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How to Start a Website
A,B,C steps for beginners plus tips on how to increase web traffic
This is quick, concise look at how to start a website for those of you taking your first steps in the online world.
I found it really tricky researching information when I built my first website. I did not have an I.T background, found jargon very confusing and just wanted to get something up and running as soon as possible!
Nobody seems to explain things from the beginning - too much is always assumed. But all sorts of people want websites for all sorts of purposes these days, and most of us come at it with zero knowledge!
So here I want to lay out the basic steps and practices involved in creating your own website. It's become so simple thankfully - you'll wonder what you were worried about!
I'll explain how to start a website and (for those of you reading this guide as photographers) recommend the best photography website templates. I will also point you towards information on how to increase web traffic and how to market a website.
Cool and lively, but not so great for e-commerce.
Funky designs, plus wonderful business features.
Untouchable! Unrivalled success rates for business sites.
1. How to Start a Website: Choose Your Domain Name
Your 'domain name' is the address of your site, e.g. www.my-photography-website.com. It is the URL that will take people to your site when it is online. A domain name does not have to end with .com. It could be .net, .info, .us, .uk, .org and so on.
So where and how to you 'get' this domain name? Domain names can be chosen, registered and paid for at either a domain name registrar like WebsitePalace.com or through the webhost that you use to 'put' your website online (more on that below).
You will be able to search the availability of domain names at these websites. If you are starting a business website it is not a bad idea to register several domain names with different endings so you can protect your 'brand'; e.g. www.my-photography-store.com and www.my-photography-store.net.
Domain names have to be bought and they are usually paid for at a yearly rate. They are not at all expensive.
2. How to Start a Website: Choose a Webhost
When I was researching for my first website, one of the things I found most mysterious was how my site will actually be 'put' online. How will the pages that I build end up 'live' on the web?
The information I found was so littered with jargon that it just raised a million more questions! It's not easy learning how to start a website as a total novice. But I eventually worked out how it all works, and this is a simple, functional explanation of the process:
To start a website you need to use something called a 'webhost'. A webhost is a company who provide the resources for you to either upload or create pages for your site and then put them online for all to see.
Why the name 'webhost'? Because they 'host' the files that comprise your website and store them on their servers, in addition to providing the connection that is needed for those files to be viewed live online. It's straight forward really!
No-one needs to be fluent in html (the language/code that website pages are made up of) in order to build website pages. Many webhosts provide fantastic tools for creating content for your website that involve nothing more complicated than typing and 'dragging and dropping' with the mouse!
This has made knowing how to start a website a whole lot easier. Customizable templates for your pages provided by certain webhosts have also made it a lot easier to create stunning looking websites.
Here are my reviews:
Webhosts do, of course, also enable you to build your own pages using software like Dreamweaver, and then upload them. I used Dreamweaver to build Photography Art Cafe, and even that has now become something that is more or less entirely 'intuitive' to use. I rarely do any manual coding!
Typically, webhosting is paid for in small monthly doses, but you can choose to lump it together in an annual payment if that is easier. If you have not chosen a domain name from an independent registrar, you can easily choose one through your webhost (which may be preferable so that all payments are made to the same place).
3. How to Start a Website: Understanding Traffic and Income
I hope you are beginning to see that knowing how to start a website is not too complex. After a bit of familiarizing, it'll all seem simple!
Getting eyes on your site (essential if you hope to gain any income from it) is a separate matter altogether! Sadly, the subject of how to increase web traffic is afflicted by even more jargon, red herrings and unhelpful information than that of creating a website in the first place.
The overwhelming experience of webmasters (a slightly nerdy term for website owners!) is of choosing the cheapest available options for buying a domain name and webhosting service, before seeing negligible levels of traffic over the next 9 months.
Additional services are then purchased in an effort to help things improve and too much money ends up being spent. In the end, 99% of e-businesses fail (depressing but true) because they are fundamentally not built with the objective of creating traffic in mind.
The sad thing is that knowing how to start a website and build it in a way that will make it busy and successful is hugely simple. Plus, there is a magnificent resource that rolls the whole thing - traditional webhosting plus amazing resources for building traffic - into one powerful bundle.
I've used it to build Phtography Art Cafe and it has over-delivered on every one of its promises. It's called SBI! It is essentially an online course for internet newbies who want to build a website in their own time that will grow to become busy and significantly profitable.
SBI! has been ideal for me because it provides more resources than any other webhost but is simpler to use than any others I have tried.
Feel free to pitch any questions about SBI! to me here.
A few of the things I benefit from by using SBI! are:
- Keyword research tools
The 'Analyze It!' tool for checking how well optimized pages are for the search engines
- A 10 step video Action Guide for building a successful website.
- Electronic-books in PDF format by the Founder of SBI!, Ken Evoy, which are now key texts in e-commerce.
- Accessibly written guides on all areas relating to how to start a website and build it into a successful business.
- A link exchange program.
- Full support, with the option of personal coaching should I struggle with a particular step of the Action Guide.
- Officially the friendliest, most supportive discussion forums on the internet!
I would have spent forever researching how to market a website and how to increase web traffic were it not for the service, aimed at beginners, that SBI! provides. Small business online marketing needn't be a challenge. In fact, SBI! makes it fun!
Free downloadable book, Getting Started With Photoshop, for all subscribers.
I hope this quick guide on how to start a website has helped clear a few things up for you.
It is important to realize that there is a difference between knowing how to start a website and knowing how to increase web traffic. Visitors will not appear out of thin air! But the services to help you gain traffic are out there, SBI! being the one that I have used.
Have Your Say and Share Your Photos
Let's hear your own experiences and stories on how to start a website. Who's services have you used? Why not review them!?