Free websites have a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Once upon a time I had a nice west coast engineering job. With that job came a nice west coast engineering salary. And with the job and salary a nice home to live in.
Then I lost it all and moved into a truck bed camper.
At least 30 million people in America live at, or beneath, the poverty line. I’m one, but not for much longer.
You see, I just launched a company that has paid for itself every step of the way.
With that said: I’d like to show you how to start your own business without needing any money up front.
I don’t have all the answers and I can’t guarantee you’ll be rich next year.
But I can say that if you struggle with regular employment: I can help you create a stable career for your needs.
Get Your Website Hosted, Free
First things first: I offer free web hosting for small businesses that need the help.
If you, your business, or your charitable organization need web hosting: send me an email at [email protected] and we’ll talk details.
Since this isn’t just a pitch for my own services, though, I’ll still tell you how I got started.
Free Web Hosting by Hostinger
There are a few places online where you can get free web hosting. Many have strict limitations and aren’t suitable for production sites, but there are a few that are perfect for beginners.
What we’re looking for is an easy setup, the ability to point a domain name at the site, and enough space to build a starter site and start getting visitors to it. Our goal is to practice launching a site and driving people to it.
You’ll need an email from a “reputable” provider, such as Gmail, and that’s about it. No credit cards or additional information necessary.
Once you’ve entered your email address, chosen a password, and verified your email you’ll be brought to the setup wizard for your first website.
The wizard asks a few questions, the first answers don’t appear to matter but feel free to be honest. The only question that matters is what type of website to build, and for that you should choose WordPress.
There are a plethora of good reasons to choose WordPress but the most important is: following these guides will be much easier for you. Feel free to choose the best option for your situation though.
Launching Your Free WordPress Website
Once you login to the WordPress dashboard you can start configuring your website and setting it up for launch. There will be some ads in the admin of your site, this just helps Hostinger pay the bills while still offering free services.
When you’re ready to start paying for hosting: their upgrade plans are quite attractive. They offer solid WordPress hosting for affordable prices so I won’t be offended by anyone who directly upgrades with them instead of hosting with me.
My ethos is providing genuine and real help to people in need, so I won’t ever be shy about praising other companies.
Deleting Sample Data
The first thing you’ll want to do is clean out the “sample” data that gets installed with WordPress.
On the left navigation panel click
Posts to get to a list of all the Posts on your site. You should have one titled “Hello world!” already published. Hover your mouse above it to see a red link titled
Bin that will delete the post when clicked.
Alternatively: you could check the box next to the post, select
Move to Bin from the
Bulk Options dropdown, and then click
Repeat this process for the
Comments links in the navigation panel.
Setting up Analytics
“Analytics” is a nerdy word for “information describing what people are up to” on your website. You’ll need to know why people wandered in and what they want to make money so start collecting data now.
First: go set up a Google Analytics account for your new website.
Setting Up Your Google Analytics Account
Start Measuring to set up your first analytics account.
Enter the name you’d like for your tracking account and leave the default options on the first screen. You can have many tracking accounts so don’t fret too much about what to name it.
We want to measure web traffic so select
Web for the next screen. Ignore the other options for now.
You’ll need to know your domain name for the next screen and I forgot mine instantly. Luckily for me: 000WebHost has that information readily available.
From your 000WebHost account navigate to
My Sites to view a list of your hosted sites. Underneath your site name and information you will see its URL, copy it and head back to your Google Analytics tab,
Give your website a name for Google, choose an industry that best describes your site, and select your timezone.
Google will ask you to read and agree to their terms, including critical legal information regarding data collection. I recommend going over this once or twice even though no one ever does.
Since I’m neither your mother nor your lawyer I won’t nag you about it.
Google will take you to a screen that has your new tracking information, you don’t need it now but leave the tab open for now. After this post get familiar with the analytics interface, you’ll use it a lot eventually.
Setting up MonsterInsights with Your Google Analytics Account
Your 000WebHost WordPress installation comes with MonsterInsights pre-installed.
There are other options for implementing Google Analytics on your site that you should eventually explore. But: since this one is here and works very well – use it.
Click the button on your dashboard that says:
Connect MonsterInsights and Setup Website Analytics.
Publisher (Blog) as the category for your site and follow the prompts to connect your Google Analytics account to MonsterInsights.
Select your new tracking property from the dropdown and complete the connection.
Leave the defaults on the next page; skip down past everything, and move on.
You don’t need addons yet but in the future you should consider upgrading to Pro. You won’t regret using income from your site to pay for this upgrade.
Finish Setup and Exit Wizard to get back to your WordPress dashboard.
Visitor data will start appearing in your Analytics account over the next 24-48 hours.
Preventing Spam with Akismet
Akismet is a wonderful spam detection and prevention plugin for WordPress. Their base functionality is free and excellent.
