This is a step-by-step guide to create a secure HTTPS WordPress website. It’s non-technical with no coding required. You’ll get a free SSL certificate – which means you’ll have a green padlock on your website. SSL Certificates for websites can be quite expensive – so I’m going to save you a lot of money by getting a free SSL certificate.
Once you’ve completed the 6 easy steps, your HTTPS WordPress website will be live!
6 Steps to Create a Secure HTTPS WordPress Website (FREE SSL Certificate):
- Get Cheap Webhosting
- Install WordPress and Install your Free SSL Certificate
- Choose a Theme for your Website
- Setup your Website
- Install WordPress Plugins
- Start Writing!
Step 1. Get Cheap Webhosting
Choosing the right host for your website is the most important element to set your website up for success.
I recommend SiteGround for hosting your website.
SiteGround make it super easy to install a FREE SSL certificate for your website. SiteGround are renowned for their excellence in customer support, fast hosting speed and low monthly fees.
SiteGround is also recommended by WordPress.org:
You can start your website with SiteGround very cheaply and you won’t have to pay for an SSL certificate. It’s easy to create secure HTTPS website.
You just have to follow the same steps as I took:
Part 1 – Get Started with SiteGround
The following link is an affiliate link to SiteGround which means I will get paid a small commission at no additional cost to you if you use this link. This link will take you to the correct page to get started with SiteGround and get a free SSL certificate. Thank you! : )
The first thing I did was choose a hosting option. I went for the cheapest hosting option and signed up with SiteGround for $3.95/month. I’d recommend this option for smaller websites. If you have a larger website with a significant following, or a shopping site, you may need to choose one of SiteGround’s premium hosting options:
SiteGround have servers located all over the world: USA, UK, Netherlands, Milan and Singapore, so wherever you live they are an excellent choice.
Once I completed the sign up process, SiteGround sent me an email with the details I needed to login to their web portal (CPanel).
Part 2 – Change your Domain Nameservers (DNS)
If you entered your existing domain in Step 1, you’ll need to change your Nameservers. Changing your Nameservers will point your existing domain name to SiteGround – and get your website live. You can skip this step if you entered a NEW domain in Step 1.
Because I already bought a domain name from Godaddy, the next thing I did was login to GoDaddy, my domain register.
I changed my Domain Nameservers from Godaddy’s webhost’s to SiteGround’s (United States) Domain nameservers (DNS):
I waited a couple of hours for my Name Servers to propagate.
Now everything was in place to get a free SSL certificate, and create my secure HTTPS website.
STEP 2: Install WordPress and Install your Free SSL Certificate
Part 1 – Install WordPress
First, I logged into SiteGround’s Cpanel and scrolled down to the ‘WordPress Tools’ section and clicked on ‘WordPress Installer’.
I clicked on ‘Install Now’ and WordPress automatically started installing.
On the next screen I selected ‘My Domain’, and entered a ‘Admin Username’ (my name) and an ‘Admin Password’ and clicked ‘Install’.
I got confirmation that WordPress had been successfully installed.
Part 2 – Install your SSL certificate
Within SiteGround’s Cpanel, I scrolled down to the Security section.
I clicked on ‘Let’s Encrypt’. This is where you can install your free SSL certificate for HTTPS:
I selected my domain and clicked ‘Install’.
Next I switched on ‘HTTPS Enforce’ and ‘External Links Rewrite’:
‘HTTPS Enforce‘ redirects HTTP to HTTPS, forcing your website to work entirely over an encrypted HTTPS connection.
‘External Links Rewrite‘ solves ‘mixed content’ issues from external websites with non-secure connections that load data into your website.
My free SSL certificate was now loaded.
Next I checked to see if my website was live and showing the green padlock.
In SiteGround’s Cpanel, I clicked on ‘My Accounts’ and ‘Go to Admin Panel’.
I logged into WordPress (using the username and password I chose in the previous step). My website was showing secure HTTPS with a green padlock!
You’ve set up hosting, got a domain, installed WordPress and got a Free SSL Certificate!
Your WordPress Dashboard
The WordPress Dashboard is the back end of your website.
Website owners use WordPress to manage their website and publish posts. WordPress is like a website editor and it’s completely free.
Here you can make edits and write posts.
The first time you see the WordPress dashboard it will seem daunting. Once you’ve become familiar with the WordPress dashboard, you’ll find it easy to use.
WordPress is the most popular choice for websites – you’ll pick it up fast!
