If you’ve been following our website review series, you’ve learned some great things to do (and not to do) when setting up your website. Maybe you’re ready for a “real” website, but not sure how to get it. It’s okay; I’ve worked with websites and Internet marketing for the better part of my life and I still didn’t know exactly how to set up a website until I did my own. And it’s easy.
There are three basic things you need for a functioning website:
- a domain (you get this from a domain registrar, like GoDaddy)
- a host to store your website’s pages and files (from a hosting company)
- (technically, you don’t need this, but unless you’re going to be doing all your coding by hand, you’ll want it) software to work the back end—and hopefully generate the HTML code (usually provided by the hosting company, too)
Sometimes you can get these things together. Blogger, for example, will give you everything—your domain is whatever.blogspot.com, Blogger stores your pages and files, and Blogger software generates your HTML code and provides the software that lets you maintain your site.
In fact, you can make Blogger into your “real” website, which can be especially useful if you’re going to be the one maintaining it. You can also use Blogger Custom Domain to put your Blogger blog at YourDomain.com, and Camy Tang has a useful guide on how to make a a basic free blog more like a website. UPDATE: Blogger has now added a feature to make official “pages” instead of making posts look and act like static pages of your blog. It’s even more flexible and professional-looking now!
Getting more advanced
If you feel like you’re ready for a more “real” website, but still apprehensive about setting one up, here’s my advice: use WordPress. This is especially great if you’re already comfortable with blogging software, because you get the ease of blogging software and the features of a “real” website.
You can use WordPress.com (and you can get a WordPress.com blog to show up at YourDomain.com, too, but it’s not free like it is on Blogger)—or you can use WordPress.org. It’s the same software, but with WordPress.org you can customize your blog however you want.
However, for WordPress.org, you also have to get hosting—space on a server to store your website’s files for others to access them. I’ve been with BlueHost for over two years, and they’ve done really well for me. I chose them because they were inexpensive ($7/month), and one of WordPress’s recommended hosts.
WordPress has some advantages over Blogger that make it more like a “real” website. Camy Tang’s guide above will help you create static pages like an about page or a contact page on Blogger. That’s great—but they’re still going to look and act like posts on your blog.
With WordPress, however, you can keep blog posts and pages separate. Don’t want a blog? That’s okay—you can do that with WordPress, too, and just use the page features to easily create a static website instead. Check out the menu bar at the top of my site. See how it says “About” and “Projects,” etc.? Those link to WordPress pages—timeless, static webpages that aren’t posts on the blog.
Also neat: WordPress made that menu bar all by itself. I didn’t have to do a thing. It updates the menu bar whenever I update a page. WordPress is highly customizable, in both the site design and software—and for free.
If you want to create a WordPress website on BlueHost, sign up for BlueHost using my affiliate link and I’ll send you a free PDF guide to setting up WordPress with BlueHost*—with info on installation, set up, importing blogs, add-ons and more! (If you’re planning to import another blog, also check out my search-engine friendly guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress to make your switch safe and easy.)
What do you think? Are you ready for a real website?