6 Steps to Build a WordPress Website for Your Real Estate Business (in Under 2 Hours!)


**Note from Brandon, co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast:  The following is a guest post from my friend Shawn. Shawn is my go-to web guy when I need stuff done for my real estate company. I asked him to write up this guide to help the BiggerPockets audience in case you want to build your own website – and he didn’t disappoint. The following guide is epic! I don’t get any money for saying this – but if you need web design, hosting, or something else.. talk to Shawn!**

I get it.

You need a website for your real estate company, but don’t know where to start.

I mean, do you just search Google and pick a rabbit out of a hat? And what’s it going to cost? We’re bootstrapping, right? Let’s use the one resource we have at our disposal — time!

If you follow this guide, in less than two hours you’ll have your very own WordPress website out for the world to see.

Are we going to be coding? Nope! We’re going to stay away from any code and anything technical. Let’s keep it simple.

If this seems outside of your comfort level, just follow this guide. I promise you’ll figure this out easily. That’s why I created this guide, to walk you through it, step by step.

So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get this show on the road!

First, Why You Need a WordPress Website

If you want to be taken seriously and not look like a fly-by-night operation, you need a professional website that you can keep up to date.

If someone researches your company and all they find is a random business listing on Google linking to your personal address, that doesn’t exactly scream, “I’m a professional.”

Now, why WordPress?

It’s a content management system that’s been around for 13 years and was used by more than 26.4% of the top 10 million websites as of April 2016. If that doesn’t sell you, what if I told you that you can manage all of your content easily without having to know a lick of code? Yep, no code wranglers needed.

WordPress is also great in how it organizes content for the search engines. Search engines love the organizational structure and index these websites better and more quickly than static websites.

OK, for real, let’s get started!

Step One: Purchase Your Domain Name

I know, domain name, what in the world is that? You said this wouldn’t be technical!

Don’t let the term confuse you. It’s easy, it’s just the address you type in to visit a website like BiggerPockets.com.

That domain name needs to be registered so we can use it for our website.

You can purchase a domain name from thousands of providers online, but we’re going to go with NameCheap.com because of the platform’s ease of use and the simplicity of their process.

Head on over to https://www.namecheap.com/domains/registration.aspx.

01 - NameCheap

Now, type in the domain name you’d like to register.

In this case, I’ve typed “graticle.design” simply because I needed to register that domain name anyhow for our company. It’s available, as you can see in the screenshot below.

02 - NameCheap

Now, what if your domain name isn’t available?

03 - NameCheap

Bummer! Time to get creative.

I won’t be able to help you come up with a unique name, but I can show you how to search tons of names at once, rather than trying domain names one at a time.

Related: Real Estate Investor Websites: How to Build the Perfect Lead Gen Website With LeadPropeller

You see that “Bulk Options” link? Click it.

04 - NameCheap

Now, enter all of the domain name ideas you have (I sure hope you have more and better ideas than I did!)

05 - NameCheap

Now, click the “Search” button.

Voila! Like magic, I found two sure things! 🙂

Now that you know how that whole process works, let’s purchase our golden ticket.

Click the cart icon for the domain name you want to use:

06 - NameCheap

A cart will pop up. Click the “View Cart” button:

08 - Namecheap

2. Add Hosting

Now, two easy steps — disable domain privacy (unless you want that, of course!) and add hosting to the order. Yup, NameCheap makes this super simple to handle right now!

09 - Namecheap

Wait, hosting? What’s that?

I’ll keep this simple. Every website online has to have hosting. It’s where your website files are stored. Feel free to Google “What is hosting” if you’d like to know more on it. Remember, I promised to make this non-technical!

When you add hosting to your account, it will show the screen below. Select USA or UK (depending on if the majority of your customers will be in the USA or UK) and click the “Add to Cart” button.

10a - NameCheap

Now, we just need to review our order and then click “Confirm Order.” Almost finished with the order!

If you already have an account, you log in, and if you don’t, go ahead and create an account. This step is foolproof, so I’m not going to outline those steps now. If I could recommend one thing, don’t list your home address. Use a PO Box or your office location. You don’t want any of your website information tied into your home address, right? 😉

Continue checking out until your order is complete and paid.

3. Following Instructions to Access Your New Hosting Account

Our next step is to check our email for the instructions to access our new hosting account.

