So you’ve decided to step up and finally start your online business, Congrats!
But you need to know how to create a website. After all your website will be your business HQ, your virtual real estate.
It’s where potential clients will find and get to know you, where future collaborators will learn more about you and where you’ll sell your products & services.
I know it can be tempting to say I’ll just use Instagram, Facebook or some other social media platform as the place to run your business, but you don’t own any of those platforms.
It’s important to own your own virtual real estate as opposed to using social media platforms alone, because then you’re not in control of your business.
Whenever you use free platforms, it gives someone else the power – on a whim – to eliminate your entire business without any input from you.
However, you don’t have a clue how to create a website for your business. And building your first website can feel overwhelming. So, where do you begin?
Well, I’ll take you through a few basic steps to get you going with your first website.
Are you ready for a website? Here are nine steps designed to get you up and running.
How to Create a Website: Step By Step Guide
Step 1: Determine Your Website’s Purpose
What are you going to do on the website? How are you going to make money?
This is important because it will determine the platform you want to use and the themes and plugins you’ll need for your website.
Some themes and platforms are more effective for certain business models.
For example, if you’re Coach selling your services but also selling digital products you’ll need something different to someone who only sells digital products.
Step 2: Choose a Platform
Once you know what you want to accomplish with your website, it’s time to choose your website platform. This is just what the name implies; it is the base on which your website will stand.
There are a number of options available to you here. What you choose will be determined by what you do & sell, how you plan to sell it and how comfortable you are with tech.
The 3 I recommend are:
|Platform||Purpose||Features||Ease of Use|
|WordPress||Can be used for blogging & selling both digital & physical products. Great for service based businesses looking to have multiple streams of income from various digital products.||Can be customized and is very flexible with the range of plugins & themes available. Can grow & change easily with your business. More control over all aspects of your site.||Easy|
|SquareSpace||Good homebase for service based businesses that don’t plan to do most of their business on their website & don’t want any customization. So will use 3rd party platforms to host their products.||Simple to use, with simple inbuilt themes and features.||Easy|
|Shopify||Great for product based businesses. More suited to Physical products but digital products can be sold here too!||Apps to help you start and grow your business in every area, from finding products to marketing your products.||Med|
For newbies and even those with some knowledge of websites and coding, WordPress is the most popular choice for a platform. It is easy to use and most of the work has been done for you by a host of developers and web designers with the themes and plugins they’ve created.
For the beginner, WordPress.org is my recommended choice.
Step 3: Get a Domain Name
Your website domain is like your home address, it’s how people find you online. It should be the name of your business. If you need help naming your business I’ve got a whole post on it here.
Write down several options and then check online to see if the one you want is available. I use namecheckr for this.
It may take a few tries to find one you like that no one has taken. Keep it as short as possible and also easy to say.
Then head over to Namecheap to buy your domain name. Buying a domain will cost under $10 for a year.
You could get it for under $5 depending on the domain and if there are any deals on at the time. If you click on the Namecheap link above you could get your domain for as little as 99cent.
Step 4: Select a Hosting Service
You can’t have a website without a host. But you’ll only need to consider this step if you go for WordPress as both SquareSpace & Shopify include hosting.
The hosting service is where your data will be stored, on their servers.
Depending on how much space you need now and in the future, it might be worth spending more per month to ensure that your site won’t crash or get turned off.
However you can switch hosting services when your site takes off. I’ve done this a few times.
Free web hosting services usually don’t provide enough bandwidth for a major business website.
As a newbie I recommend going for Siteground which costs under $10 per month in the first year.
Step 5: Create a Site Map
Before you begin to put together your website, it needs to be put together on paper. You will decide what pages you want your website to have.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How are people going to find what they need?
- How will they navigate your website? What categories or buttons will you have?
- How will you share your information and how will you promote your products or services?
Figuring all of this out before you begin creating your website will help speed up the actual building of the website.
The first thing you want to do is plan your navigation bar. This is what will be in your top menu and footer menu.
|An example of top menu pages would be:|
– Work With Me
|An example of footer menu pages would be:|
– Contact Me
– Terms & Conditions
– Affiliate Disclosure
Then using a simple design, sketch out your pages: headers, content, images and positioning of these elements.
