TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
About creating your first site
About First Site Guide
CHAPTER 2: GETTING STARTED
Deciding on a domain Choosing a host
Setting up web hosting and domain name
One click WordPress installation
CHAPTER 3: WORKING WITH WORDPRESS
Basic concepts Choosing a theme
Downloading and installing your theme
Customizing your theme
CHAPTER 4: NAVIGATING WORDPRESS
Dashboard and menu backend
Posts, pages and links
Sidebars and widgets
Plugins and Permalinks
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION
To succeed as a small business owner in the modern times, it is necessary to have a strong accessible online presence. Where in the past potential customers may have checked the newspaper for advertisements, or taken a tab from a flyer on a community bulletin, today the majority of people will enter a quick search into Google instead. The days of analog contact are gone, and as an individual entrepreneur you must adapt and find new ways to access your customers. Building a reliable website is the simplest and best way to do this. By building your own website, you’ll automatically be pushing yourself to the top of the list for potential new students looking for a great music teacher. A strong and attractive presence online not makes you more visible than the hundreds of other music teachers who haven’t made a website, but proves your professionalism and credibility in just a click. A website also appeals to a younger, new demographic who will help build a loyal customer base that will last, whereas an analog advertisement would most likely attract an older audience who may not have children or a long term desire for lessons. Creating a website for your private music lesson business is an invaluable investment into yourself and your future. Affordable on any budget, putting yourself online is a business decision that will last and grow, building momentum over time as you gain popularity in your field. By putting your business online, you also open the doors to easily attaining a social media presence, even if that simply means your students share your site on their Facebook or publish a recommendation on their blog. This free advertising comes hand in hand with a strong, well-made website, something this guide will make easy for you to access and maintain.
In this guide you will find important technical information like:
- – Deciding upon a memorable domain name
- – Signing up for web hosting using our provided guide
- – Deciding on a content management system
- – Using key words effectively and other SEO tricks
Although creating a website for the first time may seem like a daunting task, the process is really just a series of simple steps that this guide will make clear, quick, and easy for you to follow. Ready? Lets get started.
Step 1- Deciding on the right domain name
When you type a URL into the browser bar at the top of your web page, that is a domain name. Although it may seem straightforward to pick some words to sandwich between a www. And .com, choosing a domain name is actually a fine-tuned process similar to making sure your instrument it pitch perfect.You will have to pay a small annual fee to keep your hold on this unique name, and once you purchase your domain you cannot edit or change it, so it’s important to think carefully before you commit. Here are some tips to ensure you’re optimizing your domain name: a. when in doubt, go short. You want your name to be catchy and memorable, not an unreadable string of names and details. Consider this example: this domain name is far too long and detailed, and gets confusing with the dash and long string of information. Instead, this could simply be: the details are left to be explained on the website, and the domain name is both catchy and easy to remember. b. try to include keywords that will help with search engine optimization. Words like “music” and “teacher” will help you appear when a more general search is entered by the potential customer. If you have a specialty like piano or oboe, try to include c. Make sure to include words that describe what your website is advertising. The domain name needs to indicate the topic of the site to avoid being lost at the bottom of search engine list. d. If you’re a reputable teacher with a very well known name that you think customers will be searching, try to include it in your domain, even if its just a last name (ex. www.andersonpianolessons). If you’re a newer teacher however, or don’t strongly connect your name to your business, leave it out of the domain name and introduce yourself on the website instead.
Step 2- Choosing Web hosting
Now that you have decided on a domain, you have to find a web host in order for you to get your website up and running. Like buying a lot for the home you plan to build, selecting a reliable we host is a very important step in the website building process. Hosting will cost you a small monthly fee that you can think of as rent for your website’s space on the World Wide Web. Often you’ll find bundling your domain and hosting together can make site management easier and save you money, but buying them separately is also always an option. When deciding on a host it’s important to take into consideration:
- Price – though hosting I’d usually a relatively low cost, it’s important to get the best possible rate and ensure you’re get ting the best bang for your buck.
- Speed – you always want your website to be moving quickly and smoothly.
- Customer support availability – In case you do have issues with your website, be it a crash or a small setup issue, it is important to choose a reliable company with customer support and troubleshooting constantly available.
