I always emphasize to small business owners (and authors, and everyone else) that you can absolutely make your own website if you have the time and patience. With that in mind, here are the steps I recommend for you to build the absolute barest-bones website you can get (without it being free). Remember, what I want is for you to actually own the domain and the hosting so Big Website Company America can’t arbitrarily take away all of your work or otherwise tell you what to do.
OK, now that I’ve given you my reasoning why I think you (and your business) are worth more than a free website, here are the steps I would recommend to get yourself a paid site. And by “paid,” I only mean “you own it,” not “you will have to pay a designer $4,000 to make it all fancy for you.”
I will describe the process below in detail, but here is a quick video where I show you how to set up a whole site in 6 minutes:
Here is the barest-bones way I can recommend for you to make your website so that you have ownership over it:
1.Get Your Domain. You can do this wherever you want. I use GoDaddy just so I have all my domains in one place, but you don’t have to if you don’t like them). If you’d like to ask questions about what I think the best domains are, feel free to leave those in the comments. I usually recommend a .com, as long as you can get it for a regular price, which is around $12/ year. I have heard great things about NameCheap, and Domain.com is also up and coming, with great prices.
2. Get Hosting. You don’t have to go nuts with this—just get whatever basic plan is going to meet your needs. Here is a whole breakdown of hosting services that I have used, in case you want an opinion. If you’re doing one website, this should run you about $3/ month, maybe $5. If you’re doing multiple sites, I would recommend HostNine’s reseller package, because I do not recommend putting multiple WordPress installations on one hosting service. One day, I will tell you the horrible story of how I had to rebuild THIRTY FIVE WEBSITES, but for now, just take my word.
3. Install WordPress (.org)—the software onto the back-end of your website. You will need to do this through the hosting company. This is the CMS (content management system) you will be using to build your site. Your hosting company will either install this for you, or they will make it extremely clear and simple for you to do so. You should absolutely contact your hosting company and have them walk you through this– that’s what you’re paying them for!
4. Pick a theme. Can be free or paid. This is my current favorite paid theme maker, but feel free to use any free theme that floats your boat. There approximately four million free themes in the WordPress.org library.
5. Play around with WordPress. Cry. Put your head on the desk. Watch YouTube tutorials. Break things. Try again. Yes, I know that learning new things is frustrating, but think of it this way- at least you’re not putting your valuable time into learning a free platform that could go away at any time.
This is a lot of information to absorb at once, so let me just encourage you to consider it before starting up a free website. With this breakdown, if you chose the cheapest option on each item and you were willing to watch YouTube tutorials and put in a little “elbow grease and frustration” time, your cost would be approximately $10/ year for the domain, and $36/ year for the hosting. That’s a grand total of $46/ year for a website to call your own, which gives you complete freedom from fear of shutdown or arbitrary policies enacted by free website companies.
Questions? Leave them in the comments. I hope this has been helpful.