If you’re under the impression that the easiest way to create a website for your business or personal use requires a bucket load of capital or the ability to speak fluent geek, you’re mistaken!
Times have changed, and now it’s easier than ever to DIY your website without knowing how to write a single line of code. You can create a fully functional, professional, customized website for your business or personal passions in as little as one afternoon. First-timers with limited tech skills will find it not only manageable but dare I say also enjoyable to create their own custom website!
Content management systems such as WordPress or Wix are the most popular DIY platforms on the web today. Today, we’ll look specifically at these two, as well as Bluehost website hosting, which is the preferred hosting provider for WordPress websites.
Both of these solutions are ideal for beginners, and we’ll go over the differences to help you select the best for your needs.
This post contains affiliate links to solutions that we personally use and recommend to our clients. If you sign up through one of the links in this post, we will get a small commission.
1.Choose A Niche & Domain Name
If you already know that your new website will support your existing company or business, this is easy. Ideally, your business model already has a niche built in — your unique selling proposition that sets you apart from competitors. For example, perhaps your handmade skincare line uses local honey from your own backyard beehives!
If you’re building a website to share your passion, expertise, or to help others, there needs to be a market for your niche. Are people looking for the type of information you want to share? A keyword analysis can help you discover search terms and volume (number of monthly searches) around your topics. It can also reveal the competitors in your niche.
In general, your niche:
Should not be too broad: For example, instead of just handmade skincare, your niche could be honey-based handmade skincare.
Should focus on pillar content initially: For example, educate your website visitors and customers about the benefits of honey in skincare and introduce them to beekeeping with long, in-depth articles. This is considered “evergreen” content as it will always remain relevant to your niche and audience.
Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your website’s URL — what people type into the address bar to find your website. It’s part of your website’s branding and how your audience will come to know you, share your website, and remember how to get to it on-the-go.
The best domain names:
- Are short, easy to say out loud, and easy to remember.
- Contain your business name – LongTailPro is our business name and also domain name.
- Are unique and descriptive – If your business name is too cumbersome, consider using a keyword or catchy phrase people will remember.
- Should not be changed frequently, if at all – your domain is a major part of your branding and changing it can cause you to lose visitors.
- Are recognizable – Choose commonly recognized and accepted extensions like .com or .org over less common ones such as .biz or .info. Avoid using international extensions, such as .uk or .au unless you are confident that your audience is from those countries.
Checking Domain Name Availability
You have to pay to own a domain. Once registered under your name, no one else can use that exact domain. But before you rush out and buy a domain, keep in mind that your hosting company may include a domain for free as part of your hosting plan.
As mentioned earlier, for the purpose of this post, we’re talking about two solutions that we recommend using:
Bluehost, which is a web hosting service that WordPress recommends.
Wix, which is a free website builder tool and hosting service.
More on those in the next section, but for now let’s talk about each specifically as it relates to domains.
Bluehost offers a free domain with their monthly paid hosting plans, which start at $2.95 per month. You can use the box below to check and see if your preferred domain is available.
Wix‘s free website builder and hosting service comes with a default domain: username.wixsite.com/sitename. If you want a custom domain, you will need to upgrade to a premium plan and purchase it through Wix. You can also buy a domain name from any other provider, but you will still need to have a paid premium plan on Wix to be able to use it. You can check to see if your domain is available here.
If your domain is not available:
- Try another extension like .org
- Try adding or removing stop words
- Try using synonyms
- Consider one of the auto-generated suggestions
2.Pick A Hosting Plan
A web hosting company or a hosting service provider is the company that stores your website on a server to make it visible on the internet and accessible to visitors. Just think of a server as one of the giant bookshelves in the giant library that is the Internet.
Hosting companies usually have several monthly or annual plans to choose from on shared servers, virtual private servers, or dedicated servers depending on the level of security and support you need. For new websites that do not collect or store personal or financial data, a basic shared plan is usually sufficient and the most affordable.
