Create + launch your business website: Buy a domain name and web hosting, choose between Squarespace or WordPress, with over 100 blog post ideas.

Beginner’s Guide: Creating + Launching Your Own Website


In the last post, you researched and developed your business plan, figured out how to price your products and services, and found out how to find and attract your ideal clients. It’s about that time to tell other folks on the world wide web who you are and how you’re going to help them by creating and launching your website.

We’re going to create + launch your business website and turn it into a reader and client-attracting, problem-solving and money-making machine.

This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!

How to create + launch your business website. Buy a domain name and web hosting, choose between Squarespace or WordPress, create a brand + style guide, and add the essential pages you'll need for your dope biz

Your Online Home*
domain registration
web hosting
WordPress/Squarespace

Your Brand + Style*
branding yourself
creating style guide
finding images + themes

Your Site*
essential pages + what to say
privacy policy + terms of use

Your Blog*
blog’s purpose
200+ blog post ideas
create content schedule


Your Online Home

You’ve found your perfect niche, claimed your blog/business name on social media, created an actionable business plan, and priced your services. Now all we need is a home for your new business.

Since we’re setting up new + important profiles, the first thing we need to do is sign up for a password manager account. We want to keep our info secure and passwords hard to crack. So those same usernames and passwords you use all over the webs won’t cut it, dollface.

Using password managers, like LastPass, you can save all of your accounts and passwords in one spot (which makes it easy to fill out web forms). Lastpass is also a password generator, so it can create a strong password with numbers or characters (!@#%). All you’ll need is your email and one master password to get access and that’s it.

Tool: Use How Secure is My Password to find out how easy it is or how long it would take to crack your password.

Domain name
This is sorta like your home address. When someone types your link in the browser’s address bar, they’ll be sent to your website.

For your business website, instead of using www.nameofsite.wordpress.com, we’re going to change it to www.nameofsite.com. It’ll be easier to remember and look professional on your marketing material (biz cards, flyers, etc).

To buy a domain name, you can get one from a web hosting company or from Namecheap which is $13.57 per year ($10.69 + $2.88 for WhoisGuard to protect your personal info).

You can also try Google Domains which is only $12 per year and WhoisGuard is included. And if you decide to go with Google Domains, use Google Apps for Work account for your business emails ($5 a month). Instead of using yourname@gmail.com, you can switch over to name@yourwebsite.com. This will also make you look professional and manage your emails easily since you’re still using Gmail’s interface.

Tips: Remember to use NameChk to see if your domain and usernames on social media are available.
And keep your domain name and web host companies separate. If your website is ever down, you’ll still have access to your emails to keep in touch with prospects and clients.

Platform
The most popular platforms are Squarespace and WordPress. There are a few pros and cons to using either one, but it all depends on you and your business needs. Ana of The City Sidewalks talks about those pros and cons of using Squarespace or WordPress.

I’m not familiar with Squarespace, but you can learn more from Elle & Company Design. I do know Squarespace can handle the web hosting and domain registration for you, so you can just skip ahead to the styling and branding section.

If you’re #TeamWordPress, watch this video to know the difference between a hosted WordPress.com + self-hosted WordPress.org. (TL;DW version: Free but with limited control on WP.com. You need a web host and domain to use WP.org but you have more control, like adding plugins.)

Web Hosting
Your digital office space. Your 24/7 business card. Your one-stop shop and #1 marketing tool. And you have hundreds of companies to choose from, but think about the following questions before you make a purchase:

Is there 24/7 customer support? How fast do they respond? Will my site be up and running 99% of the time? Can they handle a blog with heavy traffic? Is it extra for e-commerce shop? It was $50 when I first signed up, but how much will after a year?

If you decide to go with WordPress, make sure your host is compatible with it. The following hosts are perfect for beginners and non-tech savvy folks. After you set up everything, all you’ll have to do is log-in from your WordPress dashboard since they both have the one-click WordPress install feature:

Siteground’s StartUp Plan: $47.40 1st year / $119.40 after
siteground-hosting

Inmotion Hosting’s Launch Plan: $71.80 1st year / $95.88 after
inmotion-hosting

I’m using Siteground’s Startup plan for hosting and Google Domains for my domain name since privacy is included. (I mean.. why pay extra just to keep your name and address private when Google Domains handles that for you for free?)

