Starting a website isn’t difficult, but starting a successful website certainly is.
Some of the steps below won’t apply in all cases, but I think that this is an excellent primer for anyone who has never created a website.
Starting a Website
Your Website Concept
Your website concept may come from an entirely different source than mine did. Maybe you met someone who inspired you, or you’ve always had this overwhelming need to help people, or maybe you have this amazing idea that you know would do well if you could just get it out there.
Regardless of your inspirational source, your website starts with an idea. That idea then takes shape, and that shape will depend on many of the following different steps. I didn’t necessarily lay these steps out in chronological order, this is just how they are arranged in my head when I go through them.
If you want to start a website, but you don’t know what to start it on, then I would advise against starting a website. The horse must be in front of the carriage. An uninspired website will eventually die off. This often happens because immediately expected results weren’t met.
The first thing I do is research. I look for competition and determine who the best is. I then figure out:
- Is there are a market?
- Is the market big enough to serve multiple entities, or will only one entity dominate?
- Can I do better?
- Why would someone choose me over them?
- Am I inspired enough to word hard enough to beat the competition?
- Am I talented enough to beat the competition?
- Do I have the financial resources to beat the competition?
There are so many more questions you can, and possibly should ask yourself, but if you can get through that list with confidence, then you just might have something!
If you are serious about your website, then you should consider doing some amount of business planning. Yes, it is tedious, but it will give you a great grasp on:
- Your ideas
- Your motivation
- Your market
- Your competition
- Your goals
- Your growth potential
- Your financial liability
- and your businesses viability
Website Technology & Implementation
I can’t get into the detailed little nuances of all the technologies involved, but depending on the type of website you are operating, you will need:
- Website domain name (such as a .com, .org, etc.)
- Web hosting
- A platform
- Depending on your platform: anywhere from a rudimentary knowledge of HTML, all the way to an expert knowledge of web development.
Luckily, for most wannabe website owners, many of these technology hurdles are overcome by your web host. Back in the day, web hosting was not a one-stop-shop.
Now, companies like Wix and Shopify have made starting a website extremely intuitive. Of course, the drawback is that you are locked into their proprietary systems. Depending on the tools they provide, migrating away from them might be difficult should you outgrow them, or want to move to a custom, self-hosted solution.
This makes things much more convenient, and user-friendly. Pair that up with free templates online, and you can have a professional looking website in just a few short hours (I would say minutes, but I’m being realistic for the unpracticed). If you don’t like any of the free templates, you can often purchase templates for under $200 that look stunning.
Launching the site will ultimately come down to preference. For me, I always try to build up some content first, before I truly “launch” the website. This also allows time to tweak the website’s appearance, and it gives me time to get into the search engines while I let the site “marinate.”
Other people might prefer posting a “hello world” message and getting to the marketing, but that is entirely up to you. I find it much more rewarding when I can send people to a website that has content that they might find useful.
This can end up being a very broad subject, so I’ll try to be concise. Promotion will depend greatly upon the type of website it is, and who your customers are. If you are selling a product that appeals to octogenarians, then you probably shouldn’t be hitting twitter as your primary method of contact.
My first suggestion to people promoting a new website is to get your family and close friends on board with you. Let them know about the website, how it might fit their needs, and ask them to help you promote it.
Use Facebook, Twitter, and any other social networks your market may be on to get the most out of your free promotion. Be extremely cautious about over saturating though. You don’t want to be that annoying tweeter that people are rushing to unfollow.
Tap your network of people, and you should experience a lot more success in your promotions. Another point of caution: be very careful with emailing. The laws around spam are extremely strict, and very easy to violate. If you want to get into marketing, I would suggest starting out with the free option from MailChimp. They are fantastic, and they will keep you legal!