The most important aspect of this email is the cPanel Access. This is where we’ll be going to install WordPress.

12a - NameCheap

We need:

  • cPanel URL (where we will login)
  • cPanel Username
  • cPanel Password

Once logged in, you’ll see the cPanel in all of its glory!

13 - cpanel

Don’t get intimidated. We’re ignoring 99% of what you see here!

4. Install WordPress

Since we’re setting up WordPress, let’s dive right in and get that going.

Scroll down to the heading “Softaculous Apps Installer” and click on WordPress.

14a - cpanel

On the next screen, click the “Install Now” button!

15a - cpanel

The next screen looks tricky, but don’t fret. It’s actually quite simple, and we’re going to walk through it together.

16a - cpanel

  1. Choose Protocol: Leave this as the default “https://”
  2. Choose Domain: Your domain will be listed, but if you already own multiple domain names with NameCheap, then just make sure the correct domain name is listed where you want WordPress installed.
  3. In Directory: Leave blank
  4. Site Name: Type in your company name or whatever name you want!
  5. Site Description: Describe what the website is about (you can change this later, so it’s not a big deal right now to get it 100%).
  6. DO NOT enable multisite!
  7. Admin Username: Don’t use “admin”! It’s predictable, and hackers love it because they can start guessing your password. Use something like your first initial and last name, or you can even use your email address — anything but “admin”! (Jot this down, we’ll need it later!)
  8. Admin Password: Get the strength bar to say “Strong 100/100” — this will make it less likely someone can guess your password in the future. Remember, you’re going to put a lot of work into this website, and the last thing you want is for someone to get in and erase all of those hours you’ll put in. (Jot this down as well — we’ll need it for later!)
  9. Admin Email: Make sure this is an email you can access. If you forget your password in the future, this is the email you’ll use to reset it.
  10. Select Language: Obvious. 🙂
  11. Limit Login Attempts (Loginizer): Check this.
  12. Advanced Settings: Skip!
  13. Select Theme: Select a theme that you like. There are many, so keep hitting the arrow until you find the one you like and then click the “Select” button underneath it.
  14. Email installation details to: Enter in your email address again.
  15. Click the “Install” button!

You may get an error on the following screen like this one:

17a - cpanel

Since this is a brand new hosting account, we’re going to click that box in the screenshot. I’m not going to explain that error since it’d put you to sleep even faster, so let’s move on!

Scroll back to the bottom and click the “Install” button again.

Whew! Now we’re talking!

You see the “Administrative URL” on the next screen?

18a - cpanel

5. Log in to WordPress

Click that link. That will always be our WordPress login address. You’ll want to jot that down as well.

Related: How to Write SEO-Friendly Content for Your Real Estate Website

Type in your username that you jotted down earlier.

19a - WordPress

Type in your password. Click “Log In.” And…

20 - WordPress

We’re logged in to WordPress!

6. Choose a Theme

The last step is picking out a theme for our website. Although I selected a theme during the installation, for some reason or another, it wasn’t actually installed. No worries — we’ll handle that real quick!

Hover over “Appearance” in the sidebar and click “Themes.”

21 - WordPress

Click the “Add New Theme” box at the bottom:

22 - WordPress

Now it’s just a matter of searching for the theme you like and installing it. You can click “Preview” to preview a theme so you can get a good idea of how it will look.

Once you’ve found a theme you like, click the “Install” button!

23 - WordPress

Once it’s installed, click “Activate” and you’re ready to go!

24a - WordPress

You can actually install a variety of themes and go back to the “Themes” tab to activate other themes if you change your mind. So, don’t feel like you’re stuck with the first theme you install.

Now you’ve got your very own WordPress website, and you did it yourself! You deserve a pat on the back if you made it this far. Oh yeah, I should probably mention: You may or may not want to let anyone know you did this yourself. Why? Because you’re going to get calls from everyone asking you to do the same for them! If I were you, I’d just share this article with them. 🙂

I hope that helped you and that you didn’t run into any snags throughout the process. If you did, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you!

Leave all your questions and comments below!

About Author

Shawn Hooghkirk

Shawn Hooghkirk is a husband, father, and founder and president of Graticle, Inc., a website design and development business that focuses on high-quality websites and graphics since 2009. Living in Southwest Washington, he enjoys exploring the mountains and playing guitar. Shawn’s design influences range from grunge to minimalist and everything in between, much like his musical taste.