Make sure to do your research when purchasing your hosting plan. You want a plan that you can trust and grow with, which means powerful servers with the ability to handle your website’s audience now and in the future. Other things to look for are registration and renewal costs, trusted technical support, and an easy-to-use control panel.
Bluehost Vs. Wix
Bluehost is one of the best hosting options and one of the most popular for sites running on WordPress. In fact, WordPress has recommended Bluehost since 2005, and the company offers WordPress specific hosting plans that automate installation and updates, and provide expert WordPress support.
WordPress is recommended as a more robust and editable solution, but there is a slight learning curve so some technical knowledge is a plus. Knowing basic HTML and CSS means you can create a fully-customized WordPress site.
They offer a variety of hosting plans that fit the security needs and budgets of personal sites all the way up to e-commerce and commercial enterprise sites, so that you can be assured your data is secure.
Wix is a free website builder and hosting provider featuring thousands of templates and an intuitive easy-to-use interface. It’s a fantastic solution for beginner-beginners who want to quickly set up an attractive, functional website that delivers their message without a lot of bells and whistles.
Unlike Bluehost, Wix does not offer different hosting plans. All of their free hosted sites run on a worldwide network of secure CDN (content delivery network) servers that ensure fast load time and 99% uptime. If you plan to sell products and collect payment and personal data on your site, you will have to upgrade to one of Wix’s paid premium plans to get e-commerce functions and security.
Our recommendation: We personally use Bluehost and WordPress and recommend the combination for the versatility and features it offers. However, Wix is a great pick if you’re just getting started, have no technical knowledge, and just want to get a website launched quickly and easily. It’s great to have options!
Ready to get started? Here’s how to quickly register and get going.
Setting Up Bluehost
- Go to the Bluehost website by clicking here and click “Get Started”
- Next, you will select your plan. If you are just getting started with a simple website, I recommend the “basic” plan.
- Now you’ll configure your domain name that you looked up earlier. Remember that Bluehost includes a domain for free; this is where you would take advantage of claiming your domain in the “Create a new domain” box. If you already own a domain, use the “Use a domain you own box.”
- I looked up a new domain and Bluehost said it was available and prompted me to create a new account. You can manually enter your information here, or use your Google account to sign up.
- Next, confirm your hosting package and length of the plan: 12, 24, or 36 months. The longer you commit, the bigger the discount. If you’re committed to your new website for the long-term, choose a 36-month plan. If you’re unsure and want to spend the least amount of money possible, choose the 12-month plan.
- Next, select any extras you want. I recommend the “Domain Privacy + Protection” add-on, which hides your personal information from the public whois database.
- Enter your payment information. Pay with a credit card or click “more payment options” to pay with PayPal. Finally, accept the terms and conditions and click “Submit.”
- And that’s it! After the purchase, you will receive an email with the invoice for your purchase. Now click on “Create account.”
- Create a password for the domain you just purchased, click “Create Account” and get started!
- Log in and answer a few questions to set up your website.
- You will now be in the Bluehost control panel. This is where you can choose a theme for your site, but I recommend skipping this step and configuring your site using WordPress. More on this in the next section!
Setting Up Wix
- Visit the Wix website by clicking here. Click “Let’s do it.
- You will be taken to the login page. Click the “Sign up” link to create a new account.
- Enter your email and password or continue with Facebook, Google, or Apple.
- Next, Wix will want to ask you some questions to help guide you to the best plan, features, and templates. You can choose to answer them, or skip this step.
- Now you’ll have the opportunity to choose a template and begin building your website OR use Wix’s ADI (artificial design intelligence) feature to automatically create a website for you. In either case, you can customize and change the site later, so if you’re in a hurry why not give the ADI option a try! For both options, follow the simple prompts to select themes based on your industry, input business information, and voila, your site is almost done.
- You’re now in the Wix Editor. This is where you will edit and publish your site.
