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I had been interested in starting a blog and freelance writing side-business for years. But the one thing that held me back was the idea of actually creating and launching my own website. Nothing deflated my entrepreneurial balloon like the prospect of building my own site from scratch.
For us non-techy types, website-building seems like this mystical skill that only the nerdiest of nerds with a degree in graphic design and programming may attempt.
So I didn’t get started for a long time. But given how many benefits there are to starting a side-hustle, I finally bit the bullet and decided to figure it out. Fortunately, it’s not that hard! In fact, my only regret was that I didn’t start sooner!
If you’ve been thinking about starting a website but feel overwhelmed, I’ve put together this simple, step by step guide to help you get started!
Without further ado, here’s a DIY guide to crafting your own website and blog:
Step 1: Choose Your Domain Name
Try to keep the name of your website simple enough that people won’t make mistakes typing it in the browser. Avoid plurals and dashes where possible. Try thinking up a few variations of your domain name in the event that the one you want is taken. If you’re not sure what to call your website, many people use their names.
Step 2: Choose Your Content Platform
The platform is essentially the application or program you use to design and curate your site’s content. There’s a plethora of content management systems out there to choose from, and it’s important to choose the right one for your business. Make sure that the platform you choose will allow you to easily monetize your site. For this, I highly recommend WordPress.org. (not to be confused with wordpress.com! Very important!)
WordPress is a fantastic tool, and one of the most versatile platforms available. There are countless design themes to choose from as well as over 30,000 plugins that make customizing your site a breeze.
Step 3: Choose Your Host
In order to get your site live to the public, you need to have it hosted by a server on a web hosting company. Again, there are many web hosting options available, but out of the few I’ve tried, I highly recommend Bluehost.
There are so many advantages to using Bluehost, it’s just about a no-brainer:
- Low hosting fees that cost less per month than even one trip to Starbucks
- Easy set up with seamless integration with WordPress
- Domain registration is free for the first year
- Fast and helpful customer service
Step 4: Create an Account
Now that you have a game plan in place, head on over to Bluehost to get started by clicking here, and follow these steps:
- Click “Get started now”
- Select your plan. (if you’re just starting out, you can just go basic and always upgrade later.) You do you have to pay for the whole year upfront, but it does save you money in the long run.
- Register your free domain. If your first pick isn’t available, use one of your backups or one of the proposed suggestions. You can do this step later too, if you want.
- Create your account. Enter all your personal details and payment method. Once you’ve paid, select your password.(and make sure it’s a good one to keep the hackers out.)
Step 5: Pick Your Theme
Now for the fun part! Look through the themes and choose one that you like and is suitable for your business. (I like the Ashe theme.)
Step 6: Customize!
Once you’re on the WordPress interface, it’s time to make your website your own! On the WordPress dashboard, find the menu item “Appearance”, and select “customize”.
Here you’ll be taken to a new window with all the customizing functions. Here you can select different tabs on the left-hand menu to customize your font, header image, logo, tag line, etc.
When you’re done customizing, hit “Publish” to save your changes.
Step 7: Get Blogging!
In my humble opinion, every great website should contain a quality blog. Blogging provides you with an opportunity to share valuable information with your potential clients which helps to build your audience and keep them coming back for more!
You can create new blog posts by clicking on the ‘posts” function of your WordPress menu, and then “add new”
Get typing away!
Once you’re happy with our post, hit publish to make it go live!
Pro tip: Download the Yoast SEO plugin to easily optimize your blog posts to make the search engine gods (aka Google) happy. I use it for every post!
Congratulations on your new blog!
You did it! You should be really proud of yourself for taking this brave step into the side-biz universe.
Some parting words to the wise: Once you have a website with all your wonderful products and content, you need to focus on driving traffic to it! Join blogging communities online, get networking, and share your blog posts on your social media sites to help generate traffic.
It can take time, but if you have great content and products/services, your hard work will pay off!