at your control panel. To install WordPress, look in the “Essentials” section and find the link for WordPress Installer.

Clicking the WordPress Installer within HostGator's cPanel.

WordPress Installer – a tool that will help you automatically install WordPress in seconds.

On the page that comes up, select your domain name from the drop-down menu. It should be the only option listed.

Make sure you leave the directory field blank – that way, your homepage will be set to your domain (i.e. yourcoolnewdomain.com) instead of a sub-folder.

Installing WordPress - Domain Selection

Select your domain from the drop-down list.

Then fill in the form on the next page like so:

  1. Choose a Blog Title. If you’re creating a personal website, use your name. This can be changed later.
  2. Choose an Admin Username. Don’t use “admin”, as it’s unsecure (since it’s commonly used). Anything else is fine 🙂
  3. Enter your first and last name – these can also be changed later if needed.
  4. Enter an Admin Email. Make sure it’s one you use.
  5. Check both of the boxes beneath the text fields.
  6. Click Install Now.
Installing WordPress - Username and Site Details

Completing the installation process.

Once you’ve done that, you should see a big green check mark and the words “Installation Complete”. 

You should also see a section titled Installation Details. Here’s you’ll find your WordPress username and a generated password. Make sure you store these for future reference.

WordPress Installation Complete

Find your WordPress username and password here.

Below your installation details, you’ll see some offers for premium themes you can use. I’d recommend skipping over these – I’ll point you to some awesome free themes later in this guide. In fact, my own personal website is built on a free theme.

You should now have a fully functioning WordPress installation! If you visit your site right now, you’ll see a “Website Coming Soon” page – which will go away and be replaced by your new website once you log into the WordPress Dashboard and launch it.

To get to the Dashboard, type yourcoolnewdomain.com/wp-admin into your browser – this is where you’ll do everything else related to building/customizing your site. It’d probably be a good idea to bookmark that link!

WordPress Admin URL

Add “/wp-admin” to your domain to reach the WordPress Dashboard.

Note: It can sometimes take up to an hour for the web host to set up your account. While you’ll be able to access your cPanel right away, your domain might not be accessible for that hour or so. You can read more about this here.

Setting Up Your Site

Normally, WordPress doesn’t do any hand-holding; once you log into the Dashboard, you’ve got access to all the tools and it’s up to you to figure out what they all do.

However, the version of WordPress that HostGator’s cPanel script installs comes with a short wizard that can guide you through the process of setting a few things up. But we aren’t going to use it.

The wizard might be useful for some people, but it contains a few steps that’ll set things up that I don’t think you need – like a business address. Plus, it’s good to understand how the WordPress Dashboard works, so we’re going to set everything up manually. Don’t worry, it’s not too much work 🙂

To get started, hit the “I don’t need help” link beneath the Business and Personal buttons.

WordPress Dashboard - Click "I don't need help".

Click “I don’t need help” – we’re going to do this manually so you understand every step.

Next, we’re going to take a minute to clean house. Along with the wizard, HostGator’s version of WordPress comes pre-installed with a few plugins that you either don’t need, or that are inferior to the ones I’ll recommend a little later in the guide. Let’s get rid of them in order to keep things simple and clean.

  • On the left side of the Dashboard click Plugins.
  • Check the box next to Jetpack by WordPress.com, MOJO Marketplace, and OptinMonster API.
  • Click the drop-down menu labeled “Bulk Actions” and select Deactivate. Hit Apply.
  • Now, check the box next to all the plugins – except Akismet.
  • Click the Bulk Actions drop-down once again and select Delete. Hit Apply.
Deleting default plugins

Deleting the default plugins

What’s Akismet, you ask? Akismet is a plugin that helps keep blog comment sections free of spam. If you decide to add a blog to your website (which is really easy with WordPress), and you’d like to enable comments on your posts, Akismet will come in handy. If not, you can always come back later and delete it.

Now, before we get our hands dirty with the business of creating pages and all that, let’s take a few minutes to get a feel for the WordPress Dashboard.

Getting to Know WordPress

WordPress is a system that’s pretty easy to use and navigate – especially since the creators implemented tutorial features in version 3.3. However, I’d still like to give you a quick overview of what’s available to you. Here’s a shot of what you should see when you log in:

An overview of the WordPress dashboard

The WordPress Dashboard – where all the work gets done

The big welcome message in the middle is there to help you while you’re first getting started, so it’s good to check it out. Beneath this message are a bunch of widgets, but you won’t need to do much with them right now.

What I’d like to go over are the links in the sidebar – these are all the core functions of WordPress. Note that hovering over each of these links will cause additional options to show up. Also, the one that’s active will show its additional options by default right underneath it.

  • Dashboard – the “home base” of WordPress. This is what you seen when you log in, and it contains whatever widgets you’ve chosen to show on it.
  • Posts – the heart and soul of WordPress. This is where you’ll go when you want to write a blog post or edit an existing one.
  • Media – a central repository for any pictures, sound files, video, and other pieces of media that you upload to your site. Here you can browse through and edit media you’ve uploaded to your posts and upload even more.
  • Pages – here you can create Pages, which is what you’ll be using for the main content on your site. Pages are different from Posts because they will show up in your site’s main navigation instead of going on your list of blog posts. This makes Pages good for “timeless” content like your biography, work history, and contact info.
  • Comments – here you can see the comments on your blog (if you decide to have one).
  • Appearance – this is where you’ll customize the look and feel of your site. There are options for your site’s theme, menus, and the widgets you want to display. There’s also a rudimentary code editor, but it’s not very good. If you’re getting to the point where you want to manually edit your site’s theme, I recommend CodeAnywhere.
  • Plugins – this is where you can add and manage your plugins, which are like small apps that can give your site new functionality. There are a number of great plugins you should be using, but we’ll get to those a little later.
  • Users – here you can manage the user profiles on your site. Since this is a personal site, the only one that should be here is your own.
  • Tools – by default, the only things here are the Import/Export options, the Press This bookmarklet, and a Categories/Tags converter. Right now, you won’t need any of these.
  • Settings – this section houses all the general settings for your site. There’s a lot of stuff here.

Now that you know what does what, you should have an easier time navigating WordPress and creating your site.

Before you start making your pages, however, let’s take care of a couple important things!

Change Your Permalink Structure

When you create a page, WordPress makes the URL reflect the page title. For example, a page titled “Contact” would get a URL like yourcoolnewdomain.com/contact. This is what you want.

However, by default WordPress doesn’t do this for blog posts. Instead, it creates these ugly numeric URLs like yourcoolnewdomain.com/?p=123. These URLs don’t mean anything – it’s much better to make your blog post title be the URL.

To do this, you need to change your permalink structure. This is pretty straightforward:

  1. Hover over Settings and click Permalinks.
  2. Choose the option for Post Name.
  3. Save your changes.
Setting Up Permalinks

Choose the Post Name permalink setting.

Now your blog post URLs will be much more memorable.

Set Your Timezone

This isn’t a ridiculously crucial thing to do, but I think it’s good to have your publishing time be accurate.

  1. Go to Settings -> General. 
  2. In the Timezone field, choose your timezone. Don’t know it? Here’s a handy tool.
  3. While you’re here, you can also go to the bottom and change week’s starting day if you want.
  4. Save your changes.

Now that you’re done taking care of those little details, it’s time to create your pages and get your content up on the web!

Setting Up the Page Structure

If you recall from the section detailing each part of WordPress, Pages are used for timeless content such as your biography and contact information. These pages will appear in your site’s top-level navigation, or 2nd-level navigation if you decide to create child pages.

Take a look at my site’s navigation once more to get a feel for what you’re going for here:

My current site's navigation structure.

My current site’s main menu.

Since my current personal website primarily uses a one-page design (clicking the links simply moves you to the corresponding section of the page), you can also take a look at one of my previous website designs, which used a multi-page approach:

The navigation structure of the site I used in college.

The main menu on my previous website.

As you’re looking at these two different approaches, you might be asking yourself:

“Should I go with a one-page or multi-page design?”

This is up to you, but what you should keep in mind when deciding is that your site’s #1 job is to showcase your work and expertise. The better it does that, the more likely people are going to want to hire you or work with you.

If you study my current site, you’ll see that most of my main sections link out to other places on the web – my YouTube channel, my podcasts, the speaking page here on College Info Geek, etc. This is a strategic decision – as a professional YouTuber/writer, those are the best places for me to be directing people, since I benefit from people subscribing to my content rather than evaluating it.

When I was a student, however, my priority was to get hired. As a result, going with a multi-page design gave me a way to give potential employers a one-stop shop to see my resume, bio, and a detailed look at my best work.

So ask yourself – What’s my website’s purpose? Who is the intended audience? Use that information to guide your decision.

If you’re a student, it’s likely that your main priority is getting hired or selected for scholarships/research opportunities/etc. I think a multi-page design works best for those purposes. In the end, though, it’s your choice!

With that being said, here are a few pages/sections that I think should absolutely be included somewhere on your site if you’re trying to get hired. These include:

  • A brief About Me page, which you’ll set as your home page
  • A more detailed Biography page
  • A Resume page where you can list your education, work, etc (remember how I said I hate resumes? Having your resume on your website fixes all those things I hate)
  • A Contact page that tells people how they can get in touch with you. It might have a contact form as well. Note: I don’t recommend publicly listing your email address, phone number, or physical address on your site – spammers can easily grab that info. A contact form, along with links to your social profiles, is a much better option.

Other pages you might think about adding, if they’re applicable to your life:

  • A Portfolio to show off any kind of work you’ve done – graphic design, programming projects, writing – whatever. On my previous site, I created a portfolio of my web work using a normal page template. You can make yours this way, or you can get a theme with a specific portfolio template. Check out my girlfriend Anna’s site for an example.
  • A Hire Me page. I strongly suggest you make this page, even if you aren’t currently looking for full-time work or freelance gigs. This page tells people what you’re looking to do, and can help them picture where you’d fit better.
  • A Blog. WordPress is set up for blogging by default, but you’re going to set your homepage as a static About Me page. Therefore, you’ll need to set up your blog manually, which is still really easy. You can also choose to leave the blog out if you want, but I think having one is a great way to show off your knowledge and thoughts.
  • A Press page, where you can list any interviews or mentions you’ve gotten in the media.
  • An Impossible List. I think creating a page like this is really fun, and can help you solidify your life goals.

If you’d like a more detailed explanation of the pages you should include, check out my post on essential website components – which also includes some great examples of other personal websites. (Want even MORE examples? Check out the collection of 50 awesome personal websites and portfolios we recently published.)

It’s really up to you to decide what pages you want to have on your site. I’m going to show you how to create your About Me page, and you can use the same steps to create the rest.

Before you do that, though, you should delete the sample page and post that WordPress automatically puts up on your site.

First, get rid of the sample post by going to Posts on the WordPress Dashboard. Find the post titled “Hello World!” and click Trash. 

Then go to Pages and do the same thing for the page titled Sample Page.

Creating the “About Me” Page

Your About Me page will be the landing page of your site – the place visitors will see first. Here you’ll want to have a short summary of who you are, what you’re studying, and the what work you do. It’s also good to have a picture of yourself, and maybe even some quotes about your work from other people.

Let’s create it!

You should already be at the Pages section of the WordPress Dashboard. Find the button near the top that says Add New. You’ll see this screen when you do:

About Me Page

Adding your first page.

As you can see, creating pages in WordPress is pretty easy. To get your About Me page started, first enter a title in the Title Bar. It would probably make sense to title this page “About Me” or “About <your name>”. 

Next, you’ll find the body area. In most cases, you’d use this space to enter your content. However, depending on the theme you choose (more on that in the next step), you might be entering your content somewhere else – so for now, just enter a sample sentence or two.

Take a look at the different tools available for formatting your content; as you’ll find out, using WordPress isn’t all that different from using Microsoft Word.

WordPress content editing tools

WordPress’ content editing tools.

Most of these tools will allow you to format your text, add links, and so on. You can also use the Add Media button to upload a photo and add it into your post.

To do this, place your cursor at the point in your content where you want the photo to appear. Click the Add Media button upload a photo. Once it uploads, you’ll see this:

Inserting Media in WordPress

One of these is me.

Bam boom zippity bop – you’ve got a photo on your page.

So once you’ve got your photo and some text, go ahead and hit Publish. This will make your page go live.

Set Your “About Me” Page as Your Home Page

At this point, your About Me page should look something like this:

About Me Page with Default Theme

How your page will look with WordPress’ current default theme.

However, WordPress will show you blog section as the homepage by default rather than this page.

Since this is a personal site rather than a blog, you’ll want this page to be the first page visitors see when they get to your site. Let’s set it as the home page:

  1. In the sidebar, hover over Settings and click Reading.
  2. In the Front Page Displays section, click the radio button that says A Static Page
  3. Choose your About Me page to be the home page.
  4. If you want to have a blog, create and publish a blank page called Blog and set it as the Posts Page.
  5. Save your changes.
Setting a static page as your home page.

Setting your home page.

Now, go back the the Pages section of WordPress and create the rest of your pages. This process should be relatively straightforward; the only one that may be more complicated is your Contact page.

This page can be really easy to create if all you want to do is link to your social media profiles. However, you may also want to link your email address or add in a contact form.

Making your email address clickable is really easy – just highlight any piece of text (I’ve actually typed out the [fake] email in this example, but you can use any text), click the Link icon (or hit CTRL/CMD+K) and type “mailto:[email protected]” without the quotes. However, do note that making your email address public enables anyone to send emails to it – even spammers and bots. This is why I prefer using a contact form instead.

Inserting an email address into a WordPress page.

Inserting an clickable email

If you decide you want to add in a contact form, you have two options. You can either find a theme that has a built-in contact page template, or you can use whatever theme you want and add a contact form using a plugin. Either way, it’s really easy. I’ll cover the first option in Step 3 and the second in Step 4.

Optional: Adding a Blog Page

If you’d like to add a blog page to your site, it’s ridiculously easy.

Simply make another new page on site called “Blog” (or whatever you want, it doesn’t matter). Then on your Dashboard go back to Settings -> Reading and set your Posts page as that page you just created.

From there, all you have to do is go to Posts and start writing. All your published blog posts should show up on that Blog page.

If you’d like to learn more about creating a successful blog, then be sure to check out my comprehensive blog-building guide.

It’s All Coming Together Now.

At this point, you should have all your pages set up, assuming you’re going with a multi-page setup.

Now it’s time to make sure visitors are impressed when they hit your site. Let’s look at customizing your site’s look and feel.

