Nowadays, having a website of your own is not an option but a necessity. From making an online presence or making a portfolio of your creative works to developing an e-commerce solution, a website of your own is the call of the Present. We have already started feeling its necessity very badly during the lockdown situation all over the world due to Covid-19 pandemic. So, here in this article, I shall explain how you can have a self-hosted WordPress Website of your own and how you can customise it by yourself, according to your need. Again, I would like to mention that this is not a tutorial on WordPress that you can get everywhere on the internet. This article is a step-by-step guide to having a great photography website of your own.
Buying a Domain :
In order to have your online presence through a website, you first need a domain, i.e., a website address (like www.example.com). A domain is just like an address you use for your residence; if anyone wants to visit your place, one needs to go to your address. Similarly, one needs to visit your domain to have a look at your website content, maybe your articles or blog posts, artworks or products. There are several domain registrars available online wherefrom you can buy a domain of your choice. But I personally prefer GoDaddy since they are one of the world’s largest and most trusted domain registrars. While buying a domain, you also have to choose a domain extension. There are several types of domain extensions available out there in the market. There are geographic extensions like ‘.in’, ‘.au’, ‘.paris’, ‘.nyc’, ‘.berlin’ etc., extensions based on professions like ‘.photography’, ‘.architect’, ‘.engineer’ etc., for organisations like ‘.org’, ‘.school’, ‘.college’ etc. and many other extensions like ‘.shop’, ‘.cloud’, ‘.xyz’ etc. for different reasons. But I would prefer buying ‘.com’ extension as it covers all and gives a notion of the worldwide presence of a website.
Buying a Hosting Platform :
After buying a domain name of your choice from a good domain registrar, you need to buy web hosting from a renowned hosting provider. Web hosting is like a house that contains all your data like your articles or blogs, artworks or products etc. on the internet. Web hosting providers give you a space on the virtual territory to build your website using their technology, servers, IP address etc. There are several web hosting companies out there in the market with their own pricing. Some of the renowned web hosting providers are SiteGround, Bluehost, Hostgator, Hostinger and several others. You can buy hosting from any one of them based on their reputation, features, security and pricing. However, this website is hosted on Hostinger. They provide an easy-to-use hosting account dashboard that they call ‘hPanel’, an innovative alternative to the traditional ‘cPanel’ hosting account dashboard. They are one of the cheapest options out there in the market with 99.99% uptime. Their security features are standard with Cloudflare CDN integration. Their customer support is excellent; they always try to provide a solution as soon as possible. I personally use their hosting services and I’m happy with them.
WordPress Themes :
Almost 30% of websites all over the world run on WordPress. WordPress (wordpress.org) is a free and open-source CMS (Content Management System) platform based on PHP and paired with MySQL or MariaDB database. It’s open-source software that can be installed and managed online through your hosting service provider with their one-click installation process. Being an open-source platform, one can find thousands of free themes, with their premium versions available, in WordPress depository. But I would always recommend going for a premium theme as they offer the following features:
- Premium themes always come with some premium or pro features.
- They always come with updated security features.
- They always provide you with one-to-one premium support.
- They can be fully customized according to your need.
- They are generally compatible with most plug-ins we use in WordPress.
- They facilitate you to use Google Fonts or Adobe Fonts on your website.
WordPress Plug-Ins :
There are thousands of free plug-ins available in the WordPress repository. They can be used for customization, SEO, backup and website security purposes. Some of them also come with their pro versions too. It’s not possible for me to include all of them in this article. Here, in this article, I would mention a few of them that you can use for your project.
Akismet is a spam filtering plug-in used by millions of WordPress users worldwide to protect their websites from spam comments or contact form spamming. Akismet is designed and developed by Automattic, the same company that developed WordPress.The free version of this plug-in can be used for personal non-commercial websites and they give you an API key to install on your WordPress to integrate their services on your website. If you like, you can choose to buy their premium plans for your website. For that, you must visit the pricing section of their website for various options.