Tip: If you’re not ready to purchase hosting, register your domain name with Namecheap or Google Domains and forward it to the site you’re currently using. (e.g., forward your .com or .net to yoursite.wordpress.com or any other site until you’re ready to purchase hosting.)

More reading: Choose from this list of the best web hosting companies. And learn why you should avoid EIG-owned companies like Godaddy or BlueHost.

Copy this done-for-you Trello board to help you with your website launch.

Your Brand + Style

Using this Branding Toolkit from Naya the Creative, we can add it to your style guide to make your brand stand out.

But first, a few words about branding from Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie (quote from Blavity’s EmpowerHer Conference):

Your brand is your voice, logo, site, slogan, and how others see you when you’re not in the room. It comes with expectations + emotions. So be authentic and accessible. And keep your visual brand consistent.

Style Guide
Think about your target audience and how you want your site/brand to look and feel. Use the following resources to help you choose.

More resources: Take a look at the Extensive Guide To Website Design from the Blogger Network. Download their free eBook on learning how to use Canva. Use Frontify to create your style guide with your fonts and new color scheme.

Images
Instead of going through hundreds of sites to search for the perfect pic, download this app called Zoommy App for $4.99. It’s a round up all the free stock photo sites all in one spot.

Search by color, landscape or portrait, and people or things. You can download any photo to your desktop and use it for your blog, Pinterest, or Instagram posts.


zoommy-app

More resources: Use The Stocks – “the best royalty free stock photos are delivered now along with videos, audios, icons, fonts and colors.” Follow my Pinterest board for more tips on Visual Marketing.

Themes
When choosing a WordPress theme, make sure to check the ratings, comments, and the date it was last updated. And since most of your viewers will be checking out your site from their mobile device, make sure your theme is user and mobile friendly. When you find the perfect one, try the demo version before you install or buy it.

For Squarespace users, here’s a Step by Step Guide for Choosing the Right Theme.

There are free themes you can use on WordPress.org. Or, you can try these beautiful WordPress themes from StudioPress.

More resources: Creative Market has a wide selection of fonts, logos, themes, photos, graphics, and templates you can choose from. You can get all the goods you need to build a brand and a website.


Your Site

The following sections are some essential pages you’ll need for your site. Your main goal on any page or blog post is to create a call to action – that one thing you want your visitors to do after they’ve read your content.

Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? Get in touch to work with you? Ask questions or share their thoughts on your last post? Whatever the goal is, you’ll learn what to say on these pages to attract the right crowd.

Tip: If you already have content but want to revamp/redesign your website, read about how to improve your website and get it client-ready

Coming Soon Page
The first thing to do before you start working on your site is to set up a coming soon page. When people visit your site, the Coming Soon page will be the first thing they’ll see.

First, choose a launch date and give yourself a little wiggle room just in case there are some last-minute changes before launch. Next, give a little info about yourself and what your blog and business.

This will also be the perfect time to collect emails so you can keep subscribers in the loop. Here’s a Mailchimp tutorial from Melyssa Griffin when you’re ready.

Mailerlite is another option to use for your email list. Why use Mailerlite? Automation is included and you can send unlimited emails for up to 1000 subscribers for free99. So, if you plan on giving a 3-day email course for your launch, for example, that’s all free, buddy.

More reading: Try one of these ideas to prepare your visitors for your launch: 11 Ways to Create Hype Around a New Launch from Elle & Company Design.

Don’t forget to sprinkle some flavor from your style guide + branding toolkit. And for your background image, choose a pic from Zoommy App or The Stocks.

Tools: For WordPress users, try IgniteUp (see image below) or Easy Pie Coming Soon.

If you’re Squarespace user, go through this list to find the perfect Coverpage.

coming-soon-demo

Legal
If you plan on collecting emails, using Google Analytics to track visitors, or providing products and services, you’ll need a Privacy Policy, Disclosure Notice, and Terms of Use on your site. Find out more here from Jackie of Jade Oak.

