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What is one of the best ways to generate new income? Well of course selling your products/services online through your own website!
The aim of this page is to help you grasp the basic knowledge on what you need to know in order to get started, plus some recommendations based on my experience.
First of all, you don’t need to be an IT guru to create a website. Sure, in most of the cases if you know how to code, you’ll be able to create better results, but nowadays you just need to learn how to use a Content Management System (CMS). This is a technical name to indicate a set of software to manage digital content. They offer visual, drag-and-drop menus to create your pages and have a fairly low learning curve. Also they have dozens of plugins that you can use to add features and customize your website.
The most popular CMS is by far WordPress which has over 30% market share of the entire web. This means that out of every 3 websites online, 1 is created and managed through WordPress. Not bad!
Now, let’s get you started and get your website online in 3 easy steps.
1. Choose a product
If you have not done it already, the very first thing to do is to decide what you are going to sell/talk on your website. It doesn’t have to be necessarily unique, in many cases you could simply improve on an existing product. Also don’t get fixated in selling something that any person would buy. What I mean by this, is that there is a big market for niche products too, actually it generally gives you less competitors.
It is easy to start with something you are expert or passionate about; in general it’s important that you have a clear idea on who is your target customer and what makes you different from your competitors cause you won’t be able to target every possible type of user/need.
2. Pick a memorable name
Once you have identified the product, it’s time to pick the name of your website. Here the limit is (almost) only your imagination, but whatever you choose, it should be something easy to remember and, even better, something that is related to your product. Brainstorm until you have a few candidates you are happy with.
3. Choose your domain and hosting provider
Once you have your list of candidates, it’s time to “reserve” your website address, which technically is called Domain. You can do that from a Registrar or, for simplicity, from a provider which will sell you the domain, hosting, plus other extras, generally packaged for a discounted price.
If it’s your first website or you don’t plan to have more than one, going for the unique provider makes your life a bit easier because you will be able to manage everything from one place and the setup will be simpler. Furthermore there is no big difference in price. Domains are fairly cheap while it’s hosting and the other add-ons can make the price skyrocket.
The hosting provider will give you some storage where to physically host your website and make it accessible through the Internet. It can be tricky to choose among the many providers and options available, and you risk paying for some extra feature you don’t really need.
When I started, I opted for a very popular provider, mostly because of the attractive price and the many recommendations online. At the beginning everything seemed ok, but then a couple things happened that made me change my mind. I once had a problem with a WordPress plugin that caused the whole website to crash. I panicked and was in a hurry to bring the website back online. I had to contact the Support for cleaning the cache on their servers (a fairly basic action). Even after explaining the problem, and what actions I needed them to perform, the operator seemed confused and not really knowing what to do. After a few minutes and more explanations, he finally decided to clear the cache as I requested and the website was restored. Needless to say this was not pleasant.
Another time I noticed that my renewal fee was strangely high, in fact twice the usual cost! After checking and contacting the Support (again), it turned out that they mistakenly put twice the fee. Good thing that I noticed! Speaking of price, I’ve realized that they were charging for items that other providