The Ultimate Beginners Guide On How to Make a Social Media Website from Scratch
Ever wanted to make your own social network website like Facebook, but didn’t have a clue how? Then this is the guide for you.
We have created an easy to follow, step by step tutorial on exactly how to build a site like Facebook. With no coding skills required!
Suitable for absolute beginners we will hold your hand through every stage of the process so you end up with a sophisticated community website ready for people to sign up and start posting their thoughts, pictures and comments.
Sound good? Great, then let’s get to it…
This FREE BuildaSiteLike guide consists of 3 simple steps:
- Step 1. Which Website Platform to Use
- Step 2. How to Choose a Domain name & Hosting provider
- Step 3. How to Install the Website Platform, your Social Network Theme & Basic Setup Instructions
After completing the above steps set you will have your very own Social Network website.
The best part of all, it can be done in less than 30 minutes!
So enough with the intro, let’s dive in with step number one…
Step 1: Which Website Platform to Use (The CMS)
One of the fastest ways to start a social network in 2018 is to use a well established, existing website platform. This is what we call the “Content Management System” (or CMS).
Why use a Content Management System (CMS)?
We have explained this in every guide on Buildasitelike.com. The reasons remain the same no matter what type of website you decide to build.
A good CMS along with a well designed theme is all that is required to create a sophisticated website with tons of functionality.
Furthermore, one of the best and most popular CMS’ (WordPress), is absolutely free.
Before we take a closer look at the website revolution that is WordPress, let’s take a brief look at what a CMS actually does.
So what exactly does a Content Management System (CMS) do?
A content management system is the foundation of your website. Everything else is built on top.
Once you have your chosen CMS installed, you will be able to create and manage the design, content and overall function of your site all within a simple to use interface.
You can actually compare it to logging into your Facebook profile. There you can upload images, write posts and comments and leave links to your favourite content online.
A CMS will allow you to do exactly the same thing with your own website. It allows you to manage images, text and all other website content and function.
Furthermore, you can use the CMS to control how your website looks to the outside world. It’s just a case of installing the right ‘theme’.
In the case of our Social Network site, we will install our CMS and choose a theme that allows users to create their own profiles and begin sharing content via your website. (And remember, we can do all this without you needing to know a single line of code).
That is the beauty of a good CMS. It allows a complete beginner to launch their own website with ease.
A Closer look at the WordPress CMS (What does it have to offer?)
WordPress is by far the most popular CMS on the planet. Here’s a few reasons why:
- It is completely FREE
- It is designed for beginners to pick up and run with (yet experienced users love it too)
- There are so many themes available it is ridiculous (we are talking hundreds of thousands). Whether free or premium, they can be installed with a click of a button.
- WordPress plugins allow you to increase the functionality of your website in line with your demands.
- It is easy to customize
- WordPress and most themes are responsive in design. This means your site will look good on all screen sizes.
- WordPress is fast and secure and is constantly being updated
For this tutorial we will be showing you how to create a website like Facebook using WordPress.
To do that, the guide will now cover the following:
- How to get started with the best Web Hosting for WordPress
- How to register a Domain Name
- How to Install WordPress onto your hosting
- How to Install a Social Network Theme into WordPress
- How to get your website up and running
Step 2: Hosting & Domain Name
So we’ve chosen WordPress as our website platform. In a little while we will be showing you how to install the CMS.
First howeverm, we need to purchase a hosting service and buy a Domain name.
Here’s a simple explanation of why this is neccessary.
- Domain Name – Every website needs a web address so people can find your site on the internet. This address is called a domain name; (Facebook.com is an example of a domain name.)
- Hosting – This is the service that hosts your website data. This is what allows your site to be online, ready for users to visit. Every website that exists needs to have Hosting of some kind.
iPage provides reliable WordPress hosting with excellent live support, starting at just $1.99/month. Furthermore, if you sign up using the link above you will get your first year domain registration absolutely FREE.
They also give you over $500 worth of extras, making it one of the best value hosting deals on the market today.
Note: If you sign up by using our links, we will earn a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you. We use those funds to run Buildasitelike.com as a completly free resource. We aim to continuing improving the site, adding more valuable guides and helping beginners get started online.
So let’s get started by purchasing our iPage Hosting plan and register our FREE Domain Name.
The first step is to click the Get Started Now Button.
This will lead you to a page where you can choose your free domain name.
For this tutorial I have typed in ThisisMyExample.com and then pressed search to see if it is available.
Nice, your domain is available!
Now that’s the message you want to see.
However, don’t be concerned if your first attempts trying a name shows up as unavailable. Popular .com names are often already taken.
