This article is for anyone considering building their own website in WordPress. You could be self-employed or considering being your own boss, or perhaps you have a small business and you have to do all of your marketing on a tight budget.
If you’re about to go into business for yourself or you’ve already made the leap, one of the items on your to-do list will be ‘get a website’. But money is probably tight, and you may well decide to build your own WordPress website. So let’s explore what you need to know, and how you might achieve that goal with a little help from me.
Ok, so this is a LONG blog post, as I had a lot I wanted to communicate on this topic. If you just want the handy FREE guide to ‘Building your own WordPress Website’, complete the form below. I’ll then email it to you, and I’ll let you know when I get my DIY website builders course online.
DIY WordPress Guide
First up, a Word About Self-Employment!
Going into business for yourself is super exciting and daunting at the same time. It’s an amazing journey, with many ‘boxes to be ticked’. You may not even know what all of those boxes are just yet, but that’s ok, that’s all part and parcel of being your own boss.
The good news is that at the birth of your new business, you have almost limitless levels of drive, energy and enthusiasm. That means you can achieve almost anything you put your mind to (even building your own website!). As a solopreneur, you need to be single-minded, determined, and very hard-nosed about how you spend your time and money. That’s where I come in, as I’m going to help you save a lot of money by short-circuiting your website-building knowledge with a brain dump from mine directly to yours.
Self-Employment is not Easy, but it’s so worth it
I’ve been where you are, and I know it’s possibly ‘make-or-break’ for you right now. This business has to work and you don’t have the luxury to burn through money or waste your precious time with false starts. We’re also living through a period of huge disruption to industries, professions and personal lives. So, if this is your one shot to make this business work – with only a few months of savings as a buffer, I completely understand. I’ve been there (worrying about bills and getting new clients) and I knew that the one thing I needed to focus on immediately was getting a website online.
As a professional website designer, I was able to build my own website, keeping my start-up costs down – I didn’t even bother with a professional logo for the first six months of my business. I also knew the basics of search engine optimization. That meant I was able to reach the top of the search engine rankings quite quickly. A few weeks after launching my website I had my first paying customers who were very keen to work with me. What those first customers told me about my website, was incredibly valuable and a lesson I’ve never forgotten. It turned out, that despite being a brand new business, with no clients and no portfolio and no testimonials, people were still drawn to what I had to offer. One new client said, “your content spoke volumes about what you knew”. All my hard work of writing long-form content was paying off big time, it was really happening, I was in business.
Now, when I started my business (way back in 2006), social media wasn’t really a thing. Today, social media definitely has a really important role to play. However, I don’t think a social media presence will ever fully replace a website. People need to get a ‘high level’ overview of your business, and that’s best done from a website. Social media is just too fragmented a communication medium (it’s very much about the here and now). Social media’s obsession with the ‘present tense’ makes it really difficult to get the big picture of what a business stands for – people have to follow you for a long time to really understand your business. Having a website also makes a business real and credible and will give you a giant kick start to profitability. But I hear you, it’s going to take a lot of time and money to get there…
Paying for website design can be expensive, and with good reason… (here’s why)
Yip, websites can cost a lot of money – there’s the domain name, web hosting, annual software licensing (especially if you are using premium plugins and themes). If you don’t build the website in-house, then most of the cost incurred is from buying someone’s time, skills and expertise to build it for you. Those people (professional web designers like me) need to charge a premium for their time, as we only have so much time in a day. Building a website properly takes a lot of time – as there’s a hundred little things that need to be ticked off a website design list.
Ok, so it’s a ‘no brainer’ that you need a website, and it’s probably going to be expensive. Maybe, you’ve even started a dialogue with a few web design companies. And, perhaps after getting several quotes, you could be having some of the following thoughts:
- It’s difficult and confusing to make a proper comparison between the quotes, as they use different terminology and some have been vague with their website specifications.
- There’s a large variance in the prices quoted, even though they all got the same information.
- Is the more expensive quote better?
- Even the best quote is more than I’m comfortable spending as a new business.
- What if I spend all that money but no one finds me, or people don’t engage with the website?
- All the web design companies seem to be recommending WordPress, but isn’t that free?
- Maybe I’ll just go with my gut, pick a web designer, and hope for the best.
- OR… maybe, just maybe, I can build the website myself?
Yes, you absolutely can build your own WordPress website… and here’s why..
Today, most people have a good understanding of how web technology works – they’ve had to, as pretty much any job requires it. So, most people can send an email with an attachment or post an update to a social media account. If you do those things and read and follow instructions, then you have the digital skills required to build your own WordPress website.
Building your own WordPress website can be fun, easy, and it will definitely save you a lot of money – possibly thousands of dollars. You’ll get a real sense of personal achievement and learn a lot of new and very useful skills along the way. You may even end up building websites for friends, family and perhaps even paying customers if that’s your thing.
If you’d asked me a few years ago if you should build your own WordPress website my reply would have been something like the following.
“Maybe, you can give it a go… if you’re up for a challenge. But it’s not going to be easy and I don’t think it’s the best use of your time.”Advice ‘past me’ would have given the new business owner.