  1. Shawn, I have been scared off WordPress because of reports of malicious attacks and websites going down. For my business (not real estate), I absolutely, positively cannot have my business go down during my busy season, or I am really sunk. It seems that everyone is recommending SquareSpace instead. I’ve been studying it and trying to use it to rebuild our ancient website, and even though I’m a halfway bright person, I’m clearly missing something. Maybe there’s just a learning curve with any new software.

    What’s your opinion on the vulnerabilities of WordPress, and can an amateur protect himself from them?

    • Shawn Hooghkirk

      Hi, Leigh –

      First, James Green has posted a comment below that I think you should also read. But I don’t want to defer to another comment since you did ask me directly.

      As James mentioned, WordPress has a massive market share (reports are anywhere from 24% to 26% of all websites in existence are on it: https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/cm-wordpress/all/all). It’s also open-source, so people are able to view all of the code and test out vulnerabilities (the upside to it being open-source is that anyone can help improve it). What all this means is, WordPress websites have a huge target on their back, because once you figure out one vulnerability, the bad guys can now test that vulnerability on millions of WordPress websites.

      Now, the majority of WordPress hacks occur because either WordPress or the plugins installed are out of date. Most people who come to us to help fix their hacked site had simply set up their website and didn’t bother updating WordPress or their plugins. What they didn’t realize is that most security loopholes are closed in these updates. As of WordPress 3.7 (released in 2013) WordPress introduced automatic maintenance and security updates which do alleviate this to a point (major updates, you still need to update manually).

      Another problem is that people use a username like “admin” and a generic password. Hackers create bots that scour the internet for WordPress websites, find the login page, and those bots continually guess the password until one works.

      With all that, yes, WordPress can be a liability. But with all of the negative, you can still protect against those threats with two plugins:

      1) IThemes Security: https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/

      There are a ton of features that come with this free plugin, so I’ll only list a few:

      + Brute force protection: You can limit the number of times someone can enter a failed password, and even have their IP address banned after a certain number of attempts. If you aren’t using the username ‘admin’ you can also automatically ban any IP address that attempts to use this as a username!

      + Hiding the login page: Default WordPress login pages are located at http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and every one of those bots mentioned earlier knows this. With this plugin, you can change that location to anything you like: http://www.yourdomainname.com/cant-find-me-now

      + Strong password enforcement: You can force all users (including yourself) to use a password that is marked as strong.

      2) Securi Security: https://wordpress.org/plugins/securi-scanner/

      Although you could look at this plugin as accomplishing the same thing as iThemes Security, this plugin is also great and you can install it along with iThemes Security.

      Again, a ton of features, but here are a few notable ones:

      1) Securing Activity: You can keep an eye on what’s being updated on your WordPress site.

      2) File Integrity: It scans your WordPress setup and alerts you if something changes outside of that. Often hackers will place their hacked files in directories you won’t notice.

      3) Remove Malware Scanning: Free scanning of your website for malware.

      Both of those plugins have a ‘blacklist’ feature that takes known hacker IP addresses and blocks those IP’s from visiting your site. Not foolproof of course, but it’s another step in the right direction.

      Now, all of this should be said with one caveat: If a hacker group decides to target your website, they’ll get in if they want. There’s just no way around it whether you’re on WordPress or not. The good news is that most hacks are simply done by bots looking for an easy way in.

      I can’t promise anything, but if you install those two plugins above and set them up correctly, update WordPress and all plugins as soon as they are realeased, use a unique username and a very strong password, most of the threats with WordPress are extinguished.

      A word of advice is to stay within the WordPress ecosystem for plugins you install: https://wordpress.org/plugins (this is the same area in WordPress where you browse plugins). Also, be sure to read through the ‘Reviews’ tab and also the ‘Support’ tab to get a general idea on how the plugin is received. There are premium plugins which you can purchase from other websites, just vet them by looking up reviews and finding others that use these plugins and are happy with them.

      A HUGE plus with WordPress is the number of tutorials and instructions that you can find online. There simply isn’t another content management system that has this exhaustive amount of “free” education. You can learn the basics all the way to the advanced with one Google or YouTube search.