You can always try different variations, and remember, iPage will also provide suggestions in the results page. There could always be a .net version (and hundred different other extensions) of the domain name ready for you to opt for.
So, once you have settled on a name that is available it is time to press Next, choose my term.
The choose you term page (shown above) will asks you to select a 1, 2 or 3 year duration for your hosting plan.
The length you choose really is up to you. Your budget or how long you wish to own the website for could well be determining factors. However, with iPage, the longer term you choose the more savings you will have in the long run.
We have chosen the middle ground with a two year plan. On the right-hand side of the screen, the total cost of the term will be calculated.
After you have made your choice click Next, customize my plan.
This will take you to a list of optional extras.
The optional addons are as follows:
- Domain Privacy – We definitely recommend this. It will stop you from receiving spammy emails and automated calls from unscrupulous web design agencies trying to sell you their services because they have seen on the register you are new domain owner.
- Website Security & Daily Backup – We actually recommend selecting yes on these. It is the best way for a beginner to ensure their site remains virus free and fully backed up. (These tasks can be managed with WordPress Plugins however).
- All in One WordPress Bundle – Unneccessary in our opinion.
- SSL Certificate – You should buy this. From July 2018 Google will not take kindly to websites that do not have valid security certificates.
After you have chosen all the extras that you want for your new website, click Continue to Payment and fill in your payment details.
(Note, before you reach the payment page you iPage will present a couple of pages of added extras you can purchase. Don’t bother with these. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘no thanks’, until you reach the purchase confirmation screen ).
Well done, Step 2 is almost finished!
After payment you will see a purchase confirmation.
After this you will be asked to choose a username, a login password and a security question and answer for your iPage account.
Once you have completed this, it is time to login to your new iPage hosting account so that we can install your WordPress CMS.
Step 3: Installing WordPress & a Social Network Theme
i. Installing WordPress Using the iPage SimpleScripts
After logging into the iPage Control Panel you will see a screen very similar to the screenshot below.
Head to the Website section, and click My Installs (SimpleScripts).
From the script list, click WordPress.
This will take you to another screen where the default settings are the ones that you need.
Click Install and iPage will do the rest.
(During the install process you will be asked to agree to create some login details (Username and Password) for your WordPress admin area… type these in (keep a record of them somewhere safe) and then…
Your WordPress Installation is done.
We are progressing very well here.
Now, the front page of your website will be your domain name, (mydomain.com as an example).
With WordPress installed, your website will have the default WordPress theme in place. Things will look a bit bland at this stage. That’s to be expected.
And no need to worry, the next section will take things to a whole new level…
We’re about to purchase and install your social network theme to bring your new website alive!
ii. Installing a Social Network Theme
We are now at the exciting stage.
It is time to purchase and upload your social networking theme so you can lauch your own site like Facebook. Move aside Mark Zuckerberg 🙂
Before we purchase the new theme we will login into the WordPress admin panel.
You can find the location of your WordPress admin by adding /wp-admin after your domain name.
So, if your website domain was mywebsite.com the WordPress admin URL would be: mywebsite.com/wp-admin
When you visit this URL for the first time you will be asked to enter your login details. (This is the Username and Password you chose during the WordPress install.
After that, you will see something like the screenshot below.
The WordPress admin area is where you manage your website.
It is also where you will be installing your social network theme. Before we look into the one you should buy, we’ll take a little look at the where your current theme is installed.
Head to the left sidebar menu; hover over Appearance, and then click Themes.
The above image is the theme selection page for Buildasitelike.com.
Our selected theme is a Child Theme. On your theme selection page you will see all the default WordPress themes, (Twenty Eighteen, Seventeen etc).
You can choose a new theme at any stage just by clicking activate inside the theme details box. You will also see the ‘Add Theme‘ option at the top of the page. We will be using this a little later.
First we need to head to one of the many WordPress repositories to purchase your Facebook style social network theme.
The best place to buy high-quality WordPress Themes
[Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.]
There are a number of options when it comes to buying WordPress themes. However, the quality does vary.
The good thing is, us guys have done our homework.
The team here at BuildaSiteLike.com has over 35 years combined experience working with WordPress, (there’s only 4 of us).
Between us we have tried and tested most, if not all the larger premium market places. In our opinion you will not go far wrong, using one of the following:
- Elegant Themes
- Template Monster
- Engine Themes
- Thrive Themes
- Theme Fuse
- Theme Furnace
What’s the best Facebook style WordPress Theme?
Because of the complicated functionality involved with running a social network website; the theme you choose for your new site is very important.
