As a website developer, I know what it takes to create a functional, beautiful, kickass website.
So I get how daunting it can seem to those who aren’t web developers, those who want to have a good website but have very little knowledge of how to do so. The job becomes so daunting, in fact, that people usually give up and come to someone like me to get it done.
But building a website isn’t all that challenging.
Most of the sites you see nowadays are built using a convenient content management system [CMS] like WordPress or Drupal and a collection of stock images that you can find anywhere online.
If you’ve got an online business concept that you’ve been kicking around with no idea how to push it out into the world, follow this guide to alleviate all that daunting stress!
BEFORE WE BEGIN:
Vet the Concept
Yes, you can start an online business with nothing more than a gut feeling, but that can be risky, so before you go any further, find a comfortable way to feel out the idea with people who would most likely be interested in it.
This can be friends and family, of course, but I’ve found that, more often than not, friends and family don’t end up fitting the mold.
Sometimes they’re afraid for your future so they hesitate to support you.
Sometimes they just don’t understand your unique blend of awesome.
In those instances, I suggest you do one or both of the following:
1. The Coffee Shop Test, or
2. Ask Facebook
The Coffee Shop Test
As suggested by Robert Mening of WebsiteSetup.org, go to your local coffee shop and put out a sign that says “Free Coffee For Ten Minutes of Your Time”. Set a limit on how many people you want to speak to if buying coffee all day isn’t your idea of a good time, and get talking!
Share your business concept with them, ask if they’d be interested or if they know of anyone who would be, and ask them how much they’d pay for X service or product.
If you happen to have a list of friends, family, acquaintances, etc., that you think might be able to pass along quality advice, ask your Facebook list if they’ve got any interest, insights, or thoughts about your plans. Go ahead and treat it like it’s an existing business and see how many people you can get to preorder or signup for your eventual business!
Once you’ve vetted your idea and you’re confident that it’s something you want to pursue, it’s time to jump into building the website.
Choose A Business Name
This step can be both exciting and overwhelming. I recommend you take all of Saturday to brainstorm website name ideas while you work on content for your site, ending your day with one to three options that you would love to call your online “home”.
On Sunday morning, wake up and see which name stuck with you.
If by Sunday you haven’t come up with a name you adore, don’t rush it!
Spend another week thinking it over before going any further. The last thing you want to do is choose a name that you don’t like after one week.
Purchase A Domain Name & Hosting Account
My favorite hosting platform is InMotion Hosting. I have been an Inmotion Hosting customer for over seven years now and I absolutely adore their customer service, speedy results and professionalism.
Whenever there are issues on my websites, as can happen with any hosting provider, they’ve been extremely quick to respond and resolve the problem within a timely fashion. These guys are amazing and I highly recommend them! [Note: I am an affiliate of theirs because I freaking love their service so much!]
To get signed up, click the link above and get yourself some business hosting. While you’re signing up, you can also register your URL, which comes free with a hosting account.
Install WordPress & A Site Theme
Login to your InMotion Hosting account and you’ll see a variety of links to various aspects of web development, most of which you’ll never touch.
For now, the important bits are the one-click WordPress install, located in the featured applications box, and CPanel, located in the section just below that.
Click on WordPress, then INSTALL, and then select your domain name and follow the on-screen instructions. Be sure to have the installation information and instructions sent to your preferred email account. REMEMBER: Your password and username will not be sent to you so write those down somewhere safe immediately.
Next, use the login details from your installation instructions (which should look something like this: http://www.YOURSITENAME.com/wp-admin) to login to the Dashboard of your WordPress website. Once inside, navigate to SETTINGS and go down the list adjusting your website settings. Be sure to change your permalinks to display the post name.
Next, go to APPEARANCE > THEMES and browse the list of FREE themes that WordPress has to offer. Select the one you like most, or purchase a custom theme from a site like ThemeForest.
I use ThemeCo’s X Theme for all of my websites, but feel free to use whatever you’re drawn to. I advise my clients not to pay for a theme until they know what they want on their site, so if you’re unsure what you’ll sell or do, use a free theme for the meantime.
Make sure to activate your theme once selected before moving onto the next step.
Brand Your Baby
Now it’s time to create a color scheme. I suggest you choose somewhere in the range of 3 to 6 colors to use around your site and they should be used for the following: body text, header text, button color, button hover color, divider color, and a spare to be used where feasible.
You can select colors that fit your interests, OR you can use this Color Scheme Generator to have a scheme created for you.
Once you’ve got your color scheme, head over to Canva and create a FREE account to start working on a logo for your new website.
A quick Google search for modern logos can help you determine what will work best for you, either a simple text logo or something with a graphic.
If you’re just starting out, I suggest creating a text logo that will be easy to read. You can spruce up a simple text logo by adjusting font weight and colors to give it a more snazzy feel.
Finally, when you have a logo finished, head back into your WordPress Dashboard and go to APPEARANCE > CUSTOMIZER or THEME OPTIONS where you can implement your color scheme, add in your logo, and otherwise adjust the basic foundation of your website’s appearance with whatever preset options exist within your given theme.
Be sure to choose font types that fit your brand and that you’d love to see everyday!