Step 3: Customize Your Website’s Design with a Theme

One of the best things about WordPress is the stupidly large amount of themes available for you to use. Using a theme, you can change the look of your site without needing to know any CSS or have any graphic design skills.

A theme is basically a template or skin for your site. It changes the look while retaining all the content you created.

The first step in customizing your site’s look is to simply find a theme you like. This can be easier said than done, due to the huge amount of themes out there. I’m going to try and help you pick one out.

Note that not all themes are created equal. Some themes are simple, offering just the basics, while others are monstrous creations with dozens of post types, animations, and extra bells and whistles. Some themes are made for specific types of sites, like magazines or restaurants.

Likewise, some themes are free and some are not – AKA “premium“.

Typically, premium themes will offer a lot more options and give you greater flexibility than free themes. They also come with another benefit – support from the theme developer.

However, there are plenty of great free themes out there you can use, so don’t think you absolutely need a premium theme. In fact, I’m using a free theme on my personal website (which I’ve listed below).

Theme Recommendations

I’ve gone out and found four WordPress themes that I think work well for personal sites. Keep in mind that there are literally thousands of themes out there, so this is just a starting point.

Simple

Simple Theme

Simple Theme

This is the theme I’m using on my personal website. It’s incredibly versatile, as it’s a builder-style theme that lets you customize each page to a huge degree. Also, it’s free. 

If you don’t have a strong theme preference, or don’t know where to start, Simple is my top recommendation. I even created an in-depth video tutorial that shows you how I used it to create my website:

In addition to the tutorial, you can also check out the official documentation for more answers to questions you might have.

Verbosa

Verbosa Theme

Verbosa Theme

Verbosa is another great free theme that gives you a lot of room for customizing the look an feel. It’s not a builder-style theme, so you can’t edit the structure as much as you can with Simple, but you do have a lot of other options.

In my opinion, Verbosa is easier to learn than Simple, which is a fair trade-off for its lower level of flexibility.

Check out the theme’s homepage for updates and documentation.

Lovecraft

Lovecraft Theme

Lovecraft Theme

Lovecraft is, by admission, a theme for bloggers – but with its great typography, clean menu, and large image area, you could also use it to make a great-looking personal website.

Ultra

Ultra Theme by Themify

Ultra Theme

Unlike the previous three themes I’ve listed here, Ultra is a premium theme. That means it costs money – around $50 as I write this. So why pay for a theme when there are so many free ones out there? Simply put, it’s flexibility. 

Ultra is a theme made by Themify – the same people who made Simple, which is the free theme I mentioned above. While Simple is indeed very flexible – especially for a free theme – Ultra takes things up a notch.

For instance, Ultra includes 15 different header styles, which means you can put your logo and menu items wherever you want. You also have a lot more choice when it comes to colors, fonts, and pre-built page layouts. Additionally, there’s a portfolio feature that lets you easily showcase your work.

Personally, I find the free Simple theme to be enough for my needs. If you need additional features and even more flexibility, though, Ultra is my top recommendation. Note: Since Simple and Ultra are made by the same people and use the same foundation, you can start out with Simple and transfer everything you’ve created to Ultra if you end up needing it.

Want even more themes? Here are some great places to look:

Like I said, the theme options you have are literally endless. Explore and find something you like! Also, see if the theme you’ve chosen has a template for a contact page. If it does, you’ll be able to put up a contact form without using a plugin.

Once you’ve found something that you like well enough, let’s get it installed.

Install Your Theme

Wherever you found your theme, download it to your computer. The theme will probably come in a .zip file. Look inside this zip file.

If you see files like index.php, header.php, and footer.php in that very first folder, you’re good. If you find that those files are buried in sub folders, you’ll need extract everything and create a zip folder of whatever folder contains those files.

Most themes will come with documentation that tells you how or even if you need to do this, so consult that for help if you need it.

Once you have the final .zip file, it’s time to install it.

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, hover over Appearance and click Themes.
  2. Click the tab at the top that says Install Themes.
  3. Find and click the link that says Upload.
  4. Choose your .zip file and and click Install Now.
  5. Make sure the theme was installed successfully, and click Activate.
Uploading a theme.

Uploading a theme.

From this point forward, I can’t really cover theme setup in this tutorial. Themes are so diverse that it’d just be impossible for me to cover everything. Luckily, most good themes come with documentation that will walk you through setting them up.

Check Out the Customize Tool

Almost every WordPress theme out there will give you some options for customizing your site’s logo, colors, and other features. Some themes might come bundled with special menu areas in the Dashboard for certain settings, but most of your customizing will be done at the built-in WordPress Customize Tool.

To access it, hover over Appearance, then click Customize.

Once you’ve opened the tool, you’ll see a live preview of your site, along with a number of options on the left. Every theme will include different options, so you’ll have to play around with it yourself to see what’s possible with the theme you’ve chosen.

Here’s an idea of what it looks like:

The WordPress Customizer

Here, I’ve changed my site’s logo using the Customize tool.

Once you’ve made all of your changes, click Save & Publish at the top of the menu to make your changes live.

Remember: Depending on your theme, the Customize Tool might not be the only area where you can make changes! For example, the theme I’m using on my personal website, Simple (linked above), features an entire page builder tool that can be accessed on every page.

Always make sure to check out the documentation for your theme so you know what all your options are.

Set Up Your Menu

One thing I’ll go over before we head into the next section: WordPress’ Custom Menu functionality.

Since I published this tutorial, a lot of people have asked me how to create custom menus on their sites. Specifically, they wanted to do things like:

  • Change the order of the pages in their menu
  • Create menu items that would drop down to display more pages related to a main page

Ask, and ye shall receive. I’ve created a short video that will guide you through the whole process of creating a custom menu for your site.

Oh, and one more thing before we move on…

I bet you’re wondering how to get a cool logo for your personal website like I have on mine. Well, you could design yourself on using Photoshop or another program if you have the graphic design chops.

I certainly didn’t have those chops, though. I actually used a service called Fiverr to have mine done. Fiverr is a website that lets people pay $5 to other people in exchange for… well, almost anything. I just went there, searched for “logo”, and picked the option with the most gigs and highest satisfaction rate. $5 for a logo ain’t bad!

Now that you’ve got your theme, it’s time to tweak things a little bit further by adding plugins and widgets.

Step 4: Improve Your Site with Plugins and Widgets

Alone, WordPress is a great system with a lot of functionality. However, the true beauty of WordPress lies in its ability to work with plugins – small (or large) pieces of packaged code that add functionality to your site.

There are several plugins that I believe are absolutely essential to any WordPress site, and more still that you may want to install as well.

Installing plugins is pretty straightforward. Unlike themes, almost every plugin you’ll ever need is kept in the official WordPress plugin repository. Therefore, you don’t need to upload .zip files – you can actually just search for plugins right from your Dashboard and install them! To do this:

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, hover over Plugins and click Add New.
  2. Search for the plugin you want. The search function isn’t amazing, so you’ll usually get the best results by typing in the exact name of the plugin you’re searching for.
  3. Click Details to read about the plugin or Install Now to install it.
  4. After you install, click Activate.
  5. If there’s any setup required for the plugin, take care of it.

Important Note: Plugins work directly with the guts of your WordPress installation. It’s important that you be discerning on what plugins you choose to install on your blog; make sure you trust what you’re installing.

Installing Plugins

This is where you’ll search for and install plugins

I recommend looking up plugins at the WordPress Plugin Directory before installing them. If a plugin has a low star rating, it might be broken – or even worse, it could have security vulnerabilities that can open up your blog to attacks. Be careful out there, trooper.

Essential Plugins

There are several plugins that I wouldn’t be caught dead without on these high seas of the Internet. I recommend you use them as well. I’ll link to each one’s repository page, but remember that you can install them directly from your Dashboard just by searching.

  • Loginizer – no, this plugin doesn’t turn your site into a Wolverine fan blog (that would be Loganizer), but it does prevent people from getting unlimited chances at trying to log into your Dashboard. After a few failed attempts, this plugin will block the IP address of the person trying to log in. It’s a great boost to your site’s security.
  • Ninja Forms – a simple, easy-to-use contact form plugin. Check out the documentation for instructions on how to get everything set up.
  • WP Super Cache – simply put, this plugin will make your site load a lot faster for your visitors. By default, WordPress pulls information from its database each time a visitor loads a page. This plugin will “cache” a lot of that information, letting it be loaded really quickly without the need for a database call.
  • UpdraftPlus – probably the best free site backup plugin I’ve seen. Lets you manually back up your database or your entire site. You can also set regular, scheduled backups (which I recommend), and send them off to remote destinations like Dropbox, Amazon S3, email, etc.

These plugins are just the tip of the iceberg. If there’s something you want to do with your site, there’s probably a plugin that can help you do it.

Alright, now that you’ve got your plugins installed, let’s move on to the final bit – widgets.

Let’s Widgetize!

Widgets are elements that you can place on any part of your theme that has been “widgetized” – that is, set up for widgets to display. There are already a few widgets displaying on your site by default, like Category, Recent Posts, and Meta (though some themes might not display them everywhere).

To edit the widgets that are displayed on your site, follow these steps:

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, hover over Appearance and click on Widgets.
  2. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see all of the widget areas that have been created for your theme.
  3. Drag the widgets you want from the middle area into the correct boxes.
  4. Change any specific widget settings you need to change.

Widgets are automatically saved when you drag them in or out of a box. By the way, you can use the Widget Context plugin if you want to specify certain pages that a widget will or won’t be displayed on. This keeps things from getting redundant.

The Widgets area of the WordPress dashboard.

Customizing widgets.

Since this is a personal site, there are some specific widgets you might want to show:

  • Links – if you have friends who also have personal sites, it can be cool to link to them. I did this on my previous personal site’s sidebar; it was a cool way to build a visual network of student entrepreneurs.
  • Text – as it says, this is a widget for “arbitrary text or HTML”. You can put anything in this list, granted that you know a smidgen of code. For instance, you could add a picture of yourself and a super-short bio like I’ve done on this site. Or you can embed your tweets using Twitter’s Profile Widget. There are a lot of possibilities here.

You’re Done!

You should now have a fully functional website! You’ve got all your pages created, your menus set, an awesome theme, some great plugins, and a maybe a few widgets in your sidebar.

Congratulations! You’ve just upped your internet cred +1000 and simultaneously  made yourself a much more attractive candidate for any job you might want to go for.

Great Success!

Very nice! (Image by rhodes on Flickr)

Here’s a quick to-do list to make sure you get the most out of your site:

  • Most important: Add your URL to the top of your resume – and if you’re displaying any work on your site, consider labeling it “portfolio” so recruiters know to check it out.
  • Make yourself some custom business cards and be sure to include your URL on them
  • Put your URL in your Twitter bio
  • Add your URL to your other social networks – Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
  • Start thinking of your site as your online “base of operations”

At this point, you can consider your site “done”. In the next step, I’ll outline some ways you can take your site to the next level. Whether you decide to do that or not, I’d like to ask you to do one thing…

Leave a comment with your new site’s URL! I’d love to check it out and see what you were able to come up with.

Alright, so for those of you who want to go above and beyond, let’s take the final step.

Step 5 (Optional): Make Your Site Even Better

The purpose of this tutorial was to get you from zero to having a working website as easily as possible. However, you can do so much more to optimize your site’s design, speed, SEO, security, navigation, typography… your options are endless.

That’s why I want to show you some of the things you can do to take your site to the next level. I’ll also point you to some resources you can use to get started!

Personal Website SEO: Making Sure You Show Up in Google Searches

One of the most common questions I get related to creating a website is:

“How do I get my site to show up in Google searches?”

This brings us to the topic of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Now, I’m going to be honest – SEO can be a complex business. After all, we’re talking about trying to make our websites look good to a mindbogglingly complicated algorithm, which has details that Google keeps closely guarded. Oh, and of course, millions upon millions of other sites are trying to do the same thing.

The good news is that Google’s algorithm (as well as the algorithms of other search engines) has gotten much, much better over time. Its mission has always been to serve up the most relevant results for what a person searches, and it’s gotten pretty good at doing that.

It’s also a lot faster at indexing new sites that pop up; when I started building websites, I remember having to manually submit them to search engines and then sometimes wait months to see them show up. Now, Google will index your site automatically – often in just a couple of days.

With all that being said, I want to share some things you can do to improve your website’s SEO. To keep things simple, we’ll take an 80/20 approach here – as in 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Yes, there are lots of tiny little tweaks you can make to marginally improve SEO – and if you’re curious about them, you might want to check out this set of tutorials.

What I’m going to recommend is a set of three simple steps, which can each have a big impact:

  1. Have the right content on your site
  2. Get links from other authoritative and highly-trafficked sites
  3. Make sure your site is mobile friendly

Let’s start with your website’s content. The main way that Google figures out what’s on your site – and hence how relevant it is to a person’s search terms – is pretty simple: It reads your site! Google uses small pieces of code called spiders to “crawl” the content of the internet and index it.

As a result, the top question you need to ask yourself when creating your site’s pages, headlines, and biography is:

“What do I want to be associated with?”

Clearly, the main thing you want to be associated with is your name. However, many people share the same name – in fact, I’m a prime example.

I’m Thomas Frank, but Thomas Frank is also a well-known political author with several published books, bylines in high-profile websites and newspapers, and a Wikipedia entry.

Until quite recently, his fame ensured that I didn’t show up anywhere on Google’s first page when you searched “Thomas Frank”!

However… were you to search for “Thomas Frank YouTube” or “Thomas Frank college”, I did come up. Often first.

That’s because I worked to associate myself with terms that describe my career, industry, and interests – and I made sure my website mentioned them. 

Here’s the first paragraph on my website:

“I’m an author, YouTuber, and speaker who is passionate about helping students succeed. Most of my work today is done at College Info Geek – a site I created in 2010 in order to share my experiments in becoming a more effective student.”

Notice that it lists author, YouTuber, and the words “students” and “college”. Google picks up on those terms and feeds them into its algorithm. They don’t guarantee that I’ll rank highly for them, but they help.

So let’s say you’re a graphic designer like my girlfriend Anna. If that’s the case, then you’ll naturally want to mention that on your website – ideally on the home page. But don’t just stop at “graphic designer” – what do you specialize in that you could mention? Maybe:

  • Illustration
  • UI design
  • Wedding invitations

What about your location? If you live in Portland and you’re hoping to land a job or a freelance gig locally, then you’d do well to list yourself as a “Portland-based graphic designer and illustrator”.

