When I built my first WordPress website with ThemeForest ten years ago, it was quite difficult. You had to manage the frustrations, have a lot of patience and be technically savvy.
Times are changing, because nowadays it is not difficult to build a WordPress website from scratch.
WordPress has grown tremendously over the years: the content management system is much more stable (less error messages), installation is easier and you can choose from many good and professional themes.
You don’t need to know a lot about technology and you can have a representative and professional looking website up and running within a few hours.
But you do have to make some important choices. Which I’ll tell you about…
How to build a WordPress website with ThemeForest from scratch? I’ll explain it to you in 8 steps.
Building a WordPress website with ThemeForest
Over thirty years ago, on August 6, 1991, British scholar Tim Berners-Lee of CERN built the first website. Today, there are nearly 2 trillion websites.
Every day, almost half a million websites are added worldwide, which means about 22,000 websites per second!
So why should you start a new website?
There are more reasons than you might think. A website makes it possible to share information, your thoughts or your products with the rest of the world.
You could do the same with social media, you might think. But the advantage of having your own website is that the content, such as text and images, remains your own. With Facebook and Instagram, the social media platforms can do what they want with your content; they’re going to make it their own.
What can you do with a website? It can be for fun, but also for business:
- Share a hobby or passion – Chinese cooking, the music of Ennio Morricone or your crochet hobby: through a website you can share your passion or hobby with anyone worldwide.
- An online business – You want to sell something, such as jewelry or a service, for which you are looking for buyers. A website can help with that.
- Sharing knowledge and experience – You have an incredible amount of knowledge about, for example, the history of a country or know everything about real estate and want to share that with others. A website can help.
- Arranging a passive income – With affiliate marketing or showing ads, you can earn a passive income with a website.
- Meet new people – You are looking for like-minded people to share something with. A community website is a suitable tool for that.
What kind of website do you build?
This is the next step: what kind of website do you want to build? There are a lot of different types of websites that you want to use to achieve the above goal. A few options:
- A web shop to sell products or services;
- A corporate site to promote your company;
- A community to meet new people;
- an affiliate website to make moneyand
- a blog to describe your passion or hobby;
- an e-learning website to teach courses;
- a magazine website to start an online magazine.
And so there are many more possibilities. I have written an extensive article ov er that: Which website suits you? 23 WordPress examples.
What can you use to build a website?
There are an incredible number of possibilities to build a website these days. Wix, Foursquare, Drupal… Too many to mention and you just landed on a website that is all about WordPress and that is what we are going to build a website with.
WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world and is used by millions of people.
More than 30 percent of all websites in the world are built with WordPress. The biggest advantage is that it is very flexible, you can really build anything with it and the best thing is: you can too.
And if you don’t know it yourself, you can make use of many experts who, for example, can build a functionality into your website for you. Because thousands of people earn their living with WordPress.
This article is about the former, so we are going to build a website with WordPress.org. This is the more flexible version that you can also use for free. WordPress.com has a subscription model and you can do less with it than with the .org version.
We go for complete freedom! If you want to know more about the differences, read my article WordPress.com or WordPress.org, the ultimate guide.
But just for the record, we choose the .org version.
How to build a WordPress website with ThemeForest?
Let’s get started with building the website!
Step 1: order hosting and a domain name.
To put up your website somewhere, you need a hosting company. This party makes sure your website is live and where you can access it to make changes.
Hosting comes in many shapes and sizes. Which party is the best? My tip is that you choose a hosting party with a subscription fee of between 5 and 10 euro per month. The budget hosting parties often offer subscriptions for just a few euros, but cheap is expensive. There is a chance that your website will not load as quickly, performance or capacity problems if you have many visitors, the support is not as well organized or there is a limited backup facility for your website.
