In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a website that attracts clients from any country that you want. We will use the popular WordPress software, which you can install and use for free. Together with several paid services, you will have a professional website on a low budget.
In order to reach people from different countries, you need to communicate with them in a way that they are used to. Outside of China, the main way to reach a business is through its website. The most popular platform for building websites is WordPress.
- Easy to use – There’s almost no technical or coding knowledge required. You can easily create beautiful designs and advanced sites using themes and plugins. These are like building blocks for your site that allow you to add features, functionality, styling, and more.
- Versatile – WordPress can be used as the foundation for anything from simple blogs to the most complex e-commerce stores and so much more.
- Free and open-source – WordPress itself is free. You will need to pay for services such as hosting and some add-ons, but since you’re getting most of it for free, your overall costs will be low.
Here are several sites that others have created using WordPress, in order to attract global clients:
As you can see, WordPress lets you create any kind of site that you want. You have full control over the design and the content of the site. It can speak any language and bring in clients from anywhere in the world.
Some people think that WordPress is completely blocked in China. However, that’s not the case. The free WordPress software, which is available via WordPress.org is accessible without any limitations in China. Only the commercial service for hosted WordPress sites (wordpress.com) is blocked in China.
In any case, to run your own WordPress site, you only need access to the free software from WordPress.org. There’s no need to use a VPN service to access it.
When you create a WordPress site, you control where it will be stored (hosted). Your first step is to decide where to host your site. Hosting your website in mainland China allows you to build a faster site. However, you need to apply for a Internet Content Provider (ICP) license to do so.
As an alternative, you can host your website in Hong Kong. This provides good performance and speed and does not require the ICP license. You can get reliable hosting based in Hong Kong from Tencent or Aliyun Cloud.
If you’re a total beginner with setting up sites, don’t worry! There are hosting options that allow you to set up a site that has WordPress pre-installed in just one click.
- Read more about building WordPress sites with Tencent
- Read more about building WordPress sites with Aliyun Cloud
If you are a more advanced user, you can install WordPress manually. This is helpful if you have specific scalability or technical requirements for your website.
Depending on the package you have purchased from your host, they may recommend a specific workflow for installing WordPress. For example, Tencent provides instructions on installing WordPress using Linux commands when using their cloud server. It is important to be aware of the specific technical requirements of your hosting package.
If you need help installing and setting up your website, you can find Chinese-speaking contractors, who can help you with every step of the process.
You control how your WordPress site looks and what it can do. For example, you can build a simple “one page” site that talks about your services. Or, you can create a complex site with thousands of products for sale.
To choose a design, you need to pick a “theme”. In WordPress terminology, themes control the way websites look. You can choose between thousands of free themes from WordPress.org.
Plugins add specific functionality to your site such as contact forms, SEO tools, newsletter integration, ecommerce functionality, and so much more. There are thousands of free plugins on WordPress.org and also many vendors who sell “special purpose” plugins for more advanced functionality.
Some themes and plugins use services from companies that China blocks, such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter. When choosing which ones to use on your site, it is best to avoid themes and plugins that rely heavily on these services. However, if you decide to install ones that do use such services, there are other WordPress plugins you can use to disable them, such as Disable Google Fonts and Disable User Gravatar.
Out-of-the-box, WordPress only lets you create a site in one language (this can be any language, but just one). If you’re looking to reach audiences both outside and inside China, one language simply isn’t enough.
WPML is the most popular WordPress plugin for translating your site’s content, currently used on over 1 million sites. With WPML, your WordPress site can include any number of languages that you choose.
To get started with WPML, you’ll need a WPML Multilingual CMS or Agency account. These account types include all the tools you need to translate everything on your site. WPML also includes world-class support and a 30-day money back guarantee that allows you to try the plugin before fully committing.
After installing WPML on your site, you will be guided through an easy-to-follow setup wizard:
- Choose your site’s languages – Aside from Chinese, here are some of the most popular languages you may want to start with:
- Format your site’s URL – you can add languages in directories, as a parameter, or use a different domain for each language.
- Choose the translation mode – you can tell WPML to translate your whole site automatically for you, or choose yourself what parts of the site to translate.
If you choose to Translate Everything, WPML will translate all of the site, quickly and automatically. The automatic translation is typically 90% accurate. To make it 100% accurate and have a professional-looking website, WPML lets you review the translations and improve them manually. If you need help with human review, you can find reviewers for any language.
Now that you have a nice multilingual website, how can you ensure that the right audience reaches you? For this, you will need to optimize your site for search engines like Baidu, Google, Bing, and more.
WordPress is great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Because WordPress was built with SEO in mind. All you need to do is write good content, include the right keywords, and people will start finding you.
With WPML, you can optimize your content for searches in multiple languages. WPML is also compatible with popular SEO plugins that can help you optimize your site even more.
Other SEO tips:
- Sometimes Chinese characters do not display well in URLs. To solve this, we recommend that you enter URLs with Latin characters instead of Chinese characters. Alternatively, you could use the Pinyin Slugs plugin. This plugin automatically converts URLs that use Chinese characters into Pinyin so search engines can understand them.
- Get bloggers and directories to link to your site. These are known as “backlinks” and help improve your site’s visibility in search engine results.
- If you use automatic translation, reviewing your translations allows you to make sure you’re targeting strong keywords that people look for in search engines.
Once you have people coming to your site, you can use multilingual contact forms to turn site visitors into leads and generate multilingual automatic responses to manage communications.
You now know where to find hosting, how to set up a site using WordPress, and how to make it multilingual using WPML. But how much does it cost?
Here is about how much you can expect to spend, depending on the size of your site*:
|Item/Service||Cost for Basic site (1-5 pages), per year in USD||Cost for an advanced site or E-commerce store (many pages, 250-500 products), per year in USD|
|Hosting (Average between Aliyun and Tencent)||$100||$200|
|Theme with Pagebuilder||Free||$49|
|WPML CMS Account (Plugin)||$99||$99|
|Contact Form Plugin||$0 – $49||$0 – $49|
|Total per year||$270||$419|
*Please note: These costs are an approximation based on average pricing for many themes, plugins and services. If you need help translating content, you should calculate approximately $0.03 USD per word for human review work.
WordPress is growing in popularity in China as a reliable, user-friendly platform for building websites. By building a site using WordPress and using WPML to translate it, you can start reaching an international audience outside of China in no time. You don’t have to be a huge agency or have coding experience. You only need to have the right hosting, know how to install WordPress, and set up WPML to translate your site.
Does this sound like the perfect solution for your business, but you still need some assistance?
You don’t have to do everything we described on your own.
We have some great contractors in China who can build a complete multilingual WordPress site from start to finish, just as we have described.
You’re also welcome to contact us, tell us about your business and we’ll guide you through any of the steps.
We look forward to assisting you and seeing what you build with WordPress and WPML!