How to Start a Website: 5 Easy Steps to Launch Your Site
Knowing how to start a website from scratch can be an incredibly intimidating endeavor. Internet jargon like content management systems, hosting, domains, and plugins can seem like a foreign language. It’s no wonder why many first-timers are scared off before they even get started.
But in reality, once you know the basics on how to set up a website, it’s easier than you may think. In fact, you don’t need to know HTML or CSS, or be a web developer to get started. And you certainly don’t need to spend thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars to build a website from the ground up.
To make your life easy, we’re going to walk you through the steps on how to start a website of your own. Our goal is to simplify this daunting task into a manageable step-by-step guide that anyone with a computer can conquer.
Whether you’re into blogging or you’re trying to create an online presence for your small business, you’ll have everything you need to know to launch your professional website in just five easy steps.
1. Determine Which Platform to Use
The first step to starting any website is determining which platform you’re going to build it on. Nowadays, nearly all websites are built using a content management system, or CMS for short.
A content management system is a platform that enables you to easily build a website and then manage content in a collaborative online environment.
Once you design your website, you can access an intuitive user interface that enables you to create and manage new content on your site. You don’t even need to have any coding experience whatsoever.
There are many different platforms out there to choose from, with the most popular being WordPress. Of the top one million websites on the web, WordPress websites make up nearly 36% of these sites. The next closest CMS is Drupal which makes up less than 3% of these sites.
Why do so many people turn to WordPress as their CMS of choice? For starters, WordPress.org — not to be confused with WordPress.com — is a free website platform and doesn’t have monthly fees attached to using the platform.
Other “drag and drop” website builders like Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace may be easy to use, but they’re attached to monthly subscription fees that quickly add up.
WordPress also has plenty of free themes available and has an excellent online community that can help support your site. This includes online forums, an abundance of plugins to improve your site functionality, and routine updates that eliminate bugs on the platform.
If you’d like more information, you can head to WordPress.org and browse through the available WordPress site templates and plugins you’ll have access to. After you’ve decided which platform you want to use, it’s time to buy your domain.
2. Buy a Domain
Every website has a unique domain name. This is your website name with a syntax of “www.yoursitename.com.” Domain names can be fairly cheap to purchase, although popular domains with common terms can be expensive.
Domain names can be purchased from a variety of different places. You can purchase domains from one of the following places:
Many CMS platforms also allow you to purchase a domain name through their site. For example, Wix lets you purchase a domain directly through its platform.
Regardless of which domain registrar you use, you’ll first need to conduct a search to see if your domain name is available for purchase. When you type in your desired domain name, you’ll find out if it’s for sale as well as the asking price.
When you’ve landed on a domain name you like, you can complete your purchase. You have the option of reserving your domain name for as long as you’d like. The longer you reserve it, the more you’ll have to pay.
You can choose to reserve your site on an annual basis or even longer if you’d like. For example, if you plan on having your site live for multiple years, you can purchase your domain for three years at a time.
Now it’s time to set up your site’s hosting.
3. Set Up Hosting
Web hosting is what makes your website possible. This is what connects your website with everything else on the internet.
In order for your site to work, you’ll need to subscribe to a hosting plan. Web hosting companies will allow you to reserve server space to save all of the files for your website. Think of it as reserving a monthly storage unit where you can keep your files, images, and assets that help your site operate smoothly.
Hosting plans are typically one year in length and will cost anywhere from $3 to $6 per month. There are plenty of web hosting providers for you to choose from, with some popular options as follows:
The different hosting plans come with a variety of options and add-ons you can decide to subscribe for. Which plan you use will depend on how many amenities you’d like to have. These add-ons can include being able to use multiple domains with your server, a free domain name, different levels of bandwidth, or free SSL certificates.
Once you secure your domain name and hosting plan, the next step on how to start a website is to link everything together and start building your site.
4. Build Your Site
Before getting into the creative content elements of your site, you’ll need to set up the functionality of your site from a technical standpoint. This includes connecting your domain name and hosting to your WordPress account — or any other CMS platform you choose to use.
When you purchase your hosting plan, you’ll be asked to provide the domain name that you’ll be using. At this point, your domain name will be connected to your hosting services.
The CMS platform you choose to use should walk you through the steps to connect your site to your hosting. For WordPress users, you can follow these detailed instructions to install WordPress. This will help connect your site to your hosting account through a few simple clicks. Your hosting provider typically will also typically provide a quick one-click WordPress set-up option that will instantly connect your site to the web.
After your site is configured, you can begin searching through the selection of themes at your disposal through the WordPress dashboard. Many basic themes are free to use while better-designed themes will cost you some money to use.
When you’ve settled on an option, you can install your WordPress theme and begin designing your site. This can be done directly through your online WordPress account under the “Appearance” and “Page” tabs on the menu.
The theme you chose will dictate how your site will be laid out. You can go through and carefully customize your site by adjusting your homepage, navigation, additional pages, and widgets.
After that, you can start populating content. For your static web pages, you can go into the “Page” section and type in what you’d like to say on your site in the text box.
If you want to start creating posts or blog content, you can head to the “Post” section to start writing your first posts. When you’re finished writing something, you can tap the “Publish” button to push the content to your site. If you need a little inspiration, you here are plenty of blog post ideas.
5. Update and Optimize Your Site
After you’ve created content and pushed your site live, it will be up to you to keep it all current and operating smoothly. This includes running routine updates and optimizing your site for search engines.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a critical component to increasing your site’s visibility and overall traffic. What’s the point in creating a website if nobody ever sees it?
One way to optimize your site and increase your monthly traffic is to use content marketing. This requires you to create high-quality posts on a regular basis that visitors will find useful.
For example, if you’re a blogger and you write about camping, you should upload two to three posts per week around this topic, such as “best camping gear for trips in the fall.”
You can also download WordPress plugins that improve your site’s Google search rankings and SEO. One popular plugin that many site owners use is called Yoast. Yoast will help you attract more visitors by showing you opportunities where you can improve your site.
Lastly, you should always track the success of your site by measuring site visitation, engagement, and other key performance indicators, or KPIs.
KPIs include the number of site visits, bounce rates, page views, and event conversions, which will help you have a finger on the pulse of your website. They’ll show you how successful your marketing efforts are and will help you consistently improve your site’s performance.
You can track everything that’s happening on your site by using Google Analytics. You can sign up for Google Analytics and connect your site through your WordPress control panel.
Learn How to Start a Website Today
Launching your first website may be an easier task than you thought. As long as you follow the five easy steps above, your new website can be up and running in no time. Before you know it, you’ll have visitors arriving at your site every single month.
Once you have a steady flow of visitors, you can turn your efforts to monetization opportunities so you can start earning extra cash. For more resources on starting your very own website, head to the blogging section on our site to get the ball rolling.
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