- Internet & the Web
Setting Up Your Own Website
How To Get Your Own Website
Have you ever wished there was a 'layman's guide' on, 'how to set up a website' that was simple to read and didn't get caught up in complicated terminology?
If so, then this guide is designed for you.
Many people don't even know where to start to get their own website designed and online. They think it will take lots of money and paying a trained expert to design their site.
The good news is that it is not difficult to build a website so I've put together some resources to help guide you through the process.
The Truth Is: Anyone Can Design, Set Up And Run a Website
I will show you what you need to get your website online including advice on getting a domain name, hosting companies and the other important parts of setting up your website.
This 'how to' guide is written with people in mind who know very little about setting up a website, and who thought that because they don't know much about it, they probably could never do it.
Even if you have no experience and know nothing about web design, you can soon learn a few simple steps to having your own site without having to pay large amounts of money to other people to do it for you.
It is not hard, and if you have the motivation, you can learn as you go, which is what I did, and I have taught others to do the same.
People think is that they have to be a large organisation to have a 'proper' website. This is not true. Any individual can set up their own website with relatively low costs.
Would you set up your own website?
You may be wondering how much it will all cost, and here is the good news: getting a website does not cost much at all.
Really the main costs are the domain name and the hosting. The rest you can do yourself with a computer (therefore no further costs except an internet connection). The only other cost will be your time. Your website will be as good as how much time you are willing to put into it.
You can even use free resources including free templates and photographs, which are available on the internet, to help you get set up.
So with very minimal costs your website can be up and running.
If you want a specialised domain name (www.yoursite.com) then you will need to buy this, but depending upon who you buy it through it could cost you as little as $1 per month. Hosting will also cost, but does not need to be a large cost.
Basically there will be monthly running costs for your site but they can be under $10 a month.
What Do I Need To Know?
In order to get your own website, these are the things you need to know something about:
- How to get your own Domain Name
- How to get hosting for your website
- How to get the basic site designed and setup
- Uploading your website
- Marketing and advertising your site
- How to find free resources and photos for your site
Once you have worked your way through these you will have the basics sorted out and have your own website.
There are some other other optional things you might want to learn something about, however these are not essential for a basic website.
- Web design. Some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is useful although not essential depending on how you set your site up.
- How to make money and generate income through your website
- Building a social network or community
- Networking with others
You will soon see how easy it is,and may even want to learn more and develop yourself from there, but I hope this basic information gets you started.
In this hub I will cover some of the essentials that you need to know to get started.
A) Website Domain Names
To get your website up and running, you need a domain name and a company that will host your site. You can get the domain and hosting through the same company (which is easier) or have them through separate companies.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is like your telephone number. It is what people type in when they want to find you online, your web address.
For example: www.yourname.com
How do I get a domain name?
You get a domain name through a company that sells them. Most companies do not charge very much for domain names and you will usually pay for the domain for a period of time, most often one year. You then renew it when that period is close to expiring.
Some companies offer deals if you pay for longer upfront like two, three or five years
You can search google for companies that provide domains, however I have also listed some possible options to help you further down.
What about Free Domain names?
Some companies offer you a free site however free sites may have adverts placed on them by the company that provides it to you. This is so that they can make money off the visitors to your site.
The exception to this is that some places will offer you a free domain if you purchase hosting through them as well.
You need to check their terms of service to find out what the hidden catch is for your site being free.
Even if they are not placing adverts on your site and genuinely offering a free domain, you will also most likely not get a good domain name using a free service. More likely it will be a longer name that includes the name of the company you are getting the free domain through. This will look something like: www.yoursite.theirsitename.com
I do not recommend using this as your primary website address.
I Cannot Find The Domain Name I Want
You may already have in mind what domain name you want, however when you search for the domain name you find it is not available. Someone may already have used that name, so you need to think of another one. Many one and two word domain names have already been used, unless you can think of something more unusual, so it can be harder to think of a name that is available.
Your best option is to brainstorm and keep trying more options, possibly getting a little bit more creative in the name to find one that is available.
Should I try a Similar Variation of a Name that is Already Taken?
If you initially try www.yoursite.com and find it is not available, you may be tempted to go for something very similar like www.you_site.com by adding in an 'underscore' into the name to change it slightly.
This is actually not as good an idea as you may think.
Having a domain name that is very similar to another name allows for mistyping and people ending up going to the other website. It can create confusion and cause traffic that should have come to your website to end up going else where.
Rather try to find something that is unique and individual to you and your website
Domain and Hosting Companies
Having a domain name alone is not enough to get your website up and running. You also need a company to 'host' your website.
You can get the domain name and hosting through the same company if you prefer.
If you are not experienced with websites it is probably better to use the same company for your domain name and hosting, as this is less complicated. You can have the domain with one company and another hosting it, but that just complicates things, as you then need to instruct the one company that you purchased the domain through to forward your site to the place it is hosted.
What is hosting?
All the jargon involved in setting up a website can get quite confusing, including words like 'host' or 'hosting'.
One definition for a host is, 'a place where an event is held: a place or organisation that provides the space and facilities for an event such as an international sporting competition.'
In website terms hosting is similar.
A company that hosts your website provides you with space online that you can use to put your website up for everyone to see. It is where all the files that make up your website will be stored online.
In basic layman's terms, hosting is like renting an apartment or house. You pay someone else so that you can stay there.
Your website needs a place to 'live' on the internet. In order for people to view your web pages, they must be somewhere on the internet to be seen.
