I suppose it makes perfect sense when folks ask me, how do I build a website from scratch? They know I’m unashamedly proud of building this site from the ground up.
So, naturally, I have insider knowledge and personal insights to share.
Many folks flirt with the desire to create a website, but fear holds them back. For instance, they worry needlessly that they’re not sufficiently tech-savvy. If nothing else, I want to dispel the myth that you need strong computing skills to build a beautiful website.
Other people think longingly about having a site but quite simply have no clue how to go about it. Furthermore, they’re (understandably) leary about webmasters offering vague information in exchange for a fee. Back in 2016, I walked in your shoes. So, I know exactly how unsettling it can feel.
But, here’s the good news. After going down this path myself, I can state unequivocally that building a stunning DIY website is not a complicated process at all. It also doesn’t have to be expensive.
For those who are here on an exploratory fact-finding mission, you’re in the right place. True story: my life was irrevocably altered by the “nuts and bolts” information we’ll discuss today. That’s a bold but honest statement of fact that’s fully supported by the existence of my site.
And, I accomplished this feat on a retiree budget!
So, top off your coffee cup, and let’s get this website creation stuff sorted out, shall we?
First: Articulate Your “Why” for Creating a Website
There are a great many reasons for wanting to have a website. We all understand that the Internet rules today. Hence, there are virtually no boundaries that limit what a website can do for you.
The steps below apply to both websites with more personal motivation and those that are income-oriented. But your “why” may influence your choice of alternative options. A website can be a powerful income-generating ally. Consequently, if making money with your site is your goal, there are some trouble spots to avoid that I’ll point out.
Years ago, when teaching at a small college, I created a website purely for connecting and communicating with my students. My faculty webpage was highly effective as a communication tool for a defined group of people who knew where to find me.
People often create non-business websites for things like:
- a customized online resume and professional portfolio
- significant events like weddings, milestone anniversaries, or family reunions
- blogging and posting photos while traveling on vacation
- disseminating information to members of a social club
Without a doubt, these are all excellent “why’s”!
But much like my faculty page, your concerns will be very different from those I have with this site, which I treat like an online business. You’re unlikely to worry about factors like establishing a brand, being found in Google search, or the speed of your website.
Conversely, if your objective is to make money online, all of these factors and more are critical to your success. So, they need to be considered right from the outset. Makes sense, right?
Who is Your Audience
As you think about what’s driving you to build a website, defining your target audience is an intrinsic component of your analysis. You need to brainstorm who it is that you want to attract with your content. This is a vital step because an effective online presence is all about answering the questions that people are asking.
Examining online trends and stats is an eye-opening experience for anyone interested in making money online. Something like 3.9 billion people jump online every day. People reflexively turn to the Internet to:
- learn new things
- discover new products
- research product reviews
- watch informative videos
- buy stuff from online retailers
Billions of daily queries create a massive opportunity for webmasters who accept the challenge of providing comprehensive and helpful answers. Obviously, you can’t respond to all questions, nor should you try. But, you can identify a targeted group of prospective readers (called a niche) who share unique characteristics, needs, and preferences.
The better your understanding is of targeted users, the easier it is to establish authority, connect with prospective customers, and create deeper engagement. For this reason, it’s best to choose a topic that you are genuinely passionate about yourself such that it’s easy to identify with readers.
Step-by-Step: How to Build a Website From Scratch
Now that you have a clear picture of why you want to build a site and who your targeted audience is let’s move on and look at all the underlying details.
Step 1 – Your Website Needs a Unique Name
The unique name you choose is how people will find you. It’s the address of your site on the Internet and functions much like a postal address in guiding people to your location. If your purpose is to generate revenue through this online journey, my first strong recommendation is that you purchase your own domain name.
I want to emphasize this because there are many places where you can build a free website. We all recognize exactly how enticing free can sound, right? And, if your purpose does not involve making money, go for it! But, if your goal is to earn an income, free is not going to cut it!
Free websites have a significant problem right out of the shoot. Rather than having your own piece of Internet real estate, you’ll be located on a sub-domain.
For those of us who want an online business, our domain name should be brandable, memorable, and easy to remember, The addition of the subdomain to your address means it’s long complicated, and there’s nothing brandable about it.
Purchasing a domain name is not a big expenditure. My domain costs me $13.99/year and is well worth this minimal cost. Oh, and opt for a dot com extension. It’s what the majority of people expect with a commercial website and just makes it that much easier for them to remember your address.
Dot org and dot net can also be acceptable alternatives if dot com is not available. But some bizarre extensions are being offered today like dot pizza. I would avoid these and select something with a more professional image.
Step 2 – Your Website Needs a Place to Live
Obtaining a web hosting service is essential because your website will need a home. Hosting providers have large servers that can store all of your content files electronically and display them for readers.
Be aware that hosting is another area of concern if the free offers tempt you. There are two key things you want to be mindful of with the free options. One is that your web host will use your site as a branding opportunity for their service, which dramatically inhibits the promotion of your own brand.
Another huge consideration is site speed. With a free service provider, your website will load very slowly, which pretty much guarantees that prospective visitors will bail on you. All studies indicate that folks browsing the Internet want instantaneous results, and their demands for rapid load times are increasing.
