How to Create a Website – For Money or Fun (Free Step-by-Step Guide)
Starting a website can seem challenging if you’ve never done it before, but in reality, the process is actually quite simple. Hundreds of people start new websites every day, and you can too. All you need to do is learn how to setup your own website. This simple step-by-step guide will help you understand the basic process and show you how to build a website from scratch. We’re just going to cover the basics here so you can get your site up and running. What you do with it after this is completely up to you.
Step 1: Come Up With an Idea and a Domain Name
What do you want your website to be about? You may already have something in mind, like a personal site to put on your resume that details professional accomplishments or a place where you can publish your musings on your favorite hobby. But, if you aren’t sure, now’s the time to think about it. You’ll want to have a general idea of what you want to accomplish with your site before you start buying domain names and hosting services.
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Speaking of domain names, you’ll also need to come up with your site’s website address. In most cases, your domain name will also be your business or website name. The domain name should ideally say something about the site, even if it isn’t the name of the blog or business, so it pays to spend some time on this step and really think about it. You might want to have a list of backup names in case the name you originally come up with is already registered. At this point in Internet history, you’ll probably need to think out of the box. Basic names like dogs.com are probably already taken. However, you never know until you try, so go ahead and make your list first and you’ll deal with any naming issues later.
Step 2: Purchase the Domain and Secure Hosting
The question of how to start a website really starts getting interesting when you move to step two, which involves registering your domain name (your website address) and hosting the site. Hosting is the service that makes it possible for other people to visit your site and see the content you want to post. It’s important! Spend some time shopping around between different hosting services. Keep in mind that if you don’t plan to have a lot of traffic right away and you want to save some money, lower-cost hosting packages may be useful. Make sure you read the fine print, too, because some hosting companies sneak in extra features you don’t want and charge for them.
I recommend Hostgator because they allow you to register your domain name and host your website inexpensively. They have excellent customer support (believe me, it helps to have someone on the phone or messenger if you get stuck!) and super fast hosting speeds.
You can read my review of Hostgator here.
Purchasing your domain usually involves searching to find if the specific name you want is available. If it isn’t, you can try to do a WhoIs.com search to find out who owns the domain and you might be able to persuade them to sell it to you. However, some people try to make money this way, so you may need to cough up a significant quantity of cash. Domain registrars usually charge a flat fee every year for you to be able to keep your website address, so factor this cost in along with hosting as the basic price of entry for how to create a website. To keep things simple, it often helps to purchase your domain through the same company you want to do your hosting, so you might want to complete both steps of research before you make any final decisions.
Step 3: Choose a Content Platform
WordPress is the most popular option with 75 Million Websites Using it
Content management systems like WordPress are good places to start because they require no knowledge of coding. That's why WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, according to Forbes. Each content platform may offer its own options and templates and some may even offer hosting services to help with search engine optimization. Some may even offer completely free blog template options that you can use if you don’t want to worry about registering a domain and paying for hosting. Again, it pays to do your research on this for each individual website builder service, perhaps even before you spend money on your domain and hosting package. If you know for sure that you want to use your own domain for search engine optimization, though, you can go ahead and buy it before worrying about your content platform.
Squarespace is ok, but WordPress is better because they won't charge you a monthly fee like Squarespace does. Plus there are thousands of companies that offer free WordPress plugins and designs – unlike Squarespace which does not place nice with others.
Step 4: Decide on The Basic Structure of Your Site
After you’ve got all of your basic registration and service purchases out of the way, you’ll need to decide how you want to structure your site. This should depend heavily on what your goal is, but, ultimately, most people decide to split their site into a few basic sections. You can have an “about” section that describes what your business or blog’s mission is and a little bit about you. A “contact” section is also often a good feature because it allows people to ask you questions or even offer you affiliate marketing opportunities.
Once you know your basic structure, you can start coding it into your site using a markdown editor and an FTP (file transfer protocol) client, which will push your code to the site. If you’re using a content platform, that's not necessary. You can move on to exploring your options for themes and pages within that platform and select the options that work best for what you’re trying to accomplish. In either approach, you’ll need to be aware of what the final goal is to keep your process organized.
And that’s it! Follow these steps and you’re on your way to starting an amazing new website. Want to start a blog instead of a website? What's the difference? Check out my full tutorial here on starting a blog.
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