How to Start Building a Free Sports Club Website with WordPress
Did you know that over 500 websites are created every minute?
Thanks to the free tools that are available at our fingertips, building a self-hosted sports team website has never been easier and more affordable.
Every day, people are choosing to use WordPress as the blogging and publishing platform to build their websites.
In fact, one out of every 4 websites is powered by WordPress. That’s over 60 million websites!
Why should I choose WordPress?
You have most likely visited a WordPress website without even knowing it. Many famous athletes and sports blogs such as ESPN, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, and Kobe Bryant, to name a few, use WordPress as their platform to build and manage their sports websites.
WordPress is a free and open-source CMS (Content Management System) used by more than 25% of the top 10 million websites on the web.
That’s a huge market share, and there are a couple good reason why so many people are choosing to use WordPress over other platforms.
WordPress is used and loved by so many people because:
- You don’t need to be a programmer. With all the wonderful tools that are available to you, you don’t need to know HTML or any programming languages to build a website. WordPress’s functionality can be expanded with the help of plugins, so you’ll easily be able to add contact forms, image sliders, and other features you might want to add to your site without writing the code yourself.
- It’s easy to use. Creating new posts and uploading images is very simple. The folks at WordPress have done a great job of designing the dashboard so that you’ll be able to navigate your way around in no time.
- It’s not just a blogging platform. While WordPress started out as a blogging platform, and remains the most popular choice, many people and organizations are using it to create news, e-commerce, and other types of websites.
- It’s quick to launch. You can literally get your site up and running in less than 30 minutes.
How do I get started?
To get you started on building your professional sports website, here are some things you will need:
While WordPress itself is free, to bring your self-hosted website into existence, you’re going to need to choose and purchase a domain name (as in a .com) and hosting service (the service that connects yours website to the internet).
For hosting, I recommend using a web host that provides a one-click WordPress install. It just makes things easier to set up.
Registering a domain
If you haven’t secured a domain for your new website, my go-to source for domain registration is NameCheap.com.
Do you need some inspiration for your new domain name? If you’re having trouble coming up with one, we have some useful tips to help you choose!
Once you have a domain name and hosting service squared away, you’re ready to install WordPress on your server.
If you’ve signed up with one of the hosting companies I mentioned above or a similar hosting company, you should find a WordPress “one-click-installation” option in your control panel.
Follow these steps to install WordPress:
- Sign in to your hosting account.
- Go to the control panel.
- Find the “WordPress” logo.
- Choose the domain name where you want to install your website.
- Set up your admin account login details.
- Click the “Install” button.
And that’s it! You’re ready to login to your new WordPress website.
If a one-click install option isn’t available with your hosting provider, you can manually install WordPress by following these steps:
- Download the latest version of WordPress: http://wordpress.org/download
- Create a folder for WordPress on your desktop and unzip the WordPress file in it.
- Find the file named “wp-config-sample.php” and rename it to “wp-config.php”
- Open the wp-config.php file with your text editor (ex: notepad) and add your database information:define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’); – MySQL database name.
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’); – MySQL username.
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’); – MySQL password.
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘host_here’); – Name of your MySQL database host.Once you’ve entered this information, save the file.
- Connect to your web server via FTP. (You can download FileZilla for free)
- Look for any file named “index” and delete it. Once you’ve deleted it, upload all the files from your WordPress folder to your FTP server.
- Once the files have been uploaded, go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php and you should see the WordPress welcome screen where you’ll be asked to select a language and some basic information about your new website.
Select a WordPress theme
Now that you have WordPress set up on your server, you’re ready to choose a layout (aka a website template or theme). Initially, you’ll find a very basic theme that has already been installed, but you’re probably going to want something more exciting and original.
To start with, you can browse over 3,000 free themes directly from the WordPress dashboard. There are literally thousands of free and paid WordPress themes that you can find online, too.
Finding the perfect theme can be time consuming, but it’s worth it. If you don’t find anything you’re perfectly happy with, don’t worry, you can always keep looking and change your theme when you find the one.
Since we’re talking about creating a sports website, I recommend installing Rookie. It’s our free WordPress sports theme that you’ll be able to find by going to Appearance > Themes.
Once you have found the Rookie theme, click “Install Now” and “Activate”.
If you’re ready to take the dive and get serious with your new sports team website, take a look at some of these premium themes designed specifically for managing a sports club or league.
Now let’s add some functionality
Not only can you choose from thousands of different website layouts, but WordPress also enables you to add all sorts of functionality to your website, in the form of plugins.
WordPress plugins, like the free SportsPress plugin, extend and expand the functionality of your website to do a number of things. Just like themes, there are many (over 40,000) plugins available directly from your WordPress dashboard, as well as premium plugins to give your website exceptional features.
