How To Build a Website for Under $100

by Jun 9, 20202 comments

I know building a website can seem overwhelming, and you may think it’s too expensive and too complicated. But what if I told you an easy, cheap way to do it?

WordPress lets you build visually appealing websites that are inexpensive, and versatile, and powerful enough for any kind of business. You may be surprised to learn that some of the most impressive websites in the world are built using WordPress.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to build a WordPress site for under $100, no skills needed. 

When you’re finished, you can apply this new knowledge to start your very first online business. Just like I did. 

Quick Guide: Build a WordPress Website in 5 Easy Steps

✔ STEP #1: Buy a domain name, and EasyWP managed WordPress hosting on Namecheap. 

✔ STEP #2: Download and install a theme. I recommend Divi.

✔ STEP #3: Pick a theme template for your website.

✔ STEP #4: Install some essential plugins.

✔ STEP #5: Start building pages and publishing content.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to create websites and publish online content without depending on coding, programming, or advanced web development skills.

It’s also completely open-source, which means anyone can customize the software to their specific needs. 

While WordPress first started out as a platform for building blog websites, over the years, it has grown massively, and you can now create any type of website you want on the platform. 

In fact, WordPress now powers over 30% of all websites. 

Don’t stress about the technical details of how WordPress works – you don’t need to be Bill Gates to start building great websites. But there are some things you should know about WordPress before moving forward.

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

Technically, there are two versions of WordPress, and telling them apart can be confusing for beginners. 

WordPress.com is an online platform built by the company, similar to a hosting service, where you can create a very limited blog website.

This is a simple, paid service, but it comes with severe limitations. For example, your website’s domain name will be called “yourdomain.wordpress.com”, and WordPress will place ads on all your website’s pages – without sharing any revenue. 

If you have absolutely no budget to spend and only plan on publishing personal blog posts, WordPress.com is a good temporary solution. 

For everybody else, use WordPress.org. 

WordPress.org is open-source software that you install on a webserver to build a website, upload content, and much more. It’s incredibly customizable and versatile.

This is the far superior, ‘DIY’ version of WordPress. It requires a little more work but offers A LOT more flexibility, creativity, and performance.

When people talk about ‘WordPress,’ they’re almost always referring to WordPress.org.

In this guide, when I refer to ‘WordPress’, I’ll be discussing the DIY WordPress.org option. 

If you’d like to know more about the two options, the following video goes into much greater detail.

The Benefits of WordPress

There are many benefits to building a website on WordPress, but I’ve narrowed it down to the most relevant for you:

It’s Cheap

Most agencies won’t build you a website for less than $1,000. With WordPress, you can build one yourself for less than $100.

If your website grows and becomes profitable, you can easily outsource some of the work to WordPress freelancers for a few dollars an hour.

It’s Easy and Convenient

Following this guide, you could build your first website in a couple of days.

With WordPress, it’s really that quick. And once you understand how the software works, adding new pages, publishing blogs, and customizing your site just keeps getting easier and easier.

It’s 100% Customizable

Because WordPress is open source, you can change almost anything in its code. Most often, this is achieved with the thousands of WordPress plugins and themes available.

However, with a few lines of basic CSS and Javascript, you can quickly make significant changes to your WordPress website.

WordPress is a Valuable Skill to Have

Already powering 30% of the internet, WordPress continues to grow in popularity every year. As such, there will always be demand for freelancers skilled in building and managing websites on WordPress.

Once you’ve built one website on the platform, you could offer WordPress web design as a service to small businesses in need of a website. As your skills grow and you gain more experience, you can charge more and take on higher-paying projects.

WordPress Communities are Everywhere

Any time you have a question about using WordPress or need to fix something on your website, you’ll find the answer in Facebook groups, WordPress forums, Youtube videos, blogs, and support chat from your WordPress theme or hosting provider.

Case Study: WordPress for Freelance Writers

As a freelance writer, my experience in building websites on WordPress has been an enormous benefit. Let me explain why with just one example.

My biggest freelance writing client is a massive business, with a huge team of writers, editors, designers, SEOs, and more.

Writers are required to upload their work directly onto WordPress and format blog posts for publication. This process involves A LOT of training and quality assurance for new writers.

As I was already experienced publishing on WordPress, I bypassed most of the training. I quickly became one of their fastest and most reliable writers.

As a result, not only did they keep offering me more work, but also better-paying projects.

In a little over six months, my monthly income from this one client grew from $300 to $3,000. My knowledge of WordPress was a huge part of my success.

If you’re a freelance writer who understands WordPress, you can do a lot more tasks for your clients, saving them time, and creating added value. As a result, they’ll send you more work and pay higher rates.

WordPress Examples

A website speaks a thousand words.

