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Have you ever thought about starting a website? Having your own little corner of the internet to write about your passions or even sell a product or service. If that is something you’ve always wanted to do, but thought it was too hard, let me tell you it isn’t. But there are a few things you need to think through before starting a website.
Why do you want to start a website?
There are many reasons why people want to start a website and knowing the reasons you want to start one will help guide you in the direction you need to build a successful site.
Maybe you want to have just a blog, nothing to sell, you only want to be able to share what’s on your mind, and with more space than some of the social media outlets allow. Or maybe it is a central place to share about your family so that other family members that don’t live near you will be able to keep up with all that’s going on in your lives. These types of blogs are called hobby blogs, and you can usually set them up for free and very quickly.
Another reason for starting a website could be for your business. You want to have a place to send people when they want to learn more about your services. Maybe you are a landscaper or a plumber. Having a business website will help you have one main place to send people that want to know more about your business, your rates, what you sell, your availability, even if it’s just for your phone number.
Having a business website is very important and will help you grow your business. Not only is it an online business card, but if it’s set up properly, then when someone is searching for a landscaper in your area, you could be one of the first ones that come up on their search. Starting a business website requires a bit more work, but you can still find quick and sometimes free options. You need to remember that you do get what you pay for, and if technical aspects aren’t your strong suit, then hire out the building of the website so you can focus on your business.
The last kind of website is a money making website, either by selling a product, ad placement and/or affiliate links. There are many ways of starting a website for money making purposes, from a free version to also paying to have someone build it for you.
Once you’ve decided what kind of website you want your next step is coming up with a title for the site. This is something you want to think through because it’s going to be something you are sharing and talking about regularly.
When starting a website there is a difference between a site title and a site URL. A title you can change when you want, a URL cannot be changed. The URL is what people will type in to get to your website, and it can be different than your title. My site is titled Watered Garden Creations, but my URL is a shortened version of that, WGCreates.com. When I was deciding on the URL, I wanted something short but that went with my title, and lets people know I love to create. I also make sure I buy my URL’s separate from hosting, which I’ll talk about more in a moment.
Lots of people name their sites in many different ways, and how you name your website is really a personal decision, here are some thoughts. For a business website obviously, you would want to name it after your business. For a hobby site, you could name it something fun and whimsical like Sarah’s Musings, or The Smith’s Family Adventures. If you are building a money making website, then some people will title it with the services they provide in the title, like JoAnn’s Virtual Service or something similar. Or you can name it something that can encompass more than one thing. That is how I named my site, Watered Garden Creations. I like to create, especially websites, and it matches one of my favorite verses Isaiah 58:11. Regardless of what you decide, make sure it’s something you really like because you will be repeating it often. 🙂
Once you’ve decided on a site title when starting a website you need to find a place to host your site. Hosting a site is essentially paying a company to put all your website information on their hard drives (called servers) and making your site accessible through the internet. There are many different companies to host your website. If you are going with a hobby site, I would suggest something free like WordPress.com. You get the basics of what you need and it doesn’t cost you anything.
But if your site is a business or money making website, I would highly recommend purchasing hosting. There are two hosting companies I recommend, SiteGround and BlueHost. I have worked with Bluehost with 2 different clients, and while there are a few things I wouldn’t have preferred Bluehost doing without contacting me first, overall they are a good hosting company. I would suggest them if you are just starting out and your site isn’t that big. As your site begins to grow, I would suggest moving to a more robust hosting site like SiteGround.
This is not the post to go in depth about hosting, but there are two more things I would like to mention about hosting when starting a website. First, I would not do a WordPress Managed hosting plan. That locks you into a situation that you can’t change. I work exclusively with WordPress and recommend it highly, but I never buy a WordPress managed hosting package. I prefer to be able to install my own WordPress software, control when WordPress is updated and when things are changed with my site. I had one client that their hosting site upgraded their version of WordPress without giving them the option and it broke quite a few things. You lose control when you buy a WordPress managed hosting package.
Second, always buy your URL separate from your hosting. I can not stress this enough. When you buy your URL with the hosting package your hosting company owns the URL, not you. If you choose to change hosting companies down the road, they can keep your URL and force you to buy a different URL and start over again. Or you are stuck with a hosting company you don’t want to stay with. I buy my URL’s through Name.com, though you can buy them somewhere else if you choose. Even if you buy them through your hosting company, I would purchase the URL first, just the URL, pay for it and finish that transaction fully. Then go back and purchase hosting, again, as a separate transaction. I can not stress this enough, you do not want to lose your URL after you have established yourself, please remember to buy them separately.
Building and designing your website is the fun part, well that and writing posts. 😉 There are as many different ways to design your site as there are sites out there. If you know HTML and CSS coding, you can build your own site from scratch, but for me, I choose to not re-invent the wheel. There are many wonderful WordPress themes out there that will give you the basic layouts, and you can design and add to it as you want. I recommend purchasing a theme, though there are many good free ones out there. But a purchased theme is usually built better, runs faster and keeps your site from looking like hundreds of others who would be using the same free theme you are.
I personally do a combination of a purchased theme and coding some of it myself. There is usually something that is not quite laid out as I would prefer, so I have to tweak it a bit, but I enjoy doing things like that. If designing a website is not your idea of fun (some people aren’t as nerdy as me 😉 ) then you can always higher someone to build it for you. Most website designers will work with you on color, layouts, fonts and all the aspects you need for a site.
Starting a website is fun and for some a necessity, but don’t make it a stressful endeavor. As I’ve mentioned there are many different options out there for owning a site, and you don’t have to go it alone. There are many people who would be glad to help you build up what you need, including me. But even if you don’t need help, or you choose an easy, free version, go for it and have fun. I have seen way too many people get bogged down in how their site looks, what they ‘should’ do and ‘shouldn’t’ do, colors, fonts and so much more, that all the fun of having a website is taken away. Life is to short to be stressed about something that shouldn’t be stressful.
So go out there, pick a name, find your niche and start a website for your corner of the web and enjoy yourself. I would love to hear about your journey to owning a website. Has it been fun for you? Or would you prefer to let someone else build it so you can just write or market your business? Please share your experience.