A lot of people get nervous when it comes to setting up their first website, it seems daunting when you don’t know what you are doing and people just shy away instead of getting what they really want: a self-hosted website. For beginners I have been recommending BlueHost for over a year now because they have low rates ($6.95/month), are accessible for a lot of users and have a very straight forward offering. Now if you start getting a ton of traffic, BlueHost doesn’t have many options (read: none) for big users – but for those just starting out this hosting plan is pretty ideal and comes with the domain for free (typically $10-12/year by itself).

Getting Started

So first thing’s first, you are going to have get some hosting through them which you can do so here. Feel free to look through this guide without buying, or using with whatever hosting provider you already have but this is written with the idea that you are trying to get setup using BlueHost.

After clicking “Sign Up Now”, you are going to be directed to a page where it will ask to you to either create a new domain name (which is what you want if you have never had a website before), or to transfer a domain name if you want to use BlueHost instead of your current hosting provider.

Spend some time on this step since this will be your web brand moving forward. There is a good chance the domain you want is already taken so be creative and keep trying until you find something you like that is also available.

After finding a domain that is available, you will be taken to the page where you will need to fill out your information so they know who to bill, who they should be giving support to and the initial setup information for your website. One thing to note is that I personally don’t feel that the added features of hiding your WHOis information etc is really necessary since someone (like me) might want to buy your site off you in the future and need a way to contact you 🙂

I suggest that you start with just a year of hosting to keep your cost down since you can always renew later. If you are afraid of their rates going up or just want security for a longer period of time then feel free to upgrade to their 2 or 3 year hosting package.

The CPanel

After you finish filling out your payment information, you will be getting an email from BlueHost with your initial login information. This will log you into the control panel, otherwise known as the “CPanel”. Don’t fret, you won’t be here very often – it will just be for setting up WordPress at this point and won’t take very long so hang in there with me.

As soon as you login you are going to see a big list of things to click on, but you only need to pay attention to the area illustrated here, you are about 5 clicks away from having WordPress installed!

Installing WordPress

This is so much easier than you have probably been thinking it will be. After clicking the “Word Press” icon under “Software/Services” you are going to be taken into your installation options which will look something like this, just go ahead and click install while leaving all the defaults in place.

Can you feel that? That is the feeling of having installed WordPress with just a few simple clicks. Once you have finished, it is time to get logged in, make your life easier and publish your first post!

Logging into WordPress

Once you get everything installed, it will be time to login for your first time. BlueHost will provide you with your user name and password, but the following information will always be true for you.

BlueHost default username: admin

Login page: http://DOMAIN.com/wp-admin

Replace “domain.com” with whatever domain you purchased in the earlier step. This web address will never change so long as you are using a hosted version of WordPress, so you can type that in from any browser to get to your login screen. The password will be a randomly generated string of letters and numbers that I am about to show you how to change so it is something that is easier to remember.

Changing Passwords

Once you get logged into WordPress on your shiny new website, you will want to first change your password to something you can remember as opposed to a confusing string of letters and numbers. Follow the left menu until you find “users”, then find your user name (in this case you will be looking for “admin”) and then clicking edit.

Just remember that you will be using this new password from now on when you go to http://domain.com/wp-admin to add things to your website. Seriously, make a note of this somewhere.

Doing a Post

Now that you have all of the hard parts done – it is time for you to publish your first post! From your dashboard you are just going to want to click “New Post” in the top right hand corner to start showing the world your content.

Now that you know how to get everything setup, what are you waiting for? Go get started with BlueHost here.

The difference between the bloggers and website owners who make a lot of money and those who don’t, typically comes down to the websites ability to communicate with their audience and become a consistent trusted adviser. This relationship is a delicate one, but when managed correctly can be an immense asset for you moving forward. One of the more popular ways to communicate with this audience is through the use of an email list, but it isn’t as simple as “if you build it, they will come”, it is imperative that you build value for the customer so it is worth their time to give you their email address.

Defining Value

This is always a tricky one for many people. A ton of marketers throw around the word “value” without really quantifying it for their clients. The basic logic behind that tactic is that we assume people are only ever driven to take actions that give them a benefit, but the problem with that comes in when you realize that we are often very selfish people. This can work as huge leverage in your favor though if you can just determine one thing: what do your customers want, not just what could help them.

