Building your own website has never been easier. Have you ever done it yourself? Here’s your step-by-step guide to how create your online business from scratch:
1. Think about your website name
Step one is really to think about how you are going to name your website or a blog and what the domain name will be. What is a domain name? It’s your own website address, hence everything that is placed between “www.” and “.com” or any other local extension.
In my case, the name of the website is Social Media Tipz and the domain name that I bought for myself is www.socialmediatipz.com
What I would advise to do first is to DO RESEARCH, that means google a few websites that might be interesting for your target audience and see what names they have. Are the domains that you’re looking for are already taken? Would the domain name tell your users exactly what the website is about? Would it be easy for Google to read it and place it on its’ search result list?
2. Reserve your domain name and hosting
Now that you have an idea for the name, choose any hosting provider that is available in your country. One very famous is GoDaddy which trades domain names internationally. Other examples include DreamHost or even Google Domains. I use a local service provider called Strato, which offers a number of services: server space, SEO, Cloud storage or webshops. My order includes a domain name reservation, hosting and e-mail service, which is a basic and most important service you need to get. Offers start from as little as €1.00 a month, so browse a little and choose the provider you like.
What is hosting? It’s a service that enables your website to be “hosted” in the World Wide Web. Without it, your website will not be available to anybody. There are different types of hosting services, two main ones are virtual dedicated server or cloud hosting, which allows customers powerful, scalable and reliable hosting based on clustered load-balanced servers and utility billing (Wikipedia). For the advantage of speed and scalability, I use the cloud hosting.
3. Choose your Content Management System and a website template
Once your domain name is activated (it might take few hours), in the meantime you can take a look at different CMS systems, where you will build and maintain your website. One of the most popular systems is WordPress. It’s simple to use, free to download and a number of different available plugins make it an attractive platform to build your website. It’s been used by companies such as CNN or Martha Stewart. You’d be surprised how many websites are built within WordPress! You can download it here: https://wordpress.org/download/ and make your own account.
To access your website ‘backend’ you just need to type in your full website address and /wp-admin. My login page looks like this “www.socialmediatipz.com/wp-admin”.
Log in to your account and start exploring! WordPress offers a number of free templates to use and they’re available on the left hand side “Appearance”>”Themes”. What is a template? It’s a set of different website pages and page “templates” that you can use and customize to build your ‘front end’. There are more templates to choose from, however you need to pay a small fee for the licence. Themeforest is a good destination to check out, not only for WordPress system.
Are there other CMS that you can use? You can try checking our your hosting provider if they also offer website building solutions and (if necessary) webshops. For webshop solutions Shopify or Magento are good examples. Demandware is used by more premium brands such as L’Oreal, Crocs or Lacoste. Other examples include Joomla and The Grid for UI website designs.
4. Install your template and get to know the features that come with it!
Once you’ve purchased your template, it’s time to install it in WordPress! All you need to do it unzip the file that has been downloaded to your computer and open the tap Appearance>Themes>Add Themes>Install Now
Choose the Child Theme version and you’re good to go!
Make sure you install the demo features as well – this ensures that you get all page templates, shortcodes and examples from the demo version. It’s time to explore your theme and play with a number of options – from menu configurations to installing your logo on the homepage to creating a Contact Us page. You decide what content you want to include!
5. Install your first plug-ins
Both in WordPress and in Joomla (I haven’t used other CMS yet) the system works with plug-ins. What is a plug-in? It’s a piece of code that you can download from WordPress and install on your page and it works like an extra piece of puzzle that you need to build your entire picture. Imagine your new template is the base and plug-ins are meant to “pimp” your website.
Which plug-ins are mostly used in WordPress? Here’s a short list:
- Aksimet: keeps your site protected from spammy comments
- Yoast SEO: checks if your website is “SEO ready”
- Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms: subscribe to or contact us form builder
- WPML: translates or duplicates websites, useful if you want to have a multilingual website
- NextGEN Gallery: creates image thumbnails that load images quicker
- WordPress Importer: imports all data, posts, images from a WP file.
- WooCommerce: entire solution for online stores – from product fields to categories, checkout pages and wishlists.
6. Set up your Google Analytics account
Google Analytics is very important tool in the daily life of a marketeer. If you don’t track it, you don’t know it. Open up your Google Analytics account (you need to have a Gmail account) and fill in a step by step registration process.
Where to find this code and where to paste it? Go to your GA account Admin>Property>Tracking Info>Tracking code. GA gives you few options to install the code, however the easiest one is to copy the code and go to your WP dashboard>Appearance>Theme Options>Custom Code (or Footer – depending on the template) to paste it in.
Another step to set up your GA correctly is to use filters to eliminate the spam or incorrect traffic to your website. More on this topic is coming out soon.
7. Create your e-mail address
If you start to customize your website and put more content, it’s important to use your professional, instead of your personal, e-mail address. Use it for the contact form and notifications that you receive from WordPress (e.g. if a new user has registered on your website).
How to set it up? There are two ways:
– Either you begin with a standard mailbox, by setting up either a Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail account (or other). The disadvantage is that your email address is not personalized, i.e. it contains e.g. “gmail.com”.
– You set up your own e-mail account. This service is usually available together with your hosting service – you just need to create a new account and choose the domain name that is tailored to your hosting. Your service provider will send you the incoming mail server and outcoming mail server information that you need to fill in when installing your e-mail account in your browser, e.g. via Mac Mail.
8. Install your WooCommerce account (for e-commerce websites)
This is a relevant step for those who want to set up an online store in WordPress. WooCommerce is an eCommerce toolkit if you want to use WordPress as CMS. Make an account for free and download the programme to install it in your WordPress dashboard.
You can also install it straight from your dashboard by searching for WooCommerce plugin. There are a lot of extensions, sometimes paid and sometimes not, and it’s worthwhile looking for what your customers are looking for.
Many templates are “WooCommerce ready”, which mean they are prepared for eCommerce and have WooCommerce built in the theme already.
9. Install a payment plugin and set up different payment methods
Another important step for eCommerce – find out which payment methods you need and look for a plugin or solution that has it all. Making an account usually means you need to link it with your bank account or merchant ID that you receive from your bank.
Don’t forget to regularly monitor and test if your transaction is going through!
10. Test your website on different devices
Just because you’ve read a word “responsive” in your theme documentation, it doesn’t mean that your website is 100% responsive! Have you optimised your images and also created a separate menu for mobile devices?
Remember, your users are entering the website using tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops, TVs… make sure it is always looking good and is easy to navigate, no matter which screen resolution it has!