5 Easy Steps for Setting Up Shop on WordPress

Setting up a site on WordPress can't be done with WordPress alone. It requires amassing a small team. But don't worry. Team members are very affordable and play well together.

Christina Santiestevan, who blogs at Outlaw Garden, a site she built on WordPress, explains it this way: "Your website is like a retail store. The domain name is your store's name, the hosting company is the property management company who rents you the space, and WordPress is the source for the service providers who make your store look nice and run well (painters, carpenters, electricians, etc). If you ever decided to rent from a different property management company (hosting company), you can still keep your domain name and continue doing business with those service providers (WordPress)."

Here are the basic steps you'll need to take to set up shop with WordPress:

Step 1: Buy a domain. That will be the URL for your site, as in YourJewelryDesigns.com. I've purchased domains through register.com or namebargain.com. If you already own domains, stick with the service you use. It's helpful to have domains all in one place so you can easily monitor them. I also advise setting up autopay for the renewal of your sites, because someone may be waiting to snatch your domain if it becomes available.

Step 2: Sign up for a hosting plan at a customer-friendly service such as Blue Host or HostGator. I've tried both and currently park my sites at Blue Host, which allows you to build a WordPress site directly through your control panel. I pay $5 a month to host up to five websites with unlimited bandwidth, but I had to commit to three years to get that deal. Blue Host specializes in working with smaller creative businesses and their tech staff is trained to troubleshoot WordPress sites and get them working at warp speed. 

Step 3: Choose a WordPress theme. I built The Jewelry Loupe myself using a free magazine-style theme. A couple years later I hired a web designer to create Save on Cities, using a StudioPress theme. Save on Cities now exists primarily to give Jewelry Loupe readers access to free passes for Intergem shows, but the site itself is set up as six sites that function independently – way too complicated for me to set up on my own. Once you decide on the theme you want, if you don't want to build it yourself, you can search for web designers who work specifically with that theme. They're often surprisingly affordable.

Step 4: Add some plugins, WordPress-speak for "free app." You can choose from 26,000 plugins and download them from your dashboard (WordPress control panel). Must-haves include Akismet (to filter spam comments), BackWPup (to back up your site), and ShareThis (to encourage readers to share your posts on social media). There are also plugins that let you create polls for your site, embed video, and add a simple PayPal shopping cart.

Step 5: Add e-commerce when you're ready. You can either choose a WordPress theme with built-in e-commerce solutions, such as Elegant Themes' StyleShop or Estore, or you can add it in the form of a plugin such as WooCommerce, a free ecommerce toolkit for WordPress.

CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories appear in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more in "A WordPress Website," January/February 2014.

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