As a word of caution, I highly recommend that you do your research before you start installing a bunch of plugins. While there are many plugins that promise to do the same thing, all are not created equally. When deciding on which plugins to install, you should be looking at a number of factors:
- The number of active installations of the plugin
- Average star rating given by users
- User reviews
- The developer’s reputation
- Is it well documented?
- Compatibility with the latest version of WordPress
All of this information can be found in the WordPress Plugin Directory and will be displayed on each plugin’s page.
To save you some time, we’ve curated 33 WordPress plugins that sporting organizations like yours might find useful when building your sports team website.
Installing the SportsPress Plugin
SportsPress is an all-in-one sports club management plugin for WordPress. It helps individual athletes, teams, clubs, and leagues easily set up their website by adding sports functionality such as the ability to add fixtures and results, league tables, team and player profiles, automated statistics, and more.
SportsPress has been downloaded over 130,000 times and is the most reviewed sports plugin on the WordPress directory used by over 10,000 teams, clubs and sports leagues. Don’t take my word for it. Seriously, go see for yourself!
To give your new website the functionality you need to create a sports website, go to the WordPress Dashboard > Plugins > Add New and search for “SportsPress”. Once you have found the plugin, click “Install” and “Activate.”
Once you have successfully installed plugin, you should see the Welcome screen for SportsPress:
To begin setting up SportsPress for your new sports website, I suggest filling out the 3 steps in the Basic Setup:
- Select timezone — Choose a city in the same timezone as you.
- Select sport — SportsPress comes preinstalled with several different presets, so check to see if there’s one for yours. If you can’t find it in this list, select “Custom” and you’ll be able to configure the plugin manually. I also recommend installing the demo content to help you understand how the sports data falls into place.
- Install demo content — You can leave this checkbox checked if you want SportsPress to automatically create a few teams, players, events, and other sample data for you.
Once you’ve saved those changes, you’re ready to start setting up your new website! For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to set up a football (soccer) website.
Setting up your homepage
First thing is first, you’re going to need to create a homepage for your new site. The homepage will be the first place your visitors land when coming to your site, so it’s important to give them a good first impression.
To do this, create a new page from your dashboard. Give the page a name, such as “Home”, and be sure to change the Page Attribute Template from “Default” to “Homepage” before publishing.
Once you’ve created your new homepage, you’ll need to tell your WordPress site that this is where you want visitors to land when they enter your URL in their browser.
Go into your Reading Settings and change your front page display to “A static page” and select the homepage you just created.
At this point, you’ve successfully setup your homepage but it’s still going to look very boring. What you’re going to do next is add widgets to the page to make it look like a proper sports website.
Adding widgets to your homepage
If you’ve never heard of a widget before, WordPress widgets are small elements or block you can add to your website that to add content and features to different areas of your website. All WordPress website will have the default widgets including Categories, Pages, and Recent Posts.
Since we’ve installed SportsPress, you’ll notice a series of widgets that have the SportsPress symbol. Each of these widgets perform a different function and will use your sports data to display them throughout your site.
This is what you would see when you install SportsPress on a new WordPress site, but if you have additional plugins installed on your site, you will most likely have a lot more widgets to play with here.
Click and drag widgets over to the Sidebar, Header, Homepage, and Footer areas of your website. Take a peek at what your site looks like with these different elements, and don’t be afraid to experiment! You can always delete widgets and add new ones.
If you’ve setup your widgets the way I have, your website should look like this:
All the data in these widgets have been pulled from the demo content we installed when setting up SportsPress. As you can see, the website is starting to look like a real sports website. Pretty cool, huh?
Now let’s move on to customizing the website for our sports club.
Customizing the appearance of your website
The next thing you’re probably going to want to do is customize your WordPress theme to match your team’s branding. Let’s add the club logo and change the colors of the site to match your team’s colors.
From your dashboard, go into Appearance and select Customize. In the customize panel, you’re given a visual interface where you can change the name of your site, the colors, header and background images, and add, remove, or modify widgets.
Let’s go ahead and upload our club logo and change the site identity. “My Club Website” isn’t exactly what we’d want our visitors to see.
For the Rookie theme, I recommend uploading a logo that is at least 300 pixels wide.
Now once you’ve uploaded your team logo and adjusted the colors of your site, your site should be coming together!
Creating a navigation menu
Your website is most likely going to have several different pages and posts for your club news, league tables, and contact form to name a few.
If you have an idea of what types of pages you want on your site, go ahead and create them by going to Pages > Add New. It’s the same process as when you created your homepage, but this time keep the Page Attribute Template as the Default.
Once you’ve created your pages, you need to make it easy for your visitors to navigate their way around your site and you can do this by creating a custom navigation menu.
