So you’ve decided to set up a website, and you don’t know where to start. You could hire a web designer, but you’re not even sure where to start there. And frankly, you have a really limited budget.
Well the good news is, you don’t need to spend thousands to setup a website – and actually get a pretty decent website! And if you’re just starting out in business, you don’t even need to get the fanciest website out there. But where do you start?
I’m going to walk you through the list of everything you need to buy in order to set up a website for your online business. You’ll be amazed to see that it really doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars! Below are the items you need in order to get started. Keep in mind that the prices I list can vary from company to company, and from designer to designer. I chose average prices. You can shop around a bit to find better prices!
Here’s what you need in order to set up a website for under $500:
1. A platform. (free)
I recommend WordPress.org (this is NOT the same thing as wordpress.com!), although there are other good options out there as well. What I don’t recommend is a template site, such as Wix or Weebly. While they are tempting on the front end because they look nice enough and they are cheap (or free) and they claim to be super easy, you’ll find that you’ll basically have to start over before long. They just don’t allow for growth and customization, and the content won’t transfer nicely. So get WordPress and just be done with it.
2. Web Hosting. ($10/mo.)
There are loads of great web hosts out there. I use hostgator, but I know siteground is really great as well. I’ve also heard great things about hostmonster and bluehost. Usually you can get a cheaper rate if you buy an annual package, but if you need to do it monthly that’s usually an option as well. You also might get an introductory rate that might change after the first year.
3. A domain. ($26/yr.)
A domain is the part that comes after “www.” when you type a website into a browser. Mine, for example, is “rosemcchesney.com”. You can buy domains from WordPress your hosting company usually, or you can go to someplace like namecheap. I’ve heard people have spent upwards of $80, and as little as $10, but mine costs me $26, and I got mine from WordPress directly. So if someone is trying to sell you a domain for a large chunk of change, look somewhere else.
TIP: Do your homework before you select your domain. If you choose a name that is the same, or really similar to, an existing business, you might have problems later due to copyright and trademarking. This can lead to cease and desist letters, or even lawsuits. And even if those don’t happen to you, you’re opening up the door to confused customers who thought they were going to a totally different business and ended up at yours – and losing your own customers to the other business. Just don’t play around with the mess this can create.
4. The Genesis Framework. ($60)
If you are using WordPress, get Genesis for it. You’ll basically have to pay for it, then download it and then install it. It’s 3 steps, and they are really quick and easy. Why do I recommend the Genesis framework? Because if you aren’t a web developer (and if you’re reading this blog post, you’re most likely not a web developer!) you aren’t equipped to handle coding and what happens when an update breaks something on your site. Genesis will give you a reliable “engine” for the website, plus a solid support team if something goes wrong. Get Genesis.
5. A theme. ($40)
Since you got Genesis, you need a “child” theme that works with Genesis. You can purchase one from studio press, where you got Genesis, or you can look around for one. My favorite place to look for themes is Creative Market. There are a wide variety of options, and there are so many beautiful ones! I recommend browsing for what stands out as attractive to you, but also looking at what features they have. You may not be using a third party to sell your products, so you may not need one that is designed to use with woo commerce. On the other hand, you may need one that will allow you to show off a portfolio. While generally speaking any of these themes should be adaptable for various plugins, the more you tweak them the less they will look like the previews you see. So explore the information about the theme before buying it, to make sure it really is built to do what you are hoping it will do.
That’s it! I know, it’s still a lot to take in, but those fees don’t add up to thousands, do they? No. You’re looking at about $150 up front, then an annual fee of around $25 or $30, and monthly fees around $10. I did say that you can set up a website for under $500, didn’t I?
The journey of DIYing your site is both valuable, and overwhelming. There can be some really frustrating moments, for sure. But you can learn a TON about what your site can do for you, and it will force you to think about why you want certain things on your site.
I said you could set up a website for under $500, then I gave you a list of things that will add up to around $150. That was on purpose. I recommend that you spend the other $350 on whatever help you need. I have a tech guy that I call when I’m having trouble with my site. Every time that he helps me out, I learn more about how to make my site work for me! So I continue to learn and grow – but when I’m stuck, I can shoot him a text and ask him to help me out. On the front end you will need more help, but as you go, you’ll get better at it. You can even start now by watching some YouTube videos, reading some articles on line, and googling things like “how to install Genesis theme” and “how to install my child theme with Genesis framework”. Learn as much as you can, and ask for help when you’re stuck.
Or, if this is just way too overwhelming for you, talk to me. I might be able to set you up with someone, or help you set up a website myself. Either way, I want to make sure you get your site set up, and I want to help you do it on a budget. When your business is larger and you have more revenue, you can invest thousands. But today, with a smaller business and a beginner site, you can still set up a website that you can be proud of for under $500 investment.
Ready to take the plunge, and need a little pep talk? No problem! Drop me a note through the contact form, and let’s talk!
p.s. I have no affiliation with the companies and websites I named – I’m just giving you my honest opinion.