- Uptime – a good host has a high amount of uptime (the time your site is up and running on the internet), whereas an unreli able host will have high downtime due to server issues.
- Features – different hosts will offer different special features, such as apps, themes, design options and tools.
- Reviews – most hosts have published professional reviews and reviews from their customers. Check out the general opinion to narrow down which host is best for you.
Based on our experience working with personal websites and blogs, we recommend using WebHostingHub.com as a hosting provider. They offer a great feature list and reliable support, which is important for when you’re just getting started. A hosting plan with HUB will cost you $3.99 per month plus an annual fee of $11.99 for your domain.
Use this link to get a 50% discount for the first year – FirstSiteGuide.com/hub
Step 3- Setting up Hosting and Domain Name
Depending on which company you’ve decided to use, setting up your account could be a varying process. In our example, we are going to be using WebHostingHub. If you’d like to follow along, please visit the following page: FirstSiteGuide.com/hub Part 1 Follow the prompts to setup hosting from HUB for your new website by clicking on the link above. You’ll be asked to create a domain name, or enter one you already own. Shortly after you’ll receive a welcome email with your login information for HUB’s account management panel. This panel (often referred to as AMP) is where you’ll manage account settings and add new services if needed. To access your AMP, go to Webhostinghub.com and click “login” in the top right hand corner of the screen. This will bring you to the login page, which looks like this: Part 2 Once you have logged in with the information provided in your welcome email, you’ll find yourself on the main panel of your account, which looks like this: On this page you’ll find a small section labelled “control panel”. Click through to access your control panel. This is the section where you’ll install your content management system, or CMS. Inside your control panel, you will find a dashboard with various tools and applications. If you scroll down, you will find a “Top Applications” section where you can install your preferred content management system. You’ll also find the “Softaculous” auto installer here. A CMS will serve as the framework for your site, determining the design, appearance, and functionality behind the scenes. An ideal CMS is simple to use but offers endless space for improvement and add-ons as your site grows. It is important to choose a reliable CMS with a well designed dashboard and adaptable themes. A few CMS options are Concrete 5, Joomla!, and Drupal. Though some prefer different CMS options, we will be using WordPress in our guide. WordPress is an extremely well-trusted CMS with millions of users all around the world.
Step 4- One Click WordPress Installation with Softaculus
Installing WordPress can be a horribly complicated headache for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of technical experience under their belt. Luckily, both of the web hosts this guide recommends come equipped with a program called Softaculous that offers one click installation. Softaculous is the leading auto installer, with fast one click installation simple enough for any level of user to understand. This one click step should leave you with a basic default WordPress theme installed under your domain name. To begin the installation process on your new HUB account, return to where we left off, on the control panel page. Part 1 Click the “Wordpress” button on your control panel: Part 2 This button will bring you to the WordPress section of the Softaculus installer, with a summary of the current WordPress version available and a bit about the CMS. Click on “install” in the top right corner of the page. Part 3 This will bring you to a form of required information you need to enter before WordPress can be downloaded and launched: Part 4 Once the form is complete, hit install at the bottom of the screen. When the installation is complete, you can proceed to your WordPress admin page and login. Access this page by typing the URL of your website with “/wp-admin” added onto the end.
WORKING WITH WORDPRESS
Step 1- Basic Concepts of WordPress
There are a few basic concepts you will need to become familiar with before you get started on building your WordPress site. Though WordPress is a popular platform for blogs, it also works extremely well as the base for a static website, in fact as of 2009 it was by far the most popular CMS platform available. As a new user, you won’t be required to know any HTML coding, but you can enjoy endless freedom as you become more comfortable with the interface. WordPress is open source software, which means it is public and free to use worldwide, and you do not have to have technical experience to master your website.
