Part of my daily routine is answering emails from folks looking for advice on some of the things I post/tweet/podcast about. The majority of those questions are related to the steps required to starting up a website. While I am available for hire to take care of the entire process for you, below are a few recommendations I have to ensure you at least start off on the right foot!
Buy Your Domain (affiliate)
While you are always able to go the free route (wordpress.com, tumblr, blogger, etc), having your own domain is appropriate for marketing your site and what you’re site is about. Even if your domain initially is just forwarding to one of those free solutions, the fact that you can say “For more information, go to www.mywebsite.com”, instead of “myusername.afreewebsitesource.com” is huge! Also think about your email address: When giving out that information, having your own email@example.com exudes legitimacy to your site’s users/clients as opposed to firstname.lastname@example.org! Domains are cheap too, so there is no excuse not to own one (or two, or 32… not going to name names!). If you are an avid television viewer (or even just during the Super Bowl), you probably know that GoDaddy is one of the largest domain registrars out there. That’s not a bad option, but I recommend choosing HostMonster for your domain registration because you have the ability to get your domain for free when purchasing a web hosting solution too, which leads us to the next step…
Buy Web Hosting (affiliate)
Having a domain is no good if you don’t have a place on the web to put it! Purchasing a web hosting solution is super affordable and I highly recommend HostMonster. I’ve been using HostMonster for almost 5 years and have been extremely satisfied with them over the years. Their set up is very simple, their customer service is the best available, and they are located stateside (Provo, Utah), so you can always understand their tech reps whenever you have to make a call in. For my 99% of all of my clients purposes, HostMonster’s base package is more than enough and is priced awesomely low (between $4-$7 month, depending on what promo they are currently running!). A mistake a lot of folks make is spending lots of money on a hosting solution because of web traffic they are hoping to eventually bring to their site. Don’t fret, friends: HostMonster will suffice even when your site does blow up with visitors!
If you choose to use HostMonster for your web hosting needs, you’ll be happy to know that installing WordPress for your domain is as easy as one click of a button. From your cPanel, you’ll head over to the “Simple Scripts” section, click “WordPress”, click “Install”, choose the domain you’re wanting it to install to, and BAM! OK – that was more like 3 or 4 clicks, but you get the point. I always recommend WordPress to folks because it’s what I use when I’m designing sites for my clients. I use WordPress because it’s super user friendly ( as you who will have to manage the back end), it’s open source and built with the latest web standards, PLUS it’s constantly being updated and maintained by the creators, Automattic. What originally led me to start designing with WordPress is that I was able to better train my clients on how to add content to their site by using WordPress instead of a fully customized HTML site. This has allowed my customers much more confidence (for even the most web-challenged people) and abilities to feel in control of their sites, while also having me to consult if need be. With WordPress, you can’t go wrong!
Choose a Theme (affiliate)
Once WordPress is installed, you’ll notice the basic “theme” that is activated is pretty boring. There are plenty of free themes out there, but I recommend either purchasing a single theme from a reputable theme community or becoming a full member of a theme community. The reason I recommend purchasing a theme is because your money (typically) isn’t just for the cost of a theme. My recommended theme community fully supports their themes in the form of regular updates PLUS thorough technical support. The cost of a theme is minimal too, considering all you get… This is especially true when you purchase from a reputable theme community. My favorite theme community is easily StudioPress. I’ve been a member for over three years and have easily gotten my money’s worth! A one time fee gives you lifetime access to their themes & plugins; a superb value! You can also just purchase any of their themes separately, which might be more plausible for you if you are only going to be dealing with one domain. Don’t just take my word for it, head on over to StudioPress and see for yourself why I think they are the best available WordPress themes on the web!
If you follow these basic steps, you are definitely on the right track for success with your newly created website! Of course, being that these are just the basics, there is a lot more to be done to properly optimize your site to ensure steady traffic from new and reoccurring visitors. If you need any assistance during any step of creating your new site (any of the steps mentioned above, designing an effective site, optimizing your site for search engines, exceptional new media marketing, etc), please don’t hesitate to contact me!