If you would like to install, design, and maintain your own e-commerce site, here’s one way you can start:
Table of Contents
1. Setup a test website and dabble.
It can take some time to figure out how a website is built and maintained. Set up a test website where you can play and learn.
To set up a test website, you’ll need to:
- purchase hosting for the test site
- purchase a domain name for the test site (or use your hosting company’s dev link to access your website without a domain.)
If you’re not sure what hosting to get, consider one that allows you to move your site live when you’re ready for production. A WordPress-managed hosting company can really help with this, such as WP Engine’s dev environment, or Flywheel’s dev setup, or Kinsta’s staging environment, or SiteGround’s staging option.
Not sure how to do this?
If you’re not sure how to setup a test website, schedule a discovery call with me, and we can look at your current setup and what you would like to do, and then I will suggest the best solutions based on your requirements.
2. Install WordPress.
Do the famous 5-minute install with WordPress, via your cPanel -> Softaculous. Here’s another tutorial on Installing WordPress that may be easier to follow.
Be sure to discourage search engines from indexing your site.
3. Add WooCommerce.
Now it’s time to add e-commerce functionality. The most popular plugin is WooCommerce. It has a well-written docs as well as support forum to get help if you need it.
Here’s how to install WooCommerce.
4. Choose your theme.
A WordPress theme is the design that you choose for your website.
It’s sort of like the skin of an animal, giving it a unique color and shape. Or, like the chrome/paint on a car that covers the engine and motor parts, and gives the automobile its unique aesthetics.
There are free themes, paid themes, and custom-built themes build just for you. Personally, my favorites are Divi and Genesis. I build custom themes on them.
If you’re starting out, I recommend purchasing a Woo Theme, so that your theme automatically works with your ecommerce store, and you can ask questions if you need help, but you aren’t paying the high price of a custom-built theme.
Need help setting up WordPress?
If you would like help setting up WordPress, WooCommerce, or installing the theme, you can purchase support hours from me. I can then walk you through it or help you get it done.
5. Practice adding content.
Add blog articles, pages, products, and test orders on your test website. If you have a question, search the helpful WordPress forums, as well as any other support forums from any themes or plugins that you buy.
You can also get your content ready ahead of time. Here is the content checklist I use for my clients. Here is an easy checklist for how to make your website content easy to read.
6. Learn about WordPress security and updates.
Make sure you spend some time considering your website’s ongoing security. It’s important to keep your test website up to date and secure. I have often been on support calls with hosting companies regarding issues on WordPress website. By and large the 2 most common issues are:
- weak passwords (WordPress now has a password generator that creates strong passwords for you).
- outdated WordPress version, plugins, and themes.
When you are done with your test website, be sure to remove it so that it doesn’t become vulnerable to attack and compromise your server and all the other websites if you are on a shared server.
Regularly perform updates, backups, and security audits, or get on a care plan to have someone else do it.
Want help with ongoing site care?
One way to have peace of mind is to look for website care packages that include backups, updates, and security lockdown. I offer Website Care plans that also include video training to teach you how to use your WordPress website. These care plans are available even if you build the website yourself. A bonus is that you can get my support hours at a cheaper rate if you are on one of my care plans.
7. And finally, have fun!
Learning WordPress and e-Commerce is hard work! But if you stick to it, and take the time, it can be really rewarding!
Here are some more tips on how to survive and thrive learning how to build and maintain a website by doing it. (This is Learning by Doing presentation that I gave at WordCamp Lehigh Valley.)
Here is a more in-depth article about how to start an online store. It’s comprehensive because it literally goes through everything a person needs to do — step by step! — to build his own successful online store using WooCommerce.
Leave a Reply