Course: Initial Site Setup

In this course we’ll show you the initial steps to setting up your freelance website using WordPress. Once you have completed this course, you will know how to:

  1. Complete basic keyword research for selecting a domain
  2. Register your domain and set up hosting
  3. Install WordPress

Keywords and Domain Selection

In this lesson, we’re going to show you how to use keywords to select a domain name. We’ll cover the following topics:

  • How to analyze your keywords
  • Using keywords in domain names
  • How to select a domain name

Let’s get started!


How to analyze your keywords

As we mentioned on our Welcome page, this set of training courses is based on a real project we built for one of our clients. We will refer to them as Stover Tree Service. So, as we go through the courses we will be accomplishing two objectives:

  1. Show you how to build your own freelance website that generates a steady flow of new clients for you
  2. Show those of you who want to become web designers how to build a website for one of your clients. The fees we charged for this website are $3,750 for setup plus $500 per month for ongoing services.

During our client interview meeting with Stover Tree Service, we asked the following question:

If someone were to search for your services in Google, what search words would they use?

And we received the following answer:

Tree service, tree removal, tree trimming, stump grinding.

These are the keywords we’ll be using for the Stover Tree Service site build. For your freelance website you will want to use keyword phrases your clients would search for like, “web designer,” “web design company,” or “freelance writer,” “copywriter,” or whatever search terms best describe the freelance services you provide. Remember to stay away from industry jargon. Try get inside the mind of your potential client – what keywords would they search for?

Once you have your primary keywords, you’ll be using them in up to four areas:

1. Headings. Using your keywords in headings lets the search engines know what your client’s site is about. This, in turn, allows them to index your site for these keywords. Indexing is simply listing the site in a way that it’s included in the results for a search term.

2. Copy. You’ll also want to include your keywords in your website copy. This will also let the search engines know that your freelance website is centered on these keywords.

3. Alt tags. You’ll include alt tags for your images. These are primarily for those who don’t use or can’t see images, and it allows these visitors to understand what the images are about. But the search engines also use these tags to determine the subject of a website’s content.

4. Domain name. This used to be a very important factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but its importance has vastly diminished in recent years.


Using keywords in domain names

Since using keywords in domain names is much less important than it used to be, we recommend that you use your primary keywords in their domain name if you can, but not to worry about it if you can’t. It’s a “nice to have”, but not essential to SEO or getting your client ranked for their keywords. One last thing to be aware of. Keywords are still important for conversion rates. If you have keywords in your domain name, you typically will increase your click through rates in search results and text ads.

If you do decide to use keywords in your domain name, be sure to use your primary keywords. Using the keywords we got from Stover Tree Service, “tree service” is the only term suitable for a domain name. All of their other keywords are too specific, and do not represent their business as a whole.


How to select a domain name

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a domain name:

1. Company name. Ideally, your client’s domain name should include their company name.

2. Keywords. We’ve already covered the details on this above.

3. Length. Ideally, you want your domain names to be as short as possible. This makes them easier to remember, and also makes for simpler domain-specific email addresses (e.g. ed@stovertreeservice.com).

4. Special characters. We recommend against using hyphens (-) and underscores (_) in domain names. These have a tendency to convey a less than professional appearance. Simple and classic is the way to go.

5. Extension. We recommend using the .com extension. This is what people are most used to seeing, and provides the most professional appearance.

For our example client, Stover Tree Service already has a domain name: stovertreeservice.com. This is an ideal domain name, and accounts for all of the factors listed above.

Determining domain availability

The best resource we’ve found for determining domain availability is Instant Domain Search. Go to Instant Domain Search and begin with your most desirable domain name.

The reason we like Instant Domain Search so much is because it shows availability in real time – as you type – so finding and selecting a domain name is a very intuitive process. It may take a few tries to get one that’s available. If your first choice isn’t available, simply tweak it or move to your other choices until you find the best option available.

Instant Domain Search  domain search interface

Instant Domain Search’s domain search interface

While we recommend Instant Domain Search for finding and selecting a domain name, we suggest using another service for the actual registration of your domain. We’ll explain the options in the next lesson.


Congratulations on completing Lesson 1! You should now understand:

  1. How to use your client’s keywords
  2. Using keywords in domain names
  3. How to select a domain name

Domain Registration and Hosting

In this lesson, we’re going to explain domain registration and hosting. We’ll cover the following topics:

  • How domain registration and hosting fits into your business
  • What to look for in a host
  • Our recommendations for domain registration and hosting
  • Next steps

Let’s get started!