NOTE: often hosting companies offer significant discounts in the first year. So take a good look at what you’ll be paying for the second year, because it could easily be double that amount. With a more expensive subscription, you often have the option of installing multiple websites. You may not need these as such, but see it as a bonus. <em>By looking at reviews of hosting companies, you quickly know what kind of meat you have in the barrel.
In addition to hosting, you need a domain name for your website. wpjournalist.com for example is a domain name. It is a unique address where people go to view your website. Usually a domain name costs ten to fifteen euros per year.
Take your time with this because once you choose a domain name, you are stuck with it for years. The obvious choice is to use your company name as the domain name, but sometimes it can also be useful to choose a domain name that is search engine friendly. Also read this article on choosing a domain name.
Step 2: Installing WordPress
You have a hosting party and a domain name; it is now time to install the website.
Every hosting party does this in a different way. Most of them allow you to use a tool that automatically installs WordPress for you. Take a good look at the manual of your hosting party. And if you can’t work it out, there is a support department that can help you.
Often the website will also be provided automatically with an SSL certificate, the secure key that ensures the lock in the navigation bar. With a few hosting parties this does not happen automatically and you have to perform a few extra actions.
Again, consult with the support department. Engage them where necessary, it really helps you to make the first steps in building a website.
The installation of WordPress can often be done with a few clicks and is done in a few minutes.
Nice! You have now installed WordPress and can log in to the website. You do this as follows:
At the top of the navigation bar (the URL) type the following:
You can now log in with the login details you received from your hosting party.
After you have logged in, you will enter the WordPress content management system. You will see a (black) navigation bar on the left and at the top with ‘dashboard’, ‘posts’, ‘pages’, etc. This is the heart of your website where you can make all kinds of adjustments. I’ll come back to that later.
Step 3: choosing a template/theme
When you install WordPress, a default template or theme is also automatically installed. However, often you want to choose your own template that better suits your purpose or that you find more beautiful or that has more features.
There are many ways to get a template. You can choose a free template from WordPress itself, but in this article we will go for a professional theme from ThemeForest.
What is a good theme and what choices should you make? I recommend you to read my article Build your WordPress website with ThemeForest, which explains exactly how to do that.
Take your time to do so, because choosing a theme is an important decision that will bind you for years. If you want to switch from one theme to another, you will have to do a lot of manual work.
customize it. It’s almost as much work as if you were building a new website.
If you bought a theme on ThemeForest, you can download a zip file. You will need it later for installation.
best themes from ThemeForest
These are the 7 best themes for you in a row:
1. Avada (big seller!)
3. The7 (is WPjournalist built with)
6. Newspaper (best news website)
Step 4: Install template on website
It is now time to install the template. Click on view and then on add new at the top. You will then get an overview of all the themes that WordPress makes available. But you choose (at the top) Upload Theme
. Now you need the zip file of the purchased theme from ThemeForest. The overview where you can upload the theme
You unzip the compressed zip file (all files & documentation) that you downloaded. By unzipping it, you get a folder containing a number of subfolders and files. The number of subfolders and files varies from theme to theme.
Here you see an example of the unzipped zip file from The7 theme, which WPjournalist was built with. In the subfolders you see for example the documentation (user guides) and some other stuff. And you’ll see another zip file dt-the7_v.10.4.1. This is the file you need to install the theme. Sometimes this zip file is also in a subfolder.
You click on choose file
and then you can upload the file from your computer:
And then click on Install now
. The theme will now be installed on your website.
Step 5: Install demo or prebuilt website
You have now installed the theme, but you are not there yet. Most themes on ThemeForest offer so called demo or prebuilt websites. These allow you to choose a different design or a specific subject or industry.
For example, with the theme The7 you can choose from more than twenty different website templates: a corporate website for your company, an online shop for your store, a website if you are a consultant or a yoga studio.
For example, if you want to start a yoga studio, you can install the appropriate template and you’re already well on your way. With that website you get the look and feel of a yoga studio, the navigation and topics are geared towards it and you don’t have to build a website from scratch. The yoga website for example has an integrated agenda, so your customers can easily plan their classes.
