This is probably the #1 questions I get from new businesses
They argue that a website is expensive, time-consuming, and can be very lonely until you get traffic. And getting traffic can be hard. They “know” they should have one, but creating and maintaining a website can be time consuming. And it’s so easy to just create a Facebook page and call it a day…
I get it. But I still say yes. And here is why:
You control your content. How it is presented. How it directs people. You have your own ecosystem that doesn’t get upended with a change TOS (terms of service). Everyone who started on Facebook can tell you tales about content that suddenly is ghosted or their frustration with getting attention.
It is cheap money. A domain (yourname.com) and website will cost about half as much per year (about $75) than you spend on coffee in a month.
You don’t need an IT department or your nerdy cousin to get this done. Even if you’re not technical, and not a designer, there a loads of great videos showing you how to install WordPress, add a template, install plugins, and then add your content. In less than a day you’re up and running.
Monthly maintenance is pretty easy. Check on the site monthly, update as needed, and you’re good to go. About 30 minutes, once a month.
It can be a time suck – if you let it. If you fuss and re-do and move pixels around, your site can be a black hole where good businesses go to die. But it doesn’t have to be.
It can be frustrating to the completely un-technical. Go the route of a drag-n-drop option like Wix or SquareSpace. You have fewer options (which can be a good thing) and you’re up and running even faster.
You do need to spend a little money. I usually tell my clients to budget about $150 a year which pays for the domain name, shared hosting, and a couple of software packages to make life easier. You can do it for less, but my time is worth a couple of small add-ons.
Step One: Get your name domain (Ex: ChrisKent.com)
It is easier to brand around your own name – and you own the real estate. It can’t be taken away if you switch jobs or someone changes their terms of service.
You can choose a business name if you prefer – same rules apply. You own how it is used and how you build your business around the name.
TIP: Even if you are not ready to jump into a website, reserve your domain name (Ex: ChrisKent.com). Even though there are loads of alternative domain extensions (.tv, .info, .media) try for a .com address. It is still the default of most people’s searches. You can reserve a secondary domain if you wish, but try for a .com first. This advice may change, but unless you build an awareness campaign around your alternative domain extension, you may end up driving traffic to ChrisKent.com instead of your site, ChrisKent.sales
You also have one other choice: many web hosting companies will offer a free domain when you purchase a hosting package.
Let the hosting company do it
- You save $10-15 a year registration fee
- The hosting company will make sure that your domain registration stays current.
- It can slightly complicate things when/if you decide to move your hosting to another provider.
DIY with a separate domain registry
- Adds a layer of complication if you have the domain registered outside your hosting account. Not hard, but one more thing.
- You add a layer of privacy and control by registering your domain separately from hosting
Step Two: Get your hosting
Hosting is where your site will be stored. DO NOT decide you can do this on your local computer. There are a bunch of reasons (setting up a server, up-time, maintenance, traffic, security) why hosting your site on your local machine is a bad idea. For the low cost of shared hosting, there is not a good reason to host on your own.
For a new businesses, shared hosting is cost effective. Shared hosting means that many sites will share the same computer server. Unless you are planning a super-splashy, viral launch, the amount of traffic you get will be in the tens and hundreds at first. Upgrade when you start seeing more traffic.
Shared hosting recommendations:
There are many great web hosting companies. All of them frequently have discount offers. Here are a few I recommend in no particular order:*
- SiteGround – my current web hosting company. I can speak from experience that they have responsive customer service and decent website speed.
- BlueHost – recognized for their great user interface, large customer base, and WordPress-friendly recommendations
- HostGator – variety of hosting packages, lots of options, and awards from industry.
Step Three: Install WordPress and add a theme
All of the web hosting companies I suggest offer either “1-click” WordPress installs or something like that. Once WordPress is installed, you just add a theme. Loads of tutorials for this. Installation and a new theme install takes about 5 minutes. You will probably spend more time picking a theme than you will installing it.
Step Four: Add content
This is where you can get creative. Have things you have written, videos you have recorded, instructions, cheat sheets? All of these can turn into blog posts.
Yes – setting up your own site can be a little overwhelming, but it really is not beyond the technical capabilities of most people. A day of reading, working with your hosting company, and being patient will reward you with your own web site.
So, go get your domain name, sign up for hosting, install WordPress, add a theme, create some posts.
Time to start promoting the site!
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