Legitimizing your online presence, no matter what you do for business, is extremely important. Your online presence shows you’re serious about what you do. The best part is, it will be your site. You won’t have to worry about putting hard earned work into another platform. Afterall, what happens if that said platform closes and all your hard work vanishes?
In this post, I will show you exactly how to build your first website in 4 simple steps:
- Choosing the perfect domain for your company
- Choose which online hosting company you’ll utilize to make your website public
- Deciding on a content management system (CMS)
- How to quickly customize the look and feel of your website
Before we begin, I do need to let you in on a few things.
Links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission if you purchase the product I recommend. This helps keep my website up and running and has no additional cost to you. Per the law, I am required to tell you.
Having a website is not free, but there are ways to keep it affordable. If you follow the steps in this article, be prepared to spend roughly $100 – $150 a year. Breaking that down, it will be roughly $12 a month if you go for the more expensive options.
Picking a Domain
When you go to purchase your first domain, there are a few things you want to consider.
- Is the domain name representing my company?
- Does the domain name hold good keywords for marketing?
- Is it easy to remember and spell?
Where should I buy my domain name?
There are hundreds, if not thousands of websites to purchase domain names. I’ve always been the kind of person to keep all my domain names in one location, this way it’s easy to manage and link to my hosting account. For this reason, I recommend BlueHost. Since I use their services as my hosting provider, it’s easy to manage all my domain names.
The best part about BlueHost, if you plan to use them as your hosting provider, the first year of your domain name is free! This alone can help save you roughly $15, so it’s a no-brainer if you’re setting up your very first website.
Some other notable options:
How do I know if my domain is available?
During the process of purchasing your first domain, you need to make sure it’s available before getting your heart settled into a name. All the services I mentioned have a search feature. Simply enter the domain name you wish to purchase and search. You will see if it’s available or not, as well as any other popular extensions (.org, .net, .io, etc…).
You will notice a bunch of extensions, but I recommend sticking with a .com. Not only will everyone recognize it, but it will generally rank better within popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Now that you’ve purchased your very first domain name, let’s move on to hosting.
Picking a Hosting Plan
Even though you have a domain name, this doesn’t mean you can start building your website. In order to have your domain name functional, you need to have a hosting plan.
Think of it like this: You can’t build a house without its foundation. The same could be said about a website. You can’t build your website without a hosting plan.
Essentially, a hosting plan will push all your websites content to these online servers that allow your site to become visible when someone types your domain name in their browser.
When it comes to a hosting company, I will always recommend Bluehost. Their shared plans are not only affordable for new site owners, their customer support is incredible, their uptime is nearly 100%, and their security is top-notch. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend another company.
When you visit their site, you’ll see a few options in terms of hosting plans. My recommendation is purchasing their Plus plan. You get the most bang for your buck. You will virtually have unlimited storage for emails, website data, and you can build multiple websites on just one hosting plan.
If you plan to only build one website, the basic plan will work too, but if you ever want to grow your brand, you might not easily be able to.
During the checkout process, come to a screen where you can purchase your free domain with your hosting plan. If you decided to use a different service for your domain name, enter the domain in the section that says “i have a domain name” and click next.
The checkout procedure is very simple and straightforward.
Choose the Right Content Management System
You’ve purchased your domain name and hosting provider and you’re ready to get moving onto the fun steps. Before we dive into officially creating your website, I want to quickly go over your options.
Most people believe you need to know HTML and CSS to build a website, but honestly, if you’re a complete beginner and have no idea what HTML and CSS even is, you can still build a website! In order to do so, you’ll need a content management system (CMS).
Chances are, you’ve heard of companies called WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Joomla, Drupal, etc. These are all examples of content management systems and they allow us to create beautiful websites with ease, but which one is right for you?
As of this post, one-third of all websites are designed and deployed using WordPress, making it the world’s most popular CMS to date.
Here’s why I recommend using WordPress over other popular options:
- Open Source – You have the ability to go into any file and edit to your pleasing, making it possible for complete control and customizability.
- Free – You don’t have to spend a penny in order to use it.