Now that’s the great advantage of ThemeForest
Next step is to install a prebuilt website. Often this is somewhere in the settings (it’s sometimes a bit of searching per theme).
At WPjournalist it’s at The7 and then you see prebuilt websites. You click on this and then you get a list of all the prebuilt websites.
Sometimes there is a tab in the settings or somewhere else.
It’s going a little bit too far to explain this completely, because each theme has a slightly different form of installing a prebuilt website. But you can then choose a prebuilt website and then click on import demo of prebuilt website.
Then the website will be installed and that can be short, but it can also take several minutes, because images will also be installed.
NOTE: these images are not always included in the theme. For example, there is copyright on them and you must then replace these demo images with your own.
When the installation is finished, you will see a notification of that and then your prebuilt website is ready. Click from the back to the front of the website and you’ll see the website in full! Congratulations!!!
Step 6: Customizing the website
Now the real work starts! The website needs to be provided with content: texts, headlines, images, logo and much more need to be placed on it.
First a few things need to be done:
a. Adding plugins
The great thing about WordPress is that you can add all kinds of plugins at Plugins in the left navigation bar. There are a few plugins already in there by default and also by installing the demo or prebuilt website, there may be a few more plugins added, which are part of the theme.
There are a few plugins that you need to add yourself, if you haven’t already.
1. a security plugin. This one makes it hard(er) for hackers to break into your website. I usually use WordFence, one of the best security plugins. By default in WordPress the Akismet Anti-spam is already included in the plugins. It is good to activate it as well. For this you need to create an account at WordPress.com. It is a bit of work, but it ensures that you receive less spam.
2. an SEO plugin. You want to be found in Google and you can work on that with a tool, an SEO plugin. With this tool you can optimize your articles, which will make them appear higher in the search engine results. The best SEO plugin is made by Yoast SEO. You can use this plugin for every article. You can read how to do this in the extensive article Writing perfect SEO texts in 5 steps: everyone can do it!
3. a backup plugin. It is always important to have a backup, in case something goes wrong with your website. You can install a backup plugin, such as BackWPup or UpdraftPlus. but I don’t always do that. These often slow down your website and often hosting parties also have a good backup facility. So only install this if your hosting company does not have a good backup facility or if you want to have a double backup for peace of mind :).
4. a caching plugin. This is a plugin to make your website load faster. And that again is important because visitors often drop out when your website is slow. Again hosting companies often have a caching facility as well, so check or ask first how your hosting company has arranged this. A simple caching plugin is Fastest cache.
5. a plugin to compress images. Your images are often large files that cause your pages to load slower. So your images need to be compressed to load faster. This can be done with the Smush plugin for example. If you don’t want to install a plugin that does this automatically, you can also compress individual images with an online tool, TinyPNG.
6. Envato Market plugin. The themes of ThemeForest often need to be updated. Often this can be done in the theme options, but sometimes it can only be done manually. A cumbersome job. The Envato Market plugin allows you to update the theme with just a few clicks. For a tutorial see the article Updating ThemeForest themes with the Envato Market WordPress plugin.
b. learn how to use the page builder
Most ThemeForest themes work with a page builder.
With the page builder (there isn’t really a good Dutch word for it…) you can quickly and easily build and edit pages without any knowledge of code language, such as CSS or HTML. You can create beautiful layouts or even enter sample layouts.
The two best known page builders are WP Bakery Builder and Elementor. They are both plugins that are often included with the theme and are also required if you want to install a demo website. There are other page builders, and they are also great to use.
Elementor has a free version, but if you want extra features, you can purchase the paid version.
So which one is the best? Personally, I think the WP Bakery builder is a little more user-friendly and less complicated. However, Elementor offers a bit more options to customize the header or footer exactly as well.
How does such a page builder work? Below are two videos that explain the basics of both page builders.