Secondly, you need to understand the role that links from other sites play in your own site’s ranking. To put it simply, your site will rank more highly when it has:

  1. Links from a lot of sites (if they’re gotten legitimately – not in paid or spammy ways)
  2. Links from authoritative sites (typically sites with either a lot of traffic, or sites run by institutions like governments or universities)

The more competitive a search term is, the more authoritative links your site will need to rank for it. Ranking for “baseball” would be really hard, while ranking for “gorilla swallowing 18 baseballs” would be easier (and yes, I’d watch that).

This is why it’s important to link to your personal website from other sites if you can. This includes:

  • Websites for teams you’re a part of (school organizations, etc)
  • Social profiles – LinkedIn, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.

I will note that many social media websites are set up in a way that doesn’t let a link on your profile directly boost your ranking; however, making sure to have it there can lead other people to it (since Twitter and LinkedIn have a lot more traffic than your website), and they may end up linking to it from other sites.

If you want to go further, consider writing guest articles for sites in your industry or for your school newspaper. Links from those sites can help, especially if your name has a lot of competition like mine does!

Lastly, I do want to mention that Google puts a high priority on mobile-friendliness. 

More than 50% of internet traffic now comes from cell phones and mobile devices, and Google has taken notice. Luckily, most good WordPress themes today are tuned for mobile responsiveness out of the box – meaning you probably won’t need to do much work to make sure your site is mobile friendly.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to check out your site on your phone after you’ve built it in order to ensure that it’s easy to navigate and read.

Upgrading Your Brain

I started building websites when I was 12. At first, I was just using the super-old school Geocities site building tool to drag and drop elements. It was fun, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually I found that I needed to learn some code, and I began teaching myself HTML.

Luckily, the web has come really far in recent years. With content management systems like WordPress, anyone can make a beautiful website (as you just did) without knowing any code whatsoever.

Still, clicking around WordPress can only get you so far. There comes a point where you want to take your site to the next level, and you’ll need some web development knowledge to do it. With that in mind, here are some resources you can use to kickstart your web development education.

To keep things free, stick with these online resources:

  • DevDocs – an amazing wiki chock-full of tutorials and references. If you’re a a reading-based learner, this is a great place to start.
  • Mozilla Doc Center – another awesome place to learn the basics. I prefer the DevDocs, but this is a great alternative.
  • Codecademy – a site that offers interactive courses on HTML, CSS, programming, and more. Definitely a good choice for those who learn by doing.
  • Code Combat – a super-fun, video game-style site that can teach you either Javascript or Python.
  • Design Tuts – the place to go if you’re looking to brush up your graphic design skills. They’ve got lots and lots of great tutorials.
  • Codecourse – an amazing channel to watch free video tutorials on all different kinds of coding languages, including PHP, which is what drives WordPress.
  • Web Design Tuts – part of the very large Tuts+ network ran by Envato. I’ve linked to one of their great beginners’ series.
  • WordPress Codex – the official documentation of WordPress. There are a lot of great tutorials here, as well as a complete function reference for when you start getting really geeky.
  • Smashing Magazine – an amazing online magazine with articles about every aspect of web development.

One additional resource I recommend, but that isn’t free, is Lynda.com. This is an amazing site to hit up if you’re looking for video courses on literally any web development topic. In fact, many universities offer their students free subscriptions to this site. Ask your school’s IT department to find out if yours is one of them.

Another great video-based learning library is Treehouse. Their library isn’t as extensive as Lynda’s, but they still have a lot to offer – especially in the area of web development. I actually prefer Treehouse over Lynda, as they include code challenges and quizzes with their video-based projects. In fact, I learned to build an iPhone app in just two days by using Treehouse. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any schools offering free subscriptions to their students – but that doesn’t stop your from asking!

Of course, another great way to learn web development is to simply look at code. If you’re using Google Chrome, you can hit CTRL+U (or if you’re on a Mac, just go to View -> Developer -> Source) to see the HTML for the page you’re on. You can also use the Web Developer extension to dig in even deeper. This method won’t work for viewing server-side code like PHP, but it’s great for digging into HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

If you’re a book learner, I have a few recommendations for your library:

  • HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett – a beautiful book that provides a great introduction to the basics of web development. This is a great starting point to any web development education.
  • WordPress 24-Hour Trainer by George Plumley – if you’re looking for a book for beginning WordPress. Honestly, I think you can learn well enough by using the Codex and just playing with things. If you really want a book, though, this is it.
  • Professional WordPress: Design and Development by Hal Stern – for the serious geek only. This book digs deep into WordPress. Only buy this if you’re interested in learning how the Core and Loop work or how to start building themes and plugins.
  • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug – the kickstart guide to web usability. A great way to learn how to make websites usable and accessible.

Web development education is a huge field, and I’m not going to pretend I can cover it all in one post. These resources will get you started, but know that there are lots of other great ones out there. One of the best ways to learn is simply talking to other developers!

Upgrade Your Site

Now that I’ve gone through ways you can learn web development, I’ll round out this post with some links that will teach you specific things you can do to make your site even better.

Here are some of my favorite WordPress-related blogs, which I read regularly to learn how to make my sites awesome:

And to get you started, one thing you may want to do is enable Google Analytics to track visitor statistics (thanks to Shep McAllister for reminding me to add this)

Fin.

You might not feel the weight of that word, especially if you just browsed through this article first before getting started. For me, though, it’s amazing to look at after spending over 15 hours writing this tutorial.

Hopefully, you now have a completely functional website and a budding knowledge and interest in web development. If you’ve gained either of those things, I’ve done my job!

Remember, if you need any help, you can contact me. I’ll either help you directly or point you to people or resources that can be of assistance. You can also just connect with me on Twitter without a need for help – I’d love to meet you!

You can also check out our list of 50 awesome personal website examples if you’re looking for ideas on how you can improve your own site even further.

Good luck!

The ultimate guide to building your own website

Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image if you’d like to share this post there.

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Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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390 Comments:
  1. Hi Thomas!! Thanks a lot for this awesome guide, it helped me a great deal to create a perfect website for my resume and accomplishments. My web is almost finished, but I’m stuck with the domain name. My complete name is awfully long (even more as in Spain we have TWO surnames…) I’ve been thinking:

    – monicacanomanuel.com, which would be okay save for the slight problem that “caca” in spanish means literally “shit”, and that doesn’t sound very decent having into account that my objective public will know the language…
    – canomanuel.com is taken.
    – mcanomanuel.com, that wouldn’t help my SEO, would it?

    Do you have any advice to make it sound great?

    I have also been reading other post in this blog, and they are really useful, congrats for creating this site!

    Wish you the best!
    Monica

    • Hey Monica,

      I think the third choice would be best here! Don’t worry too much about the actual domain name affecting SEO too much. Google is really smart these days, so the main thing that will affect your SEO is the actual content on the page. As long as your name is displayed on your site – preferably in a title or heading somewhere – then Google should pick that up.

  2. Thanks a lot!
    It was really helpful especially the video for the Simple Theme.
    So here it is aaronzipperle.com , check it out if you want.
    I think it’s pretty decent

  3. How do I mix One Page menu links with menu links to other pages?
    Some of my menu links should scroll down the page, others (like Blog, or Events) should lead to a different new page. Right now when I’m at the blog page I can’t navigate back to the OnePage content, because the onepage urls don’t lead anywhere.

    • Hey Yi,

      I actually just implemented this on my personal website, thomasjfrank.com.

      To do it, you need to edit the menu links so that they read something like “http://thomasjfrank.com/#about” instead of just “#about”. That’s for the ones that are supposed to scroll. For links to different pages, just use the Menu functions to add them normally – you don’t need to create custom URL links.

      By adding in the full domain, as I’ve shown above, your browser will know to go back to the homepage before scrolling down. Without it, it’ll look for those anchor tags (i.e. #about) on the current page – and if the visitor isn’t on the home page, the browser won’t find anything.

  4. I can see why this guide is so popular, it is indeed very thorough. I was giving advice to some of the newly graduates in my sorority and my biggest advice to them was having a personal website to showcase your portfolio, resume, even just your personality. It sets you apart and it’s not that hard to do. It’s basically mandatory if you are a graphic designer and a huge help for anyone in the marketing field.

  5. Plugins are available only with the most expansive plan from WordPress, right?

    • The version of WordPress this tutorial covers is free and open-source; the only thing you have to pay for is your hosting and domain name. I believe you’re referring to WordPress.com, which is a different product.

  6. Though, I am not a student but found your article so exhaustive. It is also very rich with every detailed information about creating a website/blog with WordPress. I have nothing to say in extra.

  7. Hey I love your youtube channel and finally I am going to start my own website. I have knowledge about JS,CSS, angular and stuff, but I just never knew where to get started and what to write about. I did leave a comment on youtube video where you talk about your journey. My website which I’ve build so far is https://gillajeet.wordpress.com/ and I’d love if you could check my blog and give some feedback as I’m in a way documenting my journey on all this.

    • Hey Ajeet – great start with your site! One thing I’ll note right now is that you might want to choose a different picture for the sidebar, or go with a solid color. The current picture makes some of the menu items difficult to read.

      • Thanks a lot for the suggestion. I’ll implement it and be in contact and contact again when I’ve added more things to get your review.
        Thanks a lot. Love the podcasts too.

  8. typo my name “is” awlful. Any tips for a better ring? I have 3 different expertise I offer and they are all separate fb insta and it’s a lot of work plus business cards and now creating websites. So I need to really focus on how to move forward and create 1 website and offer all 3 services under neath it (which will still have their business names correct?) or am I closing down all fb and launching al services under the 1 banner (my name) …. if name is tball great can you create an entity business name to carry those different expertise?

    • I think your name sounds great! If you’re offering services to other people, you’ll be a lot more successful if you’re confident. I think getting comfortable with your name is a good first step. I used to think my own name sounded weird – who has two first names! But now I just own it, and people react accordingly.

  9. I get domain name but my name isn’t awlful Hayley Jayne Webb. I wanted something cool any tips please?

  10. Hi!

    Thank you for your tutorial on how to build a website! I had posted a link for a pdf of my resume underneath a button module. I updated my resume and changed the link for the button. When I click on the link, the newer resume shows up, but if I google search “Rachel Israel resume” the old resume shows up as a pdf. How can I fix that so that my old resume no longer shows up for google searches?

    Here’s my website: rachelisrael.com

    Also do you have any plugin or widget recommendations to see how many visitors certain pages get? I want to see this information, but I don’t want visitors to be able to see it.

    Thanks again!

    • Also, if I search for my website from my phone and click the resume button, an old version of my resume shows up. I went and checked the settings but the link is the same for both computer-view and phone-view.

    • Hey Rachel! If the new version of your resume has the same file name as the old one, then many sources will show the old version for a while because it’s “cached” – meaning the site, browser, or Google itself saves their own version for a while that’s faster to pull up than the original. To fix this, just save a copy of the resume with a new filename, upload that, and change your links to link to that one. Google may take a little while to update, though – nothing you can really do about that.

      And for seeing visitor stats, you’ll want Google Analytics. Here’s a tutorial: https://kinsta.com/blog/add-google-analytics-to-wordpress/

  11. Hello. when I made the top in a row with the text “Hi I’m This and This”, it’s way to low, I want it in the middle of the Picture/Row, and not in the end. To change padding or margin just makes the row bigger but do not change anything…

    • Hey Gonde,

      Have a look at my Simple Tutorial video linked above – if you copy the settings that I type in for the sample heading in that video, you should be able to achieve what you’re going for 🙂

  12. Hey Thomas!

    I know you’re probably busy with thousands of things right now but I have a quick question.

    Would you recommend KevinAyalaPineda.com as a domain name? Those are my two last names, but the domain seems long.

    KevinAyala.com is taken
    KevinDAyala.com w/ middle name just sounds weird.

    Currently a sophmore majoring in physics with an ambition to start a fitness blog or something along those lines. Just want to make sure my SEO builds up nicely for the future 🙂

    Thank you for all the great content you post! It has helped me tremendously.

    -Kevin

    • Hey Kevin,

      I think that domain name should be fine if you can’t find something shorter. In most instances, people will be finding your site through links, so the domain’s length doesn’t matter much. It mainly matters if you’re trying to tell it to someone in a conversation, but you can get around that by having some business cards made with your URL on them.

  13. Well if you let old folks here -UofMn but 1969! And not WordPress so you might not be the right place. I am going crazy looking for an old Frontpage replacement. I have about 20 sites many done originally like 20-30 yrs ago. I did live direct editing – so easy with FP. I don’t need any templates, Just simply online editor to load existing site/pages to edit. The editing tools in CPanel are terrible – can’t even browse to find if I upload a file (I use pdf files a lot on business sites since I also e-mail to clients). All is in HTML – no CSS etc. Before FP I read HTML for dummies and hand-coded but forgot everything after FP. I come from back in the Wang/IBM OS/2 says before MS had a GUI

    Your guides even though I am not WP are great and your SEO ideas

    • Haha, I remember playing around with Frontpage too! Though it was only at my school, so I mainly stuck to coding everything by hand.

      Sadly I don’t know of any replacements – that’s the tough thing about technology; a lot of times, programs get replaced by more modern options and then it’s a toss-up on whether or not you’ll get legacy support.

  14. Hi Thomas,
    This is a great great article. Really, thank you a lot for this.
    However I want to share the experience I had with hostgator in this comment and I think it is not for everyone.
    My focus is on security and I went ahead and hired the hostgator services, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem to get an SSL certificate for my site, we are in 2017, it should be an easy task, right?
    NO. Not for hostgator it isn’t. I payed for the hatchling plan and I intended to sign up for a Letsencrypt certificate, which is free. Alright, it turns out that Hostgator straight up does not support SSL for Hatchling accounts. If you want to use SSL you have to upgrade to at least a Baby plan. And even after you upgrade your plan, you still cannot simply install SSL certificates from Letsencrypt, you have to pay a $10 fee so that Hostgator can install your certificate. Now, Letsencrypt certificates have a duration of 90 days, so you’d end up paying $40 per year only in installation fees. That’s completely absurd!
    I had to cancel my account in Hostgator and ask for a refund. SSL certificates in 2017 should not be expensive and everyone must have it, end of story.
    I hired the cheapest plan from Bluehost which supports SSL certificates by default and better yet, they are completely free.
    So maybe in the future you could also update your guide to include Bluehost.