In fact there are very few themes that can actually offer the wide range of features required to run a site social networking platform. In our opinion there is only one that you should opt for; BuddyBoss
Configured to work with the extremely popular BuddyPress WordPress social community plugin, BuddyBoss is our number choice for a number of reasons.
With a clean, intuitive design, abundance of features you would expect with a top social networking platform and a wonderful one-click install ability (making it a wonderful choice for beginners); it is a clear winner in the world of Facebook style WordPress themes.
So if you’re ready, let’s go ahead and purchase the BuddyBoss theme so that we can turn your social network idea into a real business.
The above link will take you straight to the BuddyBoss sales page. Click Buy Now to reach the license selection screen
The most popular option is the 5 sites license with full PSD, however as a beginner we recommend going for the base package. We will assume you only want to build and manage one site for now 🙂
After clicking the Buy Now button you will see the screen below.
Click Proceed to checkout and fill in your payment details (all major credit and debit cards are supported, as well as Paypal).
You will also need to create your login details.
Once that is done click Continue Payment and wait for your Purchase Confirmation Message.
Then, login into your BuddyBoss profile by clicking the Sign-In button in the top right corner of the page and entering your details.
Locate the Downloads tab within your BuddyBoss dashboard and click the link to download the Boss 2.0 theme file to your desktop.
Once that’s done, head to your main WordPress dashboard again (mywebsite.com/wp-admin), and return to the theme page, (hover over Appearance and then click on Themes).
The One-Click Buddy Boss Install
This is where it all begins to finally take shape. Thanks to the boffins over at BuddyBoss, the Boss 2.0 theme has a one-click install capability.
In otherwords, by following the simple instructions in the video above, you can install your theme along with all the demo content so that you have an entire website, up and running with just a few clicks of a button.
The video will now show you the following steps:
- How to upload the Boss 2.0 theme to your WordPress website
- Install all the required plugins (at no extra cost to you)
- Uploading a demo import file so that your site looks like a fully working platform
- Final touches so you can launch your new social network website
Once you have finished the above, pour a drink and give yourself a slap on the back, because…
Congratulations you’ve just built your very own Social Network
Building a site like Facebook – Wrapping things up
What we are about to explain may very well be redundant, as we are sure that most people following this guide do not actually think that they will build a site that will RIVAL Facebook.
The idea here is to give you the blue print to go out and successfully launch your own small social network.
You are not going to be able to make Mark Zuckerberg stay up late worrying about your site, but you can create something meaningful for you.
And who knows, with enough growth, you could even earn an income from your venture.
The importance of niching down: start small and build from there
The best way to approach your new site once it is launched is to target one small demographic.
A friend-based social network
It could be that you want your new social network to be a place where your friends can hang out online and be in contact with one another, (things can always grow from there as they invite their friends).
With BuddyBoss installed you can certainly achieve that.
Based on similar interests
Maybe you would like to create a social platform for those that love Horror Movies, or a certain genre of novels, a music based fan club network or even supporters of your favorite soccor team – the choice is endless.
Yes you can create such forums in many ways on established platforms such as reddit and of course Facebook; but imagine owning and running the platform yourself.
Your own social media website will allow you to do this.
Based on locality
Running your own platform and niching down to a particular location area is another great way to gain an audience and set yourself apart from what else is out there, especially if you find a gap in the market place.
Maybe you wish to create a social network for local mums in your area, sharing parenting tips.
Maybe you’re part of a local hunting club and you and your peers would like a place to discuss and share information; your own platform is an exciting way of making these things happen.
A Final Word on Monetization
It was many years before Facebook made a dime. The running costs all came from investors, coughing up millions to expand the site to success it is today.
Clearly it is unlikely any angel investors will be knocking on your door anytime soon.
However, if you do niche down on locality, area of interest etc, there could be future opportunities form sponsored posts and advertsing.
If you get enough traffic, advertisers will pay good money to get in front of those eyes.
Growing your site out so that it is receiving daily visitors should be your first priority, from that concepts of viable monitization will slowly fall into place.
Good luck and have fun with it. The important issue is to just get started. Follow this guide to launch your own social media platform and really get started online.
You will be glad you did, we can assure you of that.
- 9 Essential WordPress Plugins for All Beginners
- BuddyBoss Youtube Channel – tons of helpful guides on how to get the most out of the Boss 2.0 theme
How was your experience building this Social Network website? Was the guide easy to follow? Do you have any questions? Post your comments as we would love to hear your feedback.
And if you like what you found here please Share it with friends; we want to get the word out so that everyone can understand how to get started online and build a successful website just like… 🙂