You Have a Desire to Do More
If you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot of time in life wondering, “What do I really want to do with my life?” Maybe it was “What am I passionate about,” or even, “What is my purpose?”
These are all questions I think each of us faces at some point in our life. However, for many people there is an entrepreneurial answer:
“I want to start a business!”
“I want to own a hair salon!”
“I want to tell people about my life!”
“I want to be an author!”
“I want to sell barbecue to passersby from a stand at the side of the highway!”
Whatever your whimsical, entrepreneurial goals might be, making money and creating a website are most likely (or should be) two big parts of that dream. A website can mean the difference between flying under the radar and remaining unknown, or becoming a prolific expert and powerhouse in your field or everyday life for people.
From am FI standpoint, take Mr. Money Mustache. This man started his website as an unknown blogger about Financial Independence and Early Retirement back in 2011. He was just trying to get the word out there about his topic, and get the word out he did. Over the course of the last five years, he has helped hundreds of thousands of people realize that they want more freedom and less financial stress. He didn’t just accomplish this overnight. He created a blog, fostered a community, and worked his ass off (kind of like what I’m trying to do here!).
That is the power of a website, and I want to help you start one for yourself. Regardless if you want to start a blog, give your business a bump, or start a podcast, you’ll need a website. Getting to FI means increasing your income, and thereby decreasing your debts and increasing your investments. A website can be a huge boon on that journey! And hey, you never know. You might just become the next Mr. Money Mustache or the next Pat Flynn.
“How Do I Even Start The Process?”
Well, let That Learning Guy save you some time there. You could be like me and go Google “How do I create a website?” You’ll get hundreds of millions of search results. It’ll be like trying to drink from a firehouse through a straw, man. Specifically, you’ll be greeted with ads from the biggest website hosting companies vying for you to use their service.
If you really want to do all of the research and invest the time to look at every little possibility, then feel free! I actively encourage independent research because what I provide may not work for everyone, or you may find something better, but I want to do my best to help you out.
So, I want to show you how to get this process done in half an hour! So, with that in mind, let’s get started, shall we? I am going to recommend you start with Siteground.com. There are several review aggregation websites that list Siteground as the best, or one of the top in different categories. I have personally used them for all of my web hosting needs since I created my website, but only after doing all of my homework.
And right now, if you use the banner below, you will get a big discount off of every month during your first year, in addition to a bunch of other perks! That Learning Guy looks out for his own.
The basic StartUp plan will be $3.95/month instead of $9.95/month, and you will get discounts for the more robust plans as well!
Getting Your Website Started
Getting a site set up with Siteground is a easy as 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C. You choose. Regardless, when you get to the front page, this is what you will see:
What you’re going to want to do is click on “Web Hosting” in the menu bar:
Then, you’ll get to this screen:
This is where the real work begins. You select your web hosting plan here! You can clearly choose between three distinct plans, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. Unless you get to god tier status (e.g. Mr Money Mustache and Pat Flynn), you won’t need anything close to GoGeek (in the beginning, at least). I knew I was going to be making multiple websites, so I went with the GrowBig plan. If you know you are only going to be hosting one website, just go with the StartUp plan and save yourself some money, unless of course you know you’ll be getting a lot more than 10,000 visitors per month.
So, once you know which plan you want, click on get started.
Also, as an FYI, you can always go back later and upgrade your plan if you find it is necessary, which hopefully in time it would be!
You will then be sent to the below screen. You will confirm which plan you want, enter in any other necessary information, and then you will click on “Pay Now”. Once you do that, you will be prompted for your domain name (what goes between the www. and the .com, if you didn’t know 😉 ).
If you are going to create a website for your business, then it might make sense to put your business name in there (as long as it isn’t taken). If it is for your author website, I would put in just your name, so that way people can google your name and easily find your website. Finally, if you’re starting a blog on something, like I did with smartfisprint.com, I would try to come up with something witty or engaging.
After that step is completed, you are now ready to create your first (or nth) website! Congrats my friend! You are now among the millions of website owners across the world.
Welcome to the club! Oh, no. I’m sorry. We don’t have jackets, unfortunately 🙁
You’ve Got Your Hosting Set, Now What?
Well, now comes the fun part! You get to actually create your website. Now, you can go about this in multiple ways, but luckily, I’ve also mapped out a nice, easy path for you when it comes to the creation of your wonderful website!
Step 1: Search for a Website Builder, But…You’re Probably Going to End Up Using WordPress
Yes, I want you to do research on this topic as well. If you Google something like, “the best website builder,” you’re probably going to find that WordPress doesn’t make it to the top of the list in many of them. Usually, this is because people detract the usability of WordPress saying it is difficult for beginners. I had never worked on or created websites before, and I can say from my experience that this is demonstrably false.
However, again, I want you to perform your own research on the topic and figure out what works best for you. Unfortunately a lot of these places can’t decouple the hosting from the website building program (e.g. how WordPress and Siteground are separate), or you are limited to your flexibility with what you can do to your site. WordPress is open source, meaning people from all over can create their own themes, plugins, etc., and do really cool stuff in general.
In addition, Siteground makes working with WordPress much, much easier. They have a whole tutorial dedicated to assisting people with setting WordPress up on their websites! So, you can follow the rest of my little tutorial here if you want, but I would definitely recommend at least glancing at theirs because I know they will have some information I may have missed. How awesome is Siteground, eh??
Step 2: Finding a Theme for Your Website
WordPress–and many other website builders–create a website appearance, function, structure, etc., through a template called a Theme. There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of different themes out there for you to choose from.