#1 – Connect your domain. If you’re using Wix’s free service, you will receive a default username.wixsite.com/sitename domain. If you want to use or purchase a custom domain, you’ll be taken to the upgrade page to purchase a premium plan.
#2 – Edit your website. Use the intuitive editor to move through your site and add content, images, video, forms, etc.
#3 – Upgrade – Decide you want to take payments, have a custom logo, or need some extra support? Upgrade to a premium plan here, starting as low as $14 per month. The company regularly runs 50% off plans so you may snag a deal.
#4 – Preview your website – see what your visitors will see, interact with images, links, and forms.
#5 – Publish your website! Nothing else to do here. Since Wix includes website hosting, when you click publish and confirm the domain, they do the rest and your website is live on the internet.
3. Choose A Platform
*If you’re using Wix, you can skip this step and go to #5.
The platform or content management system (CMS) you choose will provide you with a framework of pages, galleries and content spaces; basically a complete website — all you have to do is add your media and custom content.
Depending on the platform you choose, you will find thousands of customizable themes and designs with different business models in mind at your disposal. On top of that, you will have a long list of plugins that will provide add-on features to make sure your site really works for you, with all the useful additional features you might need.
WordPress is the most popular CMS, with more than 25% of the websites running on the WordPress platform. With its easy-to-use interface, constant updates, and extensive theme options, this is the content management system that we recommend.
WordPress makes it very easy for anyone to start and run their own site in a fully functional way. It is one of the simplest platforms that you can use to create a website without any prior coding experience.
If you choose Bluehost as your hosting provider in the last step, then WordPress is pre-installed and you can start using it with just one click.
Other popular platforms include:
4. Install WordPress
*If you’re using Wix, you can skip this step and go to #5.
If you’re using Bluehost, they offer a simple one-click WordPress installation that will have your site ready for customization in 5 minutes. Simply click the WordPress button from your Bluehost dashboard to get started.
At this point, you’re probably thinking this is going to cost you a fortune, but WordPress is not only the best way to create a website on your own, but it is also open-source software, and that means it is completely free to download.
There are paid WordPress packages available that offer additional benefits, but a free basic package will meet your needs when you first start out.
Access Your WordPress Dashboard
Once you click on the blue button that says “WordPress” within your Bluehost Control Panel you will be able to access the WordPress Dashboard. This is where all the magic happens!
WordPress is constantly updated and you will find updates available here on your Dashboard. Always allow these updates as they include security features and bug fixes that will improve the performance and functionality of your website.
From here you can start setting up your new website — which is already live, by the way!
If you click the name of your website at the top left and then “Visit site,” you will see your live website using the default WordPress theme. Not very attractive, right?
Time to pick a theme and pretty things up.
5. Pick Your Theme/Template
Regardless of what website builder you’re using, selecting a theme that matches your industry, brand, and personal preferences will give your website an identity and some personality. Think of a theme or template as the visual aspect of your website – the colors, fonts, and other design elements. I recommend reading reviews about themes and choosing one that not only appeals to you visually, but that also has the functionality you want.
Your theme can always be changed at a later stage, but you should avoid changing it frequently, as this can have negative effects on SEO and branding.
You will be picking a theme whether you use WordPress or Wix. So let’s take a look at how to choose and install a theme on both.
How To Install A Theme In WordPress
WordPress has many themes that you can choose from on its platform. There are also other theme providers like Studiopress, Optimizepress, and Elegant Themes, which can be used, depending on your needs.
- From your WordPress Dashboard, click “Appearance”, then “Themes.”
- Here you can choose from thousands of free themes that you can use. You can watch a “Live Demo” of a theme, where a demo site will open in a new tab and allow you to navigate through the pages and experience the functionality before choosing it.
- If you find something you like, you can “Try and Customize” to load the demo site with your own content.
- Once you’ve chosen a theme, click “Activate & Publish” to automatically apply it to your website.