  15. I finished step 1 and now I’m stuck trying to install WordPress. I can’t go to yourcoolnewdomain.com/cpanel or yourcoolnewdomain.com/wp-admin
    I’m completely stuck.

  16. Hi Thomas,
    Thanks so much for writing the post, it is clear to me on what I should do to build my website. I just have a question before starting up. I am trying to help my boss build up the website, he hired someone else before but that guy leave the project in the middle of the way and did not give me the wordpress account which he used to register the website domain. Can I purchase a new plan from wordpress and host the same domain to it?

    I would really appreciate it if you could help me out!

    • Hey Maria,

      As long as your boss controls the domain itself, he or you can point it to a new hosting account. You’ll need to figure out the registrar for the domain, log into the control panel for it, and point it to your new host’s nameservers (Google that term, plus whatever hosting company you go with, to find a tutorial).

      If he bought the domain right along with hosting (or a WordPress.com account), then you’ll unfortunately need to get him to transfer it to you. I know that can be frustrating – I’ve had to deal with unreliable past developers when working with clients as well :/

  17. Thank you so much for this guide! I read the guide almost a year ago but finally started building my website yesterday.

    Spanish is my first language, but I decided I should write the content in english since I will be moving from Puerto Rico to Florida soon to get a masters degree.
    I’ve considered making the website have a sort of “Spanish version” (including biography, resume and maybe even my impossible list) later on, but am not sure if it would be over doing it or if there was an alternative to it. Or it could end up being something that helps my stand out. (If i were to have my own blog, that would be a whole different issue)

    Any thoughts on having a two-language personal website?

    • Yep, this is the one that’s very up-to-date. I’ll go add a note to that other post linking people to this tutorial for the site-building part of the process – thanks for reminding me about it!

  18. Hi Thomas,

    Thank you for writing such a detailed and organised document on a very important topic.
    I am using a Linux based OS (e.g. Ubuntu). Would your document be exactly same for Ubuntu also?
    I am afraid I might face problem with various installations (e.g. WordPress, themes, etc.) on Ubuntu.

    • Yep, this tutorial will still work fine for you! Your website doesn’t live on your own computer – it’s stored at the servers of your host. And since you do almost everything through the browser, there’s really no difference for Linux users – you’ll just need to make sure you know how to use your OS’s file browser if you’re going to be uploading a custom theme.

      As an interesting side note, most web hosts actually use some form of Linux 🙂

  19. Hi Thomas,
    I came across this guide one day and it finally pushed me to take a chance and create my own website. I had previously heard that WordPress could be difficult to learn, but you made it so easy and the guide was really helpful and informative! Thank you for taking your time to create it.
    This is how my website has turned out so far: http://falumor.com/

  20. Hi Thomas,
    I have been following your blog for a while now, wading back and forth through this post. Finally, I mustered up the courage and made my own website. With no coding. Even I’m ignorant on Kung-fu, Naruto jutsus, or rocket surgery. Here you go: mtaseerahmad.com. Looks much like yours, right? I loved your design and people are loving mine. How is that?

    • Ha, yep it looks like mine! But you fleshed yours out even moreso than I did – good work 🙂

  21. Hello Thomas,

    I’m Rishabh Gupta, MBA Business analytics student. I want to make own personal website. But I am facing probleam to select the name for the website. rishabhgupta.com has already purchased by another person.
    I have some options :

    rishabhguptabusinessanalytics.com
    rishabhbusinessanalytics.com
    rishabhthebusinessanalytics.com

    Could you suggest me any good name or any idea

    • I’d say to avoid putting something like “businessanalytics” in your domain name, unless that’s the actual name of a business you’re setting up. If you change your profession or major at some point, you don’t want to be locked into a domain like that.

      What about using a hyphyen, like rishabh-gupta.com? Or maybe going with a .me domain, like rishabhgupta.me?

    • Seriously awesome looking site dude! I love the timeline you set up 🙂

  22. Hi Thomas! Thank you for this amazing guide, i’ll try it but i feel a little lost, because i have a bookblog, but i want to do a YouTube channel about movies, so i feel that i have a lot of content and i don’t know how to organize it. I want something like your blog/podcast/YouTube channel, you have a concept and you work it in an amazing way, but i feel that i’m running in circles. Can you please give some advice?

    • Hi Karlha,

      It sounds like you have a lot of interests, which is great! However, I’ve found that focusing in one one things is a much better tactic if you want to build an audience, so if that’s your goal, I’d try to pick a main topic to cover. If you just want to blog and make videos for fun, though, you could just brand your site around yourself and your hobbies 🙂

      Keep in mind that I’ve been building College Info Geek for over 7 years at this point, so the mix that you see is the result of a very long-term effort that involved a lot of pitfalls.

  23. Hey Thomas, I just jumped ship and made my own website! I have a million questions that are mostly typical start-up questions I can figure out along the way, but the main one is how I get the HTTPS/SSL security on the page so Google will allow it because now it doesn’t even have the “http://www.blah” or even “www.blah” I also like the idea of having a secure site. Thanks for the help!

    kennethshuster.com

    • Hey Kenny,

      SSL is an add-on that you can purchase when you’re buying your hosting. If you log into your billing portal (assuming you’re using the host I recommend in this guide), I believe you can add it onto your existing account as well.

      If you add SSL to your account before you install WordPress, then it should be a pretty easy thing to set up – all you need to do is make sure that the URL in your Settings->General area of the Dashboard contains https instead of http.

      However, if you want to convert an existing WordPress site to using SSL, there’s a bit more work to do. I’d recommend reading through this guide on how to do it; it seems pretty comprehensive. http://www.wpsuperstars.net/ssl-certificates-and-wordpress/

      Hope that helps!

  24. Hi Thomas!

    This has been a super useful and informative guide, which I really appreciate! But, since registering the domain name my texts, email, and phone number have been plagued with spam all regarding my domain.

    How do I end this?

    THANKS!

  25. Hey Thomas, thanks for this amazing guide but because I wanted to start working as a freelance website creator I wanted to create a site without using WordPress, do you know any good tutorials ?

    • There are a TON of place to learn how to build websites from scratch – I’d recommend starting with Codecademy and maybe going through some of the classes on Treehouse.

      However, I will note that WordPress can be a fantastic tool for freelance website creators; in fact, if you’re just starting out, it’ll probably take you a long time to learn how to do many of the things that modern clients are going to want on their websites. While I definitely recommend doing all you can to learn the ins and outs of web development, it’s always a good idea to use the tools you have at your disposal to get the job done right!

  26. Hey Thomas,

    I’m Cas, and I’ve been a fan of your work. I have my website up and running now and would like to show it to you 🙂 I do have a question though. How can I make the mobile version of my webpage look better? It’s now very basic and not how I want to make it look at all.

    The site is http://www.casbecker.com

    Cheers,
    Cas

    • Hey Cas,

      Great start with your site! Since you’re using Simple, you can actually customize how your site should look at mobile screen resolutions. Check out the 3rd picture in the Builder documentation here: https://themify.me/docs/builder – it points out options like Column Options and Column Direction. Hope that helps!

  27. Hey Thomas,

    Thanks so much for guiding me through the process. This really is a fantastic way to improve one’s networking opportunities. Je suis très reconnaissant pour les conseils !

    http://www.brandonmackenzie.com

    • Awesome site, Brandon! Love the language choice feature 🙂

  28. Hi!! I just made my website using this post. It was super in-depth and incredibly helpful! I’m going to get the hang of things first for a few weeks before “upgrading” it like you mentioned at the end of this post. As a recent communications graduate looking for work, I am excited to have this website to show employers.

    denisenfabella.com

    • Love the Impossible List, Denise! Remember to flesh out that blog before sending the site to employers 🙂

  29. Hey! I’m so not a tech-savvy person, which is why I almost kept my old blog and forgot about the idea of a personal website. I’m sure there were things I missed along the way, but I followed your guide meticulously and am delighted with the finished product. I hope to add videos/recent work to a portfolio page soon and I can’t wait to compose posts for my new blog. I also learned a lot about computers and design along the way… 🙂

    kaitlynbutts.com

    • Great-looking site, Kaitlyn. Cool to see that you’re into swing dancing – I’m going to be starting lessons soon!

  30. Hey Thomas,

    I’d like to ask you a question about manipulating the mobile version of our WordPress site. We use the Parabola theme, and on mobile devices the design looks very basic, while I would say our regular site looks much cleaner. Is there something I can do to change the mobile design? Or am I stuck unless I code my own site?

    • Hey Alex,

      How your site looks on mobile devices is entirely based on the theme you choose. Some themes will come with great mobile styling right out of the box, and others won’t. So you could try playing with other themes to get the look you want.

      Two of the themes I recommend in this guide – Simple and Ultra (especially Ultra) – give you tools to manipulate how the site will look at different screen resolutions without having to do any coding. All you have to do is set how each element looks on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices – there are icons for each one.

  31. Hey Thomas, I just wanted to thank you for making this detailed and extremely helpful guide. I used it to make my own website to begin doing some freelancing on the side. Here’s a link if you want to check it out: zachmcfadden.com

    My website design is…unique, I guess. I used the simple theme you suggested. I’ll probably change it to a much more polished look down the road when I go to graduate school. Regardless, thanks so much, again, for this guide. You’re really helping me work toward being more self-sufficient.

    • Great start, Zach! Cool to see how you used Simple to make a pretty unique design. If I might make a suggestion, I think increasing the padding on your text areas would create a bit of “breathing room” for them and make everything look a lot cleaner – and it’s a pretty quick change 🙂

      • Thanks for the feedback, Thomas! I’ll look into that real quick.

    • Yo Zach, we’re both into languages and translation! I plan on studying T&I in English and German, hopefully, and I want to study Korean and Japanese on the side. I actually want to be a teacher full time, but it’d be fun doing some translaion and interpretation on the side. Ideally I’ll teach in Japan and Korea, although as a non-native I’m quite discouraged about teaching English in Korea.

      Have you ever considerer being a teacher abroad? I see in your website that you’re open to teaching Maths, sounds great. 🙂

      • Hey there! It’s nice to meet another aspiring translator! Teaching English abroad has crossed my mind, but I only consider a means of making income where I otherwise couldn’t. A last resort, I suppose.
        Right now I just want to focus on learning Korean well enough to translate it alongside German so I can properly prepare for graduate school.
        Also, don’t be discouraged! If you practice your target languages hard enough everyday, you’ll be amazing!!

        P.S. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn which you’ll also find on my website. 😉

  32. Hey Thomas! I’m only 16 years of age and have been binging on your podcasts and youtube videos. My Goal is to obtain a start-up business within the next few years. After creating a website for myself what further steps should i take? (Also I am working part time atm)

    • Hey Tom,

      The biggest thing you need to do is figure out what service you’re going to provide and who you’ll provide it to (your market/customer base). You should also get involved in entrepreneur communities online and in your area, read entrepreneurship books (like Escape from Cubicle Nation, The Four Hour Workweek, The Personal MBA, or The $100 Startup), and soak up as much knowledge as you can.

  33. Hi Thomas! I started your tutorial, great info so far. I have a question for you. There is no permalink option under my settings. Instead, it lists General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Sharing, Polls, AdControl, Email Post Changes, and WebHooks. Any suggestions on how I can change the permalink settings?

    • Hi Nate,

      Since you have those options, it sounds like you’re using WordPress.com. This tutorial is for building self-hosted WordPress sites, which have a lot of differences from WordPress.com accounts (including being much more flexible and customizable). If you’re planning on sticking with a WordPress.com account, there may be some things here that will be helpful, but a lot of it will be different from what you have access to.

  34. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I got my site up and running for a deadline I needed.

    dequinanicholas.com

  35. I love your site(s); they are a real stimulus. And although though I’m a retired (70+) teacher, with a history of website usage, I feel motivated again, as is my daughter. You might have inspired two at once!

    • That’s great to hear! Glad you found the guide to be useful 🙂

  36. Hey Thomas!

    Thank you so much for your help. I read your whole guide – awesome stuff. It took me awhile but I finally finished my website! I have a couple finishing touches but I really wanted to share my website with you (and anyone else looking at this). Thank you!

    http://masonsevere.com/

    • Hi Mason, I’ve just seen your website, it’s really impressive!

      Did you use the simple theme to get this visual appearance? See ya!

      • Hey Valentin. I actually used a theme called Sydney to make mine. Hope that helps!

  37. Hi Thomas!

    Thanks for this amazing guide, and for all the podcast/videos/articles too!

    Here’s my website (valentinfina.com), it’s still really just a first draft, but I can’t help being proud of it. Check it out! 🙂

      • Thanks a lot! It wouldn’t exist without your guide, you da real MVP 🙂

  38. I first read this post YEARS ago and kept telling myself I would make a website one day but I kept putting it off.. until this week!

    Thank you so much for breaking down the process so thoroughly!

    My website is rianashahid.com. Tell me what you think!

  39. Hi Thomas,
    great guide. You have put a load of work into this article and it is very comprehensive. If you have time please check out my blog http://www.cultivate-int.org/
    I am trying to build it up now. Any tips for me?
    Thanks.

  40. This guide was great. I managed to set up a website with ease and within minutes!
    I do have one question though, I noticed that after I registered with HostGator, my email gets a lot of spam from either people advertising their services to me or most likely bots. Is there a way to reduce the spam that you get in your email?

    • Hey Ryan – did you happen to put your email on your website anywhere? I’ve gotten an email about this issue from one other person, and it turned out he had posted his email address publicly on his contact page. Doing so makes it easy for spammers to grab, so I recommend using a contact form plugin instead.

      • I actually took down my website because I don’t need it yet but at that time I did not put my email up anywhere on my website.

  41. Great article, it gave me a lot to think. Thanks for all the references for continuing researching.

  42. Although I am not a college student anymore, I have decided to read your post anyway. And it was actually very interesting. I am looking to build a personal website and I already have bought a domain. I have been using SITE123 and they apparently take care of this whole speed and security thing as well as hosting. In addition, they provide a great app market and plugin manager for add-ons. The WordPress possibility that you show here is interesting as it seems to have interesting plugins and set ups. But in the end, I think I will just grasp your concepts of how a personal website should look like and how to present my content and stick to SITE123. Thanks for the ideas!!

  43. Hi,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to make this very detailed explanation. I’m an absolute beginner at all this and this was exactly what I needed. I’ve been wanting to start blogging. But I didn’t know anything about it so I started to read up a lot. Then I realized that there actually is a difference between a blog and a website. After reading about the difference, I think want to create a blog. What difference should I make to these steps in order to create a blog…?