How hosting and domain registration fits into your business

Let’s start with some definitions.

Definitions

Registrar: A registrar allows you to register a unique domain name. Once you’ve registered a domain, you have exclusive rights to it, and no one else can register the same name. Your domain name will appear in the URL field of your website. For example, the domain name of this website is freelancefolder.com.

Host: A host provides the infrastructure you’ll need to build and publish your websites. Your websites will be “hosted” on your host’s servers, and they provide the storage space and bandwidth necessary for your websites to be available to your visitors.

Once you’re registered your domain, you’ll want to set it up so that it’s hosted on your host’s servers.


What to look for in a host

There are many hosting options available these days, and if you’re just getting started, it may be difficult to figure out what to look for. Here are the primary factors you should research with any host you consider:

1. Uptime – Simply put, uptime is the percentage of time a host’s servers are up-and-running. This is vitally important, because when your host’s servers are down, so are your and your clients’ websites.

2. Support – It’s important to choose a host that provides top-notch support, as this will make it much easier for you to troubleshoot and resolve issues when they arise. Most major hosts provide 24/7 phone support, so this is the “gold standard” for hosting. You’ll find phone support is much easier and more efficient than working with a host that only provides email or ticketed support.

3. Disk space, bandwidth, and domains – This is the amount of “technology assets” you have access to for your websites. A hosting package’s disk space determines how large your websites can be (in gigabytes), and how much content and data you can include. The bandwidth determines how many visitors, and visits, you can use before incurring additional charges. Domains refers to how many domains you can host on your account.

Many hosts now offer packages with unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and domains. This is an ideal solution, as you’ll never have to worry about running out of any of them.

4. Speed – The speed of your website is critical. A delay of just 1 or 2 seconds will cause some visitors to leave your site. Web page design and coding is one affects the speed as well as your hosting provider.

5. Price – The final consideration when choosing a host is price. We encourage you to comparison shop, and get a feel for the features and pricing offered by different hosts. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the host that best fits your needs.


Our recommendations for domain registration and hosting

For hosting and domain registration, we recommend Bluehost.com. They offer unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and domains, all for as little as $3.95 per month. They provide 24/7 phone support, and their support is first rate. We have years of experience with Bluehost, and they have always come through when we needed them.

Tip: Your First Domain

If you decide to sign up with Bluehost, they offer a free domain with all hosting plans. This domain remains free, year in and year out. This is a great way to save a little money when you’re first getting started.


Next steps

Once you’ve selected your registrar and host, here are the next steps:

1. Purchase your first domain. Your domain will be purchased from your registrar. If you think you’ll want to keep this domain for more than one year, most registrars offer discounts for multiple-year purchases.*

*Note: As mentioned above, you can get a free domain if you sign up for hosting with Bluehost.

2. Set up your hosting account. This should be as simple as point-and-click, but don’t hesitate to contact your host’s support if you need help.

3. Point your domain to your host’s nameservers. You will need to contact your host’s support to get their nameservers. Once you have, contact your registrar and ask how you can point your domain to these nameservers.*

*Note: If you’re using the free domain you received with your Bluehost account, this step is not necessary.

Tip: Setting Up Your Domain and Hosting

You will be following the steps above if you do not already have a domain name registered or website. There are a couple of other typical scenarios that you may encounter:

1. You already have a website and hosting. In this situation, you’ll want to install WordPress on a subdirectory of your site, and then move it to the primary domain once it’s completed. You can contact your host to get details on how to set this up.

2. You already have a website, and want to move to a new host. If this is the case, you’ll want to install WordPress on a “temporary URL” where you’ll build out the site. Once it’s completed, you can then point your domain to your host’s nameservers, and the WordPress site will be live. You can contact your host for assistance on setting up a temporary URL.


Congratulations on completing Lesson 2! You should now understand:

  1. How domain registration and hosting fits into your freelance business
  2. What to look for in a host
  3. Our recommendations for domain registration and hosting
  4. Next steps

Installing WordPress

In this lesson, we’re going to show you how to install WordPress on your first website. We’ll cover all the steps in two ways:

  • With text and screenshots
  • With video

Let’s get started!


