Building a WordPress website doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact you can build a site for $100 or less and be set for an entire year. You don’t even need to be an experienced web designer.
Many aspects of building a website can be done for free if you are willing to put in a little work. The only cost you need to cover in this guide is web hosting.
When I first started building WordPress sites I had no experience and almost no money to spend. I was creating new websites for the company I worked for to replace the expensive monthly fees of the two sites they had.
From building these sites I learned that amazing WordPress sites can be created even if you don’t have web design knowledge and a big corporate budget.
There are plenty of agencies out there that charge thousands of dollars to build websites for their clients. Many of these agencies do great work and their clients find great value in the services they provide.
But if you are a DIY type person and don’t have a large budget to have a site built for you, this guide will show you how to create an amazing WordPress site with no experience and only $100 or less.
There are several components needed to create any WordPress website:
- Domain Name
- Web Hosting
- Plugins (optional if you have a very basic site)
Cost: Free – $15.00/year
Level of Difficulty: Easy
The first component of any website is the domain name (example: www.awesomedomainname.com). You don’t have a website until you have it. A domain name can be purchased from a registrar like Namecheap or from a web hosting company when you buy a hosting plan.
The difference between the two being that a domain name registrar focuses more so on domain names instead of hosting, although many now offer hosting plans too. Buying from a registrar costs about $10/year for a .com domain.
You can also purchase a domain name when you get a hosting plan. It can cost up to $15 to buy a domain name when you purchase hosting at the same time. Although some offer one for free when purchasing a year of hosting.
Some people say that it’s better to keep your hosting and domain name separate, using different companies for each one. This is due to potential difficulties getting the domain name released if you decide to change hosting providers in the future.
As long as you use a reputable hosting company this shouldn’t be an issue.
If you do use separate companies for hosting and a domain name be prepared for a little extra configuration once you purchase hosting.
Basically, you have to associate your domain name with your website hosted by the hosting provider. To do this you need to change the DNS nameservers to point to your hosting account. This is pretty easy and your hosting provider can help with the process.
Cost: $3.95/month ($48/year)
Level of Difficulty: Medium
Starting out, hosting is the biggest expense with any website. You are purchasing the use of a web server for your WordPress site to run on. Skimping here can cause big problems down the road.
Choosing extremely cheap or even free hosting isn’t advised. Go with a reputable provider with a good reputation and great customer support.
SiteGround offers WordPress Hosting for only $3.95 per month. Domain names start at $15.95 per year from SiteGround. That works out to about $64 per year for hosting and a domain name.
For someone without a large budget or much experience, their inexpensive WordPress hosting plan is a great place to start. According to SiteGround, the starting plan is good for about 10,000 monthly visitors.
As your website grows you may need to get a more robust plan suitable for more monthly visitors. If you anticipate high traffic right away or want more features there many options to fit your needs.
Those are the only necessary costs when setting up a new website. Although your website will be quite generic at this point, there are many great free themes and plugins (mentioned below) to personalize and custom tailor your site.
As for setting up your hosting once it’s purchased, the hosting provider will have an easy install process to install WordPress on your server.
The industry standard is to have quick and easy WordPress installation on new hosting plans.
There is no need for previous experience. The installation consists of little more than entering your domain name, creating an admin username and password and entering your site name and site description.
It’s really just a matter of filling in some boxes in a form. The information you enter will be configured by WordPress. From there your hosting company will give you instructions to access your new website.
Then you can begin to personalize the site with themes and plugins.
Level of Difficulty: Easy
There is no need to have experience when installing a theme on WordPress. A beginner can easily install a theme in just a few steps.
Themes are the quickest way to change the look of your new website drastically. The great thing about themes is that you can leverage the talent of great web designers and apply their designs to your site with just a few clicks.
Since they handle the look and layout of the website, themes give it much of its character. It determines how posts are displayed, the color scheme, header and footer layout and a lot more.
A good theme will make a website look like it was designed by a professional. There are plenty of free or low cost themes that accomplish this.
Many free themes can be found in the WordPress theme directory. Depending on the style of your new website there are many designs and styles to choose from. ThemeGrill and ThemeIsle are also good places to look for free themes.
Premium paid themes are available too. However, when starting with a small budget free themes can take a website pretty far. There is no need to spend money on a theme right away unless you find one with features you can’t live without.
Installation of a theme is just a matter of finding one to install, downloading to your computer, then uploading to your website. Alternatively, if you search for themes from within the WordPress admin dashboard, it’s even easier. Just find a theme, click install then click activate and it’s ready to use.
For more in depth information on where to find themes and how to install them, check out How to easily install themes and plugins on WordPress.
Where to find free themes
These are just a few places that offer great, free themes.
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Just as with themes, plugins can be installed by a beginner with minimal effort. There is no need to be a professional developer to add new features to a WordPress site.
While they don’t make as drastic of a change to a website as themes, plugins can add a lot of functionality. They are a great addition to help give a WordPress site more professional capabilities.
Plugins can add features like spam protection, email list signups, ad management, event calendars, contact forms and much more.
Many plugins in the WordPress plugin directory are free. Most of the popular ones are free or offer a free version.
As with themes, unless there is a very specific feature your website must have, there is likely a free plugin to accomplish your needs.
As for installation, plugins install much the same way that themes do. Find one to install, download it to your computer, then upload to your website. Alternatively, if you search for plugins from within the WordPress admin dashboard, it’s even easier. Just find a plugin, click install, then click activate and it’s ready to use.
The post How to easily install themes and plugins on WordPress covers more details about finding and installing plugins.
Suggested free plugins
- Yoast SEO – Search Engine Optimization to help your website show up in search results
- WP Super Cache – Enable caching to speed up your website
- UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore – Backup your website files and keep them safe
- Contact Form 7 – Add a contact form to your website
Check out the WordPress plugin directory. It has 55,000+ plugins, many of them free.
To recap, for about $64 you can get a domain name and one year of WordPress hosting. With a budget of $100 that leaves $28 for a theme or premium plugins. On the other hand, go with a free theme and free plugins, and you can easily have a website for under $75.
Newcomers to WordPress with a small budget can definitely create amazing sites by utilizing free themes, plugins and inexpensive but reliable hosting.
The best way to learn how to build a WordPress website is to just start using it. Get a hosting plan, find a theme and some plugins and start building!