Create an Online Store: WooCommerce Tutorial

Creating an online store can seem like a confusing and daunting task the first time. I have news for you, the reality is it’s super simple! Follow this guide and you’ll have a WordPress + WooCommerce Website up and running in under an hour. There is no programming involved so you don’t need to know HTML, CSS and PHP.

In this guide/tutorial I’ll cover all the steps to create a brand new WooCommerce + WordPress site, including web hosting, customization and store setup.

This is what the end result looks like following what I’ve laid out in this guide.

Why WooCommerce

WooCommerce is one of best online platforms for creating your store. With over 5 million active installations, loads of flexibility and plugins, it’s easy to see why it may be the best option for you. 

Pros

  • It’s a WordPress plugin
  • WordPress is the best SEO Platform, period
  • Allows for the most freedom in design and user experience

Cons

  • More complex than some other options
  • Support is generally relegated to other users on forums
  • You’ll need plugins for some features

Most hosts include options for 1 click install of WordPress + WooCommerce. However it’s quite simple to install from the plugin store. In this guide I’ll install it through SiteGround’s Website Setup. It’s an automated install and very easy, even if it’s your first time making a website.

Choosing A Domain Name

When choosing your domain name you’ll want to go with something short, easy to remember and relevant to what you’ll be doing. If you run a llama cleaning business in Denver a domain like “wecleanyourllamaindenversoyoudonthaveto.com” is far too long. However a domain name like “denverllamawash.com” is fine.

For running a business, .com (or your country’s equivalent) makes the most sense. Using other extensions (.biz, .net etc) can harm your SEO and make your website look unprofessional.

Hosting Your Store

For people to view your store you need to have it hosted. While it’s possible to run a Web Server in your home and map your domain name to your Public IP Address, this is a terrible idea for security and availability. Web Hosting is cheap and for the price of a Coffee per month you can have safe, reliable hosting.

I recommend going with SiteGround. They’re fast, secure and have a great uptime record of 99.99%. SiteGround also give you the option to pick where your Website is hosted to maximize speed for your audience. While not the cheapest, trusting your website to the lowest bidder isn’t a good option when you can easily choose a reputable host at a good price.

Check out this speed comparison by Bitcatcha.

“If we had to just stick with one web hosting brand for the rest of our lives, we’d most definitely go with SiteGround. All the brands featured in this article are awesome, with top tier service and tech, but SiteGround takes the cake with the fastest shared hosting we’ve seen, comparable to other brands’ cloud hosting speeds!”

I moved from HostGator to SiteGround and noticed my pages load over twice as fast now. On HostGator I was experiencing 8+ second load times. You can browse my website yourself to judge how fast SiteGround will be for you (On US Servers)!

*SiteGround affiliate links are used, therefor I get a kickback if you use my links to SiteGround. Writing this guide takes time so I really appreciate anyone using these links.

1: Choose Your Hosting

For this guide I’ll cover the “Reliable Web Hosting” method of setup on SiteGround due to it giving you more flexibility than the “Managed WordPress Hosting” option.

Managed hosting options don’t give you cPanel access, making it difficult to manage aspects of your website yourself.

2: Pick Your Plan

Once you select Web Hosting, you’ll be presented with the 3 hosting plans:

  • StartUp
  • GrowBig
  • GoGeek

For a beginner I would choose StartUp. This will cover you up to ~10,000 views per month and starts at US $3.95. It’s hard to go wrong here for a new website starting with low traffic.

If you experience larger amounts of traffic you can always upgrade.

3: Domain Name Registration

I hope you’ve decided on your domain name because it’s time to register it. Domain Registration costs $15.95 per year.

For this guide I’ll choose johnkeenwpguide.com.

If you already have a domain name you can select “I already have a Domain”.

4: Fill Out Account Details

Fill in all the required details including for payment. Choosing a secure password is important as this account has access to your hosting. Therefor a hacker breaking in could do some serious damage.

When choosing your billing period keep in mind choosing the 36 month option provides the best value as the price goes up after this initial billing period ends.

Domain Privacy

When you register a domain name, your information becomes publicly accessible. If you don’t like this then buying Domain Privacy for $12 per year is a good option.

SG Site Scanner

This option will mean SiteGround keep an eye on your site daily and notify you if they believe your website has been hacked or infected with malicious code.

Confirm that you agree to their terms of service and privacy policy and then you can make your payment.

5: Success!

Not so difficult right? Now you can proceed to the customer area.

