Now, I’m not going to claim in any way to be an authority on the subject but, as mentioned in an earlier post, I spent a great deal of last week trying to create this website for my business. So I’d like to share a little about that with you.
Boy was it hard! There are so many things to consider (way more complicated than blogging lol) and I would totally suggest seeking out help. But for those of you who are more independent and want to try creating your own personal or business website, let me break down what I’ve learned so far:
DOMAINS AND HOSTING
The domain is the name of your website “www.example.com” the hosting is the online storage space that the site needs to be set up with. You can find various amounts of hosting (and at various prices) depending on your needs. If you’re just gonna do a bunch of text with a could of pictures or map to your business then you don’t need much. If you plan on posting a bunch of videos then you probably need more.
The tricky part is finding exactly what you need for the price you need. Since I don’t know what I’m doing (as far as creating a website etc) I wanted something free with easy drag-and-drop building options. Googleing “free website hosts” didn’t really help though. If you read the fine print, most of the “free” websites just gave you the domain name for free but you still have to pay for hosting after signing up. Those that actually do give you free hosting don’t give you completely custom domain names. They are more like “www.examply.hostsite.com”
I found this to be somewhat frustrating (but you get what you pay for right?) so I went ahead and created another WordPress account. There are two reasons for that decision but you can use what you like. 1) I’m already somewhat familiar with WordPress so it made things a little easier; and 2) although WordPress has you add .wordpress between your domain name and the .com on it’s free sites, it does give you the option to upgrade to various other (paid) packages later that allow you to change your domain name and drop the extra part (.wordpress.com to just .com). So I can test things out for free. Figure out what I want/need, what does/doesn’t work etc and then upgrade to a paid version to get what I really do ultimately want later. It’s a much lower risk.
So, since I was wanting to create a website for my business, I naturally wanted to have a custom official looking email “firstname.lastname@example.org”
You can do standard gmail or yahoo accounts with your name but they don’t have the same kinds of tools as a specialized business email does. These would be extra/special tools for things like sorting, setting up and/or sending group or automated messages etc.
A free service that does provide such things that I found (and had good user ratings) was Zoho.com. The other good thing about this host is that it is compatible with WordPress. However, you have to have a business account with wordpress to connect it so that’s something I’ll be getting around to in the future I guess. In the mean time things will be done more manually (unless I manage to find another “good” free option).
BUILDING THE WEBSITE
This is the time consuming part. WordPress made it fairly easy. You just pick a theme and follow the instructions but you do still need to write all your content which takes a while. You should also look at various examples of other websites with the same goal as yours (in my case for photography services) to see what all kinds of pages you need. Probably a home page, about page, contact page, and other specific one with your product or services. If you are providing a service, what I found in my research is that you should also have a landing page which takes us to the next point…
Landing pages are a super important marketing tool for businesses and are easy/feasible for even newbies starting out with nothing. But what are they? A Landing page is a page you would link to on a facebook add or something that asks people to submit a little bit of their contact information (name and email) for you to send them something free (PDF “how to” guide or link to webinar etc). To those people, it poses little to no risk in exchange for something they consider valuable; so landing pages tend to be pretty effective. Of course, afterwards you can send them email ads and coupons etc. That’s kinda of your goal. Landing pages are specifically designed to give businesses/marketers a contact list of people who are already interested in what you have to offer.
*note: you should really google why landing pages are so important!
As you can see, this whole process has been kind of complicated. If you’ve got the resources, here is my suggestion: find a professional who knows what they’re doing to create your website and it’s content. If you are on a very limited budget (like myself) do what you can then save up to find an expert to look everything over and fix things later.
I hope you found this interesting and/or helpful. Best of luck!
If you’re curious how it turned out so far, here’s a link to the website discussed: http://www.brookeslooksmedia.wordpress.com
Disclaimer: Although I have taken screenshots from some websites to show in this blog I do not hold/claim any rights to/with these sites neither have I been paid to advertise for them, etc.