Step 2- Choosing a Suitable Theme
Now that you have WordPress installed and your site up and running, it’s time to make it look the way you’d like it to. When you go to your site after WordPress has been installed, you will see some sample information has already been added, and a default theme has been chosen for you. Every new site will have an about section, and a post titled, “hello world”, as well as some pre-chosen widgets along the sides. We recommend you delete this default post and section before moving on to select your theme and start creating personalized content. Choosing the correct theme is one of the most important obstacles you will face when building your first web site. Not only will the theme dictate what your website looks like and whether potential customers view you as professional or not, but certain themes are more limited when it comes to customization, and the wrong choice could make it difficult to add in important elements. It also becomes more complicated to change your theme after you have already worked on content and done some customization, so it is ideal to choose a theme you’re confident in from the start. Some important elements to keep in mind while shopping through themes: *There are both free WordPress themes, and thousands of others that come at a cost. Prices range massively, from $3 to $1000. Comb through the free section to see if anything stands out before exploring the more costly options. *Try to plan ahead. For example, if you think your website will need drop down menus (this is only needed when you have a high number of pages on your site) you will need to choose a theme that is compatible with them. If you would like to have columns on each side of every page, you should aim to find a theme with multiple columns. *If possible, opt for a responsive theme. With all the different types of technology available today, it is important to have a site that will look professional and is easy to follow from any device. With a responsive theme, your site will re-size itself for mobile screens, iPads, etc. *The closer the theme is to your vision of an end product, the less legwork you will have to do to get your site looking presentable and professional. If you choose a cheap option you don’t like, you may end up paying for it with hours of wasted time later. *Keep your niche in mind. Look for areas that are easy to customize, like a header image that would fit that piano picture you took last week perfectly. Although you want your site to look professional, it should also be a mirror of you and your business. *Your built in WordPress themes directory will only have a few very plain options, so if none of these appeal to you, you’ll have to shop around the internet and check external theme directories. Some reputable theme directories are:
We’ve picked up a few theme favourites of our own along the way. Here’s a list of our recommendations, particularly well-suited to a music teacher’s website:
Step 3- Downloading and Installing your Theme
Now that you’ve chosen a theme for your website, you need to download and install it. This is usually a fairly simple process, but just in case, we’re going to walk you through it. For this demo, we chose The Sunrise theme, but the steps and process should be extremely similar no matter what theme you have chosen. To download the theme we’re using, click here: Part 1 Hit download and wait for the theme to download fully. The file will download as a zip called sunrise.zip. Part 2 Sign in to your WordPress dashboard (the back end of your website), click “appearance” in the mid right hand side of the page in the panel, and then click “Themes” Part 3 Click “Install Themes” near the top of the page (beside the “Manage Themes” tab): Part 4 Click “Upload”, located at the top of the page beside “search” (see above image for reference). Part 5 Choose the file from your downloads using the provided button (you’ll be looking for your sunrise.zip folder) and hit “install now” when you have selected the correct file. Part 6 When the theme is installed, the screen will change to an overview of the file. Click activate and your new theme will be implemented immediately. Part 7 You are now ready to customize!
Step 4- Customizing the Theme
Now that you’ve selected your theme, there are endless possibilities to customize and make it your own. Widgets, plugins and design are are part of making your website accurately represent your unique business, and know how to use and maintain them will ensure you have a noteworthy site in your field. First things first; we need to clean up that appearance! After your new theme is activated, click theme options in the menu bar. Part 1 To make your website look legitimate and professional, you need to add in any branding you have prepared, like a logo for your business or a high-grade banner image. If you don’t have a logo, it’s extremely easy to make a simple text banner with an image that pertains to your area of interest on photoshop, or just type in your business name in a font you like within the theme customization options in the meantime. To upload a company logo, click general and then click upload and find your file. If you don’t have a logo yet, type your business name into the “text as logo” section. To remove the “just another wordpress site” default tagline, click appearance > customize in the left hand menu. This will take you to a customization page. In the left hand menu bar under “site title & tagline” delete or edit the tagline text in the box. To upload a background image, click homepage and upload a new header image. If you don’t have an image ready, you can purchase a stock photo online, but having your own original material is always best. To change the name on the banner, scroll to the “intro text” box under the background image section, and type in what you’d like it to say. Be sure to keep the HTML coding intact, do not remove it. Part 2 To ensure you’re website is cohesive and attractive, you may want to customize the colours, font, and layout. You can access the options for your specific themes by clicking “appearance” on your dashboard, then “theme options”, or by simply clicking “customize” on your theme’s page when you activate it. If the editing choices for your chosen theme aren’t what you’re looking for, you may have to explore changing some CSS coding, or enlisting a friend who knows about coding to help you. Though it is a lot more complex than following the WordPress prompts, it is quite easy to find exact syntax codes online and where they belong in a code with a quick google search. Part 3 This theme comes with a bottom based sidebar (a footer), a blogroll section at the bottom, and a small visual element called “info boxes”. You can download optional free music icons here. To edit these boxes, click “theme options” at the bottom of the dashboard menu bar, and then click “homepage” and scroll down till you see infobox1. Here you can upload one of the four icon files, and change the text to explain something great about your business. Be careful not to delete the small bits of coding in the text, simple delete and add around them. This theme conveniently provides a simple way to add your social media handles as well. To add your social media links to the website, click the “social” tab in your theme options section and enter your information in the provided fields. When you’ve added all of the different platforms you use, click “save options”. Your site will now have an added top section that will help users connect with your business through social media:
Now that you have given your website the aesthetic you imagined, it’s time to start using it and creating some content!