Today, as you can see, my answer is ‘yes you can’ if you are prepared to put in the work and due diligence. WordPress is now much easier to set up, as WordPress and the wider WordPress community have worked hard to make it very usable and intuitive. We’ve also seen the phenomenal uptake of ‘drag and drop’ WordPress page builders that make building your own website a code-free experience. Most web hosts also have a one-click WordPress install option. That makes building your own WordPress website very achievable.
Now, I know WordPress isn’t the only option for a website. There are many hosted website builders you can try out. But, I suspect you keep hearing about WordPress and it seems to be the ‘go-to’ solution for most businesses. It is – WordPress is used by the majority of small and medium-sized businesses (with around 35% of all the websites on the internet using WordPress).
So why is WordPress so popular? For starters, it’s free to install on most web hosts, there’s an incredible number of plugins you can use, and those plugins can deliver a huge array of business functions. You’ll never be ‘locked in’ to one website provider as WordPress is ‘open source’. That means the website is all yours, you can pick it up and take it from web host to web host. You can add any plugins you need, make any changes you want, with very few restrictions. The biggest constraint will be your lack of experience and knowledge (my course and PDF guide will help fill in that blank).
How then, do you learn enough about WordPress and website building to create your own website?
Most people start their learning curve with an online search. They learn from lots of different information sources, getting a small piece of the puzzle from each one. These information sources will contradict each other with vastly different recommendations (hosts, themes, page builders), or they might have an agenda they want to push (use their plugin, click on their affiliate links). You are basically a tiny boat, bobbing about in a sea of mixed-quality information, without a compass or a map to show you the way. There may even be the occasional hungry shark circling the boat.
Ok, so if you are tempted to row your boat into a wild sea of internet information, you could:
- Watch lots of YouTube videos – ending up down a rabbit hole of distraction, and maybe adorable kitten videos
- Read lots of blog posts you find from Google
- Buy a book (trust me, it’s going to date almost overnight)
- Attend a local night course with others (not sure I want to be in a roomful of strangers right now)
- Find a helpful friend to teach you what they know
Or, you could learn from an experienced website design professional (like me) who has worked in the industry for over twenty-five years. Someone who has road-tested the different web hosts, plugins, and has developed their own signature system for building websites for paying clients. Someone who can short circuit your learning curve by giving you a cohesive set of guidelines and instructions to follow.
As a professional website designer, I’ve been working with WordPress since 2007. In that time, I’ve built many websites for small and medium business clients, freelancers and solopreneurs, including writers, artists, coaches, counsellors and many more. I’ve trained many people in how to use WordPress and have provided backup support as they build their DIY their own website.
Why would someone who gets paid to build websites, teach people how to do this themselves?
That’s an excellent question, and my motivation is three fold:
- I will always get business from clients that have tried to build their own website, but who have had poor results or something has gone really wrong. They find me online after they’ve become exhausted by the struggle. They’ve unfortunately incurred some ‘opportunity cost’ of having that false start online, and all of those missed leads. So, I want to help these people realise their goals, especially now that the world is facing so much economic challenge and turmoil.
- E-learning is growing rapidly and it will be an excellent way to further build my own business in a financially rewarding and sustainable way.
- I genuinely enjoy helping people, and really dislike seeing people struggle when they have so much to contribute. And I honestly believe I can make a difference and have a lot to offer. Plus it feels really good to be helpful.
What is my solution, and my course?
Well, the course is currently in very early development, with only a course outline, and a very long tutorial I have written about how to build your own WordPress website. Once it’s developed further, it will be a cohesive set of instructional videos, documents and checklists that you can work your way through.
Once my course is online, you’ll learn:
- How to pick a good domain name
- How to register your domain name, or move it between registrars
- My recommended web hosting
- How to open a web hosting account
- My list of recommended WordPress plugins and themes
- How to assess new plugins and themes
- How to install plugins and themes
- How to customise themes
- Changing the default WordPress settings so they are right for you
- The different page builders that are available
- What happened to the classic editor and what is Gutenberg?
- How to use page layout templates
- How to import entire starter sites
- The pros and cons of buying premium WordPress themes
- How to protect your website from comment and web form spam
- The things you need to know about web security and scanning your website
- How to make your site mobile friendly
- How to check if your website passes the Google mobile-friendly test
- How to check and change how your site looks when shared on Facebook
- How to back up your WordPress site
- How to make your WordPress website search engine friendly
- Basic website design principles (call to actions, the hierarchy of information and the rule of thirds and odds)
- The image types you should use on your website, and how to reduce their file size
- How to make your website load faster
- An introduction to caching and CDNs
- Creating an attractive and SEO friendly coming soon page
And much more. I know, that doesn’t help you right now, when you really need to get online. So, I’m giving away my PDF guide which contains a lot of very valuable information.
Get my free PDF Guide to Building your own WordPress Website
Add your name and email address to the form below and I will send you for free, my PDF guide to creating your own WordPress website the easy way. The guide took me many hours to write, but it’s yours free, just add your details to the list below. I’ll then send you the guide and let you know when my course is online.
Ok, what are you waiting for? Let’s do this!