If you really want to see what’s possible on WordPress, take a look at the examples below.

Beginner-friendly Websites

Advanced Websites

Of course, you’re just starting out, and these websites would incredibly difficult to replicate for a beginner.

So, consider the website you’re reading as an example. I built Nomad Africa on WordPress using the Divi Theme, with a lot of help from forums, friends, Facebook groups, and Youtube videos.

And I’m a professional writer, not a web designer.

How to Spend $100 on a WordPress Website

Before we dig into the more technical side of things, let’s take a quick look at how much a basic WordPress website costs to build. 

There are three things you need to consider, which I explain in greater detail below: your website’s domain name, hosting, and WordPress theme. 

Each of these is usually purchased separately and paid for with an annual subscription. The best budget option for each is as follows:

Domain Name (1 Year Subscription) ~$10
WordPress Theme ~$50
Hosting (1 Year Subscription) ~$30 
Total $90

Step #1: Choose a Domain Name

Simply put, your domain name is the address people use to find your website on the internet.

Choosing a domain name can be incredibly easy or incredibly frustrating.

If you have a business or existing brand, choosing a domain name should be easy: “Yourbusiness.com”, or “Yourname.com”. Simple. However, it may get complicated.

Many small businesses, brands, and individuals share the same name. Getting “Yourbusiness.com” might not be possible.

To get around this, consider switching from a “.com” domain to something else. When I started Nomad Africa, it proved a popular business name, and “nomadafrica.com” was taken. So, I went with “nomadafrica.co” instead – a domain name format associated with tech businesses.

A “.shop” domain name is excellent for designers selling merchandise or for e-commerce stores. While a country-specific domain name, like “.co.ke” for Kenya, is excellent for local businesses, charities, and news websites.

Whatever you choose, keep your domain name simple and relevant to you or your business.

How to Pick a Domain Name

Here are some extra things to consider:

  • Make it short and punchy. A domain name should only be 2-3 words long.
  • Keep it relevant. Your domain name should reflect your business or online persona.
  • Use simple, memorable words and phrases.
  • If you’re building a blog or portfolio website and your name is difficult to spell, think about shortening it. The domain for my personal website is “ctwalsh.com” because people ALWAYS spell my given name wrong. ALWAYS.

Where to Buy a Domain Name: Namecheap

There are literally 1,000s of websites selling domain names. It can be overwhelming. How do you know which one to pick?

I buy a lot of domain names – any time I think of a potential business idea or fun project. So, I’ve used all the most popular websites.

These days, my #1 choice is Namecheap.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: an inexpensive way to buy domain names on annual subscription plans, starting at $8.88 per year.

Namecheap is also a great web hosting provider, so bundling your domain with your hosting plan is extra convenient.

Step #2: Sign up for Web Hosting

Web hosting is a bit like renting a house. 

In a house, you pay a monthly fee for a place to live and store your stuff. In return, the rental company maintains the house and utilities, while providing various kinds of support. 

In the case of web hosting, you pay the hosting company to store your website on its servers, along with the content and media uploaded and published on the website. 

In return, the hosting company provides several essential services: 

  • Keep your website online and accessible to the public 
  • Manage your site’s speed, uptime, and data 
  • Seamlessly connect your domain name, WordPress website, and media content.
  • Basic security from hacking and viral attacks

It all gets very complicated, so here’s what you need to know: investing in good hosting is vital.

Setting up your website’s hosting can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t need to be. 

Managed WordPress Hosting

A managed WordPress hosting plan automates most of the setup process, so you can focus on your site’s content rather than the technicalities. It’s very much a hands-off approach to hosting that saves you a lot of time and potential headaches.

Most managed WordPress hosting providers also offer excellent customer support – they know they’re customers are usually beginners and make sure you have all the help you need.

While you’ll pay slightly more managed WordPress hosting, it’s an investment, and doesn’t have to be expensive.

Based on my experience, the following two hosting providers are the best for beginners.

Hosting Option #1: Namecheap

I used Namecheap to launch and host Nomad Africa and have found it not only incredibly cheap – as the name suggests – but also easy to use, quick to set up, and fast.

The best thing about Namecheap is how easy it is to buy a cheap domain and, when you’re ready to use it, connect it to a hosting plan and instantly have a WordPress website installed and ready to go.

Hosting Option #2: SiteGround

SiteGround is a better option if you’re building a website for a business.

Its managed WordPress hosting plans are slightly more expensive than Namecheap, but they offer considerably more features and advantages. The basic StartUp plan provides plenty of great features, including:

 ✔ An SSL certificate for enhanced privacy

 ✔ Daily website backups

 ✔ A free email address

You can also purchase a domain name with SiteGround when you sign up for hosting, but again, it’s more expensive.

