Once you have your domain name and web host, the next step is to actually build your website.
To build a website yourself you need some type of web building software. There are two ways you can get this software:
1. Free from your web host. Some web hosts provide a web site builder that includes free hosting and email. This is the best choice for beginners. All you need to do is click on the design you want and then add your text. It's really easy. As I mentioned earlier, I recommend the web site builders at Act Now Domains and iPower. They each are easy to use, make good looking sites and best of all are really cheap.
I got a bunch of questions on the actual building process so I created a step by step build a website tutorial for people to use. Just click here to get it. It makes the process really easy so it's worth getting.
If you want to sell products on your site and accept credit cards, you will need to sign up with an outside credit card processor for this. Make sure to check out my make money page for more info about the credit card processors so you don't end up buying a lot of stuff you don't need or going with a bad one.
2. From an outside vendor. There are a couple of different stand alone build a website software programs that you can buy and use to build your website yourself. I DO NOT recommend stand alone website building programs for beginners.
The pros are you aren't tied to your web host and they provide more flexibility than a web host's builder. The cons with stand alone site builders are they are really hard for most beginners to use, they cost a couple of hundred dollars and most sites built by beginners with them look really bad.
IF YOU ARE BUILDING YOUR FIRST WEBSITE, I suggest you just go with the build a website software that comes with your web hosting account. It is a LOT easier, doesn't cost very much and once you get the hang of how to build a website then you can branch out to your own software program later.
Regardless of what software you use to build a website, there are some basic doís and doníts you need to keep in mind. It's very easy to get carried away on your first site and do things that send visitors away which is most definitely not what you want to do.
When you build a website:
Do keep your web site simple. Don't cram it full of clutter. Unless it's a how-to site like this one, the less text, the better.
Do make it eye pleasing. No crazy fonts or colors. The standard fonts for web sites are Arial, Verdana and Times New Roman. Whatever font you decide on, use it throughout your site. This site is in Arial. Don't alternate fonts.
Donít use a Flash introduction. Web designers love this and if you use a website builder they can be really fun to create, but most people click off as soon as they see it loading. The object is to get people to see your web site, not drive them away.
Donít put music or sound files on your site. It startles people when they are surfing and suddenly hear music blaring out. Their immediate reaction is to back track immediately.
Donít put a lot of slow-loading graphics on your page. No matter how pretty the graphics are, people arenít going to stick around and wait for them to load. You can optimize your images for free at NetMechanic.com. What this means is that you load the image onto Net Mechanic's web page and they will condense the size of the image for you, then let you pick the image you like from the results. Usually you can reduce the size by 50% or more without there being a noticeable change in quality.
Do make sure visitors to your site can tell at a glance what your site is about. For example, if you sell widgets, make sure thatís evident right up front. Most people will leave in the first two seconds if they donít think your site offers them what they are looking for. They arenít going to take the time to scroll around to see if you have what they need. Make it immediately clear to them what your site is about.
Donít use pop-ups on your web site. Visitors find these really annoying. The less you annoy a visitor, the more likely he or she is to stay.
Once you build your website, you will need to get it to your web host's server. This process is called "uploading" your files. Some places call it "publishing your website." Either way it's the same process.
If you are using the build a website software from your web host, all of your website files will already be on your web host's servers so all you will need to do is click a button. The button is usually Publish or Submit.
If you are using Microsoft's Expressions Web or another stand alone website builder, you will usually just need to log in to your web hosting account and click the upload files button. Some web hosts call this FTP, others just say Upload Files. It all depends on your web host what it's called but they both are the same thing.
Once you build a website you may want to add a little pizazz to your site by adding some special content such as a newsletter sign up and/or a hit counter. If you are using a web host's build a website software to build your website some web hosts will have some of these options for you:
If you are using Expressions Web or another build a website program then you will need to add these yourself. The best places I've found are:
Newsletters: Constant Contact this is a super place that has everything you need to collect email addresses and send out your newsletters. You can create newsletters here which look fantastic. I used to use them and they are really good and easy.
How it works is that after you sign up they give you code for a Sign Up for our Newsletter box, you just copy that code and paste it into your html and you are all set. If you have less than 50 people on your newsletter list it's free and from 51-250 it's only $10/month. The more people you get the price goes up a bit, but it's still a good deal. They also give you a 60 day free trial.
Warning: Newsletters are really tough to keep up and can be a real pain. They are good to do but it can be really hard to think of new things to write about. That's why a lot of people have moved from newsletters to auto-responders.
Auto Responders - I use AWeber for this site. If you sign up for my free newsletter you will get one week's worth of auto-responder emails which walk you through how to build your own website. It breaks down the process into little steps so it's not so scary or overwhelming. It's like I'm walking you through it step by step with a new step each day. After the week is up I don't send anything else out.
The advantage of using auto responders versus doing a newsletter is that it's hard thinking of new things to put each week or month for a newsletter. With an auto responder you just write what you want to say one time and then the users get the information when they need it automatically (hence the name 'auto' responder.) As a website owner, auto-responders are a lot easier to set up and maintain than newsletters. You can do both of course but, as someone who has done both, if you start out with just one I would make it an auto-responder.
Hit Counters: Luckily, most website builders have this option already built in these days. If they don't there are also some places you can get these for free.
I DO NOT recommend the freebie hit counters for two reasons: 1) they almost always require that you promote their website which if you are doing a business site looks unprofessional and 2) a lot of times they slow the load time of your page way down. You know what a pain it is to wait for a slow loading page to load and you know that sometimes you don't wait, you just leave. So will your visitors.
If you put up a hit counter and your website builder gives you the option of choosing the number you start out at, start out at least at 20,000 or so. That way people won't know your website is brand new or think they are one of the first visitors. Being first makes people uncomfortable. It's a personal choice on whether to use a hit counter or not. I don't use them, but there is no right or wrong answer.
Okay, now that you know how to build a website, let's discuss the ways you can make money from it. If you already know how to make money from your website, click here to continue to How to Get Visitors.
Creating a Website
Build a Website