If your website is trying to break into Amazon’s e-commerce grip? There is a theme for that. If you’re trying to show off yourself and your fictional writing talents? There is a theme for that. If you’re trying to show the best way to get your opponent to the ground for a MMA ground and pound? I do not doubt there is a theme for that as well.
There are tens of websites that are dedicated to creating themes for whatever you may need.
You can download a theme directly from your WordPress dashboard. This is typically the easiest way to download and install one, and I would recommend it.
To download a theme, do the following:
Hover over Appearance then click on Themes.
Click on Add New
Find a theme you want by searching for it or uploading it, then click install
Then on your Themes Page, hover over the one you installed/uploaded and click on Activate
Congratulations!! Now you have a website with a theme.
Just so you know, there are both free and premium themes that cost money. However, the free themes typically come with a lack of features or room for features, and little to no support outside of the occasional WordPress forum on a topic relating to the theme. Premium themes, however, can cost anything and come with varying levels of features and support. The theme I chose to use for this website?
It is The Thesis Theme for WordPress. I use this theme for tons of reasons! I will give you an abbreviated list:
The basic option is a killer value. It is extremely flexible with a custom “skin editor” so you can easily manipulate the html, or structure/layout, of the page without having to do much–if any–actual coding. There is an enormous community surrounding the theme with a dedicated forum for any and all issues you can think of, with extremely helpful members. You don’t have to mess with php to change stuff on your site, all you really have to worry about, if you want to, is CSS
It is SEO (search engine optimization) optimized and gives you multiple tools to assist in upping your SEO capabilities. You can’t go wrong with it, but again, do your own research. There are other great premium themes, including Genesis (Thesis’s main competitor).
Step 3: Modify Your Theme with Whatever Plugins You Deem Necessary
Now, WordPress has these things called Plugins you can use to add new functionality to your site, and it is pretty cool. Like themes, there is a plugin for everything, and I am not being facetious when I say that.
To install and activate a plugin on your website, perform the following:
Scroll down to Plugins (below appearance, circled red), hover over it and click “Add New” when the menu pops up
Next, you’re going to search for a plugin you desire to have, then you’ll click on “Install Now”
Finally, the “Install Now” button will turn into a blue “Activate” button. Click it.
After you click activate, then the plugin will be a functioning component of your website. How neat is that??
Do you want a news ticker at the top of your website? There is a plugin for that. Want a calendar in your sidebar? There is a plugin for that. Want to prevent spam in your inbox? There is a- well, you get the picture.
Step 4: Create Your First Content: Pages and Posts
Creating original and attention-grabbing content is a vital part to making any blog or website work, even if your business or product isn’t really an “online” business, you can make a big impact on customers by showing your expertise in that area with a blog, or making the pages as user-friendly, informative, and entertaining as possible.
Creating pages and posts is pretty self-explanatory. You just click on whichever section you want in the sidebar, then the menu will pop up, click on “Add New”, and then go to town!
Creating content on a consistent basis is also necessary to build up the SEO capability of your website. Google and other search engines won’t rank your website as well if you make a front page and it just sits there with nothing else but the occasional update performed every two months.
Step 5: Edit the Site’s CSS to Make it Look How You Want
This is kind of a “if you feel like it” option. All themes worth their salt come with a way to modify the color and/or layout of the site. Typically this can be found under the “Appearance” section in the sidebar that I mentioned earlier.
Step 6: Keep on Keepin’ On
At this point, you should have a website that is fully functioning. It might not be functioning exactly as you intended it to be, or there might be some kinks you need to work out, but that is only natural! Nothing will be perfect the first time you do it, nor will it be perfect at any point after that.
Hell, I’m still coming up with new ideas for my websites all the time. How I can add a landing page here, or I can swap these two things around to make the page more appealing, or maybe I can increase the compatibility of the website with mobile if I manipulate my CSS.
I just want to give you a word of advice at the end of this extremely long tutorial page: don’t get discouraged.
I didn’t–and right now, I really still don’t–have the money to hire a professional to create a website and make it look all pretty and functional. I created smartfisprint.com from the ground up using Siteground, WordPress, and Thesis. I actually had to transfer domains at one point from an old website name. I worked on creating the framework of the website and consistently tried to improve how it looked.
There are dozens of things I’ve done that I’m sure I’ve forgotten–and hundreds more I haven’t–but working on it makes me extremely proud of what I’ve done. I can look back on it, and much like a house, I can say I built it with my own two hands (well, for the most part. Thesis helps a bit 😉 ). I’ve learned a new skill and I’ve learned patience.
The Wrap-Up and Discussion
Now you have a website that can give you a much better chance to do something great and help people, whether that is through creating greater accessibility to your business or creating an inspirational blog people can read from and feel better about their lives. Hopefully the website will also work to earn you some money as well and put you a couple steps closer to your Financial Independence or Early Retirement.
One thing is for sure. You can’t give up. Dedicate yourself and work hard at it, and eventually you will see the fruits of your labor pay off. Blogging and creating a website can take a lot of upfront work, but once it is done, you will hopefully be able to create a passive income stream which you can profit from in the future.
Do you have any questions about anything you read throughout this tutorial? If you went through this tutorial, how did it go? Have you had any experience creating your own website? What was it like? Has your website earned you income, if so, through what method? What was your niche?
I want to discuss this all with you guys, so let’s get to it in the comments below. Thanks again, everyone! We’ll talk soon.
-That Learning Guy