How to Build a WordPress.com Website from Scratch & Earn a Following (Beginner’s Tutorial)

Just how valuable are websites? If you were to ask me how much money I’ve made by creating and launching websites (13+ in the last decade, 40+ domains purchased) – I’d smile, stop, and pull out a calculator. And I’d have to think about what numbers to crunch. Because it’s a lot.

I’ve done over $5M in sales through my WordPress.com websites in the last ten years, WITHOUT ads. I create and sell services I love selling, and put together a team to grow and scale. And I started with nothing.

The truth is, gone are the days of connecting with leads and customers through the yellow pages. You have the opportunity to get found by billions of people searching Google for answers every second (8 billion per day… just two years ago, it was under 3.5 billion per day). SEO blogging on your website brings in 1,000% more traffic than social media.

When starting an online business, skip pouring energy into “rented” real estate on third-party platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) and launch your own website — this is digital real estate you’ll own forever. So, how?

You need to have your own website. And WordPress.com is the best way to get started. Nowadays, you can tap into the power of owning digital real estate with WordPress.com PLUS the easy setup, designs, security, support, and management of using WordPress.com to build and run your site.

Today, I’m showing you exactly how it’s done. In this blog, I’ll share how to build a WordPress.com website from scratch, a full beginner’s tutorial. There’s a hands-on video and written tutorial coming up (you’re welcome). 🙌🏻

WordPress website

How to Build a WordPress.com Website from Scratch: What Is WordPress, Exactly?

WordPress is open-source software (meaning anyone can build on it) you can use to create stunning websites and build your brand on.

And one of the biggest reasons for entrepreneurs to use WordPress when building their website is that you own your data.This is the truest form of something I talk about often, building your content house online.

Creating a following you can monetize for years to come happens when you own your own real estate on the internet (and there is no replacement for that outside your website).

how to get clients with content house

Some people are shocked to learn after they’ve launched a home on the web from a site builder like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc. that they do NOT actually own their site’s data. This can be messy when you’re creating content for your business — you can’t ever move your site’s content to another platform.

With WordPress, you own your data, forever, and are free to grow your site and audience, or take your data with you wherever you please.

Wondering how to build a business website from scratch? Using WordPress, creating a website for your business for free is totally possible, you just need to pay for a domain name, hosting, and a designer (unless you know your HTML and CSS code).

But instead of complicating things and:

  1. Trying to figure out the super technical side of DNS servers, hosting, html code, CSS styling, and domain setup
  2. Researching, installing, and paying for the right security + essential plugins that make your site run smoothly
  3. Paying big $$$ to a web developer to build, launch, and update your site

Build your WordPress website using WordPress.com (use this link to get started for free!). Scroll down for our tutorial on how to build a WordPress.com website from scratch.

WordPress.com is a fast and easy way to use WordPress that I’m giving you a tutorial on in today’s blog. It’s the secure, scalable, hosted WordPress service operated by Automattic. Their founder and CEO, Matt Mullenweg, first co-founded the WordPress project in 2003 before later starting Automattic. Just the tip of the iceberg as to why you should build with WordPress.com. 🧊

automattic team

Image Source: WordPress.com

Why Should You Use WordPress.com to Build Your Website?

I’ve watched too many would-be entrepreneurs get lost in the weeds of the technical backend of a website and give up on their business idea forever. This is why new founders/business creators should use the features I’m talking about today offered by WordPress.com to efficiently (and without burnout) set up their customizable website.

If you’re in the beginning stages, or you don’t have a ton of funds, you’re going to LOVE the features I’m about to show you that stem from WordPress.com.

I don’t want you to give up on a potential seven-figure business idea just because building your website got too complicated. That’s why I’m so excited about WordPress.com being an all-in-one solution (you won’t even have to worry about picking hosting, that’s included!).

Look, I believe that your very smart brain COULD train to be a web developer in time, but do you want to? You’ve got a business to grow! 📈

This is why I’m shouting from the rooftops to fellow entrepreneurs about the power of building a website with WordPress.com, and how easy it is to learn how to build a WordPress.com website from scratch.

Their new Pro plan has killer offerings for business owners to swoon over — making it a fantastic choice for building and launching your site quickly. It doesn’t need to be complicated — you can be off to the races in just HOURS with just five pages and a first blog.

build a following with a wordpress website

Built-in hosting and support. $15/month. It’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. Use this link to get started.

No more crying into your coffee over crashing your own website.

What’s the big difference?

Websites made with WordPress.com are extremely flexible, lightning-fast, and supported by WordPress experts. For the non-tech-savvy (and even if you’re digitally inclined) I can’t even truly explain how many website setup and management headaches could be eliminated simply by using WordPress.com.

