Owning a Tourism Business is awesome

7 May 2006

How to Create Your First Website

The following is a quick reference for new/soon to be webmasters, the information contained in this article is simply what has worked for me in the past, all webmasters will develop their own unique ways of going about their daily business.

1. Web hosting

This will be your second hardest decision when it comes to launching your website, when first starting out it is ok to settle for free hosting, many free hosts will also give you a free sub domain, more about that in #2 Domain Names.

If you do settle for a free host you must ensure this is only temporary, for the most part free hosts have terrible uptime and are littered with mandatory banners and or pop ups/unders, this is not a good way to develop a recurring customer base, and if there are 9 banners and pop ups on your site you better be getting paid for them.

In order to choose the correct paid host you have to figure out what your site will need to run, is it an ecommerce site? do you need php/mysql? 35 databases etc. You are the only person that will be able to decide the requirements for your site.

If you are unsure as to exactly what your site needs there are many sites out there that have databases full of web hosts and web host packages/prices.

2. Domain Name

In order to run any website you will need a domain name, no one will ever find you without one, chances are at this stage no one will find you anyway.

There are a few different ways we can go about obtaining a domain name, if you know exactly what you want and have some funds to purchase your .com go ahead and take that plunge, but if your not so sure you have found that perfect name, or if you don’t even know what kind of domain you would like, feel free to settle
for a sub domain.

Now in the eyes of a lot of well established webmasters a sub domain from a free host or free domain company is a not a good way to go, I got that a lot when I was starting out, lets face it, with a sub domain no one will ever take you seriously www.widgets.freedomains4life.com is not very professional
or memorable, but it’s a starting point none the less.

Basically what we are trying to do with a sub domain is get your site on the net, that’s all, get it live so you can view it, make changes, fix bugs etc, we don’t want to launch a site that is not user friendly or just plain ugly.

Now after you have your site up at your free sub domain from your free host we have got to start looking at a real .com you will not get anywhere in this business without one. So search around the internet a bit, find a good registrar, at the time of this writing moniker.com, godaddy.com and networksolutions.com all seem to be decent sites, the latter a little pricier than the former but they all have their own pros and cons.

Now, this decision may be the biggest decision of your current project, do you go with a keyword rich domain or take the road less traveled and snatch up a brandable domain? Now you may not know exactly what I’m talking about when I say brandable, if your really new to the game you might not even know keyword rich so I'll try to put it in layman's terms for you.

A keyword rich domain is using the most highly sought after keyword for your site/product etc in your domain name, if I was creating a site on DVD players my domains would possibly be something like this dvdplayers.com, portabledvdplayer.com, hddvdplayer.com etc, a great tool for this is the Overture Keyword Selector found here, google it.

If we want to take our domain the other way and make it brandable much like Google, Yahoo, eBay etc, there really is no “How To” guide, for me caffeine and advil seems help, if you are planning on taking this route I’ve been told using other languages is good, beware the the actual meaning of the term in another language though, the urban legend of the Chevy Nova in Latin America comes to mind, Google brandable domains see what you can find.

3. Web Site Design

If you already know how to code in HTML, PHP etc then you are well on your way and can probably skip this step, if not you have quite a way to go. If you want to create a website it is imperative to learn how to code, you don’t want to pay between $500 and $5000 to create a website on a whim then continue to pay someone every time your site needs updating.

Take a look around the net for some tutorials regarding HTML in order to establish the base of your site, I’m not going to lie, there will be alot of reading and very long nights involved in learning web design, but it will reward you with unlimited possibilities when it comes to creating personal web sites or online communities etc.

Coupled with the design of your site you will at least want to learn the basics of graphic design, the worst thing you can do is buy a brandable domain and throw a generic logo that can be found on 96 other sites on it, this will greatly reduce your ability to stand out from the crowd, after all if you see 96 signs with the same logo but different company names how are you going to remember the 33rd company?

If you absolutely do not want to learn graphic design you can have a logo or layout designed for you at a relatively cheap price, just make sure it is 100% original and you have all .psd files etc before finalizing the transaction.

4. Content is King

Ask any webmaster, they will all agree, content is king, this is the absolute best way to have your site noticed and stand out from the crowd. One well written, keyword rich article pertaining to the content of your site will get you more visitors and a higher search engine ranking then one hundred plain product pages.

Now, I recommend you write your content yourself, whether it is the actual content that brings your site together or an article you've written about your sites topic, it is best to write this yourself. The reason for this is if you don’t actually know everything about your "widget" this is a good way to learn about it, also people will respect the article more and it gives you a feeling of self satisfaction when you finish a nine page article.

If you have trouble writing long articles or putting together a correct sentence you are not left out in the cold, there are many sites out there that have other webmasters as well as freelance writers dying to write an article specifically for your niche, I at one point a few years ago had 6 articles written for me for $7 each, not to bad when you think about the amount of traffic you may get from these articles being on your site. Google
freelance writers or contract writers and you will most likely come up with some decent results.

5. Marketing

I don’t care what your site is about, there comes a time when you will have to promote it, if you are just starting out chances are you have a very limited budget, so some tips on how to get visitors to your site for cheap. Forums are a great way to establish a following online, join some forums that relate to the category of your website, spend some time each day posting and getting to know the other forum members, be sure to keep an updated signature (assuming the forum allows signatures) so that anyone reading your post can also view your current project, but don’t expect results right away it often takes months to actually see the users coming from these forums, but be patient and develop a rapport with them, you never know you may even meet a future business partner.

Another way to start instant traffic is to purchase an ad campaign on a site related to yours, this may be a little difficult, some sites prices are very high, the best way to get the most for your money is to purchase links or banners on an up and coming site, if you attempt to purchase banner space on the top site in the business it could easily cost you $200 a week, by buying from the up and comer you will receive a few less visits, but it will cost alot less too.

If the site you are trying to develop is for a product, for the sake of an example we will say candy apples. Another great way to promote it is in your local area, take a day and visit all the local businesses have samples for the staff, ask the craft stores if they wouldn’t mind handing some business cards out for you, if you’re lucky and you have a decent product they may let you sell from there store front, I have heard of this happening many
times and people just don’t realize how powerful local business' can be.

6. Update, Update, Update

This is exactly how it sounds, no visitor wants to come to a site that has the same article or look on the homepage for six months, they will simply become bored with it and find a different site promoting the same product. In order to survive online you must update your pages.

If you have a content site, write an article a week, its not hard, but it gives you 52 articles a year, that’s a good starting point and will encourage people to link to your site.

If it is an e commerce site, update the home page with specials, have contests, anything to keep the visitor interested and coming back for more, a content (pardon the pun) visitor is a return visitor.

So now you should now what direction you're going online. Just remember, take your time, don’t throw up a sloppy site, and never ever give up, the internet is probably one of the hardest places to make a living, but the feeling of euphoria you get when you know you can, tops any other high you can experience.

1 comment:

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