- Security – Being that it’s open source, security is one of the top features as it’s constantly being updated.
- Simplicity – You don’t need to be a genius in order to use. Very simple to navigate the dashboard and create new content (Blog Posts, Articles, Pages).
- SEO – From the start, WordPress is very SEO optimized, more than any other CMS. With the help of small plugins, you can take your SEO to the next level.
I could spend an entire article on why WordPress is recommended, so I’ll keep it short here and consider making a full article on why I love WordPress in the future. Would you like to see that? Let me know in the comment section!
Let’s Install WordPress
Now that we’ve come to an agreement on using WordPress to design and deploy your website, let’s get it installed so we can do just that, design and deploy!
If you’ve gone ahead and followed my recommendation with Bluehost, installing WordPress is as easy as a click. Yes, quite literally a one-click installation! Even if you didn’t go with Bluehost, most hosting providers will have a one-click-installation for WordPress since it’s that popular.
Here are the basic steps to get WordPress installed on Bluehost:
- Log in to your hosting account.
- Go to your control panel.
- Scroll down and look for the “WordPress” icon under the “Website” section.
- Choose the domain name where you want to install WordPress.
- Click the “Install Now” button and just like that, WordPress will install.
Once the WordPress installation is complete, you should receive an email with login information (assuming you didn’t create this in the installation process – all depends on which hosting provider you went with). This should take no more than 5 minutes.
Choose the Perfect Theme
It’s officially time to tap into your creativity and have some fun with your new website. Being that this website will be the center of your online identity, it’s important it looks elegant and professional, especially in the fast-growing online business of 2018.
When you first install WordPress, you’ll have a very generic, clean template. If you want to use this as the foundation of your web design, feel free. Keep in mind, since it’s the default template there will be thousands of others using the exact style as you are. In short, it’s very generic and doesn’t represent you or your company. This is why you need a theme – a design template that tells WordPress how your website should look and feel.
There are three ways to go about choosing a WordPress template:
You can search WordPress for hundreds of free templates. This is a great way to build a better-looking website without spending a penny. If you’re a newbie, this will probably win your heart.
If you want something more professional and something that really defines you and your company, you’ll want to purchase a premium template. You can purchase these from many websites. My personal recommendation, use Elegant Themes. In fact, this current website is using a theme from that site called Divi. It provides you with complete creative freedom, almost to the point of feeling as if you’re designing from scratch!
Create a Custom Theme
This is going to be tricky. While it’s ultimately free to do this, it’s going to cost you a lot in terms of knowledge. It’s not easy, so if you’ve never done any coding or design in your life, you probably won’t be able to do this. Just a fair warning.
Once you’ve come to your design decision, it’s time to get that theme installed and activated.
Installing Your Theme
WordPress makes it extremely simple to install themes and plugins. Once you’ve settled on the theme you want to use for your site, it’s almost as easy on clicking on “Install” to upload your design.
If you’re looking at the dashboard of your WordPress website, on the right-hand side you’ll see an area called “Appearance.” If you hover over this section, a popup to the side will appear and you’ll see a section called “Themes.” If you do not see this popup to the right of the “Appearance” section on hover, simply click “Appearance” and the menu will expand. Once again, click on “Themes.”
Once the page loads, at the top of the screen where it says “Themes,” you’ll see a clickable icon to the right that says “Add New.” Click that.
Once again, after the next page loads, in that same area, you’ll see an icon that says “Upload,” give that a click. Once the following page loads, it’s as simple as uploading the .zip folder of the theme you downloaded and clicking activate.
You officially have a new design on your website. Wasn’t that easy?
The World Is Yours
How does it feel? You officially have your website up and running, congratulations! Now the real fun begins.
From this point forward, you get to create out each page. You have an endless supply of possibilities with your website. Keep improving, keep building, keep creating!
In the future, I plan to have a more in-depth series on WordPress and how to really make your website stand out. Make sure you sign up to my newsletter so you don’t miss a beat!
If you still have questions about setting up your very first website, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m always up for a simple chat or lending a helping hand!