That disclosure notice I used up top is required when you’re using affiliate links. Whether you’re getting paid or receiving something free, display your notice in the beginning of your page or post. Check out Blog Disclosures – What You Need to Know from Jade Oak:

Besides it being the law, making disclosures shows your readers you aren’t being shady and trying to hide anything. Being transparent and upfront will build trust with your readers since you aren’t hiding your relationships or vested interest when you recommend something. – Jackie

More resources: Use Iubenda to create your privacy policy for free. Carrie Dils shows you How Affiliate Programs Work. And learn Why You Should Use Nofollow Links on affiliate links from Free Borboleta.

Home
Here are 5 Things Your Business Homepage Must Include from Talented Ladies Club.

About
Tips from Twelve Skip on Creating an Interesting About Page aka the most visited page on a website. Here’s 11 resources to help you write your about page.

More resources: Tips from In Spaces Between on How to Write Your About Me Page:

An unforgettable About page has to be more than a biography or a bulging list of qualifications and your biggest achievements. It has to give your reader an insight into who you are, what you blog about and – importantly – why they should stick around for more. – Rachel

Start Here
You can have a Start Here page instead of an About page. Learn Why You Need a Start Here Page from House of Muses.

Contact
Learn How to Optimize Your Contact Page to Get More Leads and Sales from Nick Reese.

Work With Me/Services
Learn the 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Sales Page from Yes and Yes. And What to Include on Your Services Page from White Oak Creative.

More resources: Courtney Johnston from The Rule Breaker’s Club has 11 short (less than 6 minutes) videos you can watch that’s all about creating your Sales Page. Check out her YouTube channel for more info.

Copy Blogger will hook you up with all the tips and tricks so you’ll know exactly what to say. Check out this post about 16 Call-to-Action Formulas That Make People Want to Click from Hubspot.

Copy this done-for-you Trello board to help you with your website launch.

Your Blog

Purpose
What’s your blog’s purpose? Learn How to Define Your Blog’s Purpose:

Having a clear purpose for your blog will give you FOCUS. Your content will be stronger, your goals will become more defined, people will know what you’re all about and you can develop a tribe of readers. – Allison

Post Ideas
Elle and Company Design has 50 No-Fluff, Content-Rich Blog Post Ideas and Regina from ByRegina.com has 51 Types of Blog Posts to Help You Grow Your Reach. And, Arianne of Aeolidia has 260 Blog Posts Ideas for Creative Businesses.

Tools: I know you’re thinking, “That’s over 300 ideas!! Where am I going to put these ideas, Marjy?” I got you, sweet cheeks. You can use Evernote or Trello and save all of your ideas in one spot.

Process
Alisha Nicole has a great blog post writing process you can use, plus a free worksheet to help you out. Learn how to Write Blog Posts in 30 Minutes or Less: The 5 Question Method by Krista of Blog Beautifully. Also check out how I create and organize content for my blog.

Try one of these 101+ Blog Post Title Templates or use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer so you can increase traffic and improve SEO. And while you’re over there, subscribe to their blog. So many great posts and freebies to help you and your blog/social media grow.

Use Grammarly to check for grammar and spelling errors.

Create Content Schedule
Here’s some tips on How to Create a Killer Content Calendar:

Content calendars help plan, organize and schedule every single piece of content you publish online. It’s the place where all of your social media posts, your blogs, your newsletters, your videos, podcasts and your graphics strategically come together to grow your business. – Kimberly Ann Jimenez

More resources: Editorial Calendar for WordPress users. Use the Editorial Blogging Calendar if you’re not on WordPress. It also comes with a free template.


Any thoughts, comments, or feedback? I’d love to hear it in the comments. And if you find this post helpful, make sure you save it on Pinterest or click to tweet below. Thanks so much for reading, folks!

This post is Part 3 of 5 for Create Your Dope Biz series. Next post will be on finding your tribe, your clique, your crew – no need to do this on your own, darling. And adding other dope doers to your team. Read more here: 8 Things You Can Do to Grow Your Blog and Biz.

About Marjy

INFJ-ish. Island Girl (1804). NYer based in Atlanta. Loves long walks at record stores + helping creative bosses focus on their dream biz while I provide admin, client care, and WordPress support. Read more about me here. Say hi on Twitter, send an email, or get updates and free goodies to grow your blog and biz.

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