Build a website for your blog, podcast, or your business.
If you have ever had the slight inkling to start a blog, podcast or even a business (online or offline) you're going to need a website. Yes, even you with that brick and mortar boutique!
These days, our lives are online, and even if you can't sell your services or your "locally made, locally delivered, no exceptions" products online, you will still need to get found online. With more of our population (and your customers) spending time online, that's where they're going to find you, so it's time you make yourself easy to be found - with your website.
If you're looking to start a blog or podcast, well, you don't need any convincing as to why you need a website.
What's more, if you want to use your blog or podcast to make a full-time income, now is the time to get started. Yes, that is totally possible. I've interviewed several ladies who make a full-time income from their blogs in various ways, but in order to make it happen you're going to need to get yourself a website.
In this post, I'm going to show you how cheap and easy it can be to build yourself a website.
I'm doing this because I'm in the process of switching from Squarespace (where my current blog and podcast is located) to WordPress so I can have a more functional and customizable site. This is the process I went through, step-by-step, to start building my new site which will be live soon! Believe me when I say I have limited website building skills and definitely want to do this on a budget. So I can attest to how affordable and easy this process is.
If you're like me, on a budget and/or feel a bit computer and tech illiterate, this is the perfect tutorial for you.
Build a website - No skills needed.
1. Your Domain Name
First things first, you'll need your domain name, your URL, your www.yourwebsitenamegoeshere.com. The price of a domain can range from $2.99 to $14.99 per year (or FREE with a year of Bluehost self-hosting - more on this in Step 2). You can check to see if the URL you want is available here.
Go to: Products at the top -> Domains
I tried searching for tesswicks.com, but since I already own it, it's not available. Bluehost will give you other suggestions for your website domain, as well as additional options for the end of your domain as ween in the parentheses below.
If your domain isn't available, you will receive suggestions. Consider switching your domain name until you find one that isn't taken. You can also go after the domain name that you want but switch the ".com" to ".co" or ".net" and even ".org". I would check to see if the domains are available in that order.
These days, with all of our auto-fill, auto-correct, auto-everything, it's not as big of a deal if you con't have a ".com" after your domain.
Enter your account information and select your package. For domain only, it's priced per year. For hosting services, you pay by month. The longer you plan to host, the cheaper it will be. (See more on hosting in Step 2.)
Pro Tip: Even if you don't plan on using your first and last name as your domain name (like mine: www.tesswicks.com), I always advise that you buy it if your domain is available. You never know when you might become famous or run for president. Owning your name's domain can be a valuable tool to have for alternative projects or even to house a resume. Check to see if it's available and purchase it for a small price (unless you share a name with someone famous... then, you're SOL. You can blame your parents for that one.)
2. Being Self-Hosted
I've talked about the importance of being self-hosted previously, but I'll reiterate. Having a self-hosted site means the site and the information on it is totally under your control. Some bloggers will start on sites like Wordpress.com (not to be confused with Wordpress.org <- we like that one) or Blogger.com, or even Tumblr.com.
These are great platforms when you're in need of a free system to dabble on, but they won't do much for you when you get serious with your business, blog or podcast. And believe me, starting on a free platform and converting to a self-hosted platform is not worth the headache, no matter how much money you save.
Here are some reasons you want to be self-hosted:
- You have more control over the look and feel of your site.
- You own the content on your site. If using a free platform and they decide to shut it down, your stuff disappears. This doesn't happen if you're self-hosted.
- It's easier to make money with e-commerce systems and working with various affiliates and third-party companies when you're self-hosted.
- Third-party integrations work better on a self-hosted site, which can lead to better site optimization, money making plugins, and other site functionality.
- Free platforms have basic analytics that won't tell you much as you try to grow and better understand your audience.
How do you get set up with self-hosting?
Currently, I use a platform called Bluehost (the same company you can purchase your domain through) to host my site content.
I love them because they have an extremely clean and user-friendly interface (compared to some hosting platforms that span you with ads, pop-ups and things that seem to slow down your computer when you visit their site).
They also have impeccable customer service! By just using their chat feature, I have always been able to get my questions answered or even resolved without me having to do a thing.
After you choose your domain, you'll be given package selection information for your hosting plan. Through my link, you can get a special discount and only pay $3.45/month (usually $7.99/month) for the basic plan when you sign up for the 36 month plan. (Note: you will pay for the full 36 months up-front, but then you don't pay for hosting for 3 years.)
If you're wondering whether to go for "basic" or "plus," my advice is to start with Basic. You can always switch later, but you probably won't need to worry about that for a while.
Select your domain:
If you choose to be self-hosted with Bluehost, you will have to buy domain (that you get for free for 12-months when you purchase 12-months of hosting) or you can use an existing domain that you already own.