      If I were you, I’d go with WordPress if only because it’s your website no matter what. If a third-party website builder goes out of business, what happens to your website and content? With WordPress, you control everything 100%. From my experience, all the WordPress websites that we actively manage (by updating WordPress and plugins and also taking backups) none of them have been hacked. So, there’s that 🙂

      I hope that was helpful. Do let me know if you have more questions, Leigh!

  2. James Green

    @LEIGH ANN SMITH, regarding web security this is my area of expertise. If someone wants to take it down, there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO! Using Squarespace, Go Daddy, or anyone else won’t help, if a person is intentionally targeting you.

    The problem WordPress has had is that, you need to update the underlying WordPress software to keep up with patches that WordPress puts out. As new vulnerabilities are discovered and patches are created by WordPress, they need to be installed else your site is that much more vulnerable to targeted or random attacks.

    All the companies have this issue, it’s not a WordPress problem. WordPress is the biggest thus more badguys go after it, ie..Microsoft.

    Knowing all this, I personally use Weebly, NOT because it is inherently safer, it was just the first one I was introduced to. Can I hack it,……….maybe…>;- ) . But as I said, if you have a site on the open internet it is vulnerable!!

    I will be transitioning soon to another platform that is WordPress based, and they do a ton of the backend stuff for you. The owner puts out a lot of good youtube videos, that I use even for my Weebly site.

    The lesson here, use one that you feel comfortable with. I would at least learn what needs to be done to keep the software up to date, b/c that’s where most of the problems with websites are.

    • Shawn Hooghkirk

      Thank you for the compliment, Liam. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      The answer to your question is no. You don’t have to pay anything to WordPress when setting up your site this way.

      If you think of more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  3. As a former tech person, I know how challenging it is to write something the ‘non-technical’ crowd can actually use to do something. This article is a good start, but i believe you missed the most important step: helping the user, who just created a WordPress site, modify it with their own words and images. Remember, most of these non-techies have no idea how to get a pic from their cell phone or iPad to the Internet, so while helping them set up the site is useful, if they can not personalize it, they will simply get frustrated and quit. Perhaps a follow up article teaching them editing skills to load and resize images, or edit other content, like various title sizes, or adding links to their sites or other domains.
    Again, this is a solid beginning, and I strongly support your hard work…been there, done that. But don’t quit yet; help those folks who used the first lesson finish the job by providing lesson number two: editing. Perhaps BP could even have users select the best WordPress sites created by users and give the winners a nice little prize!

    • Shawn Hooghkirk

      Thank you for your feedback and perspective, Tim! That helps and is very encouraging.

      I agree with you. Now that step one is finished I’ll continue down this path to help the Bigger Pockets community better utilize WordPress in their businesses. Going over how to manage content, create and edit pages, images, plugins… etc.

      I dig your contest idea, too! 🙂

      Again, thank you, Tim!

    • Chass Reed

      Thank you so much Tim. THIS is EXACTLY where I am RIGHT NOW….in a state of confusion. I’ve followed Shawn’s helpful article step-by-step. I now have a domain name and a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y. nothing else.
      I will be eagerly awaiting the next article and doing tons of research in the meanwhile.

    • Tim Sabo

      I am so glad to see Shawn’s great article is actually being used and that some legacy will come from that work. So often, people go to great lengths to provide assistance in getting folks started on a big task, only to see those folks get to first base and never move on. Think about how many people will create viable WordPress sites from that work…businesses will begin, grow and flourish because of his generous work and the additional challenge he has graciously accepted to help teach us all how to edit and ‘cut and paste’ our sites. Shawn, for all of us who will build our business sites out of this, I say thank you so much. Your attention to details and responsiveness to our comments demonstrates why Brandon puts so much trust in you. Thank you BP.

  4. Wow! Thank you for this great tutorial step by step. I was considering hiring someone to build my website and was getting quotes north of $1K. You make it seem pretty simple.
    Would love to see another post that walks through the editing process as Tim suggested.
    What do you think about predefined WP themes that can be purchased? Is it worth it or better make one myself?

    • Shawn Hooghkirk

      Of course, Olga! I’m glad you appreciate it.

      Premium themes can be great.