    And, I’m your YouTube subscriber since a long time and has downloaded your e-book too. Just wanted to say that yours have been one of those channels that doesn’t feel like a waste of time when watching them. It has been very helpful and I really appreciate it. And I can see the effort you put in behind all that small videos. Thank you for all the help. All the best with all your awesome works. 🙂

    • Cool to hear that you want to start blogging! The actual technical steps to setting up the website will be the same – the only difference being that you might want to leave your blog page as your home page, instead of setting a static page like I recommended here in the guide.

      Here’s another guide I wrote on blogging – https://collegeinfogeek.com/build-a-blog-from-scratch/ – I’d recommend following the steps in this guide right here for actually setting up your website, since they’re more up to date. But all the other things you’ll find in that guide I just linked to will be helpful for content planning and marketing and such.

  44. What do you think of Wix? They supposedly have free hosting.

    • Oh, and thank you so much for this guide Thomas, you’ve really helped me, not only with this, but with a lot of other blog posts/podcasts/youtube videos ass well. Thank you!

    • Your site looks great, Cas! I really like the design of the homepage – you turned Simple into something I’d have never come up with. Nice work 🙂

  45. Great Post – Very helpful for beginners like me. This guide give perfect idea for building a personal website.

  46. Wow, this is a really comprehensive guide (thank you!!). I’m a little unsure how to adapt it for myself, though. Do you recommend high school (junior year) students to have a personal website for the purposes of university/college apps?
    I’m thinking that such a website would feature more examples of personal writing, hobbies/interests, internships or projects you’ve done (e.g. a short film) and future goals etc with relevance to the subjects you’re interested in at university level – as opposed to uni-age students who would be focused more on work experience and their resume. Would it be worth writing about my processes undertaking large-ish scale projects (e.g. I have to write a 4000 word essay as part of the International Baccalaureate program I do)?
    I’m interested in humanities and language-related fields for my higher ed studies so demonstrating good writing and project-planning skills might be relevant, seeing as I’m not a particularly standout student in areas such as leadership. On the other hand, I’m a little worried that such a website might come across as excessive at my age. Thoughts?

    • I don’t think it’d come across as excessive – I think that actually might help to set you apart from the pack! I think there’s a lot you could do with a website even in high school, but at the very least I’d recommend securing your domain name. That way it won’t get taken by someone else, and you’ll have it for whenever you do decide to create a site.

  47. I want to create a cab booking website if i follow this blog will i be successful in creating a website which i wanted kindly help me…

    • You can certainly use this guide to set up the site itself, but the actual cab booking functionality might have to be coded – or maybe there’s some other software out there that’s built for that purpose.

  48. Thank you so much for this guide; I’ve been able to make my own personal website and blog in just a few days, and I’m so happy with it! Keep up the good work!

  49. So I have projects I coded and designed in college for my web design but they were on the schools server which they don’t keep up after you graduate. I have them all saved on my cloud but what would be best to get these to be in my online portfolio? Make a site like this? They are all code HTML and CSS. Could I do separate pages on WordPress of each project and then link them on a WordPress site? (I already have a separate website with square space since my main major was photography but I’m not sure how to get my web design projects up? So I can start doing web design (minor in college) jobs?

  50. Thank you for these clear cut instructions for improving SEO. I have had my website for over a year and I am still only receiving minimal traffic. I hope to implement all of your suggestions soon.

  51. I glad to know that I found this.It is a really amazing guide.Soon I’m going to start my own website.It is under development phase.Thank you!

    • No problem – good luck on starting your site 🙂

  52. Hello Thomas,

    Thank you for this great guide!

    May i ask how you made the word “Secure” appear in the address bar? In you guide above you did not mention differentiation between HTTP and HTTPS.

    I tried using HTTPS and chrome returns that the my site is “not safe”.

    Thank you and regards,

    • Hey Renzie,

      Here on College Info Geek, we use a bit of a complicated method to do it. Since we use a Content Delivery Network (Cloudflare) to speed things up (which isn’t necessary for most people – we do it because we have a high-traffic site), we have to set up multiple SSL certificates.

      I’ll look into the possibility of adding instructions on setting up an easier form of SSL to this guide, or maybe to a separate article, in the future. However, I will say that right now it shouldn’t be a high-priority thing for someone just building a personal website – at least at first.

      If you’d like to dig into it now, though, I did find this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/really-simple-ssl/ – note that you’ll have to procure your own SSL certificate first, though. You can get free ones, but I don’t usually recommend them because they have to be manually renewed every 90 days or so, and if you forget, Google might think your site is hacked. I prefer paying for one that automatically renews itself.

  53. Hey Thomas! I originally found you on YouTube; however, since I have branched to reading EVERYTHING (or at least everything that I can) on your website!

    I have completed the basic part of my website and it’s live. 😀

    Here it is: amandali.co

  54. Wow this is a great guide! I’ll be saving this to start using when I get around to building my site!

  55. Hey buddy,
    well I don’t really know now what to follow first this post or the one about blogging ? isn’t this two suppose to be kind of one. So a blog shall be part of a personal website or are you talking about two different things? Thanks for answering.

    • You should follow this one for instructions on getting your site set up, as it’s much more up-to-date than the blogging one. However, you’ll find lots of good tips on how to actually RUN your blog (content planning, marketing, etc) on that post.

  56. I made a simple personal website. silasiebert.me
    I feels really heavy so I’m planning on building my own from scratch.

  57. Thanks for the info. I will start building my personal website now

  58. thanks, i will make my personal website but i will use blogger for this time and one day i will transfer it to wordprress

    • Sounds good! Just know that you’ll have to recreate your design once that happens, since you’ll be moving to an entirely different platform.

  59. Please if I have a football news website.
    How and where do I get news and information that I need to post on my site?

    • Maybe ESPN? Honestly, you should probably know enough about your topic and where to get news on it before starting a website about it.

  60. Dear Thomas! I have a question about what theme shall i choose to my site. I want to buy good template, like Avada or Divi, or another. I read some reviews, and one of them https://www.templatemonster.com/blog/avada-5-0-vs-monstroid-2/ it is Avada 5.0 vs. Monstroid 2. For your opinion what will be the best variant? I favor Monstroid because Its price ($75) includes unlimited lifetime support and all the future updates featuring new skins, plugins and content modules. What you can say?

    • Hey Jamell,

      I know Avada and Divi are two of the best-selling builder themes out there, so you probably can’t go wrong with either one. I actually haven’t heard of Monstroid before. However, I don’t have personal experience with any of them, so I can’t recommend one over the others.

      I can say, though, that the builder themes I recommended in the guide – Simple as a free option and Ultra as a premium one – work really well. Moreover, they’re light and fast, meaning they won’t slow your site down. I don’t know about Avada/Divi/Monstroid in particular, but I do know that a lot of builder themes are very heavy and make sites run slowly.

      • Thank you for an answer! I will learn more information about these themes.

  61. I am using godaddy.in to host my site. When I try to upload simplify template, the following error message pops up-
    The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini.

    • Hi Kinshul,

      That’s probably happening because GoDaddy’s hosting is configured in a way that’s very limiting to what you can do; it looks like they’ve severely limited the size of files you can upload. You can try talking with their support team about that, but that’s probably your only option aside from looking for different hosting. Part of the reason I recommend HostGator is because I have a lot of experience with their hosting and have tested everything in this guide with it.

  62. Ultimate newbie here trying to wrap my head around websites. Been thinking about doing it for years. I have questions on structuring multiple concepts to work together.
    I want to have a site for philosophical musings. Another for Political. One for Cooking. Another for Garden perrenials.
    These are all the loves of my life. But I am not done yet.
    It seems that there should also be an umbrella site that combines them all and directs/redirects to each of the others. As well as a commercial functionality where
    items related to all the sites are available for purchase. While crossover can be a bad thing, having them all together increases affordability
    and possible unexpected interest in the dissimilar subjects.
    I cannot seem to decide, much less understand fully, whether to use domains, subdomains or folder to accomplish the best end result.
    I would appreciate any comment or advice you care to give.
    Thanks.

    • Hi John,

      Personally, I’d make separate domains and sites for all of these topics, as they’re very separate. I think the value of unexpected interest would be far outweighed by the lack of brand focus you’d be projecting if you combined a ton of different things – at least in the beginning.

      However, the affordability aspect isn’t too much of an issue. This guide recommends HostGator’s basic Hatchling plan, which is their cheapest and only supports one site. If you want to make multiple sites, though, all you need to do is upgrade to their Baby plan. It’s about $3/month more than the Hatchling, but lets you host as many websites and domains as you want. If you use the link in the guide, just change the package type to Baby on the order screen. You can read this support article for more info.

      Hope this helps!

  63. I just love this idea! I work with overachievers, so I know this is something they would love to jump on. I’ve been sharing the old article with my clients and I’m excited that there’s an update!

  64. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for a great article, very informative!

    You mention that your own website uses a one page design as as well the simple theme. I really like the layout and look of your website. Could you explain how you achieve this?

    Also, how do you create the menu icon (three lines) instead of each heading showing?

    Many thanks,

    Shane

    • Glad you found it helpful, Shane!

      In the near future, I’ll be releasing a tutorial video that will go step-by-step through how I achieved my personal site’s design using Simple, and I’ll also be making a template file that you’ll be able to import. My plan is to make several template files over the next few months, so anyone will be able to use Simple to get multiple different designs easily.

      As for the three-line menu – that’s a built-in feature in Simple and only shows up when the screen size is small enough. Other themes have the hamburger menu icon showing at every screen resolution, so have a look around to see if there’s something else that fits the bill for you – Simple isn’t the only option for ultra-flexible builder themes. In fact, Themify (the company that built Simple) has another theme called Ultra, which gives you a lot more header design options (and a lot more options in general). It’s a premium theme, though.

      • Thanks for the quick reply Tom!

        I look forward to that tutorial, and will have a look at others in the mean time.

        Also the CIG website’s content is great haha

  65. Thanks for the tutorial, very informative. I’m wondering if I have to purchase the domain before I make the website. I haven’t decided on a domain name but I would like to start working on my website asap. Is it possible to transfer one over?

    • Glad you liked it! Technically, it is possible to start building your website without having a domain first; however, unless you already have some web development skill, the process might be overly technical.

      Basically, you’d need to develop your site locally by installing web server software like MAMP or WAMP on your computer. Then, once you were ready, you’d transfer the site from your home computer’s server to HostGator, or whatever host you choose to use.

      In the past, I’ve always done this manually by using FTP to transfer the files, and using a tool call phpMyAdmin (which is in the cPanel) to transfer the database. You could probably use the UpdraftsPlus plugin to make this easier, but it’s unfortunately something I wouldn’t be able to offer much help with.

      What’s holding you back with choosing a domain name?

  66. Hey Thomas,
    You didn’t have to do this for all of us, however, I thank you!
    I will definitely be checking out your advice and implementing your tools for my personal and business sites.
    Much thanks,
    Andy

    • Hello my friend,

      Just a helpful hint on your site:
      “I have been studying Programming from last three years and I really like the way digital world impacts our personal space.”
      I would use: “Progamming for the last three years”

      Good luck in everything!
      Andy

    • Your site looks great, Anurag! I’m loving the parallax scrolling on the home page. Personally, I’d go for a main heading like “Hi, I’m Anurag” instead of “Welcome to my Website”.

      The Education page is great. With the Skills page, I love how you’d visually represented the technologies you’ve worked with – you can improve that page even more by eventually linking to projects that demonstrate your skill in each area. This will be important in the future, as tech recruiters see a lot of candidates who list certain skills even though they’re really only had cursory experience with them. So if you can show some serious chops, you’ll stand out 🙂

      Overall, though, really nice work!

    • Great site, Brett! I love the pictures you’ve chosen – you’ve got a profession that really give you an opportunity to show yourself in your element, and they do a great job at conveying that.

      • Thank you! My friends on set take some amazing pictures of the process. I’m excited to start adding videos from set!

  67. Having a personal website is a great touch when you are looking for a job. With the website you are marketing yourself and your talents. Just like it is important for a business to have a website, it is important for you to have a personal website. I would recommend asking others for their opinion when you have your website completed. Great information, thanks for sharing!

  68. Hi, thanks you this post. I actually built a personal website using the instructions you provided. Nice job!

    Just one point that I think you should emphasize: If the user doesn’t use the Domain Privacy Protection, he/she will expect a suddenly increased number of spam emails, trying to selling all kinds of website-related services. Even worse, some company send text messages directly to the phone number in the WHOIS database. For a personal website, the phone number registered usually belongs to the personal cellphone. So, it can be really bad.

    Thank you.

  69. I have worked with computers in one form or another for over 50 years, but I am a nooby at this sort of thing, i.e., setting up a web site.. I’m still working through all the ins and outs (I’m sure it will take me more than a couple of hours to get it set up). While I’m not a student nor have I been for probably longer than you have been alive, I’ve found your site very helpful and have used it in setting up my site. Still a way to go and still working through all the new (to me) stuff, but I appreciate your guidance and detailed instructions. Thank you very much.

  70. Hey Thomas! Thanks to you and your guide, I was able to get my once-Wordpress-hosted blog onto HostGator and on its way to becoming a pretty nice blog/resume combo. 🙂 My family got me the domain name and hosting as a Christmas present, and I couldn’t be more excited!

    http://www.kimberlyhorton.com is a URL I never thought I’d see! 🙂

    • I think your site is fantastic, however, how the heck do I stop everything from falling down across the screen??? It is a bit distracting….just an fyi =)

      • Hey, thanks for the feedback, Andy!
        Yeah, the snow/music notes falling down the screen were meant to be fun winter decorations – but I may have gotten carried away, haha. I’ll take them down; the snow/Christmas season is ending anyways. 🙂

  71. Great post!
    I want to make my personal website, but can I edit the page’s code using WordPress?
    I coded some features with HTML/CSS/JavaScript, will I be able to insert them into de generated page, using WordPress?

    • Hey Nicollas,

      You can definitely edit your site’s code if you want. The way you’ll do it will depend on what you want to do, though.

      If you just want to add some custom CSS, see if your theme has a “‘Custom CSS” option either in the WordPress Customizer (Appearance -> Customize), or in its options panel if it has one. If there isn’t an option, you can use a plugin like Simple Custom CSS: https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-custom-css/

      For adding your own HTML and Javascript, you’re going to want to look at modifying your theme. Check out the resources I mentioned in Step 5 to get started – it can be a bit complex, but it’s a lot of fun.

