GETTING A WEBSITE UP AND RUNNING CHEAPLY – One of the easiest, fastest and cheapest routes to starting a business is to opt from an ‘online business’; that is create a website and either provide information, sell goods or sell services.
No doubt you’re eager to find out how easy, how fast and how cheaply you can achieve your goal of having your very own web business.
Let me start off by saying that you can have an online business operational within just a couple of days and for less than $200 if you take the right approach.
One of the easiest ways is to use WordPress but before you get going there are a number of things you must think through carefully for the key to success is to understand how the web works and what it takes to operate a successful website.
Without Passion You Have Nothing
You need to find a topic that you love and are extremely passionate about. Many websites fail due to people tiring of what they are doing after a few months without any results; these being generating sufficient visitors or making money.
The truth is that millions of people are unlikely to flock to your website; unless of course you have something so unique that what you produce gets shared via the social networks like a wildfire.
Most websites take years to develop a steady stream of visitors; you need to be thinking 3 to 5 years of slugging it out and keeping the content on your website fresh and relevant.
Without passion for what you do you will quickly give up and end up abandoning your creation. Yes it’s tough out there and unless you have a vast marketing budget then it will take time to establish.
The Idea is Critical
Obviously you have an idea of what you want to do with your website but you need to grab a pen and paper and sit down and write out the pros and cons of what you want to do.
Do a lot of online research to determine what type of competition you are facing and the possible marketing size. Are you looking to create an online business with a very niche market or could your idea potentially reach millions of people on the web?
Without a good plan and a firm direction then it’s likely you will be spitting in the wind which will only cause you to become despondent and eventually give up.
Getting Things Started
So you have a great idea, you’ve planned well and now it’s time to get up and running. There are three elements to creating a website:
Domain Name – You’ll need a domain name that reflects the type of business you’re engaging in; this often provides users with a clue as to what to expect when visiting your website.
This is not easy task for short or very descriptive domain names are in short supply. You will have to be patient and keep searching domain name websites; try a searching for domain names on the search engines or try services such as 123reg.co.uk or GoDaddy.com.
The key here is to make your domain name descriptive and short; but if all else fails you could try a domain name that is short but doesn’t mean much of anything; think about the likes of meebal.com, tumblr.com, flickr.com, joomla.com and many other made up names.
When you purchase a domain name try to purchase a registration of at least 2 years; the longer the better as this can help with your search engine rankings in part.
Hosting – I mentioned earlier about getting a website up and running using WordPress; note that I am not talking about WordPress.com but rather WordPress.org who provides the free Content Management System (CMS) for your website.
You will need to find a hosting service, such as bluehost.com, which specializes in hosting WordPress websites.
Shop around and be careful which hosting service you opt for as services and costs vary depending on your requirements. For instance it’s likely you can start off on a shared server with little storage space. However if you have a lot of content ready to load then look at hosting providers that offer unlimited storage.
Don’t rush into signing up with a hosting service; choose at least a dozen and compare what they have to offer and then look for customer reviews – these will often tell you just how good or bad a particular hosting company is and whether they offer value for money.
WordPress Hosting – When you opt for a hosting service that specializes in hosting WordPress sites you won’t have to worry about downloading or installing WordPress; almost all host companies specializing in this area will do this for you free of charge.
To get you started you can easily find a hosting service for less than $10 per months, so again shop around for the best value that meets your requirements.
WordPress Theme – WordPress itself is just the CMS; that is the system that allows you to create and manage content, including text articles, images and video. What you need for your visitors to see your content is a WordPress Theme.
The Theme is essentially the design and interactive template that your web visitor use. You need to choose a theme that fits within the genre of what you are offering your visitors. There are many different types, some specializing in news/magazine themes, such as the one that meebal.com uses, right up to complex social networks and e-commerce capabilities.
There are lots of companies that offer WordPress themes, such as Woothemes.com or Themeforest.com. The cost of a theme will vary in price depending on what you want them to do but as a rule of thumb they can often be purchased from between $30 to $70.
Getting Your Website Live
You should now have all three critical elements together; that is a Domain Name, Hosting with WordPress CMS installed and your WordPress Theme.
The hosting company will provide you with two sets of Usernames and Passwords, one for your WordPress CMS, so that you can set up your theme and create / manage content and the other that will enable you access to the cPanel – the cPanel is where you can upload additional themes, configure databases and other tasks.
Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the technical aspects as most of what you need to do can be achieved through your WordPress CMS.
Setting up your theme so that it displays information the way you want it is generally very easy. Almost every WordPress theme comes with full setup instructions that are very easy to follow. Also the creators of themes often provide technical support if you get stuck.
How easy? Once you install the WordPress Theme it is possible to have your website up, running and live within just a couple of hours; I’ve actually set up an entire WordPress website from scratch in just a day; that included buying the domain, hosting and theme.
Budget for around $200 and you won’t go far wrong. Remember there will be on-going costs; such as your monthly hosting bill but if you shop around this won’t break the bank.
WordPress is a very good system technically and even better when you consider that it is completely free.
There are some issues such as load speed, which is how long a user will have to wait for your site to load. If you are looking to do well in the search engine rankings then you will need to work on getting your website to load in under 3 seconds; the faster it is the better.
You can add user functionality to your WordPress website and even get it to load faster by using ‘Plugins’. Most plugins are free but you must be carefully to keep the number of plugins to a minimum as these themselves can increase the load time of your website.
If you are not sure about plugins then do a search for WordPress Plugins and you will quickly determine that there are plugins that will help you with Search Engine Optimization for your pages, capturing and managing newsletter subscribers and even plugins that all you to including advertising on your website.
There are lots of technical elements to consider, especially when it comes to making your website load fast for your users. You don’t have to be technically minded to run a website for there are resources online that will help you. Take a look at YouTube for a mass of videos on how to get a WordPress website up and running.
If you do get stuck then consider hiring a freelance WordPress expert. You don’t have to spend mega bucks and in fact if you use a service like peopleperhour.com (PPH) then you can often find a freelance expert very cost-effectively. PPH and a few other such sites act as a go-between you and the freelancer. If you agree to purchase the services of an individual then the fee you pay is held in escrow and is not released until the job is done and you are completely satisfied.
PPH freelancers offer a plethora of services, anything from sorting our HTML5 / CSS issues to SEO and marketing services.
Finally… Good Luck
Luck? Well yes there’s always that element that can make or break a website but on the whole it really is about pure hard work.
I’ve been running meebal.com for 9 months now. I write on average 6 articles a day, I work 7 days a week, 14 hours a day and 365 days a year. For all my efforts I have not yet earned a single penny. In fact meebal.com currently does not have any type of advertising that could generate an income.
Initially I spoken about passion and this is what it comes down to. I have readers who love what I write and equally those who loathe it; but that’s what it’s all about, I simply love the reaction, good or bad, for I feel I have a right to write about what I want in an open and honest way and that my readers have a right to respond in any way they wish.
I’m just 9 months in and yet I know I have a least another 3 or 4 years before I am able to generate sufficient visitors that could generate an income. It is, and this is something you should be fully aware of, a long road ahead without any guarantees.
Forget the ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes for the ones making the money there are the ones selling you their rubbish; really if the product was making that much money do you think they would be selling the information on how it works?
Think 3 to 5 years and think 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year… are you really able to commit the time and effort because if you’re not then you website is going to end up the same way as millions of other websites out there; broke and abandoned.
Can you add any suggestions to help a web start-up? Please leave your suggestions and ideas below.