Nowadays, how you portray yourself on the internet might as well be your new resume. It doesn’t matter if you’ve crafted the best CV in the world if a quick Google search will ruin it for you. Your website is the cornerstone of that. Not only can you use to portray who you are, but it also acts as a portfolio. Every freelancer and remote worker will need to create a website at some point if they want to successfully work remotely.
Nearly every business or niche can have a website. Even if it is something as simple as a one-page list of services and a way to contact you. The important thing is that it gets across what your business is, and how someone can get your product or service. This, however, needs to be done in a visually appealing, eye-catching way. There have been countless times where I’ve visited a website that was very busy, covered in ads, or had obnoxious colours, or text that reads “insert heading here.”
And what did I do? Immediately left the site.
No one wants to dig through mountains of text, confusing images, or links to get to your product or service. And if someone does bother with that, you must have a pretty darn good product or service. But for the most part, people are lazy and have short attention spans. If you can’t grab them immediately, they’re gone.
Thankfully, you don’t need to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on hiring a graphic designer or a web developer to create a beautiful website. You also don’t need to spend hours studying or learning to write code. Here’s how you can create a website you without knowing any code.
Choose Your Domain Wisely
The name of the website is the first thing your visitors will see. Try to make it clear, simple, and easy to type. For example, wanderdolls.com is much easier to say, type, and remember than wandering-d077s.net. If you, individually, are your business, try using your name as your website. If you already have a name for your business in mind, that’s great — search for your business name and lock in that domain.
Whenever possible, use a .com website. If you’re an organization, .org is okay too. Try to avoid .net, .store, and the like. If you’re doing something that is region specific, using that region’s extension (i.e. using .ca for Canada, .ie for Ireland, .uk for the United Kingdom, etc.) would also work well.
Finding Your Domain
Finding your domain is best done through who you want to host with, and you get a FREE domain name with a hosting plan (see below for hosting). However, sometimes they don’t have it. I have found domains I liked and purchased through my host, Hostgator, as well as through Name Cheap. Both of these companies have had great customer service, are easy to use and set up, and have a variety of options.
If you find that the domain you want is in use, try GoDaddy Auctions — you might just get lucky.
Host Your Site
This concept was new to me when I first decided I wanted a website. I figured I could just buy the domain and start making my website. I know, how naive right? Turns out, someone needs to host this website on their servers so it’s up and running.
You can do this for free and host your site via places like WordPress.com, Wix, Blogspot, among many other places. The only downside of this option is you get a site that looks like this: www.yoursite.wordpress.com which typically the case if you go totally free and don’t buy a domain.
Or, your site looks like a regular website (www.yoursite.com), BUT, you are limited to your free hosts capabilities. This means no custom themes, no plugins, limited storage space, and you often can’t monetize your site (this includes online shops and membership sites). You’re also often forced to have ads on your website that you don’t make any money from.
Overall going self-hosted gives you the most control and flexibility with your site based on your needs. I personally use Hostgator with WordPress to run this site. I have also heard great things about BlueHost. You could take a look at either and decide which plan fits your needs, or if one happens to be running a sale – bonus!
Should you decide to use SquareSpace or Wix to create your website you do not need a third party hosting plan and pay a monthly or annual fee directly through their site.
Design Your Site
Now for the fun part, designing your site! I highly suggest using WordPress. Wix and Squarespace are great and user-friendly with their drag-and-drop qualities, but they ultimately lack customization capabilities. Most hosts will have 1-Click Install for WordPress. Once installed, simply go to www.yoursite.com/wp-login to start working on your site!
Pick a Theme
The theme sets the entire mood for your site. You can browse through free ones or go straight to premium for more options. I use Avada, which is the most popular premium thanks to its ease of use, great customization qualities, and amazing plugins. It allows you to make a responsive site in any format you’d like. I bought Avada on Themeforest, which has thousands of themes to choose from as well as premium plugins and designs to get the most out of your site.
Content is key. It doesn’t matter if you have the most basic website or one complete with bells and whistles, what matters is that you have good content.
When you create a website, make sure it is clear what you do, and if applicable, where you do it, and how much it costs (or how to get a hold of you). If you’re a product based website, people need to know what exactly you make and how they can buy it. If you’re an information based website or a blog, make sure your content is well written, informative, and easily accessible. Having your blog feed on the first page, or a clearly marked “Blog” button on your homepage can help do that. Notice how on my homepage, you can link to the blog from the main menu and from the picture of the elephant that says “visit the blog.” People can also just scroll down to see the most recent posts.
Make Beautiful Images
People are visual creatures. Images throughout your site help describe what you do, as well as make sales. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to do this either. Use free resources like Canva and PicMonkey. These can help you create beautiful images to use as blog header images, graphics throughout your posts, display your products, or for social media. Canva is perfect for making a great Instagram or Pinterest image.
All of these elements should be used to develop one cohesive brand. This should be in mind before beginning to build your site and throughout each step. In picking your domain, will it reflect your brand? Will your images, colours, themes, fonts, everything… work together well? Keep these elements in mind, particularly when designing your site and creating your images.
You want your brand to become recognizable. This doesn’t mean placing your logo everywhere or using the exact same fonts and colours. It can be a general feeling, and something that will become familiar to your clients, customers, or readers. You can see on Wanderdolls, that I’m a fan of purple. There’s a little doll icon that you’ll see in the corner of your web tab, on the home page, and on some of the photos. Logos are important, but they don’t need to be in your face. It is easy to get stuck on this. You may want to consult a branding expert, or just take the time to really determine what you want.
These steps will get you started with your site, get it up and running and ready for viewers, but it is really just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve gone through all these and are ready to learn more, or want a more in-depth step-by-step guide for setting up your website, check out my free email course below — and feel free to email me if you have any questions!