      Also, keep in mind that there are probably plugins that can do a lot of what you want if you’re looking to add Javascript.

      Hope this helps!

  72. If i’ve completed building my personal website, what’s the best way to generate traffic to it?

    • Before you can answer that question, you have to ask yourself: What kind of traffic do you want?

      If you’re just looking to have local employers and business come to your site, make sure your URL is on your resume and business cards, and start getting out to career fairs, networking events, etc.

      If you want readers, start creating content that helps people or that they’d find interesting, make connections with other content creators, and post your work on social media. It takes time and work to build an audience, but you can do it if you’re motivated! I wrote a lot about this in my blogging guide: https://collegeinfogeek.com/build-a-blog-from-scratch/

      Hope this helps!

  73. Hi There,
    First, thank you very much for this great post. It helped me very much to start writing my first blog post and setting up my blog. I have been thinking about my own blog for a long time but, I just didn’t have guts to do that.
    When I was reading this article, I felt like, Yes I can do this. So, finally, I could. Thanks again.
    I put this article’s link in my first post because, it may help somebody else like me. Not today but, in the future, I hope.
    Your comments and feedbacks are very important for me as a beginner to this blogging word. So, please have a look.
    http://www.daglega.com/defeated-fears-writing-first-blog-post/

    • I know from personal experience that starting a blog can be a bit overwhelming – especially when you have a lot of ideas and want to create something really great. So congrats on getting started!

      Btw, I really like the design of your site. Simple and clean 🙂

      • Actually, I considered your blog as a model. Thank you very much for these great articles and the comment.

  74. Hi there! Thanks for this VERY useful post! I was just wondering whether is a smart thing to still use Hostgator when living in Europe? Will my website be loading very slowly for example?

    • Glad you found it useful 🙂

      HostGator’s servers are primarily located in the U.S., but I actually used them to build a website for a guy living in Ireland a few years ago and he’s been more than happy with the site’s speed.

      Whether or not you decide to go with HG, I definitely recommend installing a caching plugin like WP Super Cache in your WordPress backend. Once it’s active, it’ll speed your website up by saving your pages as static HTML pages – meaning WordPress won’t need to fetch things from the database whenever a visitor shows up.

      Laslty, if you want to decrease loading times even more, you can sign up for CloudFlare, which is a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Basically, it’s a service that copies certain assets on your site (usually images), and hosts those copies on servers all around the world. When a visitor comes to your site, CloudFlare will serve them those assets from the closest server to their location instead of the original one. And it’s free too! I’ve been using it here on College Info Geek for several years now.

    • Good stuff dude! One thing I noticed – the links to your vlogging gear in your blog posts aren’t actually linked up at the moment. It might be a good idea to link those up so people can easily see what you’re using 🙂

      • Oh, thanks for telling me. Those are supposed to be links. Will have to go in and see whats going on. I have the posts auto-post once I upload a video on YouTube via IFTTT. Thanks for checking out my site.

    • Is your site still functional? There might be an error in some php file, so your site content is not getting displayed

  75. Just know, that this guide is amazing, words cannot express how grateful I am, that you took the time to create it. Thank you!

  76. Hey Thomas frank,

    Lets say it has all in one post ;P

    As you have said from beginning to ending no need to go anywhere.Nice article

    Thanks a lot!

  77. This has been the best thing for me ever thank you so much thomas!! I love these articles + your podcast. Seriously changing my life.

  78. hi Thomas, I wonder if i haven’t done anything that can contribute to my resume , what am I suppose to put in my personal website? hope you could suggest some, thanks!

    • Great question, Mike. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of work experience, you can still set up a site that provides people with your contact information. That’s what I decided to do with the 3rd version of my personal site, which you can still look at here: http://thomasjfrank.com/v3/

      In addition to giving people a way to get in touch with you, setting up your site in this way also allows you to reserve your domain name early (preventing anyone else from taking it). And, by linking to it from your social profiles – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – you’ll build a little bit of early SEO that should help it appear higher in Google results down the road.

      Once you’ve gotten a bit further into college and have some experience under your belt, you can start fleshing out your site with more sections. Check out this post I wrote on personal website components if you’d like to get some ideas.

      With all of that being said, I would like to ask you: Do you have any personal projects that you could highlight on your site? Or do you have an interest that you could potentially do some blogging about?

      Lastly – and this is something that goes beyond the development of a personal website – it’s never too early to gain experience. Whether it’s through a part-time job or internship, a freelance opportunity, or just a personal project, the sooner you can start building a portfolio of work and gaining professional experience, the better!

  79. A personal website?? Sounds like yet another flash-in-the-pan fad. I’m sticking with my Friendster profile.

  80. While the advice in this article is very good it will take some time to set up a site this way. WordPress is neither simple not complicated and it can be a bit scary for a complete newbie. Another option would be to build a site using a website builder like Weebly or Wix. You can create a free Weebly account and build a site in 20-30 minutes without any problems but your site will be hosted on their domain so it will look like mysite.weebly.com. If you want to have a nice looking domain like mysite.com you can get a paid account and they have hosting included with that plus other nice goodies. Just my 2 cents.

  81. Hey Thomas, I’m really interested to create a website of my own showcasing my travel life and passions. Thanks for the detailed tutorial on how to set up a website. I’m definitely Bookmarking this article for future use. Really clear explanations and links are provided as well. Thanks a lot!

    • Haha yes it does! I managed to dig up an archived version of my first Geocities site the other day. Brought back some fun (if a little cringe-inducing) memories 😛

  82. I’m definitely going to read this after my exam week is over even if is so long (and it is). It looks so useful! Thanks! 😀

  83. Thanks. I have many self hosted wordpress websites. mostly for family biz. but the project for own website is on hold though I have installed wordpress. just dont know what to write. after reading this I have resumed that . thanks.

  84. Fantastic post, Thomas – really helpful when creating my site: http://www.oabdaniel.com . Decided to switch my old site which I coded to wordpress, just so much easier to keep updated, without having to do loads of code edits, design changes and FTPing.

    Do you have any SEO advice though? Quite hard with common names to rank your personal website, and if potential employers are looking its obviously essential for Google to return the sites you want them to be looking at! Currently my twitter account is ranking above my (albeit only a few days old) website with the same domain name as my twitter handle?

  85. Hi Thomas,
    Do you think if your starting a blog it should be linked to your name or should it be anonymous?
    Thanks

  86. Hey, Thomas…This tutorial and the idea of building your own website is brilliant…Thank you for that, but when I checked your personal website, and a lot more,everyone is representing something they have accomplished or awesome things they did, but me? No, am in second year, civil engineering student in Pakistan (am not pakistani, am here for study only)and I do no something I accomplished that worth mentioning now,and there’s no famous people who said things about me ; so, what am I suppose to write down except the bio and the introduction part? Thanks again for everything, I do really admire you 🙂

    • Hey man I know your struggle.
      What I did on my personal website was putting my work experience I worked at a pizza hut and from my high school graduation I just put an awesome quote from a teacher. Now I am in college I just leave it like this until I have more to add.

      I also made an impossible list to show my goals in life and just presented myself out there. Everyone accomplishes something important in life and just like me do you don’t need 100 YouTube subs or a big blog to get connections.

      People contact me as well when I give them my business card. It’s also very easy to hand a card out to a recruiter at events etc It just gives that small bonus to you.

      My buddy who works as a recruiter said to me and i quote: ‘I speak to maybe a 100 people there but the ones with a website, business card just stand out from the others which makes it easier to remember who they were’.

  87. Hi Thomas!

    Thank you for all this tutorial. I will surely comeback when it will be time for my blog to upgrade to a selfhosted blog. I always wanted to have a blog but I never really kept on doing one. Right now I feel like my time has come to finally keep one and keep upgrading it. It currently is really bad with only one post (in French) but you can still take a look at it and tell me what would be the first things to upgrade before making it a selfhosted blog. samuelyergeau.wordpress.com

    Thanks!
    Sam

  88. Hey Thomas,

    I bought hosting and I installed WordPress via quick install but then I seem to hit a titanium wall. When I try to admin log into WordPress it says http://www.nebilali.com/wp-admin isn’t available, so I can’t make it to the dashboard. I also don’t have the WordPress logo in the corner of my site like it says I should have in the tutorial.

    That being said, while I did get hosting through host-gator, I used a domain name I had previously purchased from namecheap.com. I don’t know if that is an issue or not.

    Any ideas? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    -Nebil

  89. I’m having trouble with a couple different themes I’ve chosen now. I make changes like delete widgets or make a color change and it shows up in my preview as correct and I push save and publish, but then those changes aren’t appearing on website. Any suggestions?

    • Hmm – it could be a caching issue, as HostGator pre-installs WP Super Cache as a plugin when you install WordPress. This is good 99% of the time, as it’ll reduce the time it takes to load the website, but it can sometimes cause changes you’re making to not show up. While you’re making changes, I’d suggest going to your Plugins menu and deactivating (not deleting) WP Super Cache. Then go ahead and re-activate it once you’re happy with your design.

      It’s also good to note that the plugin will (in my experience) never interfere with new posts or pages appearing on the site, nor changes you make to the content of existing ones. It mainly affects things like design aspects, theme/widget changes, etc.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if this doesn’t fix the issue 🙂

  90. Thank you so much for this guide! As a computer science major, I’ve been meaning to create a personal website for months but felt overwhelmed – now, I’m finally starting the process! One question – I’m meaning to develop the code for my site from scratch eventually, but want to get it up and running with WordPress first. Is HostGator going to allow me to make that transition easily? Or is there a better hosting company to go with?

    • Yep, that’s quite easy! This will be largely the same with any web host, but HostGator’s WordPress script just installs it in the top-level publicly accessible directory on your account. If you wanted to replace it with your own code, you would simply remove WordPress using cPanel’s file manager or an FTP program (after backing it up, of course), and then put your custom-coded HTML files there.

      To get a bit more technical, you could actually leave WordPress’ files there – as long as you renamed WordPress’ index.php file. Index.php or Index.html is seen as the “home” page of a website, so if you had a file with that name that you coded yourself, people would land on that when they type in your URL.

      Best of luck! 🙂

  91. Thanks a lot! This tutorial is so amazing that I succesfully build my own in like only two hours! I really appreciate it!

  92. Hi Thomas Frank,

    i used your steps to manage my other blog site and it works great and i learnt a lot of new things

    Thank you for this great article

  93. Thank you so much for providing this thorough guide on building a personal website. I have been working on mine for a few days now off and on and there’s so much to it! One thing I am curious about is a plug in for mobile compatibility. The current theme I am using was not built with the intent for mobile users and I was wondering if you can recommend a few plug-ins that will help with my site remaining intact when viewed on smaller mobile devices.

    Thanks!

  94. I love this post! I want to create a personal website and a blog. I know that in some of your articles you state that I don’t need to create separate domains for each, but if I want my blog to be successful, is it best for them to be separate?

    Thanks again!

  95. Thanks for a great article Thomas, but I can’t see any help here related to email accounts as they relate to websites. Im a complete novice, but I understand that when I create a new basic website, I will have by consequence, therefore also built myself a new email account, as a part of my new website. Is this true?
    Thanks, Daniel

    • It can depend on the web host, but with HostGator, you have the ability to create email accounts – though I don’t believe they come pre-made. It’s pretty easy to set on up, though, and then you can easily set it up with your phone and any email app. For mine, I use Google Apps for Business ($5/month) so I can have a Gmail inbox for that email address – though setting that up is a bit complicated, so if you want do go that route, you’ll need to follow Google’s instructions carefully.

  96. What an awesome guide. It was exactly what I needed to get me on track to setting up my own website and starting a personal brand. It takes time to set it up, but I think it is definitely worth it. Thank you Thomas.

  97. Thank you so much for all your tips. I am experienced on WordPress and yet I found some very useful things here. For one, I never knew about the free backup UpdraftPLUS.
    Awesome.

  98. Thomas,

    I enjoyed reading this article. It inspired me to create my own website. After 2 days of creating site, I already had 2 potential employers connect with me through the site. Thanks for the great advice. If you don’t mind, visit http://www.calebtubbs.com, and let me know what you think.

    Caleb Tubbs

    • Caleb – that’s fantastic! The site is looking great – did you do anything outside of building it to make those connections?

      • Thomas,

        I simply posted my link onto my social media accounts. Some acquaintances picked it up, and passed the link along to some professionals. Thanks for the reply.

        Caleb Tubbs

  99. Hi Thomas,

    I was wondering if its possible to start a website on a site like WordPress.org and then later transfer it to your own domain? Or if that would put me back at square one on designing my website?

    Thanks so much!
    Becca

    • Hi Rebecca,

      You can definitely do that. WordPress.org is actually the self-hosted version though – so you probably mean WordPress.com. I actually made a video on how you can transfer all your content over – however, the one caveat is that it’s not so simple to transfer the design over. That’s because WordPress.com themes can’t be exported. You might be able to find an identical one available for WordPress.org, though, or a very similar one. You’ll also have much more choice and flexibility, so if you eventually want to switch, you’ll have plenty of options.

  100. Hello Mr. Frank,
    thank you for your awesome guide. It helped me immensly to get my page up and running! 🙂
    If you like, you can of course check it out although it’s still a “work in progress” (it’ll always be, I know ;-))

    Have a great day and thanks again from Hannover, Germany.

    Lukas Weide-Hannemann

  101. Such a great help! I am really impressed with all that you have accomplished. Keep up the great work!

  102. Hello Thomas. I felt funny using your guide because I’m certainly not in the intended demographics, but hey, it was just what I was looking for and the coupon worked. I wish you ever more success, and here’s my site: http://nadegemercure.com/. I registered the name and set it all up last Friday using your guide, and I’m developing it gradually. Cheers.

  103. Hey Thomas I’ve gotten everything to work perfectly on my website thanks in large part to this tutorial. The only problem I’m still currently having is that I can’t get a comments section to appear after my blog posts. Do you know what could be causing this problem? I want my readers to be able to express their opinions after I post.
    Thanks for the help!

    • Hey Alex!

      I just checked out a couple posts on your site and it looks like you’ve got comments now. Did you figure it out sometime after you posted this?

      Let me know if you’ve got any other questions. Your site looks great, btw! I hadn’t seen that theme before; now it’s got my interest.