So just like your domain name is like your telephone number (it's what people type in to find you online) so hosting is like where your site lives.
It is where people's computers will be directed to look for the content of your website when they type in your domain.
It is possible to host your own website, however this involves having the necessary equipment. Most people are not in a position to host their own site so they pay another company who provides this hosting service for them.
There are companies that do offer free hosting of your website, but there are disadvantages to their services as well.
Paying the small fee for hosting is worth it, and it can be as little as a few dollars per month.
There are different types of hosting accounts, however for most people, the basic level (often known as 'shared hosting') is acceptable and is what we will talk about here.
Things to consider in a Host
As you look for a host, you may want to consider these points:
- Do they have good customer services?
- How quickly and efficiently do they deal with any problems which may arise?
- What is their definition of unlimited hosting, and what restrictions (if any) do they impose if you go over what they consider 'fair usage'?
- Do they allow you to host one domain, multiple domains or unlimited domains?
- Do they have an automated control panel (cpanel) from which to run your account?
- Are their prices competitive compared to other companies?
What to look for in a Host
There are so many companies that sell domain names and host websites. With all the choice it can often be hard to decide which are the best companies with which to host your website.
You want a company that will give high quality service, ease of use and with as little hassle as possible. This is where other people's reviews come in useful. It is worth doing a search online for reviews about the particular company you are considering to see what experience others have had.
Your individual needs will affect what you are looking for in a hosting company, however I will provide some suggestions for you to consider.
My first website I hosted with a company that was completely useless. Their customer services were impossible, they made mistake after mistake on my account and bills, and I spent many hours of frustration trying to sort out their messes.
When my contract with them ended, I went looking for a better company, and spent a lot of time researching on the internet.
However I now had to transfer my domain name from the one company to the other which was just one added thing to do. Fortunately the new company had a fully automated process and made things simple.
I say this as it is important to get a good company from the start in order to save yourself hassles later.
One thing that I really liked with my hosting company is how everything is automated. I have never had to deal with any live customer services, everything is dealt with through a very simple and easy to figure out control panel (known as cpanel). You run your account and website through this control panel and everything can be done online and is very self explanatory and works smoothly.
They also have a large range of scripts you can easily install onto your website, like Wordpress and other blogging software. They have a selection of shopping carts you can install, as well as content managers etc.
Their costs are very low, and they offer unlimited space for your site. There is no limit to the amount of MB you can upload. Also you can add on more domain names to the same account, meaning once you have paid for one hosting account you can develop a whole range of websites by simply buying a new domain name. The unlimited amount of hosting applies right across the board for all your websites.
You need to be aware however that 'unlimited hosting' does not technically mean there is no limit. The hosting company will explain in their terms of service that this is subject to a fair usage policy. If you use too many resources they may impose restrictions on your account for a period of time, so check out the terms.
Once you have a domain and your website has a host, you need to think about the design of your site and its content: what you will actually be putting on the site for people to see. I will cover these points in more detail in other hubs, however here is some basic information to get your started:
C) How to Get the Basic Site Designed and Setup
You have a number of options to choose from when it comes to the design of your website. You may want to learn programming languages like HTML, CSS, PHP and others. This route however is more complicated and takes more time.
Another option is to use blogging software or a Content Management system. These give you the tools to set up your website, often without any knowledge of website design.
Personally I recommend Wordpress.
Through your hosts cpanel, you might be able to instal Wordpress onto your site through a 'one click installation' feature. Alternatively you can go to Wordpress, download the latest version of the software and install it yourself onto your website. This is reasonable easy to do.
You will need to learn the basics of how to use Wordpress. There are plenty of free plugins which extend the capabilities of the software, as well as free templates which give your site a different look. Wordpress has tutorials on site to explain how to install and operate it.
D) Uploading Your Website
If you used the 'one click installation' feature, then you do not need to upload your website. It will already be on your host and ready to go.
However if you chose to download Wordpress and install it yourself, then you will need some way to upload it into your host. You can do this through your hosts Cpanel, or use what is known as an FTP program. I recommend Filezilla, which is free and easy to use.
E) Adding Content
Installing Wordpress does not mean your site is ready to go. You will need to take time to add in the content, pictures etc for your website.
F) Marketing and Advertising Your Site
Once you are ready to unleash your new website for the world to see, you will want visitors and traffic to visit your page. This will take some marketing and advertising.
You can advertise your site to friends and family and offline by using flyers and other traditional forms of advertising.
You can also market online.
It is a good idea to set up a Facebook page for your website. You can use this to let your followers know when you upload new content onto your website. Other social media like Twitter and Google+ will enable you to build up followers.
If your site includes videos, it is worth opening a Youtube channel. You can use Youtube to upload your videos and then embed them into your website. This way people can find you on Youtube or through your website.
Wordpress has plugins which make it easy to embed videos from Youtube into your site.
G) How to Find Free Resources and Photos For Your Site
Not all of us are great photographers, and finding good pictures for your website will help make it more attractive.
There are plenty of sites which allow you to use their pictures for free, as long as you give them credit for the picture. Read their 'Terms of Service' to find out what they require in order for you to use pictures from their site.
One good place to find free photos is FreeDigitalPhotos.net. You will notice that I have used images from there on this Hub.
Knowing how to set up your own website is only the start. You need to keep building your site, add new content and build up traffic to visit your pages.
This is a process, however hopefully you have now been equipped with the basics to get you started.