If you’re a new webmaster and are looking to start your first website, the chances are you’ll have a clear and concise reason for doing so. Most look to get started in the world of web design as they’d like a personal website such as a blog to write about things that interest them or some get thrown in at the deep end and do so because they want to build a website to advertise their products or services. Some also do it as they’ve heard that you can make a lot of money online by running websites! Ironically it’s the ones with no experience who dive right in with something who tend to become most successful. If you’re too experienced and know too many ways to make money online the chances are you’ll have your fingers in too many pies trying to make too many things work at once and in this day and age that has an opposite effect on what you’re trying to achieve.
Choosing a Sector
By sector I mean a niche to operate in. Most people will already know what sector they want to build a site in as it will be determined by their interest or the business they’re looking to create a presence for. Choosing a sector only really comes into play if you’re building a website for profit from the outset and if you’re inexperienced it can be quite difficult to do. In short, you need to find a sector with both traffic and products. By that I mean find a niche which has lots of people searching for things in it but also a niche where people would purchase products or services too. Take the celebrity industry for example, massive in terms of traffic but try to monetise it and you’ll be banging your head against a wall.
Hosting and Domain Names
If you’re serious about your project you need a good domain name. Fortunately these days there are lots of options on that front. First and foremost you need to decide if you want something related to your geographical area such as a .co.uk or whether you want something global like a .com. Unfortunately finding an available .com these days is a challenge but there are lots of other generic extensions like .co or .site to choose from or even one of the old school .net extensions might suffice. If you want something a bit more flashy you could also consider some of the new global top level domain extensions such as .ninja although if you’re a business and want to be taken seriously it’s probably best to steer clear of these.
Hosting wise, any shared hosting will do for a single site. If you’ve got masses of traffic you might want to consider a cloud VPS solution or even a fully dedicated server but for most small websites a regular run of the mill shared hosting account will suffice. If you’re in the UK, hostpresto.com offer some great deals on shared hosting currently.
Building the Site
Buiding the site these days is very simple as there isn’t much building involved! Gone are the days of needing to understand HTML to get a basic website running or PHP/MySQL if you want something database driven. These days it’s all about the CMS so whether you’re planning to run a blog on WordPress, an ecommerce site on Magento or a regular content site on Joolma – you’ll find content management systems to suit.
Of course there is more to the “build” than just the platform. To really build a site you need content, lots of content. This is where your focus should be primarily.
Promoting the Site
Getting visitors to your website is actually the hardest thing to do. You could consider the various offline advertising methods such as local papers, billboards, radio etc but in my opinion the best way to drive traffic is via online methods. If you’ve got a large budget you could go down the pay per click (PPC) route where you pay for each click via a search engine such as Google or you could try your hand at organic SEO where you’d rank your website content for certain keywords and phrases. If you know how to do this you can generate traffic fairly cheaply but it’s quite easy to do it wrong and end up with less traffic than you would have had simply letting your site grow naturally.
Thankfully there are lots of ways to make money online – once you have the audience. Traffic is the key to making money in any sector. Unless you’re directly selling a product or service the typical ways to make money online consist of selling advertising space (either banners or sponsored content), affiliate marketing (offering other peoples products for sale for a commission) or pay per click models such as AdSense where you get paid a small amount each time someone clicks an advert on your site. Most people use a combination of all these models to generate income.
So there you have it, hopefully this article will help you out in some way and you can get cracking with starting your own project. Whichever route you go down if you do the fundamentals correctly and put adequate time and effort into your content you will no doubt succeed. Be careful not to throw in the towel too early, success takes a while and even the best of us sometimes fail, fail and fail some more before we get it right.