Your small business needs a website but your budget will not allow you to spend $1000-1500 to hire a web designer. I know the feeling. Or maybe you are the do-it-yourself type who welcomes the challenge of building the website for your small business. Welcome to 2016, where it is relatively easy to DIY your small business website. I will show you how. This is part one of a two part series on building your own small business website on a shoestring budget.
In this series, we will cover…
- Buying your domain name and hosting
- Setting up WordPress
- Customizing your website
Step One – Buy your domain name and hosting
Buy your domain name
Your website is the face of your business on the internet. Your domain name is what leads your customers to your website. Don’t just choose a random domain name, take some time to consider your options and figure out which domain name best fits your business.
What will your domain name be? Is it available? Go to any domain name registrar to see if the domain name you want is available. With 299 million domain names registered worldwide across all top-level domains there is a good chance the domain name you want will be taken. If the domain name you want is not available, visit Thesaurus.com and type in your keywords to find synonyms of your keywords. Also, look at some of the suggestions offered when your preferred domain name is not available and let your imagination run wild.
There are so many options for domain name registrars (eg. GoDaddy.com, Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com, etc.). Don’t be lured into buying from a specific registrar by an introductory offer. Do some research, search for reviews for the registrar you are considering. ICANN has a list of accredited registrars you will want to choose from. The registrars on this list sign a contract with ICANN which “provides enhanced protections for registrants.” Some hosting companies offer a free domain name for one year with the purchase of hosting.
This process of choosing the perfect domain name is typically not an easy one. The last domain name I bought took me over a week to purchase. Research keywords, research your competitors, check to see if the domain name you want is available. When it’s not, repeat the process until you get just the right name that is a perfect fit for your business.
For additional advice on choosing a domain name check out these blog posts:
- FitSmallBiz.com’s recent post, Choosing A Domain Name – 25 Tips From The Pros for even more suggestions on choosing the perfect domain name
- Sarah Peterson wrote a blog post about how she chose her domain name in just a few hours – How to Choose a Killer Domain Name in 5 Simple Steps
Buy your hosting
The same care you take with researching your registrar also needs to be applied to researching your hosting company. You don’t want to build the website for your small business only to have it disappear because the hosting company went belly up or doesn’t provide good customer service. Do they offer support? Is their support staff helpful or condescending? Are they available 24/7? Do they speak your language? Do your homework before purchasing hosting for your website. I did a Google search for “best hosting companies 2015” and the top unpaid result lead me to HostingAdvice.com’s post 2016’s Best Web Hosting Reviews (Overall Ratings). But don’t stop there. Do your own research by typing into your favorite search engine the “name of the hosting company” followed by “reviews” to see what people are saying about the hosting company you are considering (eg. hostgator reviews, inmotion reviews, godaddy reviews).
This step also takes some time. Not all hosting companies are the same. You want to be sure your hosting company is a good fit for your small business website. Since you’re building a WordPress website, make sure the host you choose plays nicely with WordPress (most do, but there are some exceptions). Also be sure that they offer the same level of customer service that you offer your own customers.
If you are unsure what the term “nameservers” means or how to change them, I would suggest purchasing your domain name from the hosting company you choose after doing your research.
I recently made the switch to InMotion Hosting (Affiliate link)* after doing much research of my own. Their support staff is excellent and their Control Panel is easy to use. The last time I had to contact them for support I used their online chat feature which was a breeze. I have moved both my hosting and domain name registration to InMotion, which uses Melbourne IT for their domain name registration (they are on the ICANN list).
I have also had experience with FatCow.com as well as 1and1.com for hosting. I would recommend FatCow as their service is easy to use and their support staff is easy to get in touch with. Support at 1and1.com is also excellent, but their Control Panel (or lack thereof) is difficult to figure out. Maybe it would be easier for someone without prior hosting experience but for me, since I’m used to the standard Control Panel, I had trouble finding things, for example the File Manager which isn’t called File Manager on their dashboard.
We have reached the end of step one. Now take the next few days and do your research and purchase your domain name and hosting. Let me know who you chose and why. If you already have a website, who do you use for hosting and domain name registration? Would you recommend them? Why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
*I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link on this website.