You have seen all those successful bloggers out there. You know a lot of people visit them and that one ad must be making them at least a ton of money. They also have an ever-growing fan base that supports them whatever they do. But now you wonder if you could do the same. With a little money and skill and with a lot of patience you can certainly do it. But be warned it will be a long journey. A lot longer and more tedious than this article. Note that none of the companies promoted here have paid me a dollar and I am simply pointing out my favorites.
Think of an idea
I know every single tutorial out there gives weight to this. But seriously, do it. You will have a much easier time when you know what you are going for. If you are planning on making a blog, look at what other people have done. If you are interested on creating a page about yourself to use with job applications, see what others have settled with. Google is your best friend.
Of course, we all are wishing for the ultimate breakthrough, but be prepared that it will not happen. Not straight away at least. So to get to your hard earned audience, think about how to get your product, whatever it is, to the masses. Here social media is the best you can have. With services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram promoting to people whatever their friends have liked, getting your initial audience is the key for explosive growth. That and frequent posting to remind everybody of your existence.
Choose how hardcore you want to go
When I first started this website I decided to go with the hardest way imaginable. I settled on an old computer that had been sitting in my drawer for ages as a server and hand-coded everything that showed on the site. It was a mess. Just getting the old brute of a laptop to run Ubuntu (a distribution of Linux) and Apache (software that runs a web server) to run was a real pain. But for someone who wants to learn how Linux works, how to use the command line properly and is short of a good web design project, I’d say that this really is the way to go.
Pick a name
And think of it carefully. Spend time on it. After settling on a name it is technically easy to switch to something else, but a tougher (and more expensive) task is redirecting every single customer you have earned, possibly with advertising money, to your new-found site. There are multiple places on the internet which give you suggestions on domain names from keywords you have chosen. For example Namemesh.
When thinking about a name, you would want to settle on something short, memorable and preferably something that tells a little bit of what you do. As an example we could say Google is a bit weird as it doesn’t tell you what services they provide, but it surely is memorable. Facebook, theMinimalists and 9gag do the job better in my opinion. Also note that there are a ton of endings for that precious domain name of yours. Each differently priced, of course. .blog .io and .tv being just a few examples. Playing with these names is also fun, just as they did in goo.gl and youtu.be
After you have settled with a name that is sure to attract visitors and boost your website to fame, you need to book it. For this, you need a registrar. For instance GoDaddy and name.com are a couple of good ones, but there are tons of these on the magical land of the internet so just go ahead and find those top-10 lists.
These registrars provide you with a name you can link to any IP you want usually from the site you bought the name, but if you want a hassle-free life you can usually buy the name straight from your hosting provider. Provided you have one and you didn’t settle with an old computer that’s been lying around for a server.
The cost of these domain names usually range anything from free to multiple hundreds of euros a year. A typical .com domain name costs around 12 euros. Note that you will buy these names for a year at a time and unless you auction it, it will be yours for a complete year.
Pick a server
Now that you’ve got your name you should start looking into servers. As mentioned above, you could use a computer of your own to get a server up and running, but this would require epic command line matrix, knowledge of how Linux works and the possibility to forward ports on your router. A great tutorial by Etel Sverdlov here.
If you decide to tread the easier path you’ll want a server provider. As always, there are a lot of these, with Hostgator and iPage being just a couple of good examples and “Who is hosting this” being a great place for reviews and up-to-date rankings.
When looking at the server providers, keep an eye out for these:
- Price. A good price for small webpage is 2 – 10 euros monthly. If you want to expand it is always relatively easy and cheap to switch plans or service providers altogether.
- User reviews. Never underestimate the power of these. Always look for the worst review and see if the same problem has persisted with other people. The work you do know is the money you save later.
- SSL or Secure Sockets Layer. If this is provided you can do e-commerce, which would be unavailable otherwise, and even display notifications on Android smartphones. Usually these cost something from 50 euros to even 400 euros, so if you have the option to get even a shared one very cheap, be sure to go for it.
- Domain name. Some hosting plans come with a discount or even free domain names. This is also a good way of saving a couple more euros a year to get that Lamborghini (or Ferrari, who am I to judge) you want.
- Email. Because nothing is more epic than to send email from firstname.lastname@example.org
- FTP or file transfer protocol. This comes with 99% of plans, but is always worth checking for. It really makes uploading files easier.
Advertising and other alternatives
As I previously said getting your product to the masses is very important. Social media is a great free tool for this. And with listing your website to Google, Bing and other big search engines being completely free, you’d think there’s absolutely no chance of you not succeeding, but lo and behold, it is scarily possible. So you most probably will need advertising.
But before we get into that, a must to use is SEO or search engine optimization. There are good articles on this found easily by just a quick Google, but here are the main things:
- A good title. I mean seriously. Choosing the words between the <title> -tags is really important. Outside this, also prioritize the in-article headings.
- The meta description tag. Here you would put a short explanation of what your site is about and what you are providing. A good starting point is answering the questions “what?” and “why me?”
- The meta keywords. There was a time when people would cram this completely full of any words that are even distantly related to the content. Because of this most search engines mostly just pass on these, but if they drive just a little more audience to your site I would say it is a good idea to grab a couple of the most relative tags.
- The meta author tag. Your name and information would go here. People tend to pay attention to photos first, so if you have a photo of yourself, it might be a good idea to put them here.
After getting your page completely optimized for search engines, you might want to check OG, or Open Graph Tags. These tags make your page look the way you want when it is shared on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and pretty much any of the biggest social medias. Definitely one to check out.
But if all else fails and you still want to drive those valuable customers to your website you will have to turn to advertising. Both Facebook and Google offer great ways to advertise your services, only on Facebook you not only for clicks, but also for views. On Google you pay only when you get a click. When getting into advertising, you should also go check out YouTube ads. According to their site, you only pay when a visitor clicks on your ad or watches it for over 30 seconds. Seems like a fair deal to me.
Congratulations! If you survived this far you have successfully read most of the main things related to creating a web page. Now everything that is left is to create a clear, easy to read website and some appealing content, to get those customers to click on your advertisements and buy your T-shirts.
Here, you might want to start thinking, what is realistic. Do you want to spend hours upon hours programming that dream website or will you settle for a layout somebody else has luckily made for your kind to use. Most of these themes are free or at least very cheap and look awesome when applied.
After getting your initial website ready, do not spend too much time on it anymore. Get creative on your content and that awesome video to use as an ad on YouTube. But one thing I can guarantee you. At first, you will not succeed. But just like a great man once said:
If you are going through hell, keep going.
– Winston Churchill