With your niche decided, it's time to build your website. But if you're going to do that, you need to know how to actually build a website. Chances are, if you are new to internet business, the idea of building a website sounds scary. Don't worry, it's a lot easier than you might think.
By now you’ve learned what affiliate marketing is by reading the overview tutorial and you’ve realized that in order to have an internet business you need to decide what that internet business is going to be all about. It’s going to be an affiliate marketing business in a particular niche, and I hope that reading the article about how to pick your niche has helped you zero in on exactly what sort of business you want to build.
Now you’re ready to actually establish your presence on the internet. This is going to be a very simple process where you’re going to be able to select a domain name for your website, secure hosting for your website (this is the computer on which your website runs), install and configure software that will essentially be your website, and configure and beautify that website so that it looks exactly the way you want it.
Once your website is up and running we’ll add a little content and an offer or two, then you’ll be ready to drive traffic to that site and convert that traffic to sales. Rather than get overwhelmed by this seemingly technical task, let’s break it down step-by-step so that you can understand exactly what you need to do. Rest assured, if you think this is hard – it’s not. If you have a question about this process I’ll answer it in the comments below.
If you can answer email, you can build a website. It’s really that simple.
Let’s get started…
Choose a Domain Name
First, you need to decide the domain name for your website. The domain name is sort of like the address that people will remember to find you. Is your store going to be at the corner of 5th and Park Avenue? Well, your domain is just like that sort of address, it’s the name people type into the web browser in order to find your website. Examples that you’re familiar with would include Google.com, Facebook.com, Sears.com, Target.com, and etcetera.
The first thing you have to do is decide what you want your name to be and you have to choose a name that’s available.
You should choose a name that’s related to your niche and, if possible, a name that includes some or all of your targeted keywords. Targeted keywords are the sorts of words that people might type into Google in order to find your site. For example, if your site is going to be about learning to play the guitar you probably want the word “guitar” and maybe “lessons” or “learn to play,” or some related words like that in the domain name.
In the case of the Corn Sheller Site, which is the case study that we’ve been talking about, the site was about corn shellers and I wanted to register CornShellers.com. Unfortunately, the .com was taken, so I chose instead to register CornSheller.net.
I strongly recommend that you go ahead and register a .com domain for your very first domain. But if you find the perfect domain name and you really feel strongly about it, it’s okay to register .net or .org domain names. I would stay completely away from domain names other than .net, .com, and .org.
When you’re looking for a domain the easiest thing to do is to go to my personal favorite domain name registration company – Namecheap.com – and put in the names that you’re considering and see if they’re available. You may need to try 20, 30, 40, 50 different combinations before you find a name that is both one you like and is available.
Eventually you’ll find a name that works for you. Once you’ve done that, you can register it for about $10 per year in the case of a .com and you’re done – you own the domain name.
Choose a Hosting Package
Once you’ve registered a domain name you’ll need to secure hosting for that domain name. Hosting is the computer that your website runs on. Usually these computers are located in large rooms with lots of air conditioning and backup power running thousands and thousands of websites somewhere on the east or west coast.
I personally recommend HostGator or Bluehost for your first website. Their shared hosting packages range in price from $4 to $10 per month to get started. The thing I like about both HostGator and Bluehost is they have one click installation for WordPress, and that’s what we’ll talk about next.
Make it Visible
Once you’ve selected a domain name and secured hosting for that domain you need to install software on the hosting server that you secured that will show a webpage whenever someone visits your site. This software is the program that “presents” your site to a visitor (more or less).
When you’re on the internet and you type a URL into a web browser – for example, you type Google.com – what you see in your web browser is a webpage that has been provided by some software that was running on the computer that answers calls for Google.com. It’s just like when you call your credit card company and a computer answers the phone and says, “Please enter your account number.” When you call Google.com on the internet a computer answers your web browser call with a webpage that says, “Enter your search terms.”
In the case of your website you’re going to want your computer to answer calls to your website with webpages that say things like, “Welcome to my website,” with pretty graphics and lots of useful content. The software that I recommend to do this is absolutely free and it’s called WordPress.
The software comes from WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) but you don’t really need to know that. If you chose HostGator or Bluehost for your hosting you can install WordPress automatically using the simple instructions inside of those hosting services.
Dress It Up
Now that you have WordPress installed the next thing you need to do is configure the WordPress installation so that it looks the way you want it. WordPress comes with a nice built-in theme that allows you to configure the look and feel of the site.
Particularly important is the header on the site, which you can configure to be a picture of your own choosing or one of the built-in pictures that WordPress provides.
If you want to get really fancy you can install your own theme to give an even more unique look and feel to your website. Popular themes that I recommend include WooThemes, Thesis, and Genesis. These themes are premium themes that cost money. In my opinion, they’re worth every penny.
But if you’re just getting started and you’re on a budget and don’t like the look of the standard WordPress installation there are a ton of free themes out there on the internet. The quality of these themes varies wildly and your mileage may vary, but that’s certainly an option if you’re trying to keep costs under control.
Either way, once you install a theme you have a website that’s starting to look like it is a professional website that’s ready for your visitors.
One of the things that’s cheap and easy to do that I strongly recommend is for you to customize the header of your website so that it has something to do with your niche. Again, looking at the Corn Sheller Site you can see in the header it has a picture of a corn sheller and the name of the website.
Maybe you know how to use a graphics program or maybe you have a friend who does. In either case, it’s easy to create a simple graphic that communicates to your visitor, “Hey, I found what I was looking for, a website on corn shellers.”
Add Some Handy Plugins
Now that your website is up and running and it looks pretty, the next thing that you need to do is consider configuring some basic plugins for WordPress that will ensure that your site runs well. Don’t worry, I’m only going to recommend a few and these are easy to install.
Simply go to the WordPress Dashboard and install the following plugins; Akismet, W3TotalCache, and [etcetera… more plugins to be added here soon]. At a later date I’ll provide more resources about how to configure plugins for your website, but these are the few that I recommend to get started.
Start Adding the Content
We will discuss a long-term killer content strategy in the next section, but now that you have your website beautified and configured with plugins you need to add your first content. When you’re deciding what kind of content to add ask yourself, “What are people looking for with regard to this topic?” Search around and see what other people are writing about and write your own content about similar topics that you see on the web.
In the case of the Corn Sheller, I knew that people would be interested in the history of corn shellers and some other corn sheller information. To be honest with you, there wasn’t much choice about what to write about with corn shellers because it’s just not a topic that I know a lot about or that many people have written about, so my options were limited. Because of that I decided to write on other corn topics as well, corn gardening and corn recipes, to fill out the site and really have a nice well rounded set of content for Google to chew on.
Go ahead and write two or three articles to start. Here are some ideas….
- What are the top 10 questions that people want to know about your topic?
- If you were to sit down over coffee with someone and tell them about your topic, what would you tell them? Identify 10 things that you’d want them to know.
- Pick 10 products that you really like in this niche and review them. If you own the products take some pictures and include that in your reviews.
These are just some of the many ideas you can use to generate content. The important thing is to create content and get it out there.
Celebrate, because you've started your own website!
In conclusion, what you’ve done is very quickly registered a domain name, secured hosting, installed WordPress for your website, configured WordPress to make it unique just for your niche, and added unique content just for your niche. Congratulations! You have a real honest-to-goodness professional looking website up and running. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
In the future I’ll be including links in this article that have detailed tutorials on each and every one of these topics. Until I do that, please feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll help you out as best I can by sending you resources and answering your questions directly.
Enjoy building your first website.