Experience shows that you soon master the operation of the page builders. It is good that you first watch some videos to see how the basics work. Then you go to work on the website and if you do not know something, you can just google how something works. There is a video for almost everything.
TIP: the pages are formatted with the page builder, but this is usually not true for the posts. It can be done, but it’s common to format posts with WordPress’ own block elements.
One of the advantages is that you can transfer the posts a little easier when you build a new website. For example, if you have all the posts formatted in Elementor and your new website is built with WP Bakery builder, you won’t be able to transfer that automatically. Especially if you have a lot of posts, that manual transfer will take a lot of time.
c. Front editor
You can also edit pages in the so-called front editor of the WP Bakery page builder. Then you don’t have to keep switching in the cms to the actual page being displayed.
In the video on the right you can see how you first set up the front editor and how you can then make adjustments to the pages.
It’s a quick, simple and easy way so you can edit the page directly in the front-end without having to reload the page to see the changes.
d. Using Theme Options
In any theme, you can change certain things in the general settings, often referred to as theme options, that apply to the entire website. Think about a different main color, font, and setting the header and footer.
These settings are sometimes listed as a separate tab in the left navigation bar, but sometimes the creators put them under view > customizer. So it is sometimes a bit of a search.
In The7’s theme, the theme options are in the top navigation bar and are divided into sub-headings: Wizard, Skins, Branding, etc. Each subheading has certain settings. For example, under Contact forms you can change the shape or colors of the form.
e. The Navigation Bar
If you have installed a theme and a prebuilt website from ThemeForest, a few additional tabs often appear in the left navigation bar in WordPress in addition to the standard tabs (Dashboard, Media, Pages, etc). Think Portfolio, Testimonials, etc. These are parts of the theme and you can then create and edit new portfolio under those respective tabs.
Step 7: the final touches
Once you’ve added all the content and customized the design, your website can almost go live. But first you need to check a few things:
1. Check if your website is visible
In the Settings > read, see if the search engine visibility is not checked. If it is, chances are that the search engines will not index your website.
2. Setting the Permalink Structure
You should also check the permalink settings. Usually this is correct, but often the message name structure is preferred. You can check this option.
It is also good to look at the settings under Discussion. Here you can control whether a reaction to a post should be viewed first before it is allowed.
Especially if you are bothered by spam, it is not the intention that reactions are viewed directly on the site.ht come. And so there are more settings that you can adjust here.
4. final checks
Check the last few things before launching your website:
- Check if all pages are clickable, if the font is the same everywhere, if all images load. A website consists of many elements and sometimes you forget something or there is an error. So check everything again.
- Check the content – Also go through the texts again. You’ll often come across spelling errors or a sentence that doesn’t quite run smoothly.
- Mobile friendly – You often build the website on your computer. The themes are often responsive, so also well visible on cell phones and tablets. But if you have made all kinds of adjustments, it may happen that it is still displayed properly on your computer, while on mobile devices that is not the case. So check your website on your smartphone and tablet as well.
- Test the speed of your website – Visitors hate a slow website. With Pingdom tools or Pagespeed Insights from Google you can see how fast your website is and how you can improve it. ThemeForest’s themes are generally not super fast, so you can’t expect to have a score of 100. There are also specialized agencies that can speed up your website, such as WP Fixit.
Step 8: launching your website
Once you’ve checked everything, you can launch the website.
And actually it only starts then, because next you have to start promoting your website to get more exposure.
You can work on a better SEO to get higher in the search results of Google with Perfect SEO writing in 5 steps: anyone can do it!
You can start a blog to get more visitors to your website/ Read also Starting a blog? I give you my 100 lessons learned.
Or you can start a newsletter to bind readers to your website: 20 valuable tips to increase your newsletter subscriptions.
Plenty to do!
Well I hope you can get yourself started building a WordPress website with ThemeForest. And if you can’t, WPjournalist can support you with a website. Also take a look at my approach.