You have decided to build your own website so you can start earning money online and you are looking for the best tools and resources to do this. Forget the online website builders and cookie cutter website building programs; you are wasting your time and money. Buy yourself a domain name and get your own hosting.
Let’s look at the basic things you will need in order to design and develop your website.
You will first of all need hosting and a domain name. You can purchase a domain name for around $10 from several different companies like GoDaddy, it’s pretty easy and they even have hosting. There are also many hosting companies out there where you can find really low cost hosting but you want to make sure you have service and support. Most of the time hosting companies will not help you when you run into problems with your website unless it’s an issue with your hosting account. Remember if you get your domain name one place and your web hosting with a different company you will have to set up your domain to point to your server (hosting).
Now let’s move on to the website type and platform.
First of all what type of website will fit your needs? Will it be a blog or a business website or will it be e-Commerce so you can sell your products online? Okay, let’s break each of these down and go over the tools you will need for them.
Blog- I would recommend going with WordPress. Some hosting companies will have a “one click install” in the hosting control panel and you can have WordPress set up in just a few minutes. If you get a hosting provider that does not offer this then you can install it yourself. You download the software from the WordPress website then you upload it to your server (host) using an FTP program such as Cute FTP or WS-FTP. Once you do that you will need to go into your hosting control panel and set up a database then just follow the directions included with the WordPress download.
Business- You will probably want to use a CMS (content management system) so you can update your website and add pages so you may choose to go with something like Joomla or Drupal. Both Joomla and Drupal are set up pretty much the same way as a blog would be and come with directions on how to install them.
Ecommerce- You have the choice of going with several free shopping carts and several carts you must purchase a license to use. Again, these shopping carts install pretty much like the blogs and the CMS programs do, you will need to FTP them to your server, you will need to set up a database. My one warning about the free shopping cart programs is that unless you really enjoy having to upgrade a lot then don’t go that route. It seems hackers love these programs so the developers have to release updates often to patch security holes. You don’t want to wake up one morning to see your website has been hacked and is now owned by someone that has made a fool of you and is advertising porn on your website. Now that you have your website set up it looks very plain and vanilla, right out of the box! Most any program will come with a “default” design that most likely will do nothing for you so let’s get into the design aspect of your website.
Most programs are using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to control design elements in the website. You will need to know how to use CSS in order to work with it. There are books on CSS that you can purchase at your local book store or online. You can also search the internet for tutorials on CSS.
Once you feel comfy with CSS you will need to think about your graphics, your logo and the over all appearance of your website. Remember it only takes a split second for someone so say “YUCK”, laugh and click off your website. You have to get this part right! For your graphics I would recommend using Adobe Photoshop, you can buy this program online for a few hundred dollars. You will need to learn how to use it next. There are Books, online tutorials and even college classes that can teach you how to use Photoshop and how to get your graphics optimized for the internet (yes you need to do this so your pages won’t take 3 days to load).
Wow, are you tired yet? We’re not finished yet so let’s move on.
Your website is installed, you have learned CSS and some XHTML and you have designed your logo and created all of your graphics using Photoshop so all you have left to do is write your content (text).
Just like a bad design using the wrong colors or poorly created graphics the wrong words can turn people off just as fast. Microsoft Word has spell check so you will be OK there and if you search the web you can find some articles on how to write good website content to sell your product or promote your business. If you are setting up a blog sometimes you can just write what you feel depending on what kind of blog you have.
Remember to write your content for humans first and search engines second.
If this seems like a lot to do it is, yes you can take short cuts but they will do more harm than good so look at it this way…If your new car tears up are you going to learn to be a mechanic? If you find yourself in a lawsuit are you going to study law and defend yourself in court? If you…well you get my point by now. Did you figure the hours it will take you to not only learn how to develop and design your website but to take that knowledge and put it to work? To have something professional it will take a lot of hours.
What’s your time worth? Your website is not going to make any money until it’s online and don’t forget we didn’t even touch on the marketing you will need to do so people can find you.