**If you’ve purchased SiteGround using my link, and got stuck at any point, please email me. I will help you resolve any issues. You can also use the ‘live chat’ feature on the SiteGround website. SiteGround support staff are available 24/7.**
Step 3: Choose a Theme for your Website
Let’s choose a design for your website. We’ll do this by installing a WordPress theme.
A WordPress theme is like a design template. It controls the fonts, layout and colors of your website.
A free WordPress theme will already be installed on your website. It’s basic, but it’s usable. I like my websites to look unique, so I install a new theme.
Installing a new theme will not delete any posts, pages, or content- so you can change your theme at any time.
You have two options for themes.
You can either choose a:
- Free theme – great if you’re on a budget. Create a website and see if you enjoy it.
- Premium theme – better coded and the designs are much nicer.
I’ll walk you through each option:
Option 1: Install a New Free WordPress Theme
WordPress has thousands of free themes. They are pre-installed in your WordPress dashboard and will fit any website niche.
Many free themes are well-designed. However, some themes are old, unresponsive, poorly coded or ugly.
I’ll show you how to find a free theme that will give you the best chance of success.
How to Install a Free WordPress Theme:
Part 1: Search for a Free Theme
In your WordPress dashboard, go to -> Appearance -> Themes -> Add New
Part 2: Filter by ‘website’
1. Click ‘Feature Filter’
2. Check ‘website’
3. Click ‘Apply Filters’
Part 3: Filter by ‘Responsive’
Type in ‘responsive’ in the top-right search bar.
A responsive theme is the most important element because it ensures your website will be coded for all devices, including mobile, tablets and desktop.
A responsive theme also increases the likelihood the theme is more up-to-date, and the quality of coding is higher.
Part 4: Compare Themes you Like
Click on ‘Details + Preview’ to view the preview version of themes you like:
Look for a theme which has:
- A high star rating
- ‘SEO optimized’, ‘SEO friendly’ (or similar) in the theme description:
Part 5: Install and Activate
Once you’ve found a theme you like, click ‘Install’:
Then click ‘Activate’:
Your new theme will be live.
Help Setting up a Free WordPress Theme
Each theme has a different setup process. Therefore there’s generally a lack of help and setup information for free themes. I’ve sometimes found it difficult to setup a free theme like the preview version.
If you’re struggling to make a free theme look like the preview version, read my article on Setting up a Free WordPress Theme like the preview.
Option 2: Install a Premium WordPress Theme
See my article on how to find and install Genesis Themes if you’re interested in installing a Genesis theme for your website. Here you’ll find my recommendations on where to buy Genesis themes, with easy instructions on how to install it.
If your a blogger, see my page on the Top 12 Genesis Blog Themes.
I use Genesis themes for my website.
I think Genesis themes are better than free WordPress themes.
Choosing a Genesis theme will save you time scrolling through thousands of free themes.
Advantages of using a Genesis WordPress Theme (versus a Free Theme):
- Better looking designs
- SEO friendly and responsive
- Coded using HTML5, the latest coding standard
- Easy-to-follow instructions to setup your theme
- Support staff will personally answer your questions for free if you’re not able to setup your theme like their demo
- Actively managed, helpful support forums
- Easy setup instructions provided, often with screenshots and videos
Once you’ve found a theme you like, follow the developer’s instructions to install it on your site.
Whether you’ve chosen a free theme or a Genesis theme, there are common steps to setup your website – which I will show you in the next section!
Step 4: Setup your Website
Follow these steps to setup your WordPress website:
1. Create a Homepage
The homepage is one of the most visited website pages. There are two types of homepage to choose from:
- ‘Your Latest Posts’ – displays your latest posts in chronological order
- ‘A Static Page’
A static homepage is the most popular choice for modern website owners.
To Set a Static Homepage: Click ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Customize’ -> ‘Static Front Page’ -> ‘A Static Page’
Your homepage has only one goal – direct readers to your most important pages. It should do no more than that.
Your website’s homepage should have a clear and simple format. It shouldn’t have a long scrolling page.
Make it visually compelling and professional.
2. Choose a URL Prefix
Decide if you want to add ‘www.’ to your URL. In other words, do you want your URL to look like this:
clicksandbucks.com (WordPress default)
or like this:
This choice is purely personal preference. The only difference is how your website looks in search results.
For example Facebook has www. in their URL, while Twitter does not:
I personally prefer having www. in my URL, so I change my URL in WordPress.
If you want to add www. to your URL:
1). Click ‘Settings’
2). Click ‘General’
3). Add www. to your URL (Do not delete ‘https://’)
4). Add www. to your URL (Do not delete ‘https://’)
3. Add your Website Title & Tagline
Your website’s Site Title is visible in search results, so make sure it’s correct:
Change your Website’s Site Title & Tagline: Click ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Customize’ -> ‘Site Identity’ -> Enter your website’s Title and Tagline
1). Site Title: The name of your website
2). Tagline: What your website is about – include your main keywords for search engine optimization (SEO).