WordPress Setup

Setting up WordPress on most hosting platforms is an automated process. Many call this “1 click install” although as you probably guessed, there is more than 1 click involved. SiteGround have an option to install WordPress + WooCommerce, I’ll be using this method as it’s simple and quick.

1: Set Up Site

2: Start a New Website

3: Select WooCommerce

4: Choose Your WordPress Login Details

5: Finish

You may be presented with the options to choose the “SG Site Scanner” and “Domain Privacy” again.

At this point you’ll have to wait for WordPress and WooCommerce to be installed. This may take 2-3 minutes.

When it’s done, you’ll be presented with this page.

6: Log In to Site

It’s time to log in to your websites management page. To get there go to your domain name with /wp-admin added on the end. In my example domain it will be “johnkeenwpguide.com/wp-admin”.

Enter your Email Address and Password that you set in step 4.

Please note that it may take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours for your domain name to become active. You may need to wait during this time before you access your website through your domain name.

7: SiteGround WordPress Wizard

Once you’ve logged in for the first time, SiteGround have a quick customization wizard to assist you with picking a theme and installing your first plugins.

8: Pick your theme

This decision is completely up to you. Keep in mind you can always change themes so you don’t need to pick the right one now. I recommend trying a few themes and see what you like however, you’ll need to keep in mind WooCommerce compatibility.

For now I’ll be going with the Storefront theme as it’s developed by the same people as WooCommerce.

9: Plugins

Here you can choose some plugins to pre-install. These can always be obtained later so don’t feel like you need to make the right decisions now.

I’ll install the contact form and Jetpack as they’re useful for my store. Maps is another useful one if you have a physical location.

On the next page I recommend getting Google Analytics (Monster Insights) and the Optimize for SEO (Yoast SEO) plugins.

If you feel Grow Subscribers List (OptinMonster) is right for you then grab it too. Subscriber lists can work wonders for website traffic.

10: WordPress Is Working Now

Good job, you now have a working WordPress + WooCommerce installation ready for you to do some customization on.

To keep following along, click “GO TO DASHBOARD”.

Next I’ll go over settings to change on a fresh WordPress installation.

Best Practices

On a fresh WordPress install there are a few settings that should be changed.

1: Website Title and Tagline

Under Settings > General change your Site Title and Tagline to suit your website. 

2: Date and Time Format

Also under Settings > General you can select the correct date and time format for your region and/or preference.

Save changes before you leave the page!

3: Permalinks

Under Settings > Permalinks, select the Post name option as this will give you the best SEO results.

4: Ping Lists

Under Settings > Writing, this is a list of site update services. Your website will let them know when you publish a new post so having a good list of them can help quickly get your posts indexed.

Here is a good ping list you can paste in.

WooCommerce Setup

Setup

First things first, go to WooCommerce and click Run the Setup Wizard.

Following this wizard, enter all the details and your store will be up and running. Paypal is the simplest payment method however Stripe is also a great option. Connecting Jetpack is a simple matter of creating an account.

Product Creation

WooCommerce comes with some example products you can inspect. Click on Products under the WooCommerce tab to view them.

It’s a good idea to delete them all before creating your own products, lets do that.

Now click Add New up top. Fill in the product name and description.

Select a category for your product on the left.

Upload the product image and any additional gallery images. Scroll down on the right hand side to find this area.

Below the product description (and Yoast SEO if you have it installed) you’ll find the product data area. Here you can enter price, size, weight, stock etc.

Once you set everything you can click publish!

At this point you can go to your home page and view the product listing there. It’s basic but it’s a working store now!

Themes and Customization

One great thing about WordPress is the incredible amount of Themes on offer. There really is one out there for everyone! From simple themes that have done most of the work for you to complete website builders like Elementor that allow you to tweak every little nuance to your liking.

Elementor for WooCommerce stores could use a full guide in itself so I’ll leave that for now. However trying and changing themes is super simple and fun.

On your Dashboard, go Appearance > Themes. At the top of this page click Add New. Here you can browse, install, preview and activate all different themes and get an idea of what you like. I recommend sticking to E-Commerce themes. You can do that by filtering results shown to you.

I’ll keep using the Storefront theme for my demonstration.

Edit Pages

Go back to the dashboard and click Pages.

After deleting some of the default blocks and changing some text/images and adding 3 more products here is my result.

I hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any questions post in the comments below and I’ll be sure to reply. Also, don’t forget to use my affiliate link for SiteGround as it gives me a good kickback and will support future posts on this website.

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