And I want you to succeed at this whole ‘building a sustainable online business’ thing, not get stuck on getting your brand online.

Seriously — WordPress.com offers options for users with many different goals that give you everything you need to publish your SEO content, sell your products or services, and truly learn how to build a following using your website so you can grow your audience online. 💻

No matter what kind of brand you want to build, WordPress.com gives business owners and freelancers a complete and flexible website that can grow with you in so many different ways, whether you need to add tools for:

  1. Marketing your business
  2. eCommerce or selling online
  3. Running a community
  4. Offering subscriptions and memberships
  5. Expressing yourself and your brand voice

…and a mind-blowing amount more.

WordPress.com’s awesomely customizable — it has all the storage, security, speed, backups, and design essentials you need to do virtually anything online — including block editing in a modern interface.

And not to mention, you also get incredible one-on-one support via email or chat (if you’ve ever spent hours chatting with your hosting company trying to investigate a backend issue with your site, I see you, and you’ll LOVE dealing with this support team).

WordPress.com is the full power of modern WordPress hosting made easy, and you’ll be supported every step of the way.

Okay, on to that tutorial I promised you. Here’s how to build a following you can monetize using your website on WordPress.com, step by step.

How to Build a WordPress.com Website from Scratch (Beginner’s Video Tutorial)

7 Steps to Building Your First WordPress.com Website from Scratch

Question: But Julia, shouldn’t I get clients first before I have a website?

When it comes to building a following you can monetize using your website, launching your site always comes first.

Over the last 10 years that I’ve made $5M with my websites, it always started with me building the brand (and website) first.

But make sure you have the following before you start building your site:

  1. A crystal-clear brand name
  2. Your dialed-in offers and messaging
  3. Your target audience
  4. A logo design that you love

Not only will getting all these in order before starting give you the assets you’ll need, you’ll also get the energy and the inspiration needed to build your website with a strong vision in mind. (This is a heavy focus of Phase 2, Skillset, inside The Content Transformation System.)

Ready? Let’s get your site built. Here’s how to create a simple five-page website using WordPress.com.

Step #1: Create a WordPress.com Account

Hold up — notice a missing step? 😉

Yep, most guides on how to build a following using your website start with picking the right hosting plan.

But with WordPress.com, you don’t need to worry about choosing the right hosting platform. They’ve got you covered — it’s truly all in one (a busy business owner’s dream).

To get started, head to the WordPress.com sign-up page and enter your details. Then, click on create account.

create your wordpress.com account

Step #2: Pick a Winning Domain Name

Next up, you get to pick your domain name.

The great thing about WordPress Pro is that it includes this for FREE.  The domain you pick should align with your brand and be easy to remember and type. (Since Content Hacker is already established, I’ll use a fictitious brand in this example.)

When you’re ready, click on the Select button.

choose a domain name

(Already have a domain? Click on Use a domain I own.)

Step #3: Pick Your Hosting Plan

After that, you’ll be taken to the Choose your hosting plan page. An amazing feature to using WordPress.com is there’s a free plan option available – it’s awesome because it’s available for anyone, including creative entrepreneurs wanting to just get started (but aren’t 100% sure of all of their details yet).

That way, you can explore exactly how WordPress.com works, and when you’re ready, make the switch to Pro. (And I’ve seen too many business creators overthink this part before (if ever) launching a site, so if you’re in your head about it, go ahead and launch with the free plan to keep that momentum going.)

In this tutorial, I’ve highlighted the benefits of using the Pro plan, because I found the benefits well worth it, and I was clear on what I wanted to do with my business idea:

  1. 1-year free custom domain name
  2. Premium themes
  3. Use of plugins
  4. Premium support
  5. WooCommerce
  6. 50GB storage
  7. No ads
  8. Unlimited website administrators
  9. Automated site backups

…and more.

If you know you’ll want to use those benefits now, you can try WordPress Pro risk-free for 14 days, too! They offer a money-back guarantee within that two-week window.

choose a hosting plan

So, to follow the process I took during setup, you’ll want to click on Start with Pro so that you can take advantage of all the WordPress Pro plan offerings like I did.

Step #4: Checkout

You’ll then be taken to the checkout page, where you can enter all your details and click continue.

wordpress pro plan checkout

Below this section, enter your payment information to complete your checkout. 🛒

Once your purchase is complete, you’ll have the option to easily set up an email address that uses your domain name (🙌 bless you and your genius ease of use, WordPress.com!)

add an email address

Step #5: Design Your Site

The next screen will ask you where you want to start, and I suggest building first.

