People get put off building a website because they either have to pay someone to do it which can be pretty expensive, or they decide to do it themselves which is tricky with no coding experience. Plus there’s so many options out there it’s hard to know where to start.
But if I can do it so can you.
I guess now is a good time to tell you that the companies I use (and recommend) are UK-based because it’s easier for my accounts to be billed in pounds, plus I like to support UK businesses where I can. The only one that isn’t UK-based is the theme provider, for the simple reason that I couldn’t find a better (or easier to use) theme – but more on that later.
I’m telling you about these companies because I think they’re good. The only one I’m affiliated with is Artisan Themes, but I’ve used them for years now so you can rest assured that I’m only recommending what I know and love.
Here’s how to build a site like mine:
Buy a domain name
I bought a domain name from LCN.com. It’s easy to do, but the hard part is deciding on the name you want to buy. It was straightforward for me because ashleyhoyland.com was available, but if the name you want is gone you’re going to have to get creative. Let’s say my domain wasn’t available, I could’ve chosen:
You get the idea. ALWAYS buy .com and .co.uk if you can. I use .com for my website but I also own .co.uk just in case I want it in the future. I don’t want anyone else to steal it and hold it for ransom. Because yes, I’m that important…
Try to avoid the other endings, like .biz, .net, .me etc because I think they look a bit naff. Obviously that’s just my opinion but in my experience people trust what they know, and they are most familiar with .com and .co.uk.
Please don’t buy .co. My issue with .co is people mistake it for .com and co.uk ALL THE TIME. You’ll be telling someone what your website is and they’ll say ‘you mean .com don’t you’ and it’s infuriating trying to correct everyone.
Rant over, let’s move onto hosting.
Pick a hosting provider
Again, I use LCN because they’ve made it really easy to hook up your domain with your hosting. Plus everything’s under one roof and I find it easier to manage. LCN offer hosting specifically for WordPress at a very affordable price. Their support is amazing too, so if you’re having trouble with anything you can use their instant chat button to get all the help you need. I’ve used it a few times and always walked away with my issue resolved.
Once you’ve bought your domain and hosting, follow the instructions on LCN to set up your WordPress site. They’ll send you an email with your WordPress login details so you can access your new site. What you’ll access is called the backend of your website. It’s the part no one sees and it’s where you’ll publish your posts and edit your pages.
If you need more help you’ll find an introduction to WordPress here.
I know you might be thinking ‘what about Squarespace or Wix or Shopify?’ Those are all good places to start and if you don’t feel comfortable with WordPress you should definitely opt for one of them, but I found – after a ton of research – that you can do a lot more with WordPress and it has a better relationship with Google and SEO. If I’m wrong please tell me, but I’m just going off what I’ve found to be true.
Pick a website theme
Now you have the foundations of your WordPress site sorted, you need to pick a theme. Think of the theme as the pretty part that people see. As I have no coding experience I looked for a theme that had all the coding done for me – all I had to do was simply drag the ‘blocks’ into place.
The theme I opted for is called Pepper+ by Artisan Themes. Once you’ve bought the theme, you need to log on to your WordPress site, look at the menu on the left hand side of the screen and select ‘appearance’ then look for a button at the top of the screen that says ‘add new’. Now look at the top of the screen again and click ‘upload theme’. You’ll see a box asking you to ‘choose file’ click that and upload the zip file of the Pepper+ theme you’ve just bought. Now click ‘activate’ and you should be ready to go.
It’s a long time since I set my website up but I’m pretty sure that once you’ve activated the theme you can start customising it and playing around with the pages you want. If you need any help make sure you reach out to Artisan or look at their knowledge base because they were super helpful to me.
Add your copy
You probably don’t need me to tell you that the words on your website are what makes people decide to stick around. So you need to get it right.
If writing copy makes you break out in a cold sweat you might find these articles useful:
You’ll probably also like my free guide that’s full of writing tips.
But if you don’t want to tackle it yourself – get ready for it – you’ll be surprised to know that I can help with that. Your copy is just as important as your actual site because it’s what makes people become your customers, sign up for your emails or buy your products.
Most people get stuck on their about page because it’s hard writing about yourself without sounding cocky. If that’s you, get in touch and I’ll write it for you.
Find some nice images to use
Images can make or break a website.
If you have some good photos of yourself make sure you use them. People buy from people so it’s good to whack your beautiful mug up there (at least on your about page). Customers love to put a face to a name or see who’s behind the business.
You’re going to need other images too, and the main place I find them is Unsplash. All the images are free to use however you want (even commercially) and you don’t have to credit the photographer but I always try to when possible – as you’ll see at the end of this post. New images are being added to Unsplash all the time so there’s always something new, plus there are so many on there I’d be amazed if you couldn’t find something to suit your brand / website.
There you have it. I hope it’s helped give you a bit more confidence to make your own website.