We'll get right to it. You want to put up a website. Maybe it's your first one, maybe it's not, but either way, you have to start somewhere and finish up with something you're proud of.
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Step 1: Decide on website purpose.
If you're here, you probably already know what you want a website for. Are you going to blog? Are you selling stuff? Is it an information site? News?
Step 2: Get a domain
Your domain is your web address, it's where people go to find you, such as scotsscripts.com. If your site is going to be an online store, make sure your domain reflects that (if possible) because it will help with SEO.
Buying a domain is not difficult but it can be confusing and frustrating at times. Here are some steps to help make buying a domain easier.
- Write down at least five domain names that you might want to use. Make them as short as possible.
- Go to a reputable domain registrar - I highly recommend GoDaddy (I've been using them since they opened) - to register your domain.
- Do Not check domain names GoDaddy or any domain registrar until you are ready to buy. This is important. Why? If you find a cool domain that is available and do not buy it, sometimes it won't be available the next day. Or the next hour. Or even in ten minutes. There is some evidence that domain registrars use domain searches to hoard the domains people are searching for. If you are ready to buy and want to check a bunch of domains, add all available domains to your cart and then when you are satisfied get rid of the ones you don't want.
- It's OK to use .co domains and other "different" TLDs (Top Level Domains such as .com, .net, .org, .co, etc...) because search engines pick these up the same as .com domains. Maybe you want a site that talks about good news and goodnewstoday.com is taken, but goodnewstoday.info is available. There is one caveat: it's not good web form, and sometimes not legal, to use a domain name that is already running a website, even if you have a different TLD (.co, .info, etc.) So make sure you check the browser to see if a website is active on the domain your'e thinking of.
- Turn on "auto-renew" when you set up your domain. There is nothing more frustrating in the web world than losing your domain because it did not auto-renew and someone else bought it before you figure out what's going on. This happened to me on LearnJazzPiano.com a long time ago, but luckily the person who bought just happened to see it was available and gave it back. That's when I switched to GoDaddy because these problems don't happen with a good domain registrar.
Step 3: Get domain hosting
If you're not clear on what domain hosting is, think about it like this:
A domain host is like an apartment building and the domain is like a person renting an apartment.
Once that happens, your domain has it's own address and is ready for web pages.
For non-eCommerce sites, I highly recommend Green Geeks for hosting because they are inexpensive, offer virtually every website feature a person could want, they have great real-time support and power their servers using renewable energy.
To set your site up, go with the most proven CMS (content management system) there is: Wordpress.
Wordpress is supported by a huge community of programmers, is regularly updated, and gives you unlimited customization options. Wordpress is also very good when it comes SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which in a nutshell is what will put you on the first page of search engine results if done right.
For eCommerce sites I recommend a professional eCommerce solution such as Miva Merchant.
A good online store lets you spend more time on earning revenue and less time dealing with the store.
The problem with free eCommerce websites is that they are, well, free. Free is good for the pocketbook at first but probably not worth the hassle as your online business grows. If you're curious, here's a Miva Merchant review I wrote with more details.
Step 4: Phase 1
There are really only two phases to building the website of your dreams.
Phase 1: Going live with the bare minimum in content and design.
- Front page: Description and purpose of website with contact information
- About Us: A page with a more detailed description and purpose of the business.
- Contact: A page with a contact form and/or physical address/phone.
Working for the rest of your life on trying to get your website right. Doing everything else at your own pace. This includes slideshows, pop-up contact forms, podcasts, link trading, affiliate links, and other miscellaneous stuff that isn't necessary in the robot eyes of search engines.
The important thing is to go live as fast as you can with content and design that you are "OK" with. Websites evolve and the biggest mistake people make is waiting too long to put their site up because they want everything "perfect."
Don't make the mistake of waiting so long for perfection that your website is obsolete before it goes live.
Good luck and enjoy the ride!