This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may get a small monetary reward if you sign up for a programme using my links, at no extra cost to you. I appreciate it if you'd use my links if you decide to sign up. Thank you!
1. Domain name
First you need to buy a so-called domain name, the address of your website. So for example, the domain name for my website is www.AskWelmoed.com. The main parts are “askwelmoed” and “.com”. When you’re deciding on your domain name, you get to choose the name part (“askwelmoed”), and the extension part (“.com”). There are many other extensions available, like .org or .biz. Most companies use .com.
Each combination of a domain name and extension needs to be unique. This means that if you would like to have “yourname.com” it might have already been taken, especially if you have a very common name. In that case, you can either choose a different domain name or a different extension.
Costs for domain names differ, depending on the extension you’d like to have and the company you buy the domain name from. Such a company is called a domain name registrar. Generally, a domain name costs about $12/year.
2. Webhosting provider
When you’re making a website, you’ll be adding text (so-called copy) and images to your site. This information needs to be stored somewhere, just like you would store your Word documents on your computer. “Webhosting providers” are companies that offer space to store your website information for you. To set up a website, you need to rent a part of that space.
There are many different web hosting providers out there, but not all of them are good. Make sure to check if they are fast (so your website won’t load very slowly), and reliable (they should have a high up-time percentage – meaning the time your site is actually visible to people). Also, something which I find extremely important: do they have good customer service?
I prefer to get my webhosting from SiteGround (affiliate link), and so do many other web designers. Companies like BlueHost, GoDaddy and others are slightly cheaper, but people often run into problems with them, and their support is often pretty crap. SiteGround has amazing support (24/7 via chat, I’ve never had to wait longer than 30 sec. to get to speak to someone) and is still very affordable.
If you sign up for your webhosting through SiteGround, they offer you a free domain name with that. Saves you some $12 🙂 You can get your webhosting via SiteGround here: www.askwelmoed.com/webhosting. This is an affiliate link, meaning I get a little reward if you purchase your web hosting through this link, at no extra cost to you. I’d appreciate it if you use it. Thank you!
Webhosting via SiteGround costs about $3.95/month.
Insider tip: when you’re about to pay, abandon the cart (i.e. attempt to leave the payment cart), and you’ll be presented with a pop-up that offers you an even better deal.
3. Content Management System: WordPress
I assume you don’t want to learn how to write computer code to build your website from the ground up yourself 🙂 To fill your website with text, images, and possibly even video, it’s very helpful to use what’s called a Content Management System (CMS). You might have heard of WordPress, a well-known CMS. It makes it very easy to work on the ‘back-end’ of your website (the part of your website where you add
content and that your visitors won’t see). I recommend not to use Weebly, Wix or SquareSpace. WordPress allows for the most flexibility, support and integration with other programmes (for email marketing for example). And: using WordPress is free!
Please note, and this can be a little confusing: There are wordpress.com and wordpress.org, and these are vastly different! Do not go to wordpress.com to set up a website there. These websites are very limited in what you can do with them. You’d better use WordPress.org. To make matters more complicated, you don’t need to go to WordPress.org to be able to use it. When you sign up for webhosting through SiteGround, they offer an automatic installer programme that helps you install WordPress (the .org version). Basically, there’s no need to head over to either wordpress.com or wordpress.org!
(If you find this confusing, I totally get that, because it is confusing. lLet me know in the comments below if you have any questions, I’ll happily answer them!)
4. WordPress Theme
When you’ve set up your domain name and hosting and have installed WordPress on your website, you’re basically good to go. To make your website look really nice on the ‘front end’ (the part that your website visitors will see), you need to choose a “WordPress theme”. The theme you choose influences the layout of your website, how easy it is to add content, and how easy it is to change things yourself – without having to ask a web designer to help you out.
There are literally thousands of themes to choose from, and it can be really tough to find the one you like best. Some are responsive (meaning they’ll also look good on mobile phones and tablets), others are not. Some come with great customer service, others don’t. Some are free, some are not. For some you pay once; for some you pay yearly.
It might seem attractive to go for a free theme. Paid ones however often have better customer support, are less likely to stop functioning all of a sudden, and are updated more often (important to keep your site safe and secure). I strongly recommend going for a paid WordPress theme!
My favorite is the Divi Theme (affiliate link). It’s used by a lot of people (so help is readily available if you have questions), is very flexible (you can change the look of your site completely without having to change to another theme) and it’s easy to use if you’ve never had your own website before. I use it for my own site and for those of my clients as well.
You can purchase the Divi Theme here: www.askwelmoed.com/DiviTheme. This is an affiliate link, meaning I will get a small commission if you purchase through this link, at no extra cost to you. I’d appreciate it if you’d use this link. Thank you!
So how much does it cost to set up your own website?
- Domain name: free if you sign up for webhosting via SiteGround
- Webhosting: $3.95/month
- WordPress: free
- Divi Theme: $89/year or $249 once for lifetime access