With literally thousands of social networks available on the Internet today, ranging in the niche from dating to automotive consultations, many webmasters are starting to see the potential of creating a social network. Unfortunately, building a social network has always involved hundreds of hours of programming and planning, making it very difficult (and expensive) to build a social networking website. However, WordPress has now made it possible to build a social networking site with relative ease by taking advantage of a little-known plugin called “BuddyPress”.

Setup Hosting

Before you can even start building a social networking website with WordPress, you’ll need to set up your hosting. Hosting allows you to have your own, designated area on the Internet, where you can put anything you like and assign a domain name to it so that it is easier to find by other web users. While there are many hosting options available, ranging from free to dedicated servers, the most cost-effective and reliable type of hosting is called “shared hosting”. Look around and find the best plan for you. Once you have setup your hosting, use a domain name registrar to assign a domain name to your new website using its built-in tutorial.

Install WordPress

Once you have setup your hosting and domain name, look through your new control panel for an auto-installer. Although WordPress can be manually installed on your server, it is much easier to use an auto-installer. Once you have located the Auto-Installer, usually labeled by “Fantastico”, “Softaculous”, or “Quick Install”, find the option to install WordPress. Now fill in the blanks to choose a login name and password, while leaving the directory field blank unless you know what you’re doing. When the installation has finished, use the link it has provided along with your login name and password to login to your WordPress account.

Install Buddypress

Before anything else, go to Plugins on the left-hand side of the screen and click “Add New”. Now search for “BuddyPress” and install it. Once installed, follow the Setup prompts to successfully configure BuddyPress to work with your website. If BuddyPress fails to create pages for you, you can do so by clicking on the Pages menu on the left-hand side of the screen and clicking “Add New”. Name the page appropriately and repeat the process as many times as you need to in order to create a page for each BuddyPress component. Once installed, BuddyPress will use its default theme that comes with the plugin to create a nice-looking social network for you.

Choose A Theme

If you don’t like Buddypress’s default theme, you can go to Appearance on the left-hand side of the screen, hover over Themes, and click “Add New”. This page will allow you to search for a different layout, depending on what kind of niche you’re going for. While you can technically use any theme with BuddyPress, you may need to copy certain files over to your theme’s directory unless you choose a theme that is already BuddyPress-compatible.

Add Content

There you have it: You now have a fully-functional social network. Now all you need to do is add content, add in other BuddyPress plugins to boost the functionality of your website, and tweak individual pages. You should also go to Appearance and click on “Menus” to choose which pages you’d like to appear at the top of the page, as it will display all of your pages in the order they were created if you don’t.