By focusing on what your audience is really wanting, instead of just what you think will help them is a game change once you can get your arms around the difference behind it.

People will always have some sort of need to get something done, but every single person wants something that they perceive will help them, regardless of the actual value the product may have.

Think about the last thing that you purchased, especially if it was something like an iPad or a TV. Did you really need that? Or was the perceived value of that purchase so great that you systematically convinced yourself that there was value in it?

The 4 to 1 Rule

“Great, I have people opting in but I am still not getting sales. Don’t you just get them to opt-in to an email list and they instantly start buying from you? Shouldn’t giving them one solid piece of advice entitle you to an endless cash supply?”

The answer to this is obviously “NO”, because you have to earn their business!

Getting an audience to buy from you actually isn’t that difficult when you know the rules of the game, so I am going to do you a favor here and break down the easiest way to create effective sales that I know of. The simple rule of effective and continuous sales to satisfied customers is called the 4 to 1 rule. The way this ratio works is that you have to allocate a point value to every piece of communication you have with your audience, and as long as you keep the sum of the parts positive – you will find success. The higher that point value is, the greater intensity you will get each time you ask your audience to buy something.

Here is how the 4 to 1 rule works; every time you reach your audience with something they like, find helpful etc you add 1 point. Every time you ask them to buy something either from you or through you, you must subtract 4 points. That is, before you can ask your audience to buy anything you must blow them away at least 5 times with great content, services etc.

If you follow this rule strictly, you will find that your audience will be much more responsive because you have given them the opportunity really understand the value that you bring to the table and will be delighted at the opportunity to support the source of information that they value. However, this point system also means that after you do ask your audience to purchase from/through you that it is a requirement to give them at least 5 more valuable communications before you can ask for their support again.

Industry Tools

So now that you are thinking ways to create value and kindle a connection with your audience, how do you actually get them to opt-in to your list? Sure, most email service providers offer basic opt-in forms that you can place or your website but you will find that those typically convert like crap. These standard opt-in fields blend into the sidebar, are often un-styled and simply uninteresting for your users. So how do you get their attention so they have to make a definitive decision about signing up for not. You may have seen something like this around the web when you first land on the site:

This is a powerful little tool called Popup Domination, and while it is a very marketing name it is built around incredibly powerful data and metrics. The beauty of this tool comes in a few forms:

1. For wordpress users it is simply just a plug-in that allows you to quickly and easily adjust the key selling points

2. You have granular control over what pages it does and does not show

3. Users don’t have to see it every time they visit the site, but you can gently remind them of the offer after X days

4. It forces users to make a decision, either subscribe or close but action has to happen to continue

I have had very solid success by blending this offering page in tandem with on page opt-in forms across my web properties. The really interesting there here is that not only does PopupDomination allow me to get a massive increase in conversions from the box alone, but it has also increased the conversion rates for my other forms as result of this acting much like a presales tool.

This means that even users who close the lightbox convert more frequently to the on-site forms because they have been sold the value of the list and are more inclined to opt-in at a later date. I understand that a lot of people hate the lightbox “feature” when visiting a website but my stance on that is, if you aren’t charging the visitor any money to read what you bring to the table – then using tools that will annoy a subset of users and bring a lot of value to your buying audience is a small price to pay.

To get PopupDomination and start collecting leads exactly like I do, check them out here. They are constantly changing the price on the product, but in all honest even if they charged several hundred dollars for this plugin it would still be a great value because it takes much of the design and programming work out of the equation and lets you simply focus on generating leads.

Some of you may have noticed that more items are clickable on the blog now, and that is all because I installed the brand new Highlighter plug-in from Unique Blog Designs who is notorious for making affiliate oriented themes and getting more people to share items on your website. This plug-in allows your visitors to literally comment on just about anything that they highlight and/or pictures they like without leaving a standardized comment.

You should definitely go check out this plug-in and see if it is for you, it is 100% free so you have nothing to lose. Additionally, they are giving away an iPad through a random drawing based on those who install it on their WordPress site!

Check it out here: http://www.highlighter.com