just the way you like it, for very little money, all by yourself
Surrounded with pillows, tissues and a mug of chicken broth, I’m propped up in bed with a case of Covid. It feels like the perfect time to write this oft-requested post. Covid isn’t all bad– just mention the C word and you’ll be excused from any meeting, any task. We’ve been dropping like chess pieces at our house: first Erik, me, Madi, Hans, and Xander claims he’s invincible, but his throat is sore… Since I’ve been triple vaccinated, it’s a fairly mild case. My heart goes out to those who are truly suffering.
Let’s push those cough drops aside and talk websites. You may want a website for a online resume, a small business, a portfolio, a home for your podcast, a blog… Sure, you can use those website builders like Wix or Square, but they cost more and don’t have the flexibility of building your own site on WordPress. Tools change in the tech world every day and I’m certainly not claiming to know everything, but if you were at my house, sitting next to me, and asked my how to build a versatile, beautiful, powerful website at very little cost, here’s what I’d advise:
First, Believe in Yourself
You can do this. Building a website is a simple task in 2022 and YOU are an intelligent human. Honestly, it’s no more complicated than acquiring a driver’s license. Don’t be fooled by anyone who tries to overcomplicate the process. A lot of people tell me, “Technology hates me.” or “I just don’t understand computers.” That’s just an attitude my friend. Yes, you’re going to run into problems and make mistakes, but you can figure it out.
Once you start to understand web building you’ll be able to fix or change your site any time you like. Look, you can pay someone to drive you everywhere or you can learn to do it yourself. Trust me, there will be traffic and red lights and bad weather either way. You can do this.
Step one: Hosting
NOTE: If you are only building one site, you want a lot of options and a seamless process, skip down to Step Five and check out the Elementor Hosted Site. It’s a new option and it includes domain, hosting and Elementor Pro for $89 per year ($112 per year if purchased separately). Also, you’ll only need to make one account so it’s easier. My process outlined below costs $60 per year.
Head over to SiteGround.com This is where your website will be housed. You’ll be able to find your backups here and access admin in case of an emergency. Yes, you could use bluehost or godaddy, but they will charge you more and I don’t know anyone else who provides free daily backups. I use the GrowBig and I currently have 12 sites hosted with that plan. If you only need one site, StartUp should be perfect. You can also share a plan with friends and family members. Here are their current pricing plans:
Step Two: Domain Name
Once you’ve purchased a hosting plan, click on the WEBSITES tab. Next, click on NEW WEBSITE in the upper right hand corner.
You’ll have the options to choose a NEW DOMAIN, EXISTING DOMAIN, or TEMPORARY DOMAIN.
If you want to keep things simple and seamless, purchase your domain name at Siteground. Their prices are competitive and you’ll save a few steps.
If you already have a domain name, you can easily transfer it over. I buy all my domains from Google Domains because they charge about $6 less per site and Google provides free privacy protection ($12 per year). Siteground provides easy tutorials for transferring your name from any provider.
If you purchase your domain name from Google you simply need to change the name servers. Select your domain, choose DNS from the left hand menu, choose Custom Name Servers from the top and simply cut and paste the Name Server given to you by Siteground. That’s it. You’re all set.
Step Three: Install WordPress
OK, you’re now up to $67 a year. You don’t need to spend any more unless you want to. You’re still on SiteGround. Select Start New Website, then WordPress. I do NOT recommend Woo Commerce. They have too many added costs.
Next, go to Site Tools. Click on WordPress on the left hand menu. Click Install & Manage. You should see a Manage Installation bar at the bottom of the page:
See that little box at the bottom? The one with the little arrow? That will take you directly to your WordPress dashboard. If you can’t immediately log in, try clearing your browsing data.
Step Four: WordPress Dashboard
OK, this dashboard is where you will manage your site from now on. You won’t need to visit SiteGround much– this is your homebase. The easiest way to login is to simply use the name of your website ie. catsarecool.com and add /admin to the end. So, catsarecool.com/admin would take you directly to the dashboard of that site.
Step Five: Add Elementor
Elementor is a free website builder– it uses templates to build powerful websites. Once you are familiar with it, you’ll start seeing it everywhere. I’ve seen 60K websites built with Elementor. Go to Plugins in the left-hand menu, select Add New, and search for Elementor. You’ll need to select Install and then Activate.
You can upgrade to Elementor Pro for $49 a year (3 sites for $99). Alternatively– and this is a really interesting option- you can do a hosted plan with Elementor Pro for $89 a year. That means you skip everything up to this point and start right here: elementor.com. If you are only building one site and want all the whistles and bells, this is a great deal.
Step Six: Choose a Template
Now it’s getting fun. Choose Templates from the menu and Kit Library from the drop down. You’ll now visit this magical world of possibilities. You can filter by category and even by Pro or Free. You can find additional FREE themes here. These are really good templates. If you choose one from an outside page, be sure to press DOWNLOAD.
OK, don’t agonize over this decision. You can easily change templates. Just look for features you like. Install the theme of your choice by following the prompts
Step Seven: Site Identity
Last boring step, I promise. Go to Appearance, choose Customize in the drop down menu. Suddenly your site will look sad and weird. Ignore that and go to site identity. You’ll want to choose your own name and tagline. This is also where you will add your logo and site icon (canva.com is a great place to to create these). You can revisit this section later, but for now, just hit publish.
Step Eight: Create!
Here’s the fun part: go to Pages and you’ll find a a whole stack of beautiful pages. Start with your Home page (put the rest of the pages in Draft mode using Quick Edit). Use Edit with Elementor and start playing. Change the headings, the photos, write your own text, change the colors and the fonts. Make it your own. Feel proud of yourself. I can’t walk you through every step of this, but you are clever, you’re a problem solver, you can create your own website.
If you want to add scheduling options to your site, I suggest Calendly.
For payment options, I think Stripe is the best credit card processor. If you have several items to sell, Ecwid has a great little free shopping cart.
Email. Personally, I don’t think you need paid gmail account. If you were creating a new business you might want to pick up email@example.com, but you don’t need to buy firstname.lastname@example.org until your business really takes off (or maybe never). That said, I would get a gmail account and use Google apps to organize yourself. Also, search Google for answers– you’ll find them. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments, but Google is your smartest friend.
OK, good luck. You’ve got this Send me links! I want to see what you create. xoxo