Sign up with WordPress.com
You will need a WordPress.com login for Akismet to link to.
Close the tab when it asks what kind of site you want to build; all you need to do is click the confirmation link in your email.
Connect with Akismet
From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to
Plugins to view your installed plugins. 000WebHost installs Akismet with WordPress by default, but it’s not yet active.
Activate for the Akismet plugin and from the next page click
Set up your Akismet account. On the Akismet page again choose
Set up your Akismet account.
Authorize the connection with your WordPress.com account, and select the Free plan by clicking
The next page will ask what you’d like to pay on an annual basis, slide the control to the left until it reaches $0.
Akismet is free for non-commercial sites so be sure to read their terms and upgrade as soon as you’re making money.
Fill in your name, check the boxes verifying you aren’t building a commercial site, and click
Finish setting up your personal subscription.
A dialog will pop up that has your new Akismet key, copy it and click
Automatically save your Akismet API Key. This should direct to your WordPress plugin settings page for Akismet, and your API key should be filled in already.
If it’s not, enter your API key manually and save your settings.
Your site is now protected from spam by Akismet, and you still haven’t had to pay a dime!
Customizing Your Totally Free WordPress Website
Your WordPress website comes with a few themes and plugins already installed. This means you’re already able to customize your free website to look and feel more like your own.
If you find that you can’t quite get it right, though, feel free to search around. There are literally thousands of free plugins and themes available online for WordPress for any purpose imaginable.
Changing the Appearance of Your WordPress Website with Free Themes
In the navigation panel of your WordPress dashboard, click
Appearance to view your installed themes.
Customizing Your Website’s Theme with Customizr
Under the active theme, and in the navigation panel, there’s a
Customise link that will bring you to the theme customizer. Each theme has slightly different options for customization, and some will let you control a wide variety of settings.
Play around with your current theme to see what you do and don’t like about it. That will make it easier for you to find a new theme you like better.
Finding, Installing, and Activating Free Themes from WordPress.org
From your theme list page, click
Add New at the top of the page.
In the search bar of the “Add Themes” page enter any keywords relating to the type of site you want to build. The
Feature Filter has more specific filtering options, such as single column layouts and microformat compatibility.
When you find a theme you like you can install and activate it directly from this screen.
Install to have WordPress automatically download the theme and make it available for you to use.
Once it’s installed: click
Activate to make it your active theme. If you choose not to: you can always activate the theme later from your theme list under
Appearance -> Themes.
Manually Uploading and Installing WordPress Themes
There are a number of other places to download WordPress themes online, such as ThemeForest and ElegantThemes. Many of them offer free themes for download as well as their paid versions.
From the “Add Themes” page, click
Upload Theme, select your theme
.zip file, and then click
As soon as you’ve uploaded the theme WordPress will ask if you’d like to activate it.
If you choose not to, themes can be activated from your theme list under
Appearance -> Themes.
Adding Features to Your WordPress Website with Free Plugins
Plugins add to, or change, the features available on your website. Adding them is very similar to adding themes, so it should be familiar.
To access their free plugin directory click
Plugins; it’s under
Appearance in the navigation panel.
This will bring you to a list of your installed plugins, click
Add New at the top of the page.
Finding, Installing, and Activating Free Plugins from WordPress.org
If you don’t have a plugin to upload: you can search for plugins from this page. There are also filter links such as
Popular that can help you narrow your search.
Make sure you check the WordPress version info. Many free plugins are not up to date so they should be avoided. Installing an out of date plugin could crash your site or, worse, compromise the security of your users.
When you find a plugin you’d like to install: just click
Install Now. When it’s done installing you may activate it from this screen by clicking
If you choose not to activate it now you can activate it later by returning to your plugins list.
The plugin list page, found at
Plugins -> Installed Plugins on the navigation panel, lets you manage your plugins. Either click the
Activate link under the plugin name or check the box next to the plugin name, select
Activate from the dropdown, and click
Uploading and Installing a Free Plugin
From the “Add New Plugin” page (
Plugins -> Installed Plugins -> Add New) click
Select your plugin
.zip file and click
Install Plugin to install your plugin.
When it’s done you can activate it on the result screen, or you can activate it later from your plugins list.
Now That You Have a Free Website: What’s Next?
Now that you have installed your free website on your free web hosting it’s time to start writing.
More accurately: it’s time to start producing content for your website.
The next step in building a career out of your dreams is to learn how to get your website in front of other people. You need content for them to look at, though.
So: create. Create the content you wish to share with the world.
Create content you love, and content you hate. This is a learning website so it doesn’t really matter, just create.
Wrapping it all up: your homework is to write one blog post or page and publish it.
Send me the link if you’d like: