So I’ve been running my own personal website for over two years now. While it has been rewarding at times, there have been a few downsides to it. With that being said, it’s generally a good idea for everyone to have their own personal website. There used to be a time where building a decent website required knowing how to code. With content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, there isn’t much of an excuse anymore. Whether you are an artist, blogger, job seeker, or just an average Joe, having a website makes it a lot easier for you and your content to be found. With enough know how, the possibilities are endless. However, getting started isn’t endless and you can be up and running in two hours or less, most of that time being spent actually creating content. I’m not going to go too much into the nitty gritty; there are plenty of tools around if you want more specific details. WPBeginner is a good place to go for more details.
One of the most important steps in creating a website is selecting a web host. You could potentially create your own server and you may need to if the website becomes big enough, but it’s not necessary for a beginner. Or for anyone who has the time to set one up and maintain it. There are plenty of web hosting companies out there including Hostgator, Bluehost, Arvixe, GoDaddy, and Dreamhost. There are plenty of options out there. When selecting one, the things you should consider are costs, downtime, and other potential benefits like a free domain name. You shouldn’t have to shell out a ton for a web host, but you want one reliable enough that your website is always up. Read some reviews and find something that works for you. Also, some of these other websites will be able to provide you with some sort of a discount so be on alert.
This is the first major step you will take when it comes to branding and marketing your website. Depending on your web host, selecting and registering a domain name may come along with it. In fact, if it doesn’t, you should consider a different web host. The domain name could be catchy and memorable; it could be just a variant of your name. If it’s for your business, it’s best that the domain name is the same as the name as your business. If it’s personal, it’s highly recommended that you use your name. For me, I own robertlunderwood.com for my website and rantingrobert.com for my blog; technically, it redirects to robertlunderwood.com/rantingrobert, but whatever.
Also, you want to pay attention to the extension at the end of the name. The most popular ones are .com, .org, and .net. Some weird extension like .pizza, .agency, etc are starting to gain some traction, but it hasn’t caught on yet. If you are looking for hits, .com is probably the best way to go.
installing a cms
Now that you’ve dealt with thinking about it and paying for it, it’s time to use it. This is probably the most technical step of the bunch. Most web hosts have options to allow you to install a CMS and almost all of them allow you to use WordPress. I personally recommend it myself. If your web host provides an option to automatically install WordPress, take it. Some web hosts provides you with a control panel where you can install the CMS of your choice there. If you choose to go with WordPress and you aren’t provided with an opportunity to automatically install it, go to https://wordpress.org/download/ to download it and then follow their installation guide. I actually used this method when I rebuilt my website and it’s quite simple. Please note the login information you created; you’ll need it.
Now it’s really time to get to work. This includes getting content on your website and making it look pretty. Wordpress already has a default theme, however, you can select a new theme (or create one if you are brave enough). Deciding on which theme you use depends on what you plan on doing, especially if you are posting a portfolio. If you are going to be mostly blogging, a simple theme works best, but if you want to do more, maybe a more robust theme is in the cards. You also purchase themes, but it could get pricey.
So now the website looks pretty…pretty empty that is. A few pages that everyone should have is a home page (duh), an About Me, a Resume page, and perhaps a Contact page. A contact page may not be necessary if you include a theme that includes social media icons or other means to provide contact information. If you are running a blog, I personally would recommend a separate page for the blog; if you did it on the home page, you’re better off using a blogging website.
I would also recommend installing some plugins. Plugins help enhance your website by providing security, backing it up, or including additional items that the theme could not provide. If you are using WordPress, Jetpack is highly recommended. It provides so many tools to help with securing your website along with publicizing it as well. Akismet also helps with weeding out spam. I also recommend WP Limit Login Attempts to protect against brute force attacks. Also, ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WEBSITE!!! I have been bitten by this more than once, but never again. There are a lot of tools to help back it up WHEN, not IF, the website goes down, because you need to switch web hosts, change domain names, get hacked, or a multitude of reasons.
Hopefully with these tips, your website should be up and running. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. Keep your website updated as often as possible. There are plenty of other options that I glossed over, so for more help, please go to WPBeginner.