- Business and Employment
Best Way To Create A Website For Free (Or Very Little Money)
What is the most intimidating part of starting a website?
Thinking about creating a website can be an intimidating task. Whether the desired result is a personal blog, a website for an already running business, or an interest in making money online, the first steps to creating a website can appear overwhelming, or at least expensive.
The beauty of living in the internet age is that almost nothing has to be as expensive as one would first think! Not only that, but creating your own, high quality website is much easier now than it was even several years ago.
Sadly, when I attempted my first internet business, I ended up spending way too much money to have developers design and create it. However, I can create a website today for somewhere between $50-$100! The risk is much lower, which makes it less intimidating to give creating a website a shot.
If you have an interest in entering the age of the internet, with a personal blog, business website, or online business, here are the basics to get you started. Good luck!
Things You Need to Pay for to Have a Great Website
While there are many places that allow you to create a blog or an online store for free - these are not going to benefit you. Why? Because you will have very little flexibility with the layout and your website's name will be unappealing.
The internet is a whole new realm of real estate. While a local store strives to end up with a building right on main street to get the best business, on the internet, businesses strive to have the easiest to type and most memorable web url (for example, amazon.com). The easier the name is to type and remember, the more visitors the website will receive.
While it is possible to get free blogging through Google (yourname.blogger.com) or even an amazon store (yourname.amazon.com), you will not make much money off of your website - not nearly as much as you can with a small investment.
The two things that you need to fork over money for are:
- A website address (URL): About $6 per year.
- Website hosting: About $40 for one year.
After these two purchase, it is much easier to develop a website with the ability to attract, appeal, and sell to visitors.
Now, how do you go about setting up these two aspects of the website? I'm glad you asked!
Finding and Reserving a Website Address
As I mentioned earlier, internet url's are a form of real estate. Just as a beachfront condo will cost far more than an apartment in a hick town, a website name that is easy to remember and type will be harder to come by (especially for a great price).
Some domain names can be sold for over $100,000/piece! And this is without any website - only the name. This is not something that the average start up or individual interested in starting a website can afford, so it is better to discover your own name.
When looking for an available domain name, I like using a domain name generator (my favorite up to this point is Panabee.com because it is free and gives great ideas). With a website like this, you enter a couple of words that describe your website, and the name generator will start searching for potential names. When you find a domain name that is not taken, you can buy it for as little as $6. If it is not available, you will either have to pay a lot of money for it, or you won't be able to purchase it at all (for example, no matter how much you like the name "Google.com" you will not be able to purchase that domain name).
It can take an incredibly long time to find an available domain name. So brainstorm similar words, other ideas, or consider adding a few extra letters to the end of the name (if myname.com is taken, consider mynameblog.com - this may be available). Finally, once you find the perfect available name, it is time to register!
You are welcome to go somewhere like Godaddy.com to register your domain name, but I would recommend waiting until you sign up for a web host - sometimes they will provide you with a free domain name.
Selecting a Website Host
The next challenge is selecting a place to host your website. Because all of the information needed to make your website run needs to be stored somewhere, it is necessary to purchase a hosting package. While some of these can be very expensive, when starting out, you should not need to spend more than about $40 for a year of hosting.
By doing a Google search for hosting companies, you can find one that best suits what you are looking for.
5 Basic Steps to Setup a Website
- Find a hosting company and purchasing a hosting plan.
- Select a domain name (search for one using Panabee.com).
- Install Wordpress on your hosting server.
- Find a theme for your website on Wordpress.org.
- Start creating content and promoting your site!
Reading Up on Wordpress
How to Create a Dynamic and Professional Looking Website for Free
The most popular tool for designing a free website (and even many costly ones), is WordPress.org. WordPress is essentially the Lego's of websites. From choosing different layouts, to placing advertisements, a Facebook Like button, and small auctions on your site, Wordpress can do it all.
Although it may take a little getting used to, it is an incredibly basic system for setting up a website with a plethora of free options. In fact, it is believed that over 50% of website on the internet today are run with Wordpress.
Here are some basic terms to know when starting off with WordPress:
- Theme: a theme is the design package of the website. You can select a theme from thousands of different free and premium (paid) options. The theme will dictate the overall look of the website. It is as easy as clicking a couple of buttons to change from one theme to another.
- Plugin: A plugin is an additional plugin that you can add to a WordPress website. There are thousands to search from. A plugin can be a calendar, a Facebook Like bar, a list of Google advertisements for you to make money off of, or a signup for your newsletter. Plugins can be easily rearranged, added and removed from the website.
- Blog post: WordPress was originally set up as a blogging platform. This means that most themes have the option for blog posts. A blog post would be an individual post that would end up at the top of the page. As you add more posts, the older posts get pushed down. Writing blogs are great for bringing publicity to a website, increasing search rankings, and developing a following.
- Static pages: A static page on WordPress is one that remains constant - while a blog post will continually drop lower on the site page with each new post, a static page will always have a link at the top - making it perfect for information that people need to get to easily (contact us, buy now, etc).
As soon as you have a hosting site, use their control panel to install Wordpress and start playing around with it. Like a Lego building, anything you do can be taken apart or adjusted - making it a perfect way to try out new things without consuming a huge amount of time or money. And with there being no need for programming, even us "regular" people can develop a phenomenal website.
While starting a website can be an intimidating task, do not lose hope - you can learn everything you need to make an amazing website in a short amount of time. If you have absolutely no free time, a lot of money, and a need for a huge website, then higher a programming team - otherwise, use Wordpress.
Before hiring a programming firm, remember that they cannot read minds. If you have a particular look or feel that you want the website to have, you must be very detailed about this. Part of the reason why my first online venture failed was because I struggled to effectively explain how I wanted my website to look. Had I done it on my own I could have had a must cheaper website that looked the way I wanted it to.
Share your questions or experiences below, maybe we can help each other in developing our own fantastic websites!