Like the saying ‘everyone has got a book in them’, I think that everyone’s got a website in them. So with that in mind, I thought it would be helpful if I covered the basics in starting up your own website.
First and most importantly, is deciding what your website is about and how it meets the needs of your audience. Chances are there is already a website covering your subject, but that doesn’t matter! You will have different ideas, ways of explaining things, and other differentiators, but it’s important that you find a competitive edge and keep it! So, research your competitors and understand your markets and audiences to find ways of delivering better value.
Now you have your winning idea, you need a strong URL. This should be memorable and relevant to your brand or company name. It doesn’t have to be a description of your products and services, for example, Moonpig.com isn’t obvious that it sells cards, but it is memorable! On the other hand, sdigitalmarketer.com is the name of the company that covers our main subject – Digital Marketing – so find the right URL for you.
To check if a URL is available, use a registry site such as 1-2-3reg.com; there are many website registry providers so do a bit of research to find the right deal for you. It’s recommended that you purchase the local URL e.g. .co.uk, .com, and .net as well as any others you want; this will stop your competitors from snapping them up!
Once you’ve registered your URLs, you will need to host them so you can start building your site. Again there are many hosting providers and it often makes sense to register and host your URLs with the same provider. A point to note, you can register domain names without hosting them. This is a good idea if you’re undecided on a number of different URLs so you could buy the lot, have a think, then let the ones you don’t want expire.
The cost of registering a URL varies from free to around $15 per year, with basic hosting ranging from $0.99 per month to $10 +; so the cost is relatively cheap.
Building your site
Your skill level may dictate how you do this, but blogging and content management systems are a popular choice, for example, WordPress and Joomla. I currently favor WordPress as it’s very easy to use and although primarily a blogging system, there are a number of great themes and plugins which allow you to quickly create sites with a limited amount of skills necessary. Theme Forest has a large number of templates available for around $30, these offer a quick solution for getting your site up and running; they often come with excellent support too, I would recommend True Themes as a template provider.
Managing your site
Ok, so you have your URLs and website template set up, next you need to fill it with great content, messaging, products, and/or services; then all you need are visitors! Take a look at our ‘The compete basics of SEO’ article for more information on this.
Optimizing your site
Now that you’re getting visitors you need to make sure your site is optimized to deliver conversions, whatever they may be to you e.g. downloading a brochure. Use tools like analytics to monitor the content being viewed, bounce rate, and exit pages to gain valuable insights into how your site is performing. Tools such as Ahrefs or Majestic, although at a cost, will provide you with in-depth information into where your users are clicking, allowing you to make changes accordingly. There are many tools available that will help you optimize your site and study the effects of moving a button here and a contact form there, so find the right ones for you and tweak away!
I hope this helps you with the basics of setting up your site; as you progress you will come across all sorts of information and tools which will help you succeed. I would recommend (as you would expect) understanding our 3 Principles, which give you a strong Marketing foundation for progressing, I believe Marketing is the key to business success.