Also, include which pages will link to other pages, how they will link, pulldown menu options etc.
Knowing roughly how you want it to look goes a long way to getting the finished product done quickly.
Step 6: Install WordPress (if opted for this)
WordPress.org makes it easy to install their website program.
Most hosting companies including Siteground, offer “one-click installs” for WordPress, meaning it will take only about 5 minutes to install your website platform.
From there, it’s a matter of choosing a theme and adding content.
You can log into the content management system and look around to see how to set up pages, edit and upload content.
Even if you’re not technically savvy, WordPress is simple to use. And there is a ton of information out there that can help whenever you get stuck because it’s so popular.
Step 7: Secure & Set-up Your Website
So, you’ve got your domain, bought your hosting and installed WordPress.
Now it’s time to log in to WordPress, get familiar with it and start to add your initial Plugins.
The plugins I suggest installing are first to secure your website and second for some basic setup plugins that you’ll use while designing your site.
- All-in-one WP Security
- Antispam Bee
- WP Forms Lite
- Complianz | GDPR/CCPA Cookie Consent
- Grow Social by Mediavine
- Insert Headers and Footers
Once you’ve installed these plugins, setup WP Security. The All-in-one WP Security walks you through all the steps you need to get your site as safe as possible. It uses a points system and as you work through your setup you get more points and your site gets safer.
Additional Security Tips
Keeping your site secure is essential. Some of the things you should do to keep your site safe is:
- Use strong passwords and change them often: use a password manager like LastPass to create and store strong passwords.
- Never use “admin” as your username.
- Create user accounts for your staff and give them only the permissions they need. Don’t make them administrators if they don’t need to be.
- Choose a secure hosting environment.
- Keep your site and its plugins and themes up to date.
Then create a coming soon page with Elementor.
Step 8: Design your Website
Your next step is selecting and installing your theme. This is about deciding what you want your site to look like and how you want it to function.
Before starting this process, you should already know what services you want to add to your site. This is where you go back to your site map and look at what you wanted to include on your site and go shopping for themes and plugins.
With thousands of free and premium themes available, it’s easy to find a look that’s just right for your brand and business.
Need help deciding well, I’ve curated a list of the 14 best WordPress themes you can get for under $100, which also includes a free theme collection I’m always using.
Once you’ve bought your theme, download it and upload to WordPress.
Now it’s time to customize your site with your business brand including logo, taglines, colours and font choices. Get your website looking just the way you want.
The instructions that came with your theme should help you customise it quickly.
You can start adding any theme specific and business specific plugins you require.
With WordPress plugins you can add:
- Shopping carts
- Membership sites
- Sales pages
- Online directories
- Non-profit fundraising
- Video blogging
- News sites
- Recipe blogs
- Photography sites
- And dozens of other features
But remember the more plugins you add the heavier your site gets, so be strategic with which plugins you choose to use on your site.
When you’ve got all that done, next you want to add your content.
Step 9: Test Your Website
What is the single most important thing to do beyond creating a website? It’s testing it.
There are many ways a website can be tested to ensure that you’re doing what you can to reach your target audience, enhance sales and provide your readers with what they need to stay loyal to you.
But here are the essential things you need to check before you go LIVE:
- Check for typos and other errors
- Check your forms are working?
- Check page loading times
- Test how the site works in different browsers?
- Is Your site mobile friendly & responsive?
- Are all images loading?
- Test your site speed
- Check all links are working
- Make sure fonts are readable
- Check Site Map
- Are all your social media links working?
- Is your security certificate (SSL) working?
Step 10: Launch & Go Live!
The final step is to unpublish your coming soon page and publish your site.
Then the fun really begins with growing a business you love. Through creating amazing content and services your tribe love as well as focusing on driving traffic.
How to Create a Website: Fast and Easy Website Setup
Creating your first website is a strategic process. However, much of the work will be done on paper as you plan the purpose and layout of your website.
Once you know exactly what you’re creating, you can find the best tools to create your website and make your online business a reality.
Now you know how to create a website for your business go try it out for yourself. Bookmark this page and follow the steps. Get your business online and ready to make money today.