Create Pages & Organize Content
Go back to your Dashboard and hover over PAGES > ADD NEW. It’s time to create your main pages and click publish!
Check out page designs of other websites to see what layouts you like most and then recreate them on your website.
Add in all of the pages you think you’ll need and create basic layouts for each one, complete with copywriting.
Next, add in a few posts to fill out what your blog reel will look like. These can be toss away posts for now, but try to add titles that you think you may actually use in the future.
Finally, go back to your SETTINGS and click on READING. Here, you’ll select whether you want your homepage to display your blog reel or if you want it to display a custom home page. I almost always suggest doing a custom home page, but do whatever you feel works best for you.
Your First 10 Blog Posts
Once your site is looking pretty, organized, and slightly more contextual, it’s time to dive into creating your main post content.
There are two types of posts that you’ll create for your site, whether you intend to or not:
1. Evergreen posts, and
2. Space posts
An evergreen post is a blog post with relevant content that can withstand the tests of time. Like this blog post, for example. I may update details within it from time to time, but it’s content is going to be worthwhile years from now even if I don’t.
Evergreen post types include: how-to articles, lists, reviews, curated research, or experience pieces.
A space post, on the other hand, is a blog post that somehow relates to your website but isn’t necessarily helpful or relevant. These are great for helping giving your audience a deeper insight into your lifestyle, mindset, opinions, etc.
Take an afternoon to draft up your first ten blog post ideas. They don’t have to be fully complete, you could start with just a list of titles. But the most you can start off with when you launch, the longer visitors will stay on your website.
Social Media Marketing
While you continue to curate your first blog posts, you can take a timeout to setup your website’s social media accounts.
Start off with no more than two accounts until you get the hang of posting content regularly. Make sure the platforms you choose are places where your target audience might hang out, otherwise you’ll be sharing with a void.
Next, head over to HootSuite and signup for a FREE account. Link your social media accounts to HootSuite and now you’ll be able to schedule up to thirty social posts in advance to post on your social media accounts.
I suggest you plan to post anywhere from once a day to six times a day, depending on what type of content you’re offering and who your audience is. If you’re unsure where to start, try three times a day and see how that goes.
Next, think of what content you could provide your audience for FREE to get them to signup with their email to your newsletter.
Why offer a newsletter?
Because it’s the simplest way to get emails willingly for content you have to offer. If you provide a freebie with your newsletter signup, you make it easier for your visitors to want to signup. Then, when you have a product to sell, you have a list of emails to which you can sell it.
Think of what freebie you can create and offer, or a list of emails you can send instead. You could do ten days of drip emails that teach someone how to cut their own hair, or you could create a free Word document that teaches the same thing. It’s up to you!
Go back to your WordPress dashboard and click on PLUGINS > ADD NEW.
Plugins & Upgrades
While you marinate in your blog post and newsletter ideas, go back into your Dashboard and head over to PLUGINS > ADD NEW.
You will need to download a few plugins to help your site run more smoothly. A plugin is simply an added component to your website.
Search for and download these plugins: Jetpack, Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/etc., W3 Total Cache, and Editorial Calendar. Also make sure you have Akismet, which should’ve been automatically added when you installed WordPress, but if not can easily be found with a search.
If you have purchased a newsletter provider, you can search for any related plugins for them as well.
Once installed, go into each plugins settings and adjust them to your liking. A big part of building a website is simply reading all the options available upon installation of one thing or another and deciding what you want to see. For Jetpack, you want to install all of their suggested add-ons. You can read this article on how to make W3 Total Cache work for your website.
Create Your First Landing Or Product Page
If you already know what you want to sell to your audience, then a landing page is definitely something you’ll need.
Because it’s a specific page to focus your SEO strategy and marketing funnel towards when you’re ready to promote it.
Go back to PAGES > ADD NEW to create your first landing page.
Read this article to learn what all goes into making a stellar landing page and then get to work.
Reduce your copywriting down to the most necessary components, include relevant images or links, add in some testimonials if you have them, and include several purchase buttons throughout the page.
This page will need one final look-through before it’s published and promoted, but if you’ve only got the weekend to put this together, make sure to keep it short, sweet, and straight to the point.
What is your product?
What problem does it solve?
What pain does it alleviate?
Who wants its and why?
If you have a lot of products, you may need to look into creating a products page instead. Checkout WooCommerce to learn more about creating product pages. If this is the route you’re going, you most likely don’t need a landing page and, instead, need to setup a product page and individual products to display.
Finally, what good is a landing page if your customers can’t process a payment through it?!
Choose how you want to process payments. Typically, most websites use a blend of paypal or Stripe, though some use only one of those options.
For example, you’ll only ever see Stripe on this website.
Once you’ve decided, go back to your plugins and install the processor of your choices.
If you use Stripe, you will need to do a lot more work to get the processor up and running. You can read about that over here.
“Don’t get hung up on the details, a website is a longterm commitment that isn’t perfected in a weekend.”Tiffany
This guide will help you get your website created in a weekend, but it won’t help you perfect it.
That part’s up to you.
But you know what will make it easier to master?
Joining the ultimate online academy for creatives minds who want to create their own online empire and rule it with ease.
I’m talking Cake Queen, beautiful, and you’re invited!