Step 1- The Dashboard and menu backend
Think of the dashboard as the music written on the page in front of you that tells you what to play. You are WordPress, reading the instructions on the dashboard, and the content that shows up on your website will be the music, the finished product. Navigating the dashboard is pretty straightforward, as the labelling is very user friendly, but here we’ll provide an introduction to some of the parts you should know as soon as possible. This is what your dashboard will always look like when you sign in to the back end of your website (you can do this by typing your website URL and then adding /wp-admin.php onto the end). On the left hand side of the page, you’ll find your menu panel. This is where you will operate the majority of the site from, as it houses most of the options you will need to use to manage your website. At the top of the page you will see a toolbar. This will stay active if you’re logged in to the dashboard and looking at your site, so you can click back to the dashboard easily and access some key shortcuts like commenting control, notifications, and adding new pages and posts. The body of the dashboard will relay news and tips from WordPress, commenting numbers from your site, updates, plugin suggestions, and information on incoming links (if someone links to you on their site). The menu to the left is the most important piece of your dashboard to get acquainted with. This is the area that organizes all the of the functions you will need when operating WordPress and adding to or editing your site. Here is a detailed look at each section. The top section of your menu is the area you will most likely use the most. This section houses your posts, media, links, pages, and comments, essentially all the areas you will be adding to and altering. Take some time to explore each expanded section here as well, taking note of what happens where. For example: Selecting “media” will lead you either to your media library as a whole, or shortcut you to a page where you can add new media to the library. Some of the other buttons will lead to more options, like the “posts” area, but we’ll be going into detail on that in the next part of this chapter. The lower portion of your menu is a little more technical, but still very important to familiarize yourself with. In this section you’ll find appearance, plugins, users, tools and settings, each with their own smaller drop down menu, just like the buttons in the top section. These buttons will help you with admin work like adding multiple editors and authors, altering settings and your site’s appearance, and installing or removing plugins (details on plugins found in this chapter, part 4). Again, explore where each of these buttons can take you.
Step 2- Website Menu
For the theme we have chosen, you need to put a main menu in place to help direct clients. To add a menu, click “Appearance” in the left hand menu bar of your dashboard, then click “menus”. This will bring you to a page with two sections, “pages” and “menu structure”. On the menu structure side (the right), select “main menu”, then hit save menu. To alter what’s in your menu, you’ll need to create new pages.