It’s so important to have a visually appealing layout on your website. It helps your conversions and sales when pages are easy to find, and it’s also a great way to build trust with customers and clients.

I can’t wait for you to see the flexible and modern interface on this puppy, so let’s venture inside by clicking on Start building.

start building your website

The next page will lead you to a list of gorgeous themes to choose from. And because you have a WordPress.com Pro plan, you can use any theme on this list for free (even premium ones).

After checking out the preview, I went ahead and chose the sleek and simple Byrne theme.

wordpress.com byrne theme preview

Now, let’s jump into the backend and use a little block editing to get a streamlined website launched and live.

The block editing is incredible — check out how quickly I was able to whip up a great homepage.

wordpress website

Step #6: Add Additional Pages

At this point, you can head to My Home on the WordPress dashboard and click on Name your site.

name your site

As a creator of multiple six- and seven-brand builder, what’s astounding to me about WordPress.com’s Pro plan is that everything you need to run your business — I mean everything — is located in a single dashboard.

You can:

  1. Set up a store
  2. See and manage your analytics
  3. Create a Link in Bio/Linktree replacement page using 1-click templates
  4. And even get initial email subscribers BEFORE connecting to your email marketing software (you’ll need to do that before you email them).

I’m blown away by how streamlined the entire setup is for creators who want to building a following and monetize it with their website.

Ok, back on that amazing dashboard you can go ahead and update your Site title and Site tagline and click Save settings.

site title and site tagline

Next, head to that left toolbar in WordPress and click on Pages >> Add New. You’ll be directed to an AMAZING page of pre-defined layouts, including About, Blog, Services, Contact, and more. Go ahead and click on the page you want to create, and it’ll load so you can edit it. ✎

Edit the page you choose to your heart’s content, and when you’re ready, click on Publish.

publish your website

Then, simply repeat these steps for your other pages. (Don’t forget to go back into your homepage buttons and add links to your corresponding pages. Just click on the link icon and search.)

connect buttons to pages

Ready for the grand finale? Head back to the WordPress dashboard and click on Launch site.

launch your wordpress website

That’s it! You’ve successfully set up your WordPress.com site and you’re well on your way to building a following using your website. 💥

finished wordpress.com website

The only left to do is to head to your blog page and get your first article written and published.

BONUS Step #7: Promote Your Website

You’ve done it! But, still asking yourself “how can I increase my website followers?”

Well, now that you know the foundational pieces of how to build a following using your website, let’s keep this momentum up — it’s time to promote your website so you can find, keep, and nurture your audience.

If you want to learn how to build a social media following from scratch, you should have a solid website setup first anyway — so you’re nearly there! But since your WordPress.com site is now ready to go, you’ll have a place you own to send your followers from Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (and the lifespan of content on blogging dominates!)

For example, my friend Sarah told me over coffee “Julia, I want a website for my business.” But she was wondering how to build a website from scratch, AND how to build a following on Instagram.

I told her if she focused on strategy, they’d both come, but that I wanted her to start with her WordPress.com site and THEN look into how to build a social media following for your business (and we still need to cover how to promote your website, so don’t skip this step so you can see the full picture of how to build a social media following from scratch once your website is up and running.) 🏃

Here’s how to promote your website:

1. Start Your Email List

Sign up for an email marketing service (I use and love ConvertKit) and make sure you’ve got list building at the top of your mind.

2. Build Your First Lead Magnet

Attract people to your list by offering something like a high-value minicourse, challenge, checklist, roadmap, or whitepaper. See an example.

3. Host It on an Email Marketing Software

Connect your lead magnet to your email marketing service, so you can track which email address came from which lead magnet (if you do more than one — a great way to segment your audience). There are tons of content marketing tools to help you connect these all together beautifully, you just need to get them set up. 🛠️

4. Connect Your List to WordPress

WordPress.com comes with a simple forms block that’s very quick and easy to set up and use.

wordpress.com forms block editor

And if you’re looking for something more advanced, the Formidable Forms plugin, is a solid choice and has a no-code form styler.

How Do You Stand Out as a Website and Brand in 2022?

Look at you go. You now know how to build a following using your website with a small business blog.

So the next time you hear a fellow business creator wondering out loud something like ‘how do you grow Instagram on your website?’ help them out and fill them in with what you’ve learned today, starting with:

Instead of asking yourself how to grow a social media following, business creators need to make a mental shift to wondering ‘how do I build a brand following?’. That’s the BIG secret of six- and seven-figure content-based brand leaders today.

If you’re ready to build a following using your website, don’t wait. Get started with the WordPress.com Pro plan today and within minutes you could have the website of your dreams — so you can start creating the successful sustainable business you know you deserve. You’ve got this, friend.

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.