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I thought it would be fitting that my first post on this site would be a “How To” guide on how to build a professional website like this (or something similar) and to let you know how inexpensive it is. But first, let me quickly share an important been-there-done-that tip on what not to do.
In the past, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that in order for my site / company to even have a remote chance of being successful it needed to be extremely professional looking. Well it doesn’t. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t learn from my own mistakes because I made this particular one a few times. Does a beautifully designed site with great UX (user experience) help? Of course but there’s a time and place for everything. What’s most important is to get something out there and see whether or not there’s a demand for your product or service especially if you aren’t very technical.
The reality is that what you set out to be may not be what you become which is often referred to as pivoting. Here are a few examples of some companies you know and their respective pivots.
Nokia began as a paper mill.
Instagram began as a check-in app.
Starbucks began by selling espresso machines.
Get the point? I thought so.
Prior to actually building a website there’s several steps that should be figured out such as what problem you’re solving and who your audience is but let’s assume that you’ve crossed that bridge and dive right into it.
How to build a professional website in five easy steps.
Step 1 – Buying and registering your domain name = $10
Go to Namecheap.com – they are currently my favourite registrar. Easy to use, good prices and great customer support.
Search for your desired domain name. Keep in mind that there’s over 100 million dot COMs that are already registered so it might be tough to find exactly what you’re looking for. A good plan b is to look at the dot COs – it’s the top-level domain assigned to Colombia and has become increasingly popular especially in the tech world.
Buy your domain – a dot COM or a dot CO cost approximately $10 for one year.
Step 2 – Buying hosting = $60
Go to Bluehost.com – again my current personal favourite for similar reasons: overall value and customer support.
Go to Products > Shared Hosting to view their plans. Their Starter Plan for $4.95 / month = $60 / year is perfect to start with. You don’t need any of the extras that they will try to up sell you on.
Step 3 – Pointing your domain name to your hosting provider = $0
Go back to Namecheap.com
Click on your username (top left corner) and select Manage Domains from your the dropdown menu.
Click on your domain
Click on Transfer DNS to Webhost
Select Specify Custom DNS Servers and enter the BlueHost nameservers accordingly (ns1.bluehost.com & ns2.bluehost.com) then click Save changes – it could take take up to 24-48 hours for the changes to take effect but usually it only takes a few minutes.
Step 4 – Installing WordPress = $0
Go back to Bluehost.com
Go to Hosting > Website Builders > Install WordPress
Click on Install
Select your domain name from the dropdown (use Domain with www.)
Click Check Domain
Select Show advanced options, enter your site’s name in the Site Name or Title text box, write down the password somewhere, make sure the I have read the terms and conditions of the GPLv2 is checked and click on Install Now.
You should then see these two installation progress bars
All done! Now go to your site and log yourself in –> yoursitename.com/wp-login.php
Step 5 – Buying a theme and installing it on Wordpress = easily under $30
This is where things start getting really fun. Theme shopping! This is where it all comes together. This is the difference (if you are non technical) from an amateur looking site to a professional looking one.
There are several places on the web to buy WordPress themes. BlueHost has one built into its own backend which comes pre-installed with WordPress called Mojo Marketplace which isn’t a bad place to start looking. Another good option is ThemeForest, they are the largest marketplace of it’s kind on the web so tons of choices at all kinds of price points. All I can say is spend a good chuck of time looking around the web to see what’s out there and what catches your eye. You’ll definitely be able to find something under $30 in order to fall within our budget of less than $100.Once you do buy a theme, installing it on WordPress is a breeze.
From inside Wordpress click on Appearance > Themes
Click on Add New
Click on Upload Theme
Click on Choose File and select your theme’s .zip file.
There you go! You’re all set! Now you should be able to go into your theme and start customizing it to your liking.
So there you go. If you ever wondered how to build a professional website for not too too much money – now you know.
If you have any issues while setting up your own site please feel free to just leave a comment and it’ll be my pleasure to help you.