How To Install A Template On Wix
In Wix, the visual aspect is called a template.
- You will be prompted to select a template, or use the Wix ADI, when you are setting up Wix.
- Here you will be able to choose a template based on your industry and design preference.
- Depending on whether you chose the Wix ADI option, or you selected your own template, you will be taken to a different editor to finish customizing your website. The Wix ADI editor is much more streamlined and offers fewer options for customization. The standard Wix editor gives you more flexibility and customization. If you start with the ADI editor and decide you need more customization, no worries, it’s easy to switch!
Wix ADI editor looks like this:
Wix Editor for your selected template looks like this:
6. Install Plugins
Plugins are basically small applications that can be installed on your theme to provide additional functionality on your website. Many sites use plugins to organize and make their site exactly how they want it.
A plugin may facilitate a number of actions, such as displaying social media icons or installing email contact forms. Think of it as a ‘companion feature or app.’
How To Install A Plugin In WordPress
- From your WordPress dashboard, select “Plugins” and “Add New.”
- Search for a plugin based on name, category, or functionality.
- Click “Install Now” next to the plugin you want to download.
- Click “Activate” to make the plugin active on your website and visible on your dashboard.
- Your plugin is now visible on your dashboard where it can be configured.
How To Install A Plugin On Wix
Depending on whether you are using the Wix ADI editor or standard editor, follow these steps.
- In the ADI editor, click “Add” and then “Apps.” You’ll see a list of apps on the left side. You can install a chat window, social media feed, pricing plans, a calendar of events and much more.
- In the standard editor, click the pink “Add Apps” button on the left side of the screen. A box will slide out with recommended apps and a search bar to search by app name or desired functionality.
- If you want your Wix site to include a blog, this is where you would add that section as an app.
7. Upload Your Content
Now that you’ve followed our process to get your website up and running, it’s time to add content to your website. This can be in the form of your homepage, about page, and service/product pages, as well as your blog or resource section.
How To Add Content In WordPress
When you add content and media to your WordPress site, you do so from the dashboard or “back end” of the website. From your dashboard, you can select the “Pages” button on the left to edit individual pages and add content, or click the “+ New” button to add a new blog post or media. Because WordPress was originally built by bloggers, for bloggers, your site already comes with a robust blog platform ready to go.
- To add a new blog post, click the “+ New” button and select “Post.”
- An editor will open to allow you to write or paste your blog content, add links, images, and videos.
This resource from WordPress.com has several helpful videos of step-by-step tutorials for creating new pages and adding content and media. I highly recommend checking it out based on what type of content you’re adding!
How To Add Content In Wix
Wix is far more straightforward when it comes to adding content and media. You are editing directly on your website from the editor. This makes it easier to see exactly what you’re adding and make adjustments in real-time.
- Click anywhere on your website where you want to edit or add content or media. A bar will open on the left. Go to the section in the bar you want to edit, and start typing. You’ll see the website on the right update in real-time.
- To edit the site navigation, add a new page, or organize pages, click the “Page” button on the top left and use the menu below.
Planning Your Content
Having trouble figuring out what to write about? Remember earlier when we talked about evergreen pillar content – topics that will always remain helpful to your audience and relevant to your business.
The best way to create a content plan is to use a good keyword search tool. Google Keyword Planner used to be the free tool of choice, but since they have provided website owners with less and less information, it has become imperative to have a paid tool at your disposal.
Best of all, you can try Long Tail Pro for free for 7 days before committing to a paid plan. That’s plenty of time to build a decent list of core keywords and plan your first round of content! Jump into our free webinar and learn how to get started with Long Tail Pro today.
Get Started Building A Website In One Afternoon
Developing a website is not as complicated as it sounds. If you are interested in being the person who manages your website on a daily basis and has full control over its content, these steps to create an easy website will be useful for you to manage your own website.
The hardest part is starting the process, but once you get started, you will never look back and be ready to drive traffic to your website in no time!