One of the first things on your mind when creating your business is probably how to start a website. As a Showit website designer, I have seen a lot of business owners do things in different ways. Here are a few quick tips to get you started on creating a website for your business!
Step One: Purchase a Domain for Your Business
At this point, you probably already have an idea for your business name. In order to start a website, you will need a domain. A domain is basically what you type in your web browser to pull up a website. For example, my domain is coffeeandflow.com. Domain costs are very minimal and can start at $12 per year and go up from there. The cost depends on the popularity of the domain you are looking for. My number one tip when looking for a domain is to make sure you purchase it so you own it and it is independent of your website platform. It will make it much easier to transfer around if you are changing website platforms through the life of your business.
Where to purchase your domain
My first suggestion would be to go to Google Domains. You will be able to connect your domain to any website builder you choose and easily transfer it if you ever decide to switch website builders along the way. You also will have the ability to get Google Workspace where you can have a business email powered through Gmail (like mine which is email@example.com). Google Workspace is an additional cost, but very minimal around $6 per month.
Choosing a domain extension
I suggest trying to get a domain that is a .com. Most people when they type in a web address (or domain), ends with .com. A second choice would be .co, followed by .net.
Purchasing multiple domains
You may have one main business name, but you could also purchase multiple domains if they apply to your business! For example, I currently own coffeeandflow.com but perhaps I would want to purchase coffeeandflowcreative.com if it was available. You can have one main domain, but have any other domains forwarding. This would be helpful if you want to make sure nobody else can purchase a domain that could be confused with your business.
Type out your domain before you buy it
You want to make sure your business name looks accurate when there aren’t any spaces. A lot of the time words look very different when they are all bunched together with no spaces. Are there duplicate letters right next to each other which make it confusing? When there aren’t any spaces do things look a little more r-rated? It sounds funny, but it is true!
For example, if my business was Stacey Space and I went to type it into Google Domains as “staceyspace” – someone could see my business name as Stacey’s Pace instead. See what I mean?
Step Two: Pick a Website Builder
Ok you have your domain ready to go – so exciting! Now you want to start looking for a website platform to build on. This could really turn into a rabbit hole but each one has it’s pro’s and con’s. You will have to do your research, but here are a few things that I know about these platforms:
- Squarespace: a popular choice and they have come a long way as far as being able to create and design freely. Squarespace is a great option, and the way to go if you are going to have lots of products to sell in your shop.
- Showit: obviously my favorite! You can be so creative with Showit and it can grow with you too. You can check out this post about all the reasons why I love Showit.
- WordPress: there are lots of free options to start with WordPress, but I personally found it really overwhelming if you don’t know “code”. There are lots of people that start with WordPress though and love it!
- Wix: I actually started with Wix when I first started my business. My main reason was because I knew I was still trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to offer and didn’t have a business name I really loved. Wix gives you the ability to have a free site (without a domain), which is great if you are jumping into things with your business. Check out this post to read my comparison with Wix and Showit.
My best advice to you is to find one that you have a good feeling about and sign up for the free trial. Most of these website builders have a free trial option where you can start playing around in the system before you invest.
Step Three: Decide How You Will Design Your Website
There are a few options when you are starting your business on how you want to design your site.
- Design it yourself!
If you are ‘techy’ and have a great design eye, this might be the option for you. There are lots of free templates with each website builder that you can start with. If you aren’t ready to invest in a website, you can use the free templates to get started!
- Purchase a template.
There are a TON of template options out there in the world to choose from. When you purchase a template from a professional website designer you are getting the design eye of a professional at an affordable cost for starting out. Do your research though and make sure you purchase from a reputable template shop. Be sure to look at their support options, the training that comes with your template purchase, and the pages that are included in your purchase.
- A combo of a template and a designer.
This is my favorite option. When you purchase a template, you know what your site will look like right from the beginning. Then you hire a designer that specializes in template customizations so you can get your site launched quickly and efficiently. You also have a designer that you can reach out to for support any time you have a question about your site. This option is still a great affordable price compared to a custom site that could be a $5,000 or more investment.
What happens next after your start your website?
I think it is important that you take the beginning steps of launching your website without thinking too much about all of the details. There are SO many steps involved in building a business, and a website, and you don’t have to do ‘all the things’ when you are starting out. After you get the basics done and launch your site, then you can start thinking about these additional factors:
- Building an email list and how that looks on your site
- Adding Google Analytics to your site
- Starting a blog
- Narrowing down your services and your niche
- Which social platform will you spend most of your time
Don’t get distracted by all the things you “should be” doing, and just start! If you have any questions, I’m here to support you too!