How long does it take to get a new website up and running? Less than five minutes! It could not be simpler and all you need to do is to answer a few simple questions, confirm your email and your site is ready.
It will not have any content and therefore you won’t be making any money from your site yet, but we will see how to add content in a later lesson. Right now we need a website and wordpress.com makes it very easy to get one.
Why wordpress.com and not self-hosted?
This was covered in an earlier article, but in a nutshell you should use wordpress.com as a learning experience.
It enables you to learn how WordPress works, build a small test site and experiment with it. It is simpler for beginners and harder to mess up if you make mistakes.
When you have completed this course you can move on to the next one which looks at self-hosted WordPress and you will be far better prepared for it.
The site setup is different with wordpress.com, but everything else is the same. Learn to create posts, pages, menus, add themes and more using a wordpress.com test site. Make your mistakes here, it’s free and no-one cares! Then you’ll be ready for self-hosted WordPress.
1 Go to the WordPress website
Open a web browser and enter wordpress.com into the address box. A simple home page appears with two buttons in the middle of the screen. Click Create Website.
2 Choose a topic
A series of questions aimed at discovering the nature of your website is displayed. Click a topic and you might see another list of topics. I clicked Arts & Entertainment and then Photography in the next list of topics.
The topic you choose has no effect on your site. Why bother then? It helps WordPress to understand what sort of websites people are creating.
3 Select a layout
Several layouts are displayed and the blocks show where the content will appear on the page. There are hundreds of themes (designs) for your website and rather than simply list them all, it will show only those whose design matches what you pick here.
This is not a permanent choice and you are not stuck with it. In fact, in a later lesson we will show how to switch to a completely different one. I chose A list of my latest posts in the top left corner.
4 Choose a theme
Themes are displayed that match the layout you chose. A theme defines the colours, fonts, text style, images, and positioning of all these elements on the page. The theme you choose completely changes the way your website looks.
Browse through the themes and click one. Follow me and choose the Twenty Sixteen theme.
Themes are easily changed as we will see later, so don’t worry if it isn’t what you want, it just makes it easier to follow this guide.
5 Choose a domain
The address or URL of your website can now be selected. Type in one or more words and WordPress will suggest URLs. They always take the form xyz.wordpress.com and you only get to choose the first bit, the xyz.
Try different words and try to create a URL that is easy to remember and that describes your website. I typed photos-fun and it suggested photosfunblog.wordpress.com. This is free and was selected (the others must be paid for).
Every website must have a unique URL, so don’t copy mine because it is already taken. In fact. It is hard to find a URL that is not already taken. Really hard!
Try to avoid ones with numbers, like myblog123.wordpress.com because there are probably 122 other sites called myblog and you are the 123rd.
Type in your domain and select a free one.
6 Pick a plan
Choose the plan you want by clicking the button below it. I chose the Free plan.
There are limitations with the free plan, but it is perfect for your first website and you can experiment with it, get to know WordPress and learn how it works free of charge.
If you outgrow the free plan later, it can be upgraded and more features can be added or it can be abandoned if you want to go down the self-hosted route. Use wordpress.com to learn WordPress and then you will be ready for the extra power and features of a self-hosted installation.
7 Create an account
We are almost done and you must now create an account by entering your email address, username and password.
Any username will do and you could use your real name (no spaces though), the name of the website, or anything else you can think of. The website name was suggested and I’m going to leave it at that.
Enter a password that no-one will be able to guess and then click Create My Account.
Write down the email, username and password so you don’t forget them. They are very important and you will not be able to get into your website without them.
8 Confirm your email
Do not click any more buttons. Instead, go to your email and look for one from WordPress. Open it and click the Confirm button. This is to confirm that you own the email account.
9 Log in
When the Confirm button is clicked, a browser window or new tab opens and you are prompted to log in. Use the username and password you created earlier.
10 All set up
Your website is now up and running and your email is confirmed. You are logged into the back end of your WordPress website where you can create posts and pages, set up menus, and more.
Move on to the next part of this guide and I will show you where to go from here. We will ditch this interface and switch to the proper WordPress back end.
Check the URL
I made a mistake here, which I’ll point out so you don’t make the same one.
The URL suggested by wordpress.com is photosfunblog.wordpress.com but it turns out that there is a photofunblog.wordpress.com too.
There is just one letter difference between my site and the other site. I discovered it when I accidentally typed in photofunblog instead of photosfunblog and the site wasn’t mine as I was expecting.
Finding a unique URL that is completely different to every or URL on the web is a difficult challenge.
This isn’t a serious problem for me because this is just a test site to create screenshots for this guide. It would be a bigger problem if I was actually trying to get people to visit the site because mis-typing it would send them to a rival.
- Get a free wordpress.com website
- Use it to familiarise yourself with how WordPress works
- Explore it, don’t worry if you mess it up, it is a test site for learning