Friday, 26 July 2013

How to Create Your Own Hobby Website Using WordPress

At the moment I am watching far too many people struggle with building their websites for their hobbies and in particular being ripped off by some of the less responsible web designers and coders and therefore I thought I would offer some simple tips and advice to anyone with an interest or hobby if you want to do it yourself. There are some fantastic, hand-crafted hobby websites and I admire the time, patience, skill and effort that has gone into them. However for the curious, ambitious, un-initiated or the ill-informed you may want to heed some of the following advice.

What You will Need to Build Your Site

A computer, internet connection, a domain name, a template, host package, FTP software and some photo software. You will need a YouTube account if you want to add a published video to your site. Everything you need to know to get started is explained below.

Purchasing a Template

You do NOT need someone to design you a website and you do not need to be very technical or skilled. Unless you are a large commercial firm with a specific brand image it is a complete waste of time and money so forget it. You can purchase a professional template package with all the design work done and download it for around £40 ($75). Don't worry if the design of the template includes photos of other subjects as you are going to replace those with your own. Just choose a design that includes the services, structure and style that you want. Changing the background colours in a pre-built template however is not simple so be careful. A white background template works best of all. Use a website such as and look at all the professional templates that can simply be adapted by replacing the words and images and have your own text and photos and logo added by doing it yourself using an easy admin web console (like a big form where you fill in the options) .

Choosing a Template Type

What kind of website template should you choose? Some require specialist skills so go for one you have a chance of using easily. My advice is to choose WordPress as it is easy to manage and update and work with and caters for almost all the needs of someone building a bottle or pot lid site with galleries and widgets and contact forms and anything you can possibly need. Also consider buying a WordPress template that automatically expands to work with iPads and smartphones so that you cater for more visitor types (same price). Although WordPress was originally designed for blogs you can now use it for anything. By the way, unlike other websites, if later you get tired of your WordPress template you can install another one and change the look without losing any of your custom content and photos which is great for when you want a fresh new look sometime. By the way, never buy a template with music unless you want to drive everyone way!

Choosing a Domain Name

How will people find your website? Search engines rank websites primarily on relevance so you will need a domain name (e.g. that will get you listed so people can find you. There is absolutely no point in buying a domain such as as no one will ever find you. But if you buy you will do far better. You can then buy a second domain name and make it point at your website for advertising purposes. So when someone types in it takes you to if you get my drift. A domain name costs around £5 a year and you buy it from a host company such as You never actually own any domain name, you simply rent it for a period of time (1, 2, 5 or 10 years) but can always renew each year.

Choosing a Host Company

A host gives you your own secure place on a web server to put all the files that make up your website. You need to do this for your website to be accessible by others. You have a template and a domain name so now you need somewhere to put your new bottle website even if you haven't built it yet. So back to or similar and buy an annual hosting package on Linux which costs about £6 a month or about £60 annually. You can buy your domain name and hosting at the same time and then it is a case of uploading your WordPress template that your purchased and downloaded earlier. You generally need a host package for each website you have as some people have many websites for different things.

Installing WordPress

You need the original (free and downloadable) WordPress software to make your new template work. Once you have your hosting sorted you should use the host option to create a new database (no skills needed) with an easy to remember name such as mybottles and then download the WordPress software for free and copy the files to your host. If this all sounds like too much of a problem do not worry as your host provider should provide you with a one-click service to install WordPress for you for free ! It takes about 10 minutes or less. Then you can install your template...

Installing your Website Template

You bought a template so now you need to install and activate it. You usually need to copy the files of your template to the host and you will use an FTP (File Transfer client). I use Core FTP LE as its really great to use but you also get one free from your host company. Once you have done this you simply activate your template and bingo there is your website ! For many templates it is even easier than that. Once you have installed WordPress you simply use the admin console to install and activate your template in a couple of clicks and follow the steps.

At this stage your website will be up and running but without your own custom content and photos.

Building and Customizing Your Website

This will depend what type of template you choose. (If you chose an HTML template then you need a web page designer and I would recommend that you download PageBreeze as its completely free and you simply download it off the web). If you need a photo editing software package then you can get this free too by looking for which I have used for many years. Yes completely free.

However if you choose WordPress like I have recommended then you don't need anything as it is all built in for you (except maybe for messing with photos). When you install WordPress on your host it also installs your secure admin console for you to manage your site with. It is accessed by typing something like and then you login and you have a nice interface to change everything instantly with. The console is pretty easy to use and the more you use it of course the more you will change your website to meet your exact needs.

