Starting and growing a website or blog is so complicated these days.
There’s so much information online, it’s easy to become confused and overwhelmed.
In a complicated world, sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. Especially when you’re just starting out. Take baby steps. Learn one thing at a time and focus on that until it’s working, then move on.
If it’s your first time doing anything online, here’s a quick overview of how things work.
- You’ll need a website (you might prefer to call it a blog). More than 30% of all websites run on software called WordPress. You can find out more about it here. It’s our go-to website building software, which we’ve used since 2006.
- When you use WordPress to set up a website or blog, you have two choices – using the free version at WordPress.com or setting up your site on its own server. Read about the differences between the two here, and if you decide to set up a website on its own server, follow this guide. This is a big decision so take your time.
- Before you set up your site, you’ll need to decide what your website’s going to be about. Knowing this will help you choose a domain name.
- Here’s our beginner’s guide to domain names.
- Next comes hosting. This is a minefield for most people. At the start of your journey, you don’t need an expensive host, and you don’t need to commit to a long-term contract. Bluehost is a popular choice for beginners.
- Once you’ve bought your hosting and installed WordPress (your hosting company makes it easy to install WordPress), you’ll need to learn how to use it. Follow our guide for setting up a WordPress website and check out our WordPress tutorials to see what’s involved.
- The next part of the process is making your site look good. Most people use a premium theme to create the design of their site. We use the Genesis framework on all of our sites. You can read our review here, but if you decide it isn’t for you, have a look at some of the other premium WordPress theme shops. You’ll definitely find one you like.
- Now that you’ve set up your online base, you need to start creating content. Most people write their own content but you might prefer to hire people to do that for you. You might even prefer to create videos or podcasts. At the time of creating this ‘start page’, we don’t have any content to link to, apart from our article on how to format a blog post.
- After you’ve created some content, you need to start thinking about how people interact with your site. This is something you’ll work on over time. Testing and tweaking to see what works. Don’t sweat too much about it at the start of your journey, just focus on creating content and getting it online.
- Once you have some good content on your site, you’ll want people to read, watch or listen to it, so it’s time to start generating traffic. More on this topic soon.
- Next comes monetisation. If your website is the vehicle for making money you’ll need to use an ad network like AdSense to display adverts or get into affiliate marketing. Check out our beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing and how people make money from blogging. On the other hand, if you’re creating a website to promote your services, you’ll need to work on converting visitors to paying customers.
- Start collecting visitors email addresses so you can add them to a mailing list
- Fine-tuning, reporting and creating systems. As you gain more experience and gather data from programs like Google Analytics, you’ll be able to work on fine-tuning your website to make it perform better.