4. Change Permalink Settings
Your permalink (URL) structure helps search engines understand what your website pages are about.
By default, WordPress uses a numbering structure: e.g. https://www.clicksandbucks.com/?p=123.
However Google and other search engines find it more helpful to read words, not numbers.
Change your Permalink Settings: Click ‘Settings’ -> ‘Permalinks’ -> select ‘Post name’ -> Save
This will change your permalink structure from numbers to words.
5. Create an ‘About’ Page
The ‘About’ page is another highly visited page. Readers are interested in the person behind a website.
Your ‘About’ page should tell your readers:
- Who you are
- Why you created your website
- Whom your website is meant for
- What your readers will find on your website
- Social media links – so your readers can connect with you
To create New Pages: Click ‘Pages’ -> ‘Add New’.
Include a Photo of Yourself on your ‘About’ Page. This create a human connection.
To add a Photo: Click: ‘Media’ -> ‘Add New’ -> ‘Drop Files’ or ‘Select File’ -> select a picture from your desktop.
6. Create a ‘Contact’ Page
Include a ‘Contact’ page so readers can contact you to ask you questions. This helps build your community.
Invite readers to contact you through a contact form, email, social media, or ask them to leave a comment in a post, so you can reply to them in-line.
I use a plugin called ‘Contact Form 7’ for my contact form. (We’ll learn more about plugins on the next page).
7. Create the Navigation Menu
Create some pages before you setup your navigation menu so you have something to work with. You can add some dummy pages for now and delete them later.
To Create a Navigation Menu: Click ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Menus’ -> ‘Create a New Menu’ -> name the menu: ‘Primary Menu’ -> ‘Create Menu’
Select the pages you want to add to your menu, and click ‘Add to Menu’.
Drag and drop the pages into the required position.
You can also create drop-down menus by offsetting a page slightly to the right underneath another page:
8. Add Footers
To add Footers: Click -> ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Widgets’
Drag and drop widgets from ‘Available Widgets’ into the Footer widget areas (Footer 1, Footer 2 etc).
You can also add widgets to the ‘Top Bar Left’ and ‘Top Bar Right’ widget areas (all developers name their widget areas differently).
9. Include a Photo of yourself in the Sidebar
Include a photo of yourself on the top of your primary sidebar.
To do this I use a plugin called ‘Image Widget’. (We’ll learn more about plugins on the next page).
Download the ‘Image Widget’ plugin (see next page for instructions).
Click -> ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Widgets’. Then drag and drop the ‘Image Widget’ from ‘Available Widgets’ into the Primary Sidebar widget area:
Click -> ‘Select an Image’
In the next section I’ll give you an introduction to WordPress plugins.
Step 5: Install Plugins
WordPress plugins are programs that can be installed on your website to add more functions & features.
I will show you:
- How to install WordPress plugins
- A list of WordPress plugins I recommend installing on your website – they are all free.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
Part 1. Add Plugin
1. Click ‘Plugins’
2. Click ‘Add New’
Part 2. Search and Install
1. Enter the name of the plugin in the search box and click enter
2. Click ‘Install Now’
Part 3. Activate Plugin
Your plugin will now be live.
Part 4. Configure Settings
Configure the plugin by clicking on the name of the plugin in the WordPress dashboard and edit it’s settings.
Recommended WordPress Plugins
There is a plugin available for almost any type of feature you can think of – and most are free.
I use and recommend the following plugins – they are all free.