Installing WordPress: Text and screenshots

Installing WordPress is much easier than it used to be. Because of its popularity, most hosts now offer a “one-click install”. It actually takes a few clicks, but it’s a very simple process.

Since Stover Tree Service already has a domain and website, we’re setting up this example for the scenario where a client wants to continue to use their domain name and host. We’ll install WordPress on a subdirectory of their site, build the site there, and then transfer it to the primary domain once it’s completed. If you are launching a new site, just follow the same steps without the site transfer at the end.

Note: Screenshots

For any screenshots used in this training program, you can click on the image to view a larger version.

The first step is to log in to your host’s control panel, or cPanel. For Bluehost, the login screen looks like this:

Bluehost login screen

The Bluehost login screen

You can see that we’ve already entered our username and password, so the next step is to click on the ‘login’ button. Once we do, we’re taken to Bluehost’s cPanel. Once there, we can scroll to the ‘Websites’ heading and click on the ‘Install WordPress’ icon:

Install WordPress icon

The ‘Install WordPress’ icon in Bluehost’s cPanel

This takes us to the Mojo Marketplace interface. Mojo Marketplace is a third-party provider that Bluehost uses (and many other major hosts use) for common installations:

Mojo Marketplace interface

The Mojo Marketplace interface

Once you arrive at this screen, click on the green ‘Start’ button:

Mojo Marketplace WordPress install

Installing WordPress in Mojo Marketplace

We’re then forwarded to a screen where we can select the domain on which to install WordPress:

Mojo Marketplace domain selection

Domain selection in Mojo Marketplace

You can see that the selected domain defaults to stovertreeservice.com. If you have multiple domains on your hosting account, this is the area where you would select the correct domain for your WordPress install.

Tip: Subdirectories and Temporary URLs

In our Stover Tree Service example, our client wants to maintain their domain on their current host. This means we’ll need to build their website on a subdirectory. If we didn’t, the new site would overwrite the existing site while it was being built. Here’s the URL (including the subdirectory) we’ll be using: http://www.stovertreeservice.com/wp. This will allow us to build the new WordPress site without affecting their live site.

If our client wanted to transfer their domain to our host, we would need to create a temporary URL. This would allow us to build the new WordPress site on our host’s servers. Once completed, we could point the domain nameservers to our host, and the new site would then be live. Here’s an example of what a temporary URL would look like for Stover Tree Service: http://70.40.220.103/~stovertr.

The next step is to add the ‘wp’ subdirectory in the field to the right of the domain, and then click on the green ‘Check Domain’ button:

Mojo Marketplace check domain

Checking the domain in Mojo Marketplace

This will take you to the final installation screen:

Mojo Marketplace final installation

The final installation screen in Mojo Marketplace

Clicking on the checkbox under ‘Show advanced options’ will open up the advanced fields. These will typically be prefilled, and you’ll want to make the following changes:

  1. Change the ‘Site Name or Title’ to your website’s name
  2. Change the ‘Admin Username’ to an abbreviation of the website’s name or ‘admin’
  3. You can leave the ‘Admin Password’ with the prefilled value, or create your own
  4. Change the ‘Admin Email Address’ to your client’s email address

Make sure to copy the Admin Username and Admin Password to a safe place. You’ll need this information to log in to the WordPress Dashboard. Also make sure that the ‘Automatically create a new database for this installation’ checkbox is checked.

The final step is to check the checkbox next to the GPLv2 terms and conditions, and then click on the green ‘Install Now’ button:

Mojo Marketplace final install

The final steps of the WordPress install in Mojo Marketplace

This will take you to the installation screen, where you’ll see the install progress in the green bar at the top:

Mojo Marketplace installation progress

Installation progress in Mojo Marketplace

Once the installation is complete, you can click on the ‘View Processes’ link:

Mojo Marketplace install complete

The completed install and ‘View Processes’ link in Mojo Marketplace

Which will generate a dropdown with your website’s URL:

Mojo Marketplace website URL

Website URL in Mojo Marketplace

You can then copy and paste this URL into your browser to see your new WordPress installation:

WordPress install URL

WordPress installed on URL


Installing WordPress: Video

Watch this video to see the steps we walked through above:


Congratulations on completing Lesson 3! You should now understand how to install WordPress on your first website.

This concludes the Initial Site Setup course. In our next course, we’ll show you how to work with themes.

Go to next Course: Working with Themes