DIY: Creating Your Own Website

I recognize that hiring me to build your website for you is not always feasible. That’s ok. When I was first starting out, I didn’t have a lot of money to blow away on getting a website up. Therefore, I thought I’d put together a checklist for you of what you need to consider if you decide to go it alone. This checklist is assuming that you are going with a self-hosted WordPress site.

1. Domain Name Registration
The first thing that you will need to do is register a domain. You can have more than one registered domain name, and likely during the course of your business will have many. I have 10+ now. I like to explain that registering your domain is like registering your address with the Post Office. You can register your domain with a company like GoDaddy or NameCheap or browse to find other domain registration companies. You can also register your domain with your web host.

2. Web Hosting
A web host will be where all of your files are stored that makes your site look pretty. Think of this as your actual home. This is where you live, and a web host is where your website will physically live. There are many great hosting companies out there. You will want to look for one that uses a cPanel to help users navigate the system. You should also be careful not to sign-up for the highest end of a package. You will likely be presented with many different plan levels like: shared hosting, dedicated hosting and VPS hosting. If you’re just starting out, it quite likely that you only need shared hosting. You can always add on as you build. Think of the hosting like this:

  • Shared hosting: This would be like living in an apartment building. You live in your own space, but you may share services like laundry machines and parking lot. Rent fees would be less than a mortgage.
  • VPS hosting: This would be like living in a duplex home. You live in your own space, but have a home that is joined with another. You would have your own laundry service and you would have your own parking garage. Because this is a home, it would be higher lease than renting, but less than a mortgage of a full home.
  • Dedicated hosting: This would be like your own private home. You own everything. And because of this, a full mortgage and other costs, this would be higher.

Some recommended hosting companies include Hostgator, Bluehost, Green Geeks. Once you setup your web host, the next step that you will need to do is point your domain registration to your hosting service. This is done by changing the DNS (domain name server). Your web host will provide you with likely 2 domain server addresses, make sure that you put them in the appropriate spots. Think of this as you going to the post office and telling them that you have moved and where they now need to forward your mail.

3. Install WordPress
Now you’re ready to install WordPress. Because you have a web host that uses cPanel, this is relatively quick and painless to do with a program like Fantastico. A word of caution when it comes to creating your username. I highly recommend that you not use the default “admin” for the username. I found out the hard way that when you do this, it is easier for a hacker to hack your site. All they have to do is run a bunch of combinations for the password.

4. Choosing a Theme
Your WordPress installation will likely come with two free installed themes. You can choose to use these themes, find other free themes or use a premium theme that you customize. This site and the sites that I build for my clients are created using a theme called Thesis. It was built to be ripped apart and customized. Many themes out there are difficult to change, but Thesis was designed by a designer who knew that people want to have a unique looking site and not one that comes directly out of a box. If you like Thesis, and would like more help learning how to set it up, then I highly recommend BYOB Website as he has awesome tutorials for both Thesis and Genesis frameworks. I am personally a member of the BYOB Website and highly recommend the very thorough and detailed videos he has. Even if you decide that you don’t want to code your own site, you may find the free tutorials helpful when you begin to work with a web designer. BUT, if that is still more than your ready to take on yourself, you can contact me for a no obligation quote.

Now go get on that horse and ride into the sunset 🙂

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