  104. Actually looking for some information on Personal websites, as a finished product, is it possible to also have an archive of photo’s on a web site, that can be moved to and from the archive to the main page and on the front page is it possible to have a video post with some sort of narrative, for current events that may change or be changed from day to day or week to week in a video form, Similar to a youtube posting, without going thru a third party, Just down load from a camera to your own website a video or pictures that can be later put into an archive on the same website. I have actually been looking for this type of program for over 7 years, for a family reunion type program. Thank you for the information.

    • Nick,

      This might be a bit more complex than you were hoping, but you may be able to come up with something similar to what you want.

      Essentially, you’d want a theme with a portfolio page where all the photos can go, but you’d also want functionality so either the latest or a featured photo would be shown on the home page as well.

      As for video, I don’t recommend hosting it yourself and have never explored that option personally. However, if you always wanted the latest video to show (without having to publish a new blog post containing it), you could potentially put all your videos in a YouTube playlist.

      When you embed a playlist, it shows the top video first. So all you’d need to do is set the playlist to show the latest video at the top.

  105. Hi, Thomas! Thanks to your awesome guide, I managed to build this website. Let me know if you have any suggestions on how to improve it.

    http://ruslanszone.com

    By the way, it took me hours to figure out how to prevent disqus comments from showing up on every page (instead of just on my blog) after I installed the plugin. The fix was pretty easy though since all I had to do was uncheck a box on every page that I didn’t want comments to appear. Also, you were right about the SEO plugin being complex. I’m still pretty confused about a lot of parts but I think I understand the basics after reading the link you gave.

  106. Hi
    Thomas,
    thank you this valuable article, since i am new website holder and i truly follow all your instruction to get best result. Once again thank you for one of the best article ever …. 🙂

    • Well, I did design the new theme for this site from scratch in Photoshop; however, my friend Martin did the actual coding. We’re working together on a WordPress version of my personal website’s design, which I’ll be releasing for free once it’s done.

      While I know how to build a theme, most of my time these days is dedicated to writing, podcasting, design, and other non-tech things 🙂

  107. Thomas,

    Thanks! I found inspiration to start a personal website through this site. I couldn’t sleep, I tossed and turned, then realized I needed to start one, so I got on my laptop, and almost paid into go daddy, had second thoughts, looked up benefits of having a site and BAM! Here you are. Just bought everything I need through your link, paid for a 3 year run, heres to both having prosperous futures. CHEERS!

    Your new friend

    Marvin Santana

  108. Thank you for all this detailed information! Although it’s not easy for someone without coding knowledge I decided to built a website of my own especially after reading your post. It doesn’t seem so difficult anymore, especially with the right platforms that can easily help me creating it. Searching on the internet I also found IMcreator.com with ready made templates and kind of nice free stock images. Can anyone who used it share some thoughts with me?

  109. Great tutorial! I’m looking for more info on how to actually write the content. What are some good resources?

    Thanks!

    • Are you looking for examples of what type of content to put on your website? I’m going to write an article on this very soon; if you like, you can check out my last personal website (my current one is very sparse because CIG is my main brand now) for inspiration: http://thomasjfrank.com/v2/

      Much of what I’ve learned to do has come from simply studying how others do it, so I’d suggest looking at the websites of successful people to get a feel for how it’s done. I have a Pinterest board full of great personal websites you can use for inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/thomasfrank/great-personal-websites/

      Keep an eye out for a more detailed article soon 🙂

  110. I am a New website owner and blogging for 2 days . Thank you for this AMAZING article. I want my businesses to be a major succes because there’s nothing like it. I need everything because I’m not techy I’m self taught so this is not easy but not too hard

  111. Hey Thomas thanks for the awesome tutorial! If you get a chance let me know what you think of my site. My problem is that it seems a bit bland and I also can’t figure out to create links to my social media sites like you’ve done on yours. My programming experience is nonexistent. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi David!

      I think your website’s looking great so far. I’d maybe look into removing the comments section on your pages (unless you want it there). It looks like you’re using the Twenty-Thirteen theme; you can use this article to remove them if you want: http://www.noobstogeek.com/disable-wordpress-comments/

      Check out the section of the guide on widgets; your theme shows its widgets below each page’s content, so head to Appearance -> Widgets in the Dashboard to customize them. The Social Media Widget plugin I mentioned will let you link to your online profiles easily 🙂

  112. Wonderful guide! I have been trying to tell my friends the same thing about starting your own website or blog. It’s so useful and it’s a digital asset that’ll be valuable the more you invest into it. I thought about throwing my resume up on my site but just kept it as an astronomy blog 🙂

    • Exactly! If you put some work into it, your personal website can really help out your career. Add in a portfolio and a blog, and you start positioning yourself as someone who is obviously knowledgable.

      I checked out your blog, Zain – it looks great! I love astronomy as well 🙂

  113. Hi there Mr. Frank,

    I am currently trying to follow your instructions to make my own website, but I don’t think I am ready to purchase the web hosting service yet. Is there a way to create the basic website on WordPress before I buy a domain name and hosting service, and then upload what I already have to the hosting service?

    Also, how is it possible to edit the theme without purchasing the Custom Design package for the basic themes?

    Thanks in advance!
    Derek

    • Hi Derek,

      Yep – you can actually develop a WordPress site on your local computer before you get your hosting. Here’s an article that’ll get you started.

      When you’re ready to get hosting, you can import your local install to the online one.

      As for the Custom Design package – I’m not actually sure what that is. Is that a feature of WordPress.com, or of a specific theme you found? Most themes are either free or they cost a one-time fee to buy if they’re premium.

    • Looking good, Nick! A few suggestions,

      – Break up the text on the home page a bit; right now it’s a bit of a wall. Don’t be afraid to use white space – as you can see from my articles, I’ve learned to keep paragraphs down to about 3-4 lines most of the time. Much easier on the eyes.

      – Flesh out your sidebar a bit. Maybe try out the plugin Social Media Widget to link to the social profiles you might like recruiters to see – Facebook, Twitter, maybe a Github profile if you’ve got one.

  114. Hi Thomas!

    Many moons again I followed your advice and setup my own page using WordPress. I have since decided to switch to Weebly but I have no idea how to go about doing that! I noticed that Weebly is an option in the Software/Services section on my cPanel, so do I just go ahead and click on it to set it up or do I have to do something to remove the WordPress stuff?

    Any advice you have would be great! Thanks!

    • Hi Amanda,

      While I can’t provide specific help on Weebly, I do know Hostgator has a support page that might help you. If you’ve already got WordPress on your site, you’ll either need to delete it or move it to a folder so it’s not the main site in your public_html/ folder (which is top directory of your public site).

      You can use File Manager in cPanel to move files, or look up how to use FTP. Also, you can always talk to HostGator support over chat – there’s a button to chat with them in the header of the HG website 🙂

  115. Thanks so much for the tutorial! It helped out a lot making my new website, Katrina-Jackson.com. Check it out!

    I used your collegeinfogeek coupon for the web hosting, and then HostGator gave me a call yesterday telling me the coupon I used was only valid for the first month, and trying to convince me to buy a longer hosting plan in order to get the lower cost per month that I thought I was already getting. I sometimes panic a little when put on the spot like that (come on, they could have sent an email so I could have some time to think about it,) and he managed to rope me into paying an extra $75 up front… :/ Then he ended the call with “Glad I could have helped you save some money today!” Yeah. Thanks.

    So I’m not feeling all that happy with HostGator, but seriously thanks for the guide. I wouldn’t have known where to begin!

    • Katrina – your site looks awesome! Great job 🙂

      The coupon code applies to your initial payment, and then after that it’s the standard rate for hosting. That’s why it’s best to get a year or more up front – you’re basically getting 35% off every month for a year instead of getting 35% off for one month and then having to pay full price then on.

      Hopefully that clears up any confusion. I haven’t heard off them calling anyone about that, but hopefully it worked out! Let me know if there’s anything else you need help with 🙂

      • I did buy the year plan though, which was why I was confused when the account manager called to say the coupon only worked for the first month. Maybe this guy was just lying? I mean, I already submitted payment for 35% off for the full year.

      • Interesting – I haven’t heard of that happening before. Thanks for letting me know! I’ll see if I can find anything out about it.

      • Thank you! I’ve also just sent them an email asking if I can go back to the one-year plan I originally purchased, since what the guy told me on the phone to get me to buy an additional two years of hosting wasn’t even true.

  116. Hey! Thanks so much for the post! (I found your site yesterday, so I have a lot of reading to do!)

    I have two blogs (on blogger), so it seems like a personal website would be a good way have everything under one roof. (Currently, my name is unique enough that when you search it, my blogs come out but well, you never know).

    What do you think about about.me ? I’m thinking of using that to build my site (seems easy) but I don’t known much about it.

    • That’d be a great idea! I have an About.me, but to me it’s just a landing page. It’s not that customizable. I think having the ability to add basically anything to your site – a portfolio (super-important), a blog, etc., is really helpful to your brand.

      • Thanks so much for your reply!

        I can’t afford a web host or domain now, so I guess I’ll have to find some other options.

        By the way, this is kind of off topic, but you mentioned that you’re learning Japanese, so if you’re on Google+, I just want to recommend the “Japanese Language” community. It’s full off learners and Japanese people, so there’s a lot of useful information there. (Plus, there’s option to practice speaking via Google Hangouts)

  117. Security is a major issue if linking back to my home systems. Need a VPN area.

    I want some insight in using my site to connect to my Media and Webdrive behind my router to get data or music files as a Travel. I also have a Asterisks PBX system and would like to be able to access that server too for updates. Also would like to be able to make calls from my laptop and let them flow through my home PBX as if I were at home on my PC calling into my home or receive calls if I am on the computer from my home system.

    Would love all this to be setup on different pages or areas so I can use one website to do all I want and not have to pay for several domain names. Any Ideas.

    Also need Mobile Phone setup and screens for some areas so that it would be mobile layout and feature ready.

    • TJ – Honestly I have no idea how you’d even begin to build this kind of setup. This article was written to help people get a personal website up for the purposes of building a portfolio and getting jobs; it almost sounds like you’re trying to build a remote desktop setup or something. You might have to hire an expert web developer to get it done.

      Still… the way I would tackle this would be to split up the problem. You can stream music files from your home computer using SubSonic. Files can come from Dropbox or one of any number of other online cloud sync services. You could use a remote desktop service like LogMeIn to access your computer fully. None of this would need to go through your own website.

      I’ve never heard of the PBX system before, so you’ll be on your own for that one. There are probably forums full of knowledgable people out there though.

      To make your site mobile friendly, I’d suggest finding a responsive theme that scales down to the screen size of the browser. Almost all new themes on Themeforest are responsive these days, and CIG will be responsive in the near future as well.

      Good luck!

  118. Hey Thomas, would you be able to help me out? I recently set-up a website with hosting according following the steps in this post – it worked great by the way, thanks!

    However, I just screwed up big time. I had the plugins “limit login attempts” and “Google Authenticator” installed, and then accidentally logged out without noting down the Google Authenticator code or configuring it properly. Now, I’m unable to get back into my WordPress site. I managed to reset my password via “lost my password” and the link sent to my email, but I still can’t get in; I suspect that Google Authenticator is blocking me out.

    I’ve been searching online, but have no clue how to proceed. Is there an admin way to remove the Google Authenticator lock via HostGator? Would sincerely appreciate any help.

    • #UPDATE#

      Sorry, don’t worry about it! I tried to be a problem-solver and spent another hour or so browsing the web / tinkering, and managed to fix the problem!

      I ended up downloading FileZilla and learning how to access FTP on HostGator. Then I got back in by manually disabling the Google Authenticator Plug-in in the WordPress folder.

      It might be worth it to put a bigger disclaimer under the “Google Authenticator” part, warning future readers not to activate the plugin before figuring the system out. Being a wordpress-noob, I prematurely checked the box and locked myself out.

      If anyone else has this problem, feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll be happy to guide you through the process that worked for me.

      Cheers again for this useful guide, I’ll link my site here after I’ve gotten everything set up. 😀

      • Andy – glad to see you’ve figured it out! I’ve had that happen to me before as well; one time I changed my phone’s time zone and forgot about it, promptly breaking Google Authenticator (which gets its codes from an algorithm that uses the current time).

        I’ll be sure to update the post with a warning on that plugin. Good suggestion!

  119. Hi Thomas,

    This guide is extremely helpful as I was looking for options to build my website, since I intend to start making websites in my free time and earn a few bucks. Now I’m a little confused if I should start with WordPress or Joomla and which plan to choose from Hostgator.

    • Adil,

      From experience, I’d say go with WordPress. I’ve used Joomla in the past, and while it can be useful I also find it more confusing. WordPress has one of the largest and most active development communities of any CMS, and you can do a lot with it.

      As for hosting, I’d go with the Hatchling plan if you’re just starting out. You can always upgrade later. I started out with a Reseller plan myself, but I was created multiple websites and charging clients to host them.

  120. Thomas,
    Your guide helped me extremely when building my website http://bnanalyst.com
    It was highly detailed and especially easy to understand, for those of us who aren’t used to building website…
    THANK YOU SO MUCH
    Hadas

  121. Exactly what I am looking for. Thanks! amazing article. I will try this on my next holiday break! :bookmarked:

  122. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got
    this from. many thanks

  123. Hello Frank,

    I am developing my website these days and your blog helped me very well. I liked your audio player as well as this comment form. May you tell me from where I can get these? I tried a lot to find in plugins but failed. Also suggest me a video player for my self hosted videos. For youtube videos, I think embed code is enough, isn’t it?

    Thanks.

    • Hey Abdul,

      Glad you found the guide useful!

      The audio player on my podcast episodes is called the One Pixel Out audio player, and it comes bundled with the PowerPress podcasting plugin. However, you can also get it as a standalone plugin

      As for the comment form, that’s built right into my theme. If you’re just starting, I highly recommend using Disqus – I’d probably be using it myself if I didn’t already have so much stake in Facebook comments (which can’t be exported so easily)

      You can use Video.js to embed self-hosted videos – but honestly, I don’t recommend ever hosting your own videos. Streaming videos takes up a lot of bandwidth, so you’re much better off uploading them to YouTube or Vimeo and then embedding them.

      Hope this helps!

      • Frank,

        Thank you very much for suggestions.
        Audio Player has a common error “file not found” and solution is also not available in support. Short codes are not given as well. I’m not aim to podcasting but want to upload some audio files time to time.

        Thanks.

      • Actually – can’t believe I didn’t remember this before – WordPress now has native audio embedding support. You can read about how to use the included shortcode here.

      • That’s okay. Thanks for suggestions and I am already using disqus. I just liked your this commnet box. Your Impossible List is also very nice. I am upgrading my website and will share my list with you and Joey. Wish you all the best Frank.

  124. This is super helpful! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this out.

    I was wondering how a self-hosted domain is different from simply buying your domain through wordpress? Both will get you a .com site, and it just seems that host gator is more expensive, but I may be missing some other features?

    • Hi Fro,

      The biggest benefit you get by going self-hosted is freedom. You can add any theme or plugin you want, and you have complete control over the customization of your site.

  125. Hi if I want to get rid of the original contact form included in the theme and use the contact form-7 one, how can I do that? Thanks!

    • Hi April,

      The contact form included with your theme is probably part of a contact page template. If you set your contact page to use the theme’s default page template instead of the contact template, then you can easily include Contact Form 7’s shortcode without any problems.

      You can change a page’s template type by using the template dropdown in the box underneath the Update button on the right side of the page editor.

      Let me know if you need anything else! 🙂

      • Thanks so much for the advice. Are you talking about Page Attributes? It was already set to default though.

      • Hmm… the template is set to default, but there’s still a contact form on your page coming from your theme? Would you mind giving me your site’s URL so I can take a look at it?

      • From looking at your website, it seems that you do have Contact Form 7 working. That form on your Contact Page is definitely being generated by it, and looks nothing like the default form on the Elegant Themes demo version of Origin. I assume you’ve got it figured out – anything else you need help with?

  126. Hi Thomas,

    I wrote an article like this back when I was actively blogging but it was in no way as complete as yours.

    Great work!

  127. Fantastic guide – definitely going to make use of it. Thanks!

  128. Hi, I planned to write a similar post but can´t see anything you missed out. Perfectly done – and actually anyone can build a site from scratch with your tutorial. some people will have difficulties with the startup design but if the template is right and with some nice images purchased (eg fotolia or shutterstock or anything else) a truly nice personal website can be created.
    will follow up your post
    regards from vienna,
    christoph

    • Thanks Christoph! Glad you found the post useful. I agree – with a great theme, anyone can make a fantastic-looking personal website without having crazy badass design skills.

  129. Firstly, great article! You’ve made the whole process seem really accessible. I’m gathering up the courage to finally bite the bullet and set up a personal website/blog, but the amount of hosting options is kind of overwhelming. Would you still recommend HostGator, or should I go with something else? It seems like a big investment, and I don’t want to make a poor decision.

    • Hi Kathleen – thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Now, before continuing, I want to be up-front – I make pretty much my entire living from commissions from HostGator. So if you go through my link and buy hosting from them, I’ll make money (though it costs you no extra – the collegeinfogeek coupon code is actually better than their normal coupon). That means I’m pretty biased when it comes to hosting 😉

      That being said, I think HostGator is a great choice for hosting your site. I’ve been hosting all of my sites with them since I was 17, and I’ve been happy the whole time – mainly because their support is so good.

      However, there are plenty of other good hosts out there, so don’t feel pressured.

      If you have any questions while you’re setting up your site, feel free to use the contact page to get in touch with me 🙂

  130. thanks a lot thomas for creating the amazing and easy to follow tutorial.. never thought could build my personal website on my own.. you made it a cakewalk… keep up the great work…
    all the best .. cheers

  131. Thinking about building a site. Question on this thing on your left side though. Do you discuss how to get that bar on the left to get tweets, likes, and g+ in this guide? I like that static bar! Awesome guide.

    • Hi Jimmy,

      The floating bar on my site is actually built right into my theme. Most themes don’t have one built right in, but luckily my friends over at Buffer have a WordPress plugin called Digg Digg that will put one there!

  132. Pls, teach us possible buisness to do. to make money on our site. You post is inpiring

    • My guide is geared more towards those who want to build a personal brand and market their skills; I’m not really in the business of teaching people how to make money online, per-se. However, you may find some insight in my interview with Pat Flynn!

  133. Great article…nice and detailed, and especially easy to follow.

    Do you have any advice about picking a domain name for a personal website when you have a name that is hard to spell and pronounce?

    • If you can find an available name, it can be a good idea to abbreviate. Try going with patriciay.com or maybe just yasechko.com – the problem with names is that they’re sometimes hard to spell, so some explanation might be unavoidable. But make it as easy as you can!

  134. Hi! Frank
    I wish to be like you but situation will not give me the chance to do so. Am a student of finance a first year wish to have a wab sit if you could help me becouse i dont have a computer,am from poor family in Ghana.I am using my phone to do this contact,am moor happy today when i found out about this good information. So please help me to do this becouse i see you as my hiro.
    Thank you
    Muhammad-Sani Awudu

  135. This is a really helpful post, thank you! Everything worked as you said it would.

    I have one question: my “about me” page is a static front page, but is labelled in the top menu as “home” rather than “about me.” How do I change that?

    • If you scroll up to the first video in the tutorial, it’ll show you how to create a custom menu. It’s probable that your theme was built so the default menu can be replaced with a custom menu, so follow the video and in that custom menu area, give your About Me page a custom label.

      If you need help after trying that, post a link to your site and I’ll take a look at it 🙂

  136. Really very informative and helpful tutorial. It made me happy because after getting this tutorial I created my personal website http://www.childlaborofbd.com/. But I’d like to change my menu’s and title’s font color. Can you help me? Last of all thanks for sharing this great tutorial.

    • You’ll probably need to edit the CSS. Use Web Platform Docs to learn the syntax, and then look through your theme’s main CSS file for the declarations that control the elements you’re looking to edit. If you need specific help, I’d recommend checking out the Sitepoint forums – they helped me a lot when I was learning!

  137. Hey, really useful post!
    I don’t mean to be picking, but I heppen to searched your website on “Whois” search from NameCheap.com and they showed your websites are actually registered from GoDaddy.com. Any reasons for that?

    • I actually didn’t know about NameCheap when I started out! When I launched CIG in 2010, I didn’t know much about domain registrars and just went with the most popular one at the time, which was GoDaddy. All my new domains are on NameCheap; the only reason I haven’t switched the rest of them over is because there might be some downtime involved, and I need to get some free time to research the best way to switch in order to avoid that as much as possible since over 1,000 people come to this site every day 🙂

  138. Wow, A very nice article indeed. I have just gone through the article and and bookmarked it so I can create my website this weekend. Will let you know the URL once done.
    What I really like about you more than the article is the enthusiasm where I notice that you have actually replied to every comment with equal interest and passion.

    All I can say is: Great Work.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Asif! I really do try to respond to every comment, as I really want to show my gratitude to anyone who takes the time to read all the way through my guide (it’s freakin’ huge!).

      I can’t wait to see what you come up with for your website. Let me know if you need any help!

  139. Thomas, I read this post with interest since it is very well laid out. It’s very much appreciated. I am considering buying a domain for my 17-year old who is in his junior year HS and now looking at several colleges. I personally feel that having a personal website would help him in this process and during subsequent job interviews in a few years. However, I anticipate his response to such a gift would be along the lines of, “What’s the point if I already use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram . . . this is just so much more unnecessary work!”

    Since you’ve clearly given the value of personal websites a lot of thought, I would like to hear your opinion on the long-term value of a personal website in the growing dominance of social media.

    Thanks in advance – Dan

    • Dan – I think buying your son a domain would be a great investment, no matter what he thinks. The first part of this posts lists most of the benefits of having a personal website; while he may not care too much about them now (though I hope he does), I’m sure he’ll eventually come to realize how important they are as he gets closer to stepping out into the real world.

      Since he’s still in high school, you two could actually work to build a website that could help him get into his choice college and even get scholarships. A high schooler with a well-established personal brand would definitely stand out to college administrators, especially if he has other projects and cool things to show off as well.

  140. Hey this has been really helpful so far. Thanks Mr. Frank.

    Needing some help though – I installed the wordpress as you outlined in your instructions, but I am confused about where to go from there to editing my website. wordpress.org and login? Please help. THanks

    • Hi Rachel – to log into your WorpPress control panel, just go to whateveryourdomainis.com/wp-admin – replacing the domain with the one you chose, of course.

      • Hi, Thomas! I have to say – YOU ARE A LIFESAVER! Your tutorial is amazing and has really helped take my blog to the next step. I do have a quick Q, though. I originally registered for wordpress.com a year ago and am now looking to have more ‘freedom’ through hostgator and wordpress.org. I followed your tutorial but can’t seem to get the .org site to work – it automatically goes to my .com login and there is no permalink category below appearances. Any help would be MUCH appreciated! I’ve spent all day trying to figure this out.

      • Jessie,

        Thanks for much for the kind words! I’m glad I was able to help you get your blog on track. I actually made a video tutorial on transferring a WordPress.com blog over to a self-hosted installation; check it out here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv9cdNsha6w

        Also, if you didn’t see it, I recently published a complete guide on building a blog. In that post, I go over specific things you can do to help your blog succeed – things I didn’t cover in this personal website guide. Hope it helps! Let me know if the video tutorial doesn’t answer something for you 🙂

  141. Thank you for the tutorial this post is awesome! I have been wanting to update my site to a wordpress theme for sometime but was too overwhelmed to start…and this guide really helped.

    conradgrissom.com still in progress!

  142. I made my website with the help of your guide, let me know if there are any problems on it or suggestions.

    adamkubizna.com

    • Adam – this is one of the best personal sites I’ve ever seen a student make. Great job! I may even feature it at some point when I get the chance.

      Since you’ve got the basics covered so well, I’ll give you a few small pointers:

      • You might not want that contact form automatically popping up on every page.
      • The SiteMeter button in the footer probably shouldn’t be there.
      • You definitely don’t need the admin stuff in the footer – it’s useful for you, but useless to visitors. You might consider just taking everything out of the footer and putting your spotify widget in the sidebar.

      Overall, fantastic job dude.

      • Thanks! I implemented your suggestions already and I am currently looking for a way to make the “Site meter” invisible but the site is coming up with errors, so I have to play around with that whenever I am not bombarded with accounting problems. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

  143. Thanks for your guide! Just built my personal website. A little busy these days, so I just put up an ABOUT ME page for now. I will update other things slowly and have a whole new style of website. anyway, thank you for starting me up!

    • Awesome! I always love seeing another student get themselves an online base of operations. Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

  144. Great article / tute! Thanks for sharing your time and your talent. One question: I have 3 blogs that I’m thinking of combining into my own page, any tips or pointers?
    Cheers
    Heather

    • Thanks – glad you found it helpful!

      As for combining blogs – how are those blogs currently hosted? If they’re all on WordPress, you can check out this article on combining WordPress blogs. Even if they’re not on WordPress, you might be able to import them.

  145. Hi Thomas, Just wanted to say thanks for writing this post. It totally helped me set up my website, which I had wanted to do for some time and was having some issues figuring things out.

    Keep being awesome

  146. Hi Thomas,

    Are all/some of the resources mentioned by you available outside of US?

    • I’m pretty sure they all are! I know WordPress is totally open source, so you’ll have no worries there. HostGator and NameCheap are international as well, I believe. If not, just leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out!

  147. Good Job! 😉

    But… this is a standard guide. I ‘would ask to you if you mind to create another post with advanced setting…

  148. Nice.. i’m searchin’ for usefull guide online, but this post is a great post!! really!! This is a clear example of hw i can build a website.
    For the future.. can i ask u something about any plugin?

    • For sure! However, don’t be afraid to check the plugin’s FAQ and the WordPress support forums as well. There are certainly a lot of plugins I don’t have experience with.

  149. Thanks for the guide Thomas. Working on getting my domain set up now. What’s the easiest way to start using my site as an HTML playground outside of WordPress? I’d like to start experimenting with some javascript on-site. Can I do that through WordPress?

    • Indeed you can! All you need to do is place your Javascript in the correct theme file. Your theme has multiple PHP files that WordPress pulls together in order to spit out a finished HTML page. These are basically structured with the following files:

      • header.php
      • the “body” file – single.php for a blog post, index.php for the homepage, page.php for a page, archive.php for an archive, search.php for the search results page and so on. We’ll pretend this is for a single blog post, so it’s single.php.
      • sidebar.php to call in the sidebar
      • footer.php

      There are also other basic theme files that may be called in, such as comments.php on a blog post.

      WordPress will take all the files – let’s say header.php, single.php, sidebar.php, and footer.php – and combine them to make a full HTML page. This works because the main file – single.php – has calls like this – < ?php get_header(); ?> – to bring in the supporting files.

      So, basically, all you need to do is put your javascript in one of these files and you’re good to go! Once you learn how themes work, you can play with them like they’re any regular ‘ole HTML file. So let’s do an example.

      Say you want a Javascript alert to pop up on all your blog posts that tells readers they should comment. So in header.php, you’d make yourself some room in between and and insert:

      (bracket)script type=”text/javascript”(bracket)
      function commentYouDamnKids()
      {
      alert(“Leave a comment on my blog post, you damn ungrateful kids! I work my fingers to the bone writing post nothing short of dog’s bollocks, and this is the thanks I get?!? On your bike!”);
      }
      (bracket)/script(bracket)

      And then find the (bracket)body(bracket) and edit it to: (bracket)body onload=”commentYouDamnKids()”(bracket)

      Note: I had to change < and > to (bracket) so my blog post wouldn’t actually render this 😛

      And there you have it! This is very simplified, so I highly recommend playing around with your theme and learning from sites like WPTuts+ and WPBeginner.

  150. This has been one of the most useful guide I have ever seen in the internet. It’s just my first year in college and looking at what you did here, I’ll be sure to drop by every once in a while! 😀 A really big thanks for this. I’m planning to make a successful website too in the future so I’ll never forget what I learned in here.

  151. Hi Thomas!

    Could you share your W3 Total Chache Plugin Settings with me, beacuase the only thing it doeas with my website is to slow i down. My host is an VPS so it is not bad 🙂

    • Ah dude, thanks for reminding me! I totally had analytics on my list of topics to add to the last part, and I think I just got so excited to finish that I forgot to include it. I’ll put it in now 🙂

  152. This is extremely useful especially for someone like me who does not know much about html (even though i have great websites). I wish i can learn security as well.

    Sheyi

    • Glad you found it useful, Sheyi! I’m really liking the recent redesign you did on your site. Good work!

      Security is definitely a good thing to learn. Luckily, there’s a lot of good content out there dealing with WordPress security, so it’s not hard to learn. In Step 5 I linked to an article I wrote about that topic; you can start there if you like!

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