You will be able to update your template with an easy to use interface by changing everything from the logo to the menus to the photos and news and anything else you want to add. Keep things simple and do not be overly ambitious as the websites that fail are the ones that are not updated and quickly go out of date.

When adding photos of bottles try and keep the size relatively small as a GIF, JPG or PNG as this will affect the website performance for your visitors. Use Paint.Net to open then save each photo image and it will make it smaller in file size.

Adding a Payment Engine

If you want to sell something do it with PayPal unless you are willing to go through an entire process of gaining a merchant bank account. Unless you are a major trader then you can run a global business with PayPal and they even give you the code to copy in for your custom buttons. For PayPal make sure that you get your monthly limit raised by requesting verification which takes a week. You can get a monthly seller limit of £3,500 with almost no effort. People buying from you using PayPal do not need to have a PayPal account to make a purchase. If you want to be ambitious and build a web shop then you will need to look at something like OSCommerce which requires a far greater degree of knowledge and patience.

Adding Video to Your Website

You can create a video with our cell phone, a DSLR, a Flip camera or other digital device. Download it to your computer. If you want to edit it into a short presentation then you can use the free Windows MovieMaker software, add titles and music and save as a MP4 etc. but if you want to do some fancy editing and effects you might want to invest in something like Corel Video Studio and learn to use it (its not difficult). Once you have created your video you should then add it to YouTube. To do this you will need a Google Mail (Gmail) account and you can then upload your video to YouTube. If you don't want people commenting on the video then you can turn that off in the Advanced YouTube menu option. You can actually set your video to 'unlisted' so that it is only visible on your website and not in YouTube directly. Once your video is on YouTube you can then click Share and then Embed in the menu under your video and this allows you to copy a short amount of code and paste it into your WordPress page and there you are, your video is on your website !

Creating a Website Email Address

You will need to set one up for your website to stop receiving spam directly or if you want an address such as or if you want to set up a website contact form. When you buy a domain name you will automatically get a service to set up email addresses and an online inbox. So if I buy I can set up

Testing Your Website

There appear to be some strange glitches with Internet Explorer 10 right now . You should also download Google Chrome and maybe Firefox and see what your website looks like when using different browsers. I use Google Chrome as my benchmark at the moment.

Getting Listed in the Search Engines

If you choose a good domain name that is relevant and descriptive then Google and Bing and Yahoo will do it for you within around 6 weeks as they update their indexes. No one and I repeat NO ONE except the managers of these search engines can guarantee ANY form of listing but you will help yourself by getting someone else's website to add a link to your website. the more relevant websites that point to yours the better and the more relevant it will be seen.

How Much Does it All Cost?

There is no such thing as a free website but if we add everything together then we have a template that costs £40, a domain name at around £6, a host that £60 a year, the software is free so the rest of the cost is your time. Therefore a professional website will cost you around £110 in the first year and about £65 per year subsequently. Anything more than that and in my opinion unless you have a very good reason then you have been stung.

How Long Does it all Take?

For me to build a WordPress custom site is around a day start to finish with custom content and all custom photos working, custom menus etc. Sometimes 2 days if I am messing about. I can have a general WordPress website up and running in 30 minutes however. For someone who hasn't done it, take your time and learn to play with the WordPress content management centre but you can have a site up in a weekend for sure.


I have decided to build a website to show my bottles so I go to and register and then search for and buy it for the number of years I want. I add a hosting account on Linux. Once this is done I use to set up my FTP account so I can copy files and I create a database called mybottles. I also use one click service to install WordPress (it will ask for the name of my database). I then go to and search for an appropriate WordPress template which I purchase and I download as a ZIP file. I then go to and I use the website console to install my template, following the necessary steps (each template comes with a step by step help file). Once this is done I then use the website admin console again to change the words and pictures and build the contents of my website. I may have to edit some of my photos using which I downloaded for free. Once finished I get a friend to create a link on their website to so that the search engines will find my site. I then tell the world about my website and wait for Google to list it in their search engine. Job done.  


So if you are considering creating a website for your hobby or collection, displaying some hobby photos, adding some news and updating your friends then this is one way of how you can do it quite easily and without getting ripped off whilst learning something enjoyable and without the technical headache. Of course there are always other technologies to choose from but this is the one of the simplest for many people who want professional results and by building at home.

Oh and finally, if you end up building a WordPress website for yourself, don't be surprised if you also then start making lots of others too because your family and friends are your perfect customers, even as a hobby

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