While requiring a bigger investment and a better understanding of web hosting, SiteGround may be a better long term solution for e-commerce and business websites.

Note: Speed is essential for a website.

People quickly leave a website that loads slowly, while Google considers slow websites irrelevant and ranks them low in search findings. Make sure you sign up to a provider with proven fast hosting plans.

Step #5: Pick a WordPress Theme

While WordPress is the physical structure of your website, think of your WordPress theme as the aesthetic design. 

A WordPress theme is used to create the overall style, look, and feel of your website. This includes:

  • Page layouts
  • Colour schemes
  • Font and typography designs
  • Graphics and image layout

Basically, everything your visitors see when they browse your website. 

A good WordPress theme also includes more dynamic content options, like image galleries, tables, contact forms, slideshows, and much, much more. 

Themes usually come with templates and stylesheets and can be customized without too much coding. 

It’s a good idea to keep your theme simple and visually appealing, but the style will vary depending on your website’s function:

  • A Professional Portfolio: Consider a theme with lots of pictures, slideshows, and compelling visuals.
  • An e-Commerce Store: Go for a simple, clean, but engaging layout tailored to selling products.
  • A Personal Blog: This needs to be clean and unfussy, with a focus on easy-to-read text. Go with neutral colours such as black, white, and gray, with some flourishes of colour.
  • A Business Website: Your WordPress theme should reflect the personality and branding of your company, and compliment every other aspect of your business.

Whatever the goal for building your website, it should be focused on the reader and take them through a logical journey, while keeping everything as simple as possible. 

Should You Use a Free WordPress Theme?

There’s an undeniable draw to using free WordPress themes: They don’t cost anything.

However, while you’ll save money using a free theme, they come with some severe limitations.

Free themes are rarely updated along with WordPress, and quickly become outdated and potentially vulnerable to hacking.

They also lack most of the customizability premium themes offer.

When starting out, I used free WordPress themes for my first couple of projects. However, I quickly realised that the limitations were holding me back from building great websites for clients and developing my WordPress skills.

A premium theme is an excellent investment that’ll serve you well in the long run. It’s one you won’t regret.

The Best WordPress Themes for Beginners

Whether this is your first website or your fiftieth, consider going for one of these popular WordPress themes:

Themeforest 

A comprehensive theme marketplace offering over 48,000 themes and templates, in every possible category and budget.

Prices start at $2 for a single purpose theme template, but I suggest looking at their bestsellers like Avada, which costs $60 and can be customized for many types of websites. 

Divi Theme 

Divi is the most popular WordPress theme in the world, for its powerful visual page builder, versatile functionality, and much more. 

I used it to build Nomad Africa, and recommend it to everyone just starting out. 

At $89 a year for a license, it’s a bit more expensive than most other themes, but it’s worth the investment. A single license can be used on multiple sites, and web agencies are always looking for people skilled in Divi. 

Elementor Page Builder 

Technically not a theme, Elementor is a visual page building plugin that you can install on your WordPress to enhance a pre-existing theme. 

It’s very similar to Divi in its functionality and design tools, including a visual builder. However, Elementor has much less backend code, so it won’t impact your website’s speed as much as Divi. 

While setting up an Elementor WordPress site is more complicated than with a simple theme, in the long run it may be a better fit for some people. 

The basic version of Elementor is free, but the premium version packs a massive amount of value into a $49 annual subscription. 

The Next Steps

Now that your basic WordPress website is ready to go, what do you do next? It’s time to become an expert on what you’ve created.

This is when the fun starts. Next, you’ll learn how to navigate WordPress, create pages, and enhance your website in a few simple steps.

1. Learn How Your WP Site Works

It’s tricky learning how to use any website, especially if this is your first time. 

Luckily, the internet is packed with detailed tutorials teaching you every aspect of a WordPress website. 

The following video is a quick overview of the WordPress dashboard the most important things you need to know about it:

2. Add Pages and Content

Once you can navigate the backend and frontend of your website, it’s time to start building.

Theory is nothing without practice.

Every website, no matter its function or niche, needs five essential pages:

  ✔ Home page
  ✔ Products or Services Page
  ✔ Blog
  ✔ About Page
  ✔ Contact Page

Consider these the first steps in building your site and tackle each one separately. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment – all good WordPress themes let you save and restore your work. 

3. Add Some Plugins

Plugins are a vital part of any WordPress site. They enhance your website by adding extra functions, providing security, and much more.

Here are some essential free plugins that every WordPress website needs:

 ✔ Yoast SEO*
Provides guidance on how to build website pages and blog posts that improve your website’s ranking in search results.

 ✔ Sassy Social Share Buttons
So visitors can share your content on every social media platform and messaging apps.

 ✔ Maintenance Mode
Hides your website from visitors, so you can make big changes without them seeing. Leaving a website with unfinished changes visible risks looking unprofessional.

  Akismet
A great all-round spam protection plugin.

  ✔ Stop Spammers
Adds an extra layer of anti-spam protection to your website, blocking spam emails, comments, bots, signups, and various other forms of spam. 

 ✔ Wordfence
Creates a firewall around your website, protecting it from malware and hacking.

 WP Super Cache
Lets you quickly delete temporary data files that slow down your website. You should do this every time you update your website. 

 ✔ Smush
Compresses and optimizes images on your website, so they don’t take up too much data and slow the website down. 

 ✔ WPForms
is also a great plugin that lets you create simple forms for your website, including contact forms, email subscription sign ups, payment forms, and much more. However, this one isn’t free: you need to pay a small subscription fee. 

*SEO is explained in greater detail in the FAQ below

4. Automate Your Backups and Updates

Sadly, even the best WordPress hosting isn’t perfect, and websites do crash sometimes. To make sure you never lose all your work, it’s essential you backup your website regularly.

Keeping everything updated is equally important. WordPress constantly releases updates to its software, as do theme and plugin developers. Keeping your website updated ensures all your pages run quickly and smoothly for you and your visitors. 

Your website will also be protected from the latest viruses and hacking attacks. 

It’s easy to forget about regularly backing up and updating your website – we all do it at the beginning. 

ManageWP is the quickest and easiest way to automate the maintenance of your website, keeping it updated and backed up. The basic service is free, and it comes with a plugin to connect your WordPress website to the ManageWP dashboard within any technical skills needed.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to build a website is a great skill to have, and you now have everything you need to get started. Pick a domain name, sign up to a host, install WordPress, pick a theme and plugins, and start creating your content.

Why not combine your newfound knowledge with a talent or passion? Start a blog, an online business, or market your products through an eCommerce store. Offer to build a WordPress for some friends and their businesses, and start charging a fee. 

The opportunities are endless.

FAQs

How Long Does it Take to Build a WordPress Website?

Building a WordPress website can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on your experience and what the website is for, i.e., a simple freelance portfolio or a complete e-commerce store. 

How Much Does it Cost to Build a WordPress Website?

If you’re a hobby blogger who doesn’t mind not owning their domain and lots of ads on their site, a WordPress website could be free. If you’re willing to spend a little, the price of your first website shouldn’t exceed $100. 

Can I Make Money From My WordPress Website?

There are many ways to make money from a WordPress website. 

If you start a blog, you can sell ad space or get paid affiliate commission for recommending products. 

You can also combine WordPress with Woo-Commerce to build an online store and sell your own products.

Finally, you could build WordPress websites as a service and use your website as an example of your work. 

Do I Need to Know Coding to Build a WordPress Website?

Technically, no. 

With the right theme, page builder, and plugins, you can build an excellent WordPress website with zero coding. 

However, at some point, you’ll probably need to customize your WordPress theme, which often requires basic CSS and Javascript. 

Both are easy to learn, and you can often get assistance from your theme’s customer support. Divi’s support chat, for example, is excellent at providing CSS code snippets to customize your site with. 

Just tell them what you need, and they’ll do the rest. 

What is SEO?

“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization. 

It involves taking certain steps to ensure your website ranks high on search engines like Google. 

Any time you search for something on Google, the first pages you see have been written and structured for SEO. 

The whole process can be incredibly complicated, but there are many small things you can do when writing and publishing on WordPress that will help boost your SEO. 

Learn more about them here: 

“What is SEO?” by Search Engine Land

Yoast SEO Tutorial 

SEO For Beginners: A Basic Search Engine Optimization Tutorial for Higher Google Rankings

Did We Leave Something Out?

Is there something you want to know about building a website on a budget? Let us know in the comments and we’ll include the answer in this guide.

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2 Comments

  1. Alison

    Nicely put together. I’ll verify that I’ve used everyone one of these steps. I am currently leveraging Namecheap + Divi on several sites for me, my husband and my dad! I started out with SiteGround and a free theme, but like you had problems with the free theme. I’d signed on to SiteGround with a deal and when it reverted to the business plan it was just too expensive for my needs at the time, so I migrated to NameCheap.

    Divi has been well worth it, and although SiteGround is more “white glove” service, working with NameCheap I’ve learned to manage my own CPanel after having some different issues in the past three years, each time their support walked me through the steps to fix something, the next time I did it myself.

    Reply
    • Nomad Africa

      Thanks Alison,

      You raised another great point about Namecheap that I keep forgetting: They offer amazing customer service, and have walked me through many issues in the past also. Another reason I think Namecheap is the best provider for absolute beginners, like myself.

      Reply

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