Step 3- Posts, Pages and Links
To get a handle on how to operate your site, you need to understand the difference between these three data entry options. Pages Pages will provide the main data your customers are looking for. These static sections of your website will remain the same as long as your website exists, unless you edit them through the dashboard. Pages do not allow comments or have to be categorized, they simply form the main sections of your website. Some typical private music lesson website page examples are:
*About *Contact *Schedule *Rates *Photo Gallery
To add a new page, click “pages” in the top section of your dashboard menu bar, then click “add new”. This will bring you to a form with a space for a title and a main text block. Create a title that you would like your audience to see in the menu, and add in text that you would like to be visible when a user clicks onto the page. You may also want to add a map to your contact and location page so new clients can find you easily. To add a map, type your address into “Google Maps” and hit enter. Once the site has mapped your location, click the link symbol in the top right corner of the toolbar (on the left of the page) and copy the“embed in website” code. Paste the code into your page and hit “update”, and the map will now appear on your website like this: Hit publish when you are done. This new page will not yet be published to your menu however, you need to add it in. To add the new page to your menu, click “appearance” in your main dashboard menu, then “menus”, and select your new page from the “pages” section on the left. Click “add to menu”. Click “save menu” when your page has been added, and click refresh on your website to ensure the new page was added and is now active. Repeat the above steps until you have a full and informative menu with fully functioning pages. While you’re here, you should also take a moment to delete out the default “sample page”, as it is not needed. Click the drop down arrow related to the “sample page” listing and select delete. Posts Posts are usually related to a blog, not a website, but should you choose to operate a blog with updates and news within your site, you need to learn the basics of posting. Posts will be listed on your blog from newest to oldest, providing insight to customers on the activity of your business over time. Categories organize your posts in case a customer is looking for posts on a specific subject, and if you don’t create a category while posting the automatic settings will place it in “un-catagorized”. Posts also allows commenting, but WordPress provides the option to turn off commenting if you prefer. Some typical posts ideas for a blog section within your private music lessons website would be:
*a seasonal greeting *packages and promotions *news announcements *media articles about you and your business, or your student’s achievements.
To add a new post, click “posts” in the main dashboard menu panel, then click “add new”. *NOTE: it is very important to always work in “text” mode when adding new posts, not “visual” as this will add confusing coding! Just like you did with pages, title your post and add in written content. To add an image to your post, click “add media” at the top of the text-box (there is a tiny picture of a camera), select a file, and hit upload. Once the file is uploaded, select a size and a placement, then click “insert into post”: To add a video, you’ll need to grab a link from the video site you’re using. On Youtube for example, you click “share” and then “embed”, and copy paste the provided code into your WordPress text box. If you’re uploading a video you have made, follow the instuctions for uploading an image, but select a video file instead. You may also want to add links into your post. Highlight a word you’d like to make into a link, then click the “link” button at the top of the text box (). If you make a mistake and would like to unlink, highlight again and click the “unlink” button right next to the link button. If the link works, the word you highlighted will change colour and become underlined. Your post also needs to be categorized with tags and a parent category. To add these details, go to the right hand menu bar on the new post page. To add a category, un-click “un-catagorized” and click “add new”. For this sample post, we created a “special offers” category. Moving forward, all posts regarding deals and promotions can be added to this category too. To add tags, simply list relevant words that relate to the post in the “tags” section, separating each with a comma, and hitting “add” when your list is complete. These tags will help you group together posts with similar subject matter. Congratulations, you can now hit “publish now” and share your post! Links Links are very different from posts and pages, but still have a role on your website if used correctly. You could link to anything from a friends site who specializes in a different instrument than you, to information within your own site. Links are categorized like posts, and will appear as a blogroll in the sidebar of your website automatically if you have a blog theme installed. If you do not have a blog theme installed, or you’re using a theme that doesn’t offer a links section (like the one we’re using for our example site) you’ll have to install a link panel widget (more on widgets below). Some suggested link categories are:
*resources *free sheet music *Information on flutes (or any other instrument you teach) *Friends and affiliates *Rent an instrument
Step 4- Sidebars and Widgets
