How To Build A Website – Where To Start

Part 1 – Introduction

In this series of blog posts, I will walk through a (not the) process of setting up a small business website on a budget.

There are many ways to get a small business or side hustle website up and running.

I just wanted to share how I approach these things.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, if you are in the position of having a generous marketing budget, then I strongly advise you to employ the services of an agency to get your digital footprint going.

Also, if you have already navigated the learning curve of setting up your own website, then perhaps this series isn’t for you. (You are more than welcome to stick around though.)

However, if you are a little squeezed in this area, and you don’t mind having a go yourself, then I hope the next few posts will be of some assistance to you.

This post is an overview of the steps I take when setting up a site. The posts that follow will go into more detail.

Right, lets begin…

Plan Your Build

Building your own website is not as complicated as it once was, however, it is still a significant undertaking. As such it will require some planning and thinking ahead.

In this example series I follow these basic set up excercises to make sure I have a clear path to launch day:

  • Define the website owner/Avatar and purpose of the site
  • Identify the main areas for content ideas
  • Create the Domain Name, Website Hosting and social assets
  • Outline the site and branding
  • Design and Create the Lead Magnet
  • Wireframe the site
  • Build and Launch

Define Your Customer Avatar

Before you begin typing at the pc or thinking about getting a domain name for your new website venture, you need to understand what the purpose of your site will be.

To get clarity around this, you need to understand WHO your site is for and HOW you can best serve them.

Your website is a marketing channel.

Its primary functions are centred around helping your ideal customer or client solve their biggest problems and frustrations, or provide them with a clear path to a desired result that is significant to them.

The first port of call is to get proper intel on the ideal person you want as a customer.

Everything else follows from this.

Define Your Main Content Areas

Outside of your standard website content of the about, contact and services pages, you’ll need to build up an “Asset List” of content ideas to do 2 things:

  1. Add authority to your site
  2. Provide resources to the folks you want to help

If you are knowlegable about your subject and you have real empathy for your audience, then gathering these ideas will be a straight foward task ( even moreso after learaning a few content gathering hacks.)

Building a liburary of content while running your small business or side hustle gig is no easy feat. So anything you can do ahead of time to start the ball rolling will save you many, many headaches in the futre.

Create Your Domain Name, Website Hosting and Social Assets

Your Domain Name is your digital “sign above the door” and is something you need to own.

Getting one is a very, very simple task, but getting the right name requires a little more thought.

Be carefull of selecting a Domain Name that sounds too spamy or has potenital copywrite issues. Oh, and make sure you can say it out loud easily, as you will be using it alot.

In this phase, I discuss my thought process and how I decide on a suitable name for the website and where to get your site hosted.

Outline the Site and Initial Branding

Don’t fall into the perfectionist trap of trying out multiple combinations of colour, font and iterations of your logo.

It will drive you nuts.

Remember, your website is a work in progress and unless you have a budget to create a tonne of traffic, not many folks are going to see the first few versions of your website.

So don’t stress out here too much if your first draft is not entirely “on brand”.

Keep this bit simple, it will save your sanity.

A good place to start is a list of the key pages, like Home, Services, Contact, About and Privacy, then add a few notes on what they should contain.

Select your colours and fonts and get your logo sorted.

I’ve used Canva to create my logo.

Again, this is for us folks on a tight budget and limited time.

By all means, if you have any designer pals who are able to help out, or you have budget set aside for this part, then go ahead and utilise them/it.

Design and Create the Lead Magnet

Lead magnets are freebies used to entice your customers to sign up to your email list or to make some inital contact with you.

In the website world, they are generally pdf giveaways or “exclusive” videos that provide real and actionable value for your (hopefully) future customers.

They do not (and should not) be complicated to create or consume, but they MUST focus on something ( a desired outcome or solving a major headache) that your customers hold dear.

Wireframe Your Website

This is a simple excercise that does need some attention.

All you need to do here is sketch out a plan of what the site will look like from a floor plan point of view.

Take the key pages from the Outline Phase and plan what will they look like.

Just as in the same way that you would ‘sketch out’ a blog post with headings and bullet points to be refined later on, for a wireframe, you will list the initial pages of your website and outline the layout of each page.

You can simply draw this, or you can use wireframe tools like Lucidchart or use the Website Template option in Canva.

Build and Launch

Ah, the meat and potatoes, where all paths lead to this.

I am not a coder, so I use WordPress as my website platform of choice, so the mechanics here are different if you choose another website builder like Wix, Squarespace or Shopify (to name but a few).

Website builders allow us non-coders the ability to create fairly decent looking websites from scratch without having to have the qualifiactions for the NASA entrance exam.

Regardless of which tool you use, your approach to the build are lauch will be the same.

You will draw from your planning and initial outline of the site and use the respective tool’s functions to get yourself up and running.

Next Up, Part 2

Right, enough intro chattter, let’s get cracking.

Part 2 of this series is all about how I created my avatar. – Read it here.

Best of luck with your site.

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