If you’ve looked into making your own website, you’ve surely run across companies that offer to help you make your own website for free. But inevitably, no free service is going to give you your very own URL because this costs money.
But getting your own URL isn’t as expensive as it might sound. In fact, you can set up a website with your own domain name for only $5.21 per month.
There are hundreds of ways to make your own website. The way that I’m going to show you is what I believe to be the cheapest, fastest, easiest, and overall best way to do it.
1 Buy Web Hosting & a URL
Every website is stored on a computer somewhere in the world. These computers have to be kept on all the time so that people can access the websites 24/7. To make your own website, the first thing you’ll need to do is pay a company to “host” it for you.
Just having a website hosted somewhere isn’t enough. You also need to buy a domain name (www.johnlamansky.com, for example) so that people can type it into their address bar and get to your website.
There are many companies that let you purchase web hosting and domain names, but the company I use and recommend is HostGator. I recommend them because of their cheap prices and excellent customer service.
2 Install a CMS
Once you’ve purchased web hosting, the next thing to do is install software that will let you add content to your website. This is called a “Content Management System,” or CMS. One of the world’s most popular content management systems — and the one that I personally recommend due to its ease-of-use — is called WordPress. Here’s how to install it:
- When you purchased a web hosting plan from HostGator, they should have sent you an email with login information for cPanelX (your website’s control panel). Log in to cPanelX with the username and password they gave you.
- Once you’ve logged into cPanelX, click “Fantastico Deluxe” under the “Software/Services” section.
- Click “WordPress” under the “Blogs” section on the left.
- Click the “New Installation” link.
- Leave the “Install in directory” field blank.
Type a username and a secure password into the “Admin access data” section.
Enter your name into the “Admin nickname” field and your email address into the “Admin e-mail” box.
Type your new website’s name into the “Site name” field and a sentence-long description of your site into the “Description” field.
- Click the “Install WordPress” button.
- When the next screen appears, click the “Finish Installation” button.
- On the installation success screen, make a note of the admin area URL that appears after the phrase “Bookmark this!”
3 Pick a Design
- Enter the admin area URL that you noted at the end of the previous section into your browser’s address bar.
- Log in with the username and password that you specified during the WordPress installation.
- Click the “Appearance” menu item on the left.
- Click the “Install Themes” tab.
- Use the “Feature Filter” to browse through various “themes” (website designs) or click the “Featured” link up on top to see some recommended designs.
- When you find a theme you like, click “Install.”
- Click the “Install Now” button.
- Click the “Activate” link.
You might want to try out a few themes to see which suits you best.
4 Add Content
The next step is to add content to your brand-new website. Your WordPress website supports two types of content:
- Posts (i.e. blog postings)
- Pages (i.e. regular webpages)
Go to your website’s WordPress admin area URL (which you noted at the end of step 2). Hover over either “Posts” or “Pages” on the left and click “Add New” from the menu.
From the resulting screen, you can type in a post/page title, use the editor to format your content, click the “Upload/Insert” button to add pictures, etc.
At some point, click “Posts” and “Pages” on the menu and delete the sample “Hello World” post and the sample “About” page. (Or, if you want an “About” page, you can edit it instead of deleting it.)
By default, WordPress will show your site’s latest blog posts when someone types in your domain name. If you don’t want a blog on your website at this time, here’s how to disable it:
- If you haven’t already created a page that you’d like to use as a homepage, hover over “Pages” on the menu and click “Add New” to go to the page creator where you can add content and publish the page.
- Hover over “Settings” on the menu and click “Reading”
- Under “Front page displays” select “A static page”
- From the “Front page” dropdown, select the page that you would like to use as a homepage.
5 Add Features
WordPress supports add-on programs called “plugins.” You can use plugins to add features to your site. For example, if you want to sell products on your site, you can add an e-commerce plugin that will give you a shopping cart. You can install an SEO plugin that will help your website rank higher in search engines.
To add a plugin, hover over “Plugins” on the menu of your site’s admin area and click “Add New.” You can then use the links and/or search box to find plugins. When you’ve found a plugin you like, click “Install Now.”