Sidebars and Widgets help frame your site and add valuable information and shortcuts. You can access your widget and sidebar information and settings by clicking through “appearance” on your dashboard menu to “widgets” in the drop down menu. Sidebars Most websites only have one main sidebar, usually on the left hand side. In the case of the website we’ve built here however, the sidebar operated from the bottom of the page instead. This gives the site a cleaner, less blog style look. The sidebar blocks in widgets, links, and blog categories if you’re operating a blog. It can also house a mini bio and description of your business, but we suggest saving that for a more professional “about” page. Within the widgets section on your dashboard, you’ll find the sidebar information to the right on the same page. Here you can control which widgets sit in your sidebar, where they sit, and how they operate (for example, do you want them to minimize and drop down or not?) You can also explore utilizing multiple sidebars, such as an optional footer section, or an optional showcase sidebar to feature specific content. We suggest keeping it simple with one sidebar for all your widgets. Widgets Widgets are the organizational tools you can add to your sidebar to help make your website easy to navigate. A widget can be used to list information, like links, or recent posts, but can also be a simple search bar. You’ll find a list of available widgets on the left side of the widget page on your dashboard, so take a look at what your theme offers and what you’d like to implement on your site. We recommend:
*archives *calendar *search bar *recent posts (if you’re blogging)
Step 5- Plugins
Plugins help with the operation of your site, helping you gain more information from your users and helping you make your site more shareable. Unlike widgets, which appear on your site, plugins are mostly built to function behind the scenes. The plugin section of your website can be found in the bottom half of the menu on your dashboard, just under “appearance”. There are three options: add new, installed plugins, and editor. You only need to use “add new” and “installed plugins”, as the editor involves changing codes, a complex process that should be left to a very advanced user. To add a new plugin to your site, click “add new” and search for what you’re looking for, or use the WordPress plugin directory to browse more generally. For your music lessons website, we suggest you make use of:
- * Google Analytics – tracks site traffic
- * Facebook Comments – Facebook commenting system
- * Disqus commenting system – independent commenting system
- * Sensai – enables online lessons
- * The Events Calendar – shows upcoming events
Here is a step by step visual guide to installing Google Analytics, a plugin that monitors your traffic and ranking on the web. To follow along, login to your WordPress, and then in another tab go to wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress and in another tab open www.google.ca/analytics/. Part 1 Sign up for Google Analytics. To do this, click on access google analytics in the top right corner of the third page you opened (google analytics website). Click sign up and create a new account. Follow the prompts until you get to this page: Now you have a website tracking number to use for your site. Keep this tab open. Part 2 Return to the middle tab with the Google analytics plugin, and hit download. Part 3 Return to the first tab, your WordPress dashboard, and click “plugins”, then “add new”, and then upload. Find the plugin file (it will be called google-analytics-for-wordpress.zip with a number) and hit install now. When it is finished, hit activate plugin. Part 4 When a notification window pops up in blue, click “allow tracking” and continue onto the pre-loaded page. At the top of the page, you will see a notice bar in red that warns your Google Analytics isn’t yet active because you need to create a user profile. Click the red alert and enter you’re tracking number from tab 3 by copy pasting it. After you do this, Google Analytics should be active. Part 5 To view your google analytics profile and information, login on the Google Analytics website from now on (the third tab). Permalinks The way that your pages and posts appear in the URL bar of the web can be controlled by a simple setting change. By making the names more clear, you can make it easier for others to link to your posts. To change your permalink settings, click “settings” in the left hand menu bar on your dashboard, then click “permalinks” at the bottom of the drop down menu. When the common settings menu appears, we suggest you select “post name”. Hit save changes, and you’re ready to start posting and sharing!
Congratulations! If you have followed the above steps carefully, you now have a fully functioning website for your private music lessons business. Your website will help put your business on the map, attracting new customers and helping you communicate with current clients. With the new skills you’ve learned here, you now have the tools to keep your web presence and real life presence in perfect harmony.
Music Teachers Real-Life Stories
Frances Wilson – A classically-trained pianist, who holds a Licentiate Diploma (Distinction) in Piano Performance from Trinity College of Music, London, UK.
Graham Fitch – Sought-after teacher in London, UK with an international profile, who writes regularly for Pianist Magazine and is a tutor on the EPTA (UK) Piano Teachers Course.
Leon Harrell – Member of the American Music Center who holds a Masters of Music degree in music composition and is currently working on his doctoral degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kelly Riley – Holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Capital University in 2002 and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning from The Ohio State University in 2009. Mrs. Riley is licensed to teach music and reading.
Megan Watson – Private violin teacher and chamber music coach. She has a BM in Violin Performance from Brigham Young University, and a MA in Music from Columbia University – Teachers College.
Joseph Hoffman – He is active as a composer and conductor, and his original works have been heard in many performance halls. Hoffman Academy of Music now serves over 250 students with a faculty of 11 teachers.
Tambre Thompson – She has performed throughout the Bay Area in various classical, jazz, rock and salsa groups and plays regularly at weddings and special events. She is also a member of the California Music Teacher’s Association.