Being a successful online teacher and entrepreneur is all about being able to present yourself professionally and get your message across effectively. To do that, a good website is critical. What do I need to make a website? The answer is not much.
When most people think of making a website, the first thing that goes through their mind is “!@#! I am not a programmer.” This is what programmers want you to think – this is why they can charge you an arm and a leg to build the site for you (I’m saying this as a programmer myself). Hiring a programming firm, or even a freelancer from Upwork, to build a site from scratch can cost more than $3000.
The good news is that it is actually much easier – and cheaper – than most people think. To keep things simple, making a website has 2 steps. That is really it. When you break it down like this, the process is much less intimidating. Now, let’s go over how to do it step by step.
What do I need to make a website, part 1: Securing a domain name
The first part – getting a domain and server – is the easiest part. If you are just starting out, and cost is an issue, I recommend using one of these three servers:
A secret – that is not really a secret – is that all 3 are owned by the same company. I recommend checking all three sites to see which are currently offering a promotion or discount, and going with whichever is the best deal. Are these the best servers on the web? No. They are decent, cheap, and are what I use when I am launching an MVP (minimum viable product) of a project. With a discount, you can get shared hosting for under $60.00 USD a year. Once you know if your idea works you can move it to a better server (usually running about $30-70 USD a month).
Signing for the servers is easy. Pick the one you want, click on the sign-up button and follow the steps. You should be all set in under 5 minutes. I recommend putting some thought into what your URL will be. Once you’ve landed on a few potential site addresses, Google them to check availability. The best web addresses end in .com, but if your desired .com address is taken, there are other options like .net or .co. It’s better to have an easy to remember, relevant address at .net than an irrelevant or hard to remember one at a .com address.
What do I need to make a website, part 2: Building code on the server/domain
This is the tricky part, and the cause of much anxiety for those unfamiliar with coding. Relax, take a few deep breaths, and read this next line: you can get a beautiful, professional looking website affordably, even if you’ve never written a line of code in your life.
That’s right. Most of the websites you visit are set up on WordPress, whether or not that’s made apparent on the site. Here are the sub-steps that will make this important step manageable for anyone.
- Through your server (Bluehost, HostMonster, JustHost) find the website section and click on Install WordPress. All three of these servers use an interface called C-Panel, so the process will be the same no matter which one you’re using.
- Install WordPress into your domain name by following the instructions on the server.
- You’ll need to buy a WordPress ‘theme’ for your website. There are thousands to choose from, and they generally cost between $20-50 USD. What I recommend doing is finding a similar website to the one you hope to build, and search for a theme similar to it. Themes are often broken into categories. For example: there are themes designed for authors, musicians, bloggers, etc. For a great collection of themes to choose from, head here.
Creating your WordPress site
So now you’ve got a theme in place and are ready to bring it to life. There are a couple of options here. First, you can fiddle around with it yourself and fill in the theme with your own information. This can take some time to grasp. I suggest doing some research and watching a few videos (such as the one below) that will guide you through the basic process.
The other option is to hire a freelance programmer on Upwork (or a different freelance portal) to do the work for you. This is a much easier route to go, and if you’re a beginner, will likely provide you with a better-looking website. Not to mention, it will save you the time of having to learn how to build your site.
This should run you around $100-200 USD for a simple site containing a few pages. Be sure to have the programmer provide you with a detailed outline of what they did, and how you can go in and make slight edits and updates as time goes on. It is possible to skip buying the theme and have the programmer handle that for you. But spending that extra bit up front will ensure that your website looks exactly how you want it to.
Sure, you’re dropping some cash upfront for a good-looking website. But compared to having the programmer build the site from scratch, you’re saving an immense amount of time and money. Not to mention that making quick updates to your site on WordPress is much easier than just about any other coded theme option out there.
Filling the site with content.
Make your site as useful as possible for visitors. For us teachers, that means having comprehensive information on courses or lessons, pricing, and answers to any other frequently asked questions. Be sure to include contact information – email and phone number at the very least. Give visitors the opportunity to inquire for more information or sign up to take their first lesson.
Design your site content with the goal of hooking people in. Make yourself an expert. Detail your background, accomplishments, and why you are qualified to teach the visitor.
Having an opt-on box or lead magnet to capture email addresses is also a good idea if you are planning to send out periodical newsletters or offers. Your programmer can assist you with this if you wish, but you’ll need to be subscribed to MailChimp or another email marketing platform.
Building a site from scratch.
If you’ve got a few thousand dollars to invest in your website, you can hire a programmer to build it from scratch. The programmer will consult with you on how you want it to look and feel. If you’re going this route, it’s a good idea to send the programmer a few links to sites similar to what you’re aiming for. That way, they have something to work with.
I don’t recommend this option for those without any coding experience. In order to make updates or changes, you’ll need to contact the programmer and have them go in and take care of it. Whereas, with WordPress, even a novice can go in to their site and make slight changes by watching a quick YouTube video.
This isn’t meant to slight all of the talented programmers out there. I’m (at least in my own mind) one myself. But for those just starting out in the online business world, you can get everything you need much cheaper. Over time, you’ll get better at working your site and be able to add flavorful accents to it yourself.