Elementor is a page-builder plug-in for beautiful customization of web-pages. The free plug-in comes with some ready page templates and blocks that you can import to your site and edit them according to your necessity and choice. They have their premium subscription plans for the pro version that you can also use for more power to website customization. Both their free and pro versions provide you with tons of features for an outstanding professional design of your website. Whether you want to build only a portfolio website or an advanced e-commerce website, this single plug-in will not only enable you to build different pages with their ready templates and blocks but also make you avoid installing other unnecessary plugins. You must visit their website and read their documentation to understand the various other options of customizations they provide.
You may confront some unavoidable situations like hacking, server crash or some user error while developing and running a WordPress website. WordPress theme updates also reset the customizations you did in the WordPress function.php file. After the update, you may face some errors or lose all your customizations. In a situation like this, a quality backup system comes to your rescue.
UpdraftPlus is a renowned WordPress backup, restore and clone plug-in. You can have a periodical backup of your database, theme, plug-ins and WordPress files on UpdraftPlus. The free version gives you the option of advanced hourly, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly scheduling of your backup and stores the backup in a local folder or remote storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, Backblaze etc. This plug-in also gives you a one-click restore option. The pro version gives you the option of cloning and migration of your WordPress site to another domain.
Rank Math SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a vast section to cover that needs a minimum of 7 to 10 articles or sessions. So I am not getting into teaching you about SEO or how it works. It’s a vast subject. And there’s no shortcut method for SEO to rank high in the search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing. Here, in this article, I would give you an option of an advanced WordPress SEO plug-in for free.
Rank Math SEO plug-in gives you an advanced SEO platform for your website with Google Search Console integration that helps you with focus keyword suggestions to choose the right focus keywords for optimum results. The plug-in also shows you the overall SEO score of your website as well as the individual page, post or product SEO score to help you rank higher in the search results. This free plug-in provides you with an inbuilt schema for posts, pages and products of your website so that Google and other search engines can show rich search results. Creating sitemaps is another premium feature of this plug-in. You can create sitemaps of your pages, posts, products, tags, categories, media etc and upload them on Google Search Console for Google to understand the structured data of your website. There are many more features available in this free plug-in. For more information, you can read their Knowledge Base available on their website.
If you want to build an e-commerce website to sell your photography artworks online, WooCommerce plug-in is a solution to your need. WooCommerce comes with built-in Shop page or product archive page, single product page, cart page, check out page and my account page. It has different shipping options like free shipping and flat rate shipping along with shipping classes for different shipping zones; you can also create different tax rates for different products. The online payment integration process gives you the ease of use of this plug-in. International payment gateways like PayPal, Stipe etc. can be integrated very easily. It’s an open-source fully customizable and extendable advanced e-commerce platform for WordPress designed and developed by Automattic, the company that developed WordPress and Akismet. For more information on WooCommerce, you must read their documentation.
Importance of Using a CDN Service :
CDN or Content Delivery Network Services are necessary to speed up the load-time of your website. Nowadays a website should load within 3 to 4 seconds; otherwise, the bounce rate will increase. The lesser the bounce rate is, the more the chances of ranking higher in the search results. When a visitor visits a page of your website, he or she sends requests to the server of your website hosting provider to load the contents of the page. Maybe the server location is in the USA and the visitor is visiting your website from India. As the server location is far away from the visitor, it may take several seconds to load a page. Here comes the necessity of using CDN services.
Cloudflare is a CDN service that spreads your website’s static contents to their several servers located at different parts of the world so that visitors all over the world can open your website pages very fast without putting a load on the original server of the website hosting provider. Cloudflare caches your website’ static contents on web browsers and server locations to deliver the contents blazing fast. Their Rocket Loader, Brotli and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) features load pages really fast on computers and mobiles. Their ‘Minify JS, HTML, CSS’ feature also helps pages load fast. They give your website a free SSL certificate so that your website loads with https; thus provides standard security encryption in between the visitors and the server. You can also use some of their security and optimisation features for free by creating page rules, firewall rules for specific pages and for specific purposes. Their premium plans give more options for optimization and security.
Building a website is a creative process that needs time, knowledge, skill and consistency. In this article, I have covered very little of the process. But it would give you an overall idea to get it started. The process itself will teach you many more things and it’s a never-ending process as technology changes at a very fast pace.