For existing domains:
If you purchased your domain from another platform, like GoDaddy (one of the most popular), then you will have to transfer the domain to Bluehost.
This is super simple. You just have to set a custom nameserver, which sounds complicated, but this article will walk you through it.
You will be asked to enter the custom nameserver provided from Bluehost.
They are: NS1.Bluehost.com and NS2.Bluehost.com
And that's it! It could take up to 8 hours for these changes to occur, but you can finish your website setup immediately.
Select your package:
You will then pick your package information. Plans start at 12-, 24-, or 36-month plans. Of course, you can save a lot of money by selecting the longer term plan.
Other things you might want from above:
Domain Privacy Protection: [Recommended] This keeps your contact information safe from getting in the hands of people who will email you constantly offering to build you an app and other requests that are completely unfitting. If you want to keep your inbox from overwhelm, go ahead and tack on the extra dollar per month.
Site Backup Pro: [Optional] This will backup your site every single day, but there are ways you can do this for free through plugins. If you don't feel like doing the added work and $2/month is no biggie, go for it.
SiteLock Security - Find: [Optional] If you're a business that wants that extra layer of credentials, then opt for this add-on. It proves to visitors that you have verified your credentials and are a trustworthy business.
With your 36-month basic plan at under $42 per year, you'll also be getting a FREE domain for 12-months. A steal if you're planning to turn this into a money-making platform!
Perks of using Bluehost:
- A 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind about that domain name or anything else.
- Get customer support 24/7 via phone, chat, or submitting a ticket online.
- Leading industry technology and dedicated hosting (if this means anything to you)
- And things I already mentioned: Free 12-month domain registration with at least a year of hosting, super friendly people and tech help, and a clean and easy user interface.
Once you select your package and add-ons, you'll enter your billing information and create your password.
3. Install WordPress
Once you have your domain and hosting, you can install WordPress right inside your Bluehost account. WordPress is a FREE site builder that almost everyone uses. It has a lot of options for customization, themes, and creating the website of your dreams. To install WordPress, first login to Bluehost using your website domain and the password you created above.
Once inside, go to the "Website" section and select "Instal WordPress".
Next, you will set up your username. Do not use your email address or "admin" as your username. As your website grows, hackers will attempt to login and these are the first things they will try. Bluehost will automatically default your email address as your admin username if you do not change it here. Once you create an admin username for WordPress, you cannot change it so do so now.
Bluehost also creates a great randomized password for you. The more difficult the password, the better. So this might be a good one to keep instead of setting your own "easier to remember" password.
Save your username and password from this step!
Select the box that says "Automatically create a new database" and the box to agree to the terms and hit "Install Now."
4. Build Your WordPress Site
Login to WordPress by going to:
This will get you to the spot where you will login to the backend of your website. Use the Admin Username and Password you created/were created for you in the last step, here as your login credentials.
Welcome to your Dashboard! Here you can create posts (like blog posts), pages (like your About page, Services page, and Contact page), and install themes and plugins.
5. Install Your Theme
We have all heard the phrase, "never judge a book by its cover," but we also know a beautifully designed website can make a big impact on how you feel about the blog, podcast, or company website you have just landed on. If you have no coding skills whatsoever, like myself, you will want to find a great theme that has done all that coding and design work for you.
You can find free themes and also purchase themes (Average price = $45) which you will download onto your computer and then upload into WordPress.
Pro Tip: If you find a blog or website with a theme you really like, you can usually find out which theme they use by right clicking anywhere on the site (not on an image) and selecting "View Page Source" in the menu. Then Ctrl+F for "Theme" and you can usually spot which theme the site owner is using because it will be listed after "themes/[This is the theme name!]". If the theme name is the name of the blog or impossible to find on Google, it's most likely a customized theme. Time to find a new blog theme you love.
There you have it! A complete step-by-step on how to get your WordPress site up and running. Of course, you will need to start creating consistent content, get a great logo, and put together some standard blog/podcast and website graphics that will remain consistent throughout your site, but this will come.
Take these first steps to set up your WordPress website. For more help, this video is a GREAT resource that I've been using to customize my site with the little coding and site building skills I have. Use it when you're ready to get serious.
Are you ready to start your podcast? Check out this post on how to get your podcast started for under $55 a month. Some stuff will be similar, but scroll down to Step 2 and beyond where I walk you through the equipment, platform, and strategies to start a podcast even if you have little computer or tech skills, little money, and no idea how to start.
Do you have any questions, feedback, changes you see I need to make? Leave them in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you!
*This page contains affiliate links. This means that if you take my advice with any of these products/services, at no added cost to you, I get a little commission. I only recommend products/services that I use, love, and/or wholeheartedly stand by and believe will help you get started on your journey to find that ultimate freedom you seek.