One of the main things we get asked about during coaching calls and in the various groups is “how do I go about setting up my website?” In an effort to try and pull together all of the information you need to get your site up and running as quickly as possible, I’ve put together the guide below with links and recommendations for the various resources you’ll need along the way.
Obviously with something like this, it’s difficult to cover every possible question or eventuality, so if you have a specific question or issue that hasn’t been covered below (or in subsequent funnel and advertising posts) then please do let us know and we’ll try to answer it and update the article with the information so that everyone can benefit fromt eh answer.
 Free or paid?
One of the things you’ll need to consider when you’re getting setup on the interweb is whether you want to pay for your site or not. After all, it is possible to setup a free website using services like Blogger.com and WordPress.com to name just a couple of the more popular services. In fact, these days – you’re spoilt for choice, since you can also publish content on any or all of the sites below:
- LinkedIn [Pulse]
Given all of these free alternatives, why would you pay for your own site?
Well, although FREE is always a major benefit, there are some drawbacks to free that you should consider:
- Free hosting platforms come and go – if you’re going to choose a free solution, make sure it’s one that will stand the test of time.
- If for some reason the platform closed down then you would potentially lose your content, and that’s not even the worst thing
- If a free platform closes down then you will lose whatever domain name you’ve been using with them which means…
- You’ll lose some if not all of your audience because you won’t have a domain to send them to anymore and…
- You’ll also lose all of your search engine rankings based on authority and links to the address you just lost
So in summary – free is good, but for the sake of a few bucks a year – I’d recommend just paying for a domain name and some hosting so that if the worst comes to the worst – you own the domain name and if you need to move it you can still keep hold of both your audience and your search engine ranking and associated benefits.
The rest of the checklist is going to assume that you’re going to or have gone ahead and bought your own domain name.
 Choose your domain name
Of course, before you go ahead and buy a domain name – you need to decide what the domain name should actually be. Most likely you’ll want to choose a domain matching your own or your business name. But in case you want to give the matter some additional thought, bear in mind some of the tips below:
- It should be memorable
- It should be unique
- It should be .com
- It should be easy to type
- It should be short
- It should reflect the content
- It should not contain hyphens or numbers
- It does not need to be fashionable
 Buy domain name
In my experience, there’s not much difference between domain name registrar services. For me, it all comes down to cost and convenience. The convenience factor really just comes down to where you want to host your site, and whether you want to keep life simple by purchasing your hosting from the same organisation you bought the domain from – meaning a little less setup is involved in setting up the hosting when you get to that point.
In any event, I’ll cover hosting int the next step. For this one, you just need to buy choose and buy the domain. The top 5 registrar services are listed below:
- Hover – good customer service and hosting package
- Namecheap – cheapest domain name provider (recommended)
- Gandi – comes with 1 year free SSL (https instead of http)
- Dreamhost – good hosting provider
- Name.com – can help to “Snag” expired domains if you need them to
 Buy hosting
You need somewhere for your site to actually live – i.e. be hosted. Therefore you’ll need to buy some hosting. There are a multitude of hosting providers out there to select from and the choice, frankly, can be overwhelming. So to save you some trouble, here are some considerations I use to help me determine which one to go with:
- How reliable and fast are their servers? You’re looking ideally for 99.5% or above uptime and fast server response times.
- How much bandwidth do they allow? Bandwidth will become increasingly important if your site gets popular. You don’t want to get charged huge amounts of money for exceeding your allowance.
- How much diskspace are you allowed? If you plan on putting a lot of content on your site, pictures and video for example, the amount of diskspace you’re allowed will be a consideration.
- Do they provide technical support? Can you get them on the phone if you need them? Is it 24/7? Think about the worst case scenario here and how annoying it will be to not be able to get hold of someone when you really need them.
- If you plan on selling stuff on the site itself, you’ll need an SSL certificate. If you’re just using PayPal or some other payment gateway then you probabky don’t need to worry about it.
- Your host should be able to provide you with some email facilities. At a minimum you’ll want to be able to use an info@.com type email address.
- The hosting provider should provide you with some sort of Control Panel that allows you to administrate your site quickly and easily.
- You may wish to setup several domains (sites) on one host. Check to see if your preferred hosting provider is able to facilitate this.
- You may have a choice of web server and operating system. Typically it will either be a Windows or a Linux server. Since we mainly focus on WordPress installations, Linux is fine. For most other types of site Linux is fine also. Really, you’ll only need a Windows based server if you’re using Windows specific web architecture – and thankfully for the most part, the web doesn’t run on that.
Of course, none of the criteria above mentions price – which is arguably the most important factor. The thing is though, where hosting is concerned – expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to good and cheap doesn’t mean bad. I tend to have a “bigger is probably better” mentality where hosting is concerned, and will usually opt for a provider that looks as though they’ve been around for a while and provide a range of services, in addition to the criteria mentioned above. On that basis, some of the better hosts are mentioned below:
Where possible, I suggest you also have a look around for recent reviews in respect of the services provided by each of the hosting providers above, to see whether anything has changed since this article was published. You may also want to seek out the recommendation of anyone you know who has good or bad experiences of web hosting providers to share.
 Install WordPress
As I mentioned earlier, we use WordPress for all of our content across all of our various sites. I can recommend WordPress for your website needs on the basis that it’s:
- Easy to install – your hosting provider will most likely be able to take care of any initial technical considerations and from there on in it’s more or less “1-click-install”.
- Easy to setup – once installed you’re good to go and can begin publishing content immediately.
- Easy to maintain – beyond occasional WordPress and plugin updates, there shouldn’t be a whole to more to do.
- Well supported – by theme designers and plugin developers. If you need to customise your site for some specific need or purpose, there’s most likely some themes and plugins that will support your needs.
- Freelancers are cheap and plentiful – if you can’t do it yourself (by way of a theme or plugin) then there’s plenty of folk out there who will be happy to do it for you, for a small fee. Currently we use WPCurve to carry out most of our changes and customisations, though in the past we have used individual freelancers from services like Fiverr. I’d suggest trying both and figuring out what works for you.
For more information and a demonstration of the WordPress 1-click-install, check out the video I put together below:
 Install plugins
Plugins for WordPress are varied and plentiful. For that reason above all, it’s easy to go overboard with them and end up with plugin overkill! Too many plugins will destroy the performance of your WordPress site, so try to restrict yourself to only installing the ones you really need. If, oevr the course of time, you find that plugins are no longer necessary or required, be diligent in uninstalling them.
You need to make sure your plugins are kept up-to-date as well, since out-of-date plugins may contain security flaws that could impact the safety and integrity of your site. Update them as and when they need it. The same goes WordPress itself. Staying up-to-date on your plugins and WordPress versions mean that you will have a secure and better performing site.
I recommend installing the following plugins to cover all of the basics:
- Akismet – prevents spam comments on your site
- Jetpack – provides metrics about sites visits, clicks, referrers and other useful information
- Updraft Plus – backs up your site database to a location of your choosing (e.g. a cloud storage location such as Dropbox)
WP Smush – compresses all the images uploaded to your site so they don’t take as long to download (an important consideration for mobile users)
W3 Total Cache – improves the overall performance of your site by caching regularly viewed pages and posts on your site and serving them from the cache rather then generating them afresh each visit
I go into a bit more detail about them in the videos below:
Once you’ve done all of that, you need to start trying to get some traffic on your site. We have a few strategies to help you with that too, but we’ll cover those in another article.
In the meantime, if you have any problems, concerns, questions etc in respect of the above – please let us know in the comments section or in one of the Facebook groups and we’ll try to help you out.
If you want some more tailored advice, you can register for a free strategy session here.