I have always believed that setting up your own English teaching website is a useful activity, as teachers can reflect on their lessons by keeping a diary and share their experiences with others online. I first created my own blog – as it was back then – on Blogger, before transferring my website to WordPress. I initially set up my website to document my experiences of undertaking an MA in English Language Teaching, yet soon realised that it could be used for so much more.
Since starting, I have been keen to get other teachers involved in developing their own website so that they can document their own practice and share with other English teachers around the world. One other professional English teacher that I was able to persuade to join the ‘WordPress cult’ was Peter who created ELT Planning. In this post/video, I share the process that you have to follow when creating your very own WordPress website.
1. Creating Your Own Website
Once you have decided to create a website for your English teaching needs, you will need to think of a domain name. If you wish to create an English website about IELTS, then it would make sense to create a domain name with the term ‘IELTS’ included within it. If you website is related to ‘Business English’, then the terms ‘Business’ and/or ‘English’ should be included in the domain. What I recommend is brainstorming some domain names on a piece of paper and rewriting some ideas. Once you have written down a list of ten names, head over to a domain name checker such as IONOS.
What I like about this domain checker, is that it recommends other associated domains and can inspire other combinations of key terms which you had not thought of. Once you have chosen a suitable name which is available, you can then proceed to WordPress and register that domain.
2. Editing Your Homepage
Once you have registered and included the domain name that you wish to use with WordPress, you then have to consider editing your homepage – also known as your ‘landing page’. This page would be the first thing that visitors are greeted with, so it is vital to make a homepage which is welcoming yet informative. It usually helps to visualise your complete website by drawing the structure on different pieces of paper and understanding how everything is linked.
When making your homepage, it is best to introduce visitors to your website with links to other pages (blog posts, contact pages, signing up pages, etc.). I would always recommend that you look at how other websites great visitors and try to replicate similar functions – much like the British Council Teaching English website. Once you have an idea of how you visualise your website, you can then make a start on your homepage.
3. Adding A New Page
Once you have made some effort in making your homepage and have a sense of how other parts of your website will function, it is then necessary to start making new pages in WordPress, with new pages functioning as a new webpage. The best place to start is by creating a new About Page.
It is important to know exactly how a new Page will function, otherwise it may appear unclear and cause visitors to leave your new website. One suggestion is to visit other websites and make a note of the different sections: Contact Me, Lesson Plans, New Jobs, etc. Once you have a clear idea of each Page and the use, then you can start making them.
4. Linking New Pages
Having made all the new pages necessary for your website, it is important to link them on your homepage (landing page). This will make it easier for readers to click on the different areas of your website. A very important tip: before making your website live, I would always encourage you to look at the links that you have made to different pages and see if any are dead. What you don’t want to happen is for your website to go live and then links are not working, driving visitors away.
One thing that I like about WordPress is that you see how your website functions before hitting the button to make it live. Always check and double check your website to ensure everything that is clicked works and that any unsuitable links are corrected.
5. Tips For Your WordPress Site
You have made all the necessary pages for a successful and functioning website, but one thing is missing – blog posts. Create a number of initial blog posts such as “The Top Ten Ways To …”, “How To …”, or “When To …”. Fill in the gaps with some ideas you have and post them up on your website. Ensure that there is a section on your website that allows visitors to look at recent blog posts. I would also recommend that you author posts which are related to your website: if you are making a website for language learners, then make blog posts to support them. It makes sense to create posts for your audience, otherwise you will drive traffic away from your website.
Another tip is to spend a good few days working on your WordPress website. The amount of time you invest in creating a solid and respectable website will leave visitors wanting to visit again. If you spend little time working on your website, it will show. It would look unprofessional, untidy and unclear. You want to make your brand stand out and ensure that it is consistent.
6. Creating A Site Menu
One way to improve the functionality of your website is to create a menu for different Pages. The Menu function in WordPress is absolutely brilliant and well worth working on. As you can see on my own website, there are various menu options and each guide the visitor to different sections: Book Reviews, Online Lessons, etc.
Spend a little time working on the Site Menu to ensure that it works and I would also recommend that you check the functioning of it before going live. Again, if you go live and find that some of the menu is not working, this will be detrimental to your overall website.
7. Final Tips For WordPress
When it comes down to using WordPress.com, there are a variety of plugins which can be used. However, if you wish to use plugins you will be required to pay for a Premium WordPress Account. However, if you wish to use plugins and avoid paying for a Premium Account, then you could look at using WordPress.org – which requires self-hosting and paying a fee for this. Whatever you decide to do, the use of plugins can be quite useful for your website and can be used to improve the functionality as well. More information about plugins can be read here. I would recommend the following plugins, should you decide to go ahead by incorporating them.
- WooCommerce Plugin: This helps you to sell products and services online
- Akismet Anti Spam: This will reduce amount of fake accounts registering for your
- WP Job Manager: If you want to start posting jobs on your website, then this plugin can help
8. Creating A Facebook Presence
One thing that is highly recommended is to create a social networking presence: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the most important. Before you make your website live, I would recommend that you make the required social networking pages to improve the visibility of your brand. Try to use the same name as your as your website, as this also improves your presence.
When creating your Facebook Page, I would use that Page for posting on other groups associated with your website. For example, if your website is related to English learning, then join other English learning groups. However, if your website is about passing the IELTS, then posting material through your Facebook Page associated will develop your social media presence.
9. Marketing Your Brand
Marketing your brand and develop awareness of your website is key for gaining awareness from potential and present visitors. There are a variety of tasks that you could incorporate when marketing your website. You could introduce your website to your students for self-study tasks – this will gain some interest and traction. Another way of marketing your brand is by paying Facebook or other social media outlets to advertise your website. Personally, I would not pay for advertising as it does not guarantee any income. Nevertheless, it is one thing to consider if you have a budget and are able to reassess the marketing strategy after a month or so.
I certainly this post, as well as the YouTube video, helps those teachers that are considering to document their teaching or promote their services online through different platforms. You may never know where your website could lead. I have been invited to various conferences, been sent books to review as well as had a chance to reflect on my own teaching. So what are you waiting for? Get your free WordPress website up and running, and join a great English teaching community which is not divided by a physical location but connects other likeminded teachers.