|Useful for:||Plugin Name:|
|Website under construction||Maintenance||During the initial set up of your website, put an ‘under construction’ sign or ‘coming soon’ sign up. This plugin will prevent people from seeing your half-finished website. When your website is ready for visitors, deactivate and delete this plugin.|
|Website Security||iThemes Security||iThemes Security helps prevent hackers from breaking into your site. iThemes Security is robust, simple to set up and has a lot of security options, including changing the URL for your admin login.|
|Search Engine Optimization (SEO)||Yoast SEO||This plugin will help make your website search engine friendly. SEO is very important for website owners and this plugin created by Yoast makes it easy. Once installed, you’ll be able to edit a number of very important SEO features, including Title Tag and Meta Description. This plugin also indexes your website with Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Search engines will also automatically be notified when you create new website pages and posts.|
|Contact Form||Contact Form 7||This is a simple contact form to add to your Contact page. Visitors can send you a message without leaving your website or knowing your email address.|
|Formatting||Shortcodes Ultimate||I love this plugin! I use it all over my website sites to create buttons, tabs and boxes. It has every shortcode you can think of. Turn a basic theme into a professional looking theme in just a few clicks!|
|Website Comment Spam||Askimet||I use the base comment system built into WordPress. It serves all the functions I need and it’s faster than the top third-party comment systems. Couple it with Askimet, a well-known tool for preventing spam comments in your website’s comment section and you’ll be set all set.|
|Social Share Buttons||Simple Share Buttons Adder||Add Social Share Buttons for your readers to easily share your posts on their social media. You are able to place ocial buttons of your choice in various locations on your website. Readers simply have to click the share button – and tada – free publicity!|
|Related Posts||Contextual Related Posts||This plugin gives you the ability to automatically show the reader similar posts and pages, which they also might like. Like a ‘You Also Might Enjoy:’ format with featured images of the posts. This helps keep readers on your website, and decreases the chance they will leave your page.|
|Sidebar Picture||Image Widget||This plugin makes it easy to add your picture to the top of your website’s sidebar. You can also add a website title and description underneath your picture.|
|Website Speed||W3 Total Cache||This plugin will speed up your website, making your pages load faster. People have a tendency to click the back button when a website loads too slow and Google ranks slower websites lower in search rankings. This plugin will give your website a noticeable increase in speed.|
|Build an Email List||MailChimp for WordPress||Collecting email addresses is important for growing your readership. I recommend using this plugin to encourage readers to sign up for newsletters. I have had a lot of success with MailChimp for WordPress.|
|Favicon||Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator||A favicon is an icon that is shown at the top of browser tabs (next to the page name). The icon is usually a logo and some website owners use a picture of their face as their favicon. Some WordPress themes have this functionality already built in, making it easy to upload your favicon within the Theme. Otherwise you can use this plugin.|
Recommended Affliate Marketing WordPress Plugins
|Useful for:||Plugin Name:|
|Shorten Affiliate Marketing URLs||Pretty Links||Affiliate marketing URLs are typically long and ugly. This plugin shrinks the URL and renames it into a personalized link. Use these links on your website and anywhere on the internet.|
Install the plugins you think will be helpful.
Some Tips on Plugins
- Only Install Essential Plugins – The more plugins you have installed, the slower your website will load. When you stop using a plugin, delete it.
- Investigate Plugins – Be careful which Plugins you install. Plugins are created by third-party developers. Some are poorly coded and will slow down your website. Before you install a plugin, check it’s reviews first. Underneath the ‘Install’ button you’ll see a link to ‘More Details’. Here you’ll be able to see the plugin’s star rating and read reviews.
- Check Compatibility – Check to see if the plugin is compatible with your version WordPress. You might have to update your version of WordPress before installing the plugin.
- Update your Plugins – Keep you plugins updated to the latest versions. This is very quick to do and helps prevent hackers from gaining access to your website.
Well done for making it this far!
In the final section I’ll give a few tips to help you get started!
Step 6: Start Writing!
You’ve set up a self-hosted WordPress website! You’re ready to start writing!
Here are 4 quick tips to get you started:
1. Be You
Don’t write what you think people want to hear. Be you.
Be positive and respectful but write what you really mean. People will enjoy your website if you let your personality shine through.
2. Write High Quality Content
Publishing great content on a fairly frequent basis is the key to building your website.
Don’t feel like you have to publish a post every day, but try to post frequently, at least once a week and preferably every 2-3 days.
Quality is far more important than quantity. Don’t waste your time writing thousands of pages of useless information no one will read.
3. Keep Writing
Many website owners start writing, get discouraged and soon stop. Be the person who outlasts other website owners.
The more you write and the longer you write for, the better the chances your website will succeed. Commit to your website and keep thinking of fresh ideas for pages and posts – your readership will grow exponentially.
4. Promote your Website
Connect with other website owners at the same stage as you. Leave useful, helpful and respectful comments on websites that interest you.
Connect and interact with other website owners through social media.
Most importantly, enjoy your website!
Thank you for using Clicks and Bucks to create your website!
Please Share this Guide!
If you’ve found this guide useful, please share it!
Forward to a friend who might enjoy starting a website.
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Again, congratulations! You can now legitimately call yourself a ‘Webmaster’!
Watch the Easy Step-by-Step Video?
Questions & Comments
If you used my link to SiteGround and have any problems starting your website , please contact me, or leave a comment below.
My plan is keep this guide continually up-to-date with the latest information.
Feel free to leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!