To create a custom menu, go back into Appearance and select the Menus option. Give your menu a name, such as “Homepage navigation” and be sure to set it as the Primary Menu. The Primary Menu option will ensure that this menu is shown throughout your website so visitors can easily jump from page to page.
From the Pages box, select the pages you want to show on your navigation menu. Once you’ve saved the menu and visit your site, the navigation menu should appear and you’ll be able to visit each of your pages.
If you’ve been following along this far, great job! You have designed and built the framework to create a professional sports website for your club.
The next step is for you is to set up your database correctly to fill this website with your own teams, player profiles, and events.
But first, let’s go take a look at the SportsPress setting page to see what we’ve got there.
SportsPress introduces a suite of modules into your WordPress dashboard that give you the features you need to build a sports club website. I’ll give you a quick overview of what each of these modules do.
This module introduces a new section on the sidebar of your WP dashboard which allows you to create and manage your upcoming games, both competitive and friendly matches.
The Calendars feature helps you organize and publish calendars for your different competitions, seasons, teams, or even by events taking place at a particular venue.
The Teams module is where you will be adding all of the teams in your league and makes it easy for you to create new profile pages for each of them.
Once you get the ball rolling, SportsPress will be keeping track of all the scores and stats throughout the season, so once you’ve created a league table, it’ll automatically update to show your visitors the current standings.
Players & Staff
The Players and Staff modules are where you’ll be adding the members in your organization and their details such as their position, current and past teams, and maybe even a short bio. Once you’ve added a player or staff member, SportsPress will automatically create a profile page for them.
You can get quite creative with these player profiles pages by doing things like adding their performance stats, nationality, and metrics such as their height and weight. Just like the professionals!
You might notice there are a lot more features shown on the Modules page, but I won’t go into these since they’re premium features available in SportsPress Pro.
Not to worry, you can continue to use the free version of the SportsPress for as long as you’d like, there’s no trial period or anything.
That said, if you’re a bigger or more serious club who wants to take your website to the next level, SportsPress Pro may be a good option for you. You’ll get instant access to all of these features.
For now, let’s move on to setting up your sports club database and get things going!
Setting up your sports club database the right way
SportsPress introduces 5 different taxonomies to your WordPress site. Taxonomies are similar to post categories, but are used for grouping together and isolating your data to create different calendars for specific teams or leagues, player lists, league tables, and other types of information.
Before you jump into adding your teams and players, it’s important to setup your data the right way to make sure things move along smoothly for you.
The first 2 things you’re going to add to SportsPress are competitions and seasons. You’ll find both of these under the SportsPress section of your dashboard.
A competition is any league or division that your team is competing in. You can even select a “Parent” competition if you want to group smaller divisions under the main competition.
Adding a season into your SportsPress database is the same process as adding a competition. Seasons are defined as a period of time, whether it is an entire year or part of a year, and are used to keep your data structure organized when creating calendars and league tables.
Before we get into adding your events, it’s a good idea to add the locations of the grounds your team will be playing at. Go to Events > Venues to add a new field, court, stadium, or any other location.
If you give your venue an address, visitors will see a Google map with the location for the events you create at that venue.
The next step is to add the various player positions you have for your sport. Since we have used the demo data for the football (soccer) preset, you’ll find that 4 positions have already been created for you.
If you’d like to add more positions, delete, or edit these positions you can do so from going into Player > Positions from your dashboard.
In the same way you’ve added positions for your players, you can add specific job titles for your staff members.
Once you have set up these 5 taxonomies in your SportsPress database, you’ve laid out the foundation for adding your teams, players, staff, and events.
From the demo data that you installed, you’ll find that a couple teams, players, staff, league tables, and player lists have also been created for you. I highly recommend taking a look at how these posts types have been added to SportsPress before deleting them to get a good idea of how your data should look.
If you didn’t install the demo data, don’t worry, you can still get the data by going to your SportsPress Settings and visiting the General tab. Check the “Install demo content” box, save those changes and you’ll have the demo data to play with.
If you’ve followed the steps in this tutorial, you’ve just set up a self-hosted WordPress site for your sports club! Well done.
I really hope that this tutorial has been useful in helping you create a site for your club, but this is really only the beginning. Once you’ve added your own data to SportsPress, you’ll soon discover how much more you can do with the plugin and your website.
Build a professional looking website can open up many new possibilities for your club. It’s a great way for new players to find you online, and potentially even sponsors who will want to offer you a sponsorship deal.
If you need some inspiration for your site, check out what these sports clubs websites have done with theirs!
If you have any questions about SportsPress, let us know in the SportsPress forums. We’ll try our best to help you out there. I’ll also leave you some additional resources below.
Finally, if you found this tutorial helpful, please share it with other teams. Good luck!
Do you need help getting started with SportsPress? Sign up to get the free 9-day email crash course where you’ll receive tutorial videos right in your inbox!