Want to create your own website but don’t have a clue where to start? Don’t have a few hundred dollars laying around to pay a professional web designer either? The process of creating your own website is surprisingly simple and affordable. After setting up multiple websites over the past 10 years, I have discovered the most reliable and affordable services to use. There are three basic steps which need to be addressed when setting up a new website. The three basic steps I describe below are essential for creating your own website. The best part? The total cost is less than $100 per year!
Purchase a Domain Name
Imagine you are building a house. What is the first thing that needs to occur before any building can occur? You need to purchase the lot on which the house will be built upon. Similarly, your website needs a domain name or “URL” at which your website can be reached. Websites can only be registered through accredited “domain name registrars” such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Enom or Tucows. GoDaddy has dominated the market share in domain name registration since 2005 and because they provide fantastic service. Prices for domain names vary based on the type of domain – i.e. .com, .net, .org, .info, etc. The majority of .com domains can be purchased for $14. However, if you find an available domain name which GoDaddy has deemed to be “premium” due to the popularity of the words in the domain, GoDaddy may be selling the domain name for much more (think a few more hundred dollars more). Follow these simple steps to register your domain name at GoDaddy:
- Go to GoDaddy.com
- Search for your desired domain name – Consider that many domain names have already been taken so many of your ideas may not be available to purchase.
- Proceed to checkout – Note that GoDaddy will attempt to upsell multiple related domains to you. For example, if you found “www.dogs.com,” GoDaddy will ask you if you would also like to buy “www.dogs.net” and “www.dogs.org.” In some cases, purchasing these other domains is a good idea to limit competition with your website.
- Sign up for a GoDaddy account if you do not already have one.
- Sign up for private domain registration – GoDaddy uses a third party company, “Domains By Proxy,” to manage the private registration service. The private registration costs about $14 and restricts anyone from viewing the name and contact information of the person who registered the domain name. It is a good idea to purchase private domain registration for privacy purposes and to protect yourself from spam.
After you complete your purchase, you will receive a confirmation email from GoDaddy and your domain name will be immediately available. All domain name settings can be easily managed through GoDaddy’s online control panel. Simply visit GoDaddy, sign into your account, and you will be able to change all settings related to your domain name(s).
Purchase a Hosting Plan
Going back to house analogy: You’ve purchased your property, but you can’t just start building your glorious new house on the treacherous ground. Of course, you need a solid, secure foundation for the house to be built upon and a frame for the walls. Similarly, a website, which is just a collection of files, needs a server on which the files can reside. Another term for this server is the “host.” There are a seemingly endless number of companies offering web hosting solutions for a variety of prices. I have used multiple hosting companies and found the most reliable and affordable host is BlueHost. They offer great features, a robust control panel, quality customer support and much more. Follow these simple steps to purchase your hosting package:
- Go to BlueHost.com and click “Sign Up Now”
- “I Have a Domain Name” – Assuming you followed the instructions above, and signed up for a domain through GoDaddy, you already have a domain name. Enter your domain name in the form and click “next.” Alternatively, you can purchase a domain name through BlueHost.
- Complete contact and payment forms
After you complete your purchase, you will receive a confirmation email from BlueHost and your hosting package will be activated shortly. Note that your hosting package is not yet associated with your domain name. You will need to update nameserver details on your domain name to make your domain name “point” to the hosting space you just purchased.
Add Content to Your Website
After updating your nameservers, you are ready to customize your website. At this point, you have complete creative freedom and you are only limited by your imagination. If you are not interested in learning a programming language to manually create web pages (very likely!), you may be interested in installing a content management system. Many blogs, including this one, are powered by a content management system known as WordPress. WordPress is fantastic and can be installed on your server a couple of ways. Fortunately, BlueHost offers a very automated way to install WordPress directly from your control panel. Watch the video below for a demonstration on how to do this in a matter of minutes.
If you think that looked really easy but you’re still don’t understand what WordPress is and how to use it, check out this recent video which gives a demonstration of WordPress and it’s features.
There you have it, a fully functioning website for less than $100 per year: $14 (.com domain) + $83.40 (1 year of hosting) = $97.40. Certain details were not included in this post in the interest of overall length and readability. Don’t worry, there will be multiple related posts in the future. In the mean time, if you have any specific questions, feel free to post them in the comments section and I will respond as soon as possible. Good luck with your new website!
As a convenience, here are links to the recommended service providers listed above:
- Click here to visit GoDaddy and purchase a domain name
- Click here to visit BlueHost and purchase a hosting package
- Click here to visit WordPress and read more about WordPress