How To Run WordPress on a Subdomain to Power Your E-Commerce Online Store

An open shop front.

Setting up your site on platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly have their benefits – but they’re not necessarily set up for selling your work online. To do that, you’ll have to turn to a more powerful combination of tools.

Setting up a subdomain to run an online store may seem like reinventing the wheel, but by using WordPress and a plugin such as Sell Media, you can be up and running in no time.

In this post, we’ll firstly go into detail about why you’d want to set up an e-commerce store on a WordPress-powered subdomain, then walk you through five steps to get you set up.

Why You Would Want to Run WordPress on a Subdomain

We get it – your time is short, and you’d rather be dedicating it to more important matters than wading knee-deep in a self-hosted subdomain running on WordPress. That’s why services such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and SmugMug are so appealing. However, selling your photos online with WordPress has plenty of upsides:

  1. You’re free to choose how your work is presented, and more importantly, which pieces are for sale.
  2. There’s no middleman, meaning any money you make goes directly into your pocket.
  3. You can take advantage of WordPress plugins to help create your store.

It’s this last point we want to touch on now. WordPress enables you to bolt on additional functionality to its core offering in the form of plugins, and one that’s particularly pertinent to selling your photography is our very own Sell Media:

The Sell Media plugin.

It enables you to set up a powerful and flexible photography store, which lets visitors purchase photos, digital files (such as PDFs), and even prints directly from your website. What’s more, you can even set up licensing fees for certain images, along with a whole host of other features.

That’s enough of the sales pitch – you’re likely convinced! Let’s move onto how to set up your subdomain and install WordPress.

How To Run WordPress on a Subdomain (in 5 Steps)

While it may seem like a complex task on the surface, running WordPress on a subdomain is simple – there are only five steps you need to begin selling your work.

Step #1: Purchase Suitable Hosting

Purchasing hosting is a necessary step, because it you can’t use WordPress or Sell Media. Hosting is an oft-discussed topic, and choosing the right provider is a big decision.

Given that you’ll be using WordPress, a host that’s well versed in the platform is a good idea – and good community reviews and ratings are a boon. Of course, there are plenty of other factors that go into choosing a host, so you’ll need to do your research before opening your wallet.

If you’re still flummoxed by the choices, don’t worry! We recommend Bluehost – they look after plenty of WordPress websites, and have 24/7 support on hand to help with any queries you may have.

As for actually purchasing your hosting, the process is similar to many other online purchases. If you’ve ever carried out an online transaction, you can buy hosting!

Step #2: Create Your Subdomain

Once you have hosting, you’ll want to create a subdomain. This is essentially  your website’s name, prefixed with a unique identifier – for example, you could have By doing this, your current website can stay as it is, while your store can reside elsewhere.

Before you begin with these steps, you may need to register your existing domain with your hosting provider. The process will be different between providers, and you may need to contact your provider for support.

When you’re ready, log into your host (we’re using Bluehost in our example), navigate to your cPanel, and find the Subdomains tab:

The Subdomains tab in cPanel.

Choose a name for your subdomain (such as shop or store), and type it into the relevant field in the Create a Subdomain section:

The Create a Subdomain dialog.

Once you click Create, you’ll see it appear under the Existing Subdomains section.

Step #3: Install WordPress

Once you’ve got your subdomain set up, you’ll need to install WordPress itself. Thankfully, because of the platform’s dominance on the web, many hosts enable you to install it directly from your admin panel. For example, in Bluehost, it can be found under the website section of your home screen:

The Install WordPress button on Bluehost.

Installing WordPress is simple. Let’s briefly sum up what you’ll need to do (note that the process varies between hosts):

  1. Find the installer (typically named Install WordPress or similar), and click on it.
  2. When you’re asked to enter a domain name, select the subdomain you created earlier.
  3. By clicking on Advanced Options (again, or similar), you can change your WordPress admin username, password, and email address.
  4. Read through the license and service agreements, ticking the boxes to confirm you’re happy.
  5. Click the Install button.

That’s all there is to it! In a matter of seconds, WordPress is installed.

Step #4: Install Sell Media

While you should arguably install some key plugins straight away, we’ll focus on installing Sell Media itself. The easiest way to do so is by navigating to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard:

The Add Plugins page.

From here, search for the Sell Media plugin in the Search plugins… bar at the top of the screen,  and when you’ve found it, click Install:

The Sell Media Install Plugin dialog.

WordPress will install the plugin, then ask you to click again to activate it. Once it’s installed and activated, you’ll see a new Sell Media panel on your WordPress dashboard. While it’s outside of the the scope of this piece, this is where you configure the plugin and add products.

When you’ve become accustomed to the plugin, you can delve into its advanced features, and even look to extend its functionality to create your ideal photography store.

Step #5: Link Your Sell Media-Powered Store to Your Website

Of course, if your main site’s visitors can’t navigate to your new store, there’s little point in setting it up in the first place. The final step is adding a link to your store on your website. You’ll need to follow the relevant method for your chosen platform, and while we can’t cover every available one, here are the most common:

  1. Squarespace: Using links in your navigation.
  2. Wix: Adding a Link to a Menu Tab.
  3. Weebly: Create Pages and Navigation.

Quite honestly, this should be the simplest step of them all. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have a full-featured photography store, powered by WordPress and Sell Media, fully accessible from your current website.


While there are definitive reasons you’ve chosen to build your website on platforms such as Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, setting up your online store with WordPress and Sell Media is ideal for selling your work.

In this post, we’ve given you a five-step plan to get your online store up and running. Let’s quickly recap:

  1. Purchase hosting from a reputable provider.
  2. Create your subdomain within cPanel.
  3. Install WordPress on your new subdomain.
  4. Install the Sell Media plugin.
  5. Link your Sell Media-powered store to your existing website.

What aspect of using Sell Media to power your online store is appealing to you? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Unsplash.

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