I know that if you’ve never built a website before, it can seem seriously overwhelming.
And yet, if there is anything I’ve learned from my years of selling online, it’s this: if you have a handmade business, you need your own site.
When I say “your own site,” I am not talking about an Etsy shop, or an eBay store, or even a blog on Blogspot or Tumblr. Those are all platforms that you can utilize, but they’re not yours.
You need an asset that you own… on your own domain.
When you have your own site, you’ll never have to worry what other platforms come and go. Your site will always be there. Your business will always be solid. And it will always be yours.
If the techie parts of building your own website have been what’s stopping you, then this guide will help! I promise… it isn’t nearly as difficult as it might seem.
Let’s go through the basics, step by step. (And if you’d like, here’s a printable checklist you can use along the way.)
At the very end of this post, you’ll find a link to even more FREE tutorials to help you build & customize your new website.
Website Building Basics
Step 1: Get your own domain name.
Your domain is the address (or URL) on the internet, where your new website will reside. You can choose and buy a domain name at a place like GoDaddy, for right around $10-12 bucks a year.
(I know from experience that just choosing the right domain name can stop you dead in your tracks, right here at step 1. I don’t want that to happen to you. I’ve got an article right HERE that might help you with choosing a domain, if you’re finding yourself frozen in place at this point.)
Basically, when you register a domain, you become the owner of that domain for a specific length of time (which you choose when purchasing), and GoDaddy (or whoever you’re buying from) secures and maintains it for you.
Once you’ve bought your domain, you’re ready for hosting.
Step 2: Get hosting.
You officially have a new address, but… there’s no house. So now what? How do you turn that address into a site that’s actually showing up on the internet somewhere?
This is where a hosting company comes in. A host gives you a place to build and store all of the files of your website, so that the rest of the world will be able to see it.
In this step, you need to find a hosting provider, set up an account with them for your brand new domain, and then wait for a short time for them to get you all set up.
Step 3: Set your nameservers.
Now that you’ve got your domain name, and you’ve got a place to host it, there is just one more thing you’ll need to do in order to get access to the backstage of your website, and start getting it built.
You’ll need to tell GoDaddy that even though you still want to be friends, you’re running off into the sunset with Host Gator (or whoever you’re choosing to host with). In other words, you need to set your nameservers.
This part tends to sound much scarier than it really is. This step will actually only take you about 5 minutes.
So, what the heck is a nameserver? I’ve got it all explained (plus how to set them), right here: How to set your nameservers.
Step 4: Install WordPress.
This is where you get to the good stuff. This is the step that will give you a real, live, working website.
WordPress is a content management system for your website, and it’s not just for blogging. It is, in my opinion, one of the best things that has ever happened to the internet (Take it from someone who started out building websites in Notepad!). It’s super easy to install, it’s super easy to customize and add almost anything to, and it’s no more difficult to use than the dashboard of an Etsy storefront (but with way more control).
Most of the time, WordPress can be installed from right within the control panel of your hosting account, in just a couple of clicks. If you’d like some help with this, I’ve got a tutorial, which will show you exactly how to get WordPress installed and configured.
Step 5: Make it pretty.
If you install WordPress, and then go to your domain, you will be able to see your website, with the basic WordPress home page, in all its glory. And, it’s a pretty ugly glory, so let’s jump right in and get behind-the-scenes.
Here is how you’ll get there: http://www. yourdomainhere.com/wp-admin.
One of the awesome things about WordPress is that it’s easy to customize. There is literally an infinite number of templates (called “themes”) that you can choose from, to dress up your site.
I have a full article on how to choose and install a WordPress theme if you’re interested, but here is the quick-start version:
In the left-hand navigation of your WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance, and then to Themes. At the top of that page, click “Add New.” You can then search through the zillions of themes that are available.
Now, there’s a whole lot more you can do with your site, but guess what?
You have a website!
And best of all, it’s yours.
If you get stuck anywhere while you’re getting your new website up and running, please feel free to ask me for help.
Ready to start customizing your new website?
I have an entire library of FREE tutorials (most with videos) that will show you how to do all kinds of things with your website…. from the basics of building it, to customizing it, to search engine optimizing it, and even to adding your own shopping cart.