I was a computer science major and I’ve worked as a software engineer for an IT analyst firm, yet I’ve NEVER had my own website! I’ve also had a problem of wanting to start everything from scratch. I feel like this is a huge trap that small businesses fall into. They know they need an online presence and therefore a website, but they start from scratch. These days, if your website is only content based – meaning you don’t have any special web apps or need to save information online – it’s quite easy to get your own site.
I decided I wanted to have a WordPress website. One, because I wanted to dive a little deeper into WordPress development and two, it’s a fan favorite for quick websites.
WordPress has two options. There’s wordpress.com which is a blog hosted on WordPress’s website. This is great for starting a quick blog. It’s quick, you won’t need any hosting, and you can use the themes they provide and have a decent looking website. These are common for setting up blogs.
But there’s also wordpress.org. This is what I used for the website. For this, you have a lot more flexibility but you will need to provide your own hosting. You can have your own URL and tweak your website to your liking. It’s simple, all you need to do is:
- Purchase your URL
- Find a web host
- Download and install WordPress: a simple 5 minute install
- Find a theme
- Read the documentation, tweak your layout and maybe even become an expert!
For my URL I suggest using Nearly Free Speech. I think I purchased LeeHarper.com through GoDaddy, but between their terrible commercial campaign and their messy website, I try and stay away from them now.
If you’re having troubles figuring out what to name your URL ( I got lucky and snagged LeeHarper.com when it was briefly available), there’s a few resources out there. Domain Typer tells you if the URL you are looking for is available, and if not, has a very helpful domain name generator.
Web hosting stores all your files for your website and makes it appear on the grand World Wide Web. For my web hosting, I’m using DreamHost. I use them because they were the best deal at the time I got them and I haven’t had any troubles and the price is reasonable. It’s kind of like choosing your phone carrier. I did a lot of research in the beginning, found the best deal, got the cheap introductory price and have been hooked in year long contracts since. I’m sure if you shopped around you could find something that fits your needs.
For the layout, I used Theme Forest to find a theme that best suited my needs. This theme is called Identity and cost me $30. You will need to transfer these files from your computer to your web host using FTP. All you do is download it and then ftp transfer it to the themes folder. An easy and free ftp client is FireFTP, this is just an add-on for the web browser Firefox, which you should use instead of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer! FireFTP is a simple way to transfer files from your computer to your web hosting.
Finally, you add your images and content to make our theme yours! At the moment, I still have all my text and several images I need to add to customize mine. This is always the hard part for me – but from what I’ve learned working with clients that this will be the easy part for you!
Bonus: Learn WordPress better and tweak the theme to make it more personal for what you’re looking for in a website. This is what I plan on doing the next few days.
Sit back and watch the money come in. (If only that was always the final step to anything, ha)