There are numerous alternative web hosting providers to choose from. Here is a related article that will explain the various hosting factors you will want to compare. I use SiteRubix, and I’m thoroughly satisfied with the stellar service and support that I receive.
One convenience factor to note is that most web hosts also offer domain names. In fact, if you subscribe to a hosting service, your domain name may be free for the first year.
Step 3 – WordPress or a Website Builder?
There are lots of website builders around that promote ease of use, drag and drop features, and a quick route to establishing your online presence. PC Magazine recently published a review of 10 such website builders and identified Wix as their number one choice.
All website builder platforms have paid solutions, which can help you limit the negative aspects of the free sites they also offer. But if becoming an online entrepreneur is your goal, I would argue that WordPress is an infinitely better choice.
According to W3Techs, WordPress currently powers 34.6% of the Web, and there are compelling reasons for that dominance. WordPress is a free, open-source blogging platform that is unrivaled for design flexibility and customization features.
Even if you upgrade your Wix or other website builder platform to a premium account, your site will never be portable. With WordPress portability is not a problem because many hosting platforms support it. If there’s ever an issue with your web hosting, you can readily move your site elsewhere and not be faced with starting over.
Don’t Ignore SEO Capabilities
I think the biggest factor that we have to discuss is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To make money with your website, you need traffic. And, the best way to draw traffic is by optimizing your site such that Google and the other search engines send free organic traffic your way.
Website builders are improving in the SEO department in recent years, but they still can’t compete with WordPress. If you create your website with WordPress, there are excellent SEO plugins available that will help you be found in search. I use the most popular SEO plugin, which is Yoast SEO.
WordPress is powerful enough to handle the largest and busiest websites on the planet. But yet, I find it intuitive enough to be newbie-friendly. Many hosting providers, including my own, offer one-click WordPress installation. With the SiteRubix express builder, my blog was live in minutes.
Step 4 – Design the Look & Feel of Your Site
First and foremost, you want your new website to be your own. User experience is a huge component of online success. So, in my opinion, the more flexibility you have in choosing layouts, picking a color scheme, and designing menus, the better.
This is another area where WordPress excels. Website builders indeed have some beautiful themes. I think Wis currently offers 58 design templates. But WordPress has over two thousand free themes for you to choose from. There are also hundreds of paid themes that you can explore.
Step 5 – Install Essential Plugins or Add-Ons
Plugins add additional functionality to your core WordPress installation. Just as with themes, there are thousands to choose from depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Honestly, the hardest part about plugins is limiting the number you want to install. Too many plugins will bog your site down and cause slow loading. So, choose cautiously!
Some of the essentials include an SEO plugin, as mentioned above, and one for image optimization. We want our content to be visually appealing to readers. But images are the number one cause of slow site speed. Hence, optimization strategies are critical.
Do you want to include an online store? In that instance, you can install WooCommerce.
Step 6 – Add Unique Content to Your Site
The foundation for your online existence is now created. You have a vehicle for communicating with global Internet users on a 24/7 basis. As we all know, the Internet never shuts down, which is why it’s so ideal for generating income. Well, that and the fact that PJ’s are now acceptable shopping attire 🙂
Now is where the real work begins. You need to start adding pages, blog posts, graphic images, videos, and other forms of useful and informative content that will address the burning issues faced by your niche audience. Adding individual pages or posts and even embedding videos is very straightforward and not at all challenging.
But here’s where the challenge lies…
You should clearly understand that achieving financial success with your blog requires both massive creative commitment and tremendous patience. It can easily take a year and upwards of 50 blog posts before you start to see regular income. This is where passion for your area of expertise really pays off,
I would never paint a bleak picture because there are so many intrinsic, non-monetary rewards like learning a ton of fascinating new things, testing your mettle, and engaging with lots of new people. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
There is a myriad of ways to monetize a site that sees a regular influx of visitors. Various strategies such as affiliate marketing, Google Ads, or an online store can take you from ground zero to significant profitability over time.
Get Risk-Free Practical Experience Today
I don’t know about you, but I’m a tactile learner. Reading about a process is helpful. But I like to get my hands dirty, so to speak and try things out for myself. That’s when clarity hits, and new concepts start to sink in for me. Based on my years as an instructor, I’m not alone.
For that reason, I want to introduce a little known secret. There’s a world-class training platform where you can create a WordPress website yourself (2 actually) at no cost or obligation whatsoever. There’s nothing like this anywhere. You can see exactly what it’s like to build and launch a website from scratch.
Yes, you’ll be asked to consider a premium membership, but there’s no pressure. If it’s not for you, just walk away! But consider the unparalleled experience you’ll have.
I hope this post was enormously helpful for all my readers who were wondering, how do I build a website from scratch? The six-step process laid out for you today is not a difficult one. Persistence is required to make money, but absolutely no tech-wizardry is needed.
If an income-generating website is your dream, please consider my secret tip. You’ll find a vibrant community that’s ready and willing to do lots of hand-holding to help you on your way.
Over to You
Have you ever built a website from scratch? Did you use WordPress or another website builder? Please share your experiences or ask any questions in the comment section below. I respond to all comments!
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