      Unless you’re a proficient programmer, I wouldn’t recommend building a theme yourself, especially since there are tons of free and premium themes out in the wild. It just wouldn’t be worth your time or the headache. Trust me, I’ve seen countless people start customizing a WordPress theme who are just tinkering, only to find themselves stressed out with a broken website, and countless hours down the drain. There will be a stage where you wlil outgrow your theme and want something more custom tailored to your brand, but at that point, you’ll want to hire a WordPress design/development company that will do all of the heavy lifting.

      What I would do if I were you, is browse through the free themes for WordPress mentioned in Step 6 above. Only after you’ve exhausted that list, would I check out a premium marketplace like Theme Forest. Make sure you stay within their WordPress section for themes (just Google “Theme Forest WordPress”) on their website (this sounds like a great idea for a future topic, too – How to purchase and install a premium WordPress theme!) It is a bit more technical when installing a premium theme, which may be a reason to stay within the free themes for now.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions!

  5. Karl B.

    I recommend paying for a theme. I run a few affiliate marketing websites and purchased a single Studiopress theme for $99 which I use for all of my websites. It looks a whole heck of a lot better than the free themes out there and I love the look of my websites and their ease of use pertaining to individual website setup when using various plugins.

    • Shawn Hooghkirk

      I agree with you, Karl and thanks for posting your thoughts! Most premium themes are going to beat a free theme in appearance and functionality. The goal of this article is to allow someone with zero experience to set up their own WordPress website themselves in the easiest way possible. Purchasing a premium theme, installing (not to mention installing the required plugins) and configuring all of that would require an entire article (or two!) But you may have given me another idea for a future article 🙂

      As a side-note: what beats a premium theme? A completely custom WordPress solution that’s tailored to your business goals and objectives. But, we’ll take it one step at a time!

  6. Artur Amirkhanyan

    Wow great article Shawn! Thank you!
    And thank you for comment/article on security.
    I want to start bootstrapping with WordPress precisely for the reasons you explained

    I am trying to understand what is the difference between traditional hosting services and clouds like
    Performance, cost and ease of use wise
    And/or something else I am not thinking about.

    Ideally it would start as lead generating website and become Real Estate, Architecture, Contracting, etc. empire as my business grows =)
    Just want to start in a right direction

    P.S. I already got http://www.ArtAmi.net from google domains. Unfortunately “*.com” is taken and they wanted crazy $5000 for it.
    Do you think .com is a must? (with different name)


    • Shawn Hooghkirk

      I’m glad you got value from it, Artur and thank you for the compliments!!

      Since you mentioned bootstrapping and DIY, I’d keep things simple and go with a traditional host like NameCheap, SiteGround, BlueHost, Media Temple, etc. The reason for my answer is simplicity and saving your time and energy. Even if you were starting a web design company, that would still be my answer.

      When you start to need those options like AWS, you should be at a point where you’re getting out of DIY and hiring someone who will recommend the right path for you based on where you’re at and where you’re setting your sights.

      You won’t be wasting any time by going that route because let’s face it, what you build today isn’t going to be enough to get you to the next flight of stairs in your journey, no matter how well you think you’ve got your path set out, it’s going to change 🙂

      The .com is also a great question!

      I’ve found that .com is just plain easier for everyone to remember. It’s not to say that .net won’t work (or any of the other thousands of options like .design, etc.), it’s that we’re accustomed to .com (at least for the next few years).

      But with that, if you want to avoid the $5,000 .com then .net may be your next best bet. Like you mentioned, you may also want to explore a different name and get a .com. Just like Flickr did in removing the ‘e’ or other countless examples. With my company, I was facing the same scenario 7 years ago and the .com was what dictated the name of the company. In my case, I figured I could combine two words, gratitude and optical: Graticle. Plus, it sounded like radical, so that was that!

      I wish I could give you a more straightforward yes or no answer, but I hope this helps you, Artur!

      Oh, and you didn’t quite ask me this, but I feel I need to write it down. I’m not saying this is you at all, but it’s something to think about! Don’t get too hung up on the details, especially when starting something. I’ve seen countless startups perfecting everything like their business cards, brand, website, etc. before they’ve brought in $1 of income—only to find out the next year, it was all for not. Test your business hypothesis and iterate as quickly as possible 🙂

      On an inspiring note: Jack Ma purchased Alibaba.com back in the day for $10,000 – I believe well before he had $10,000 to throw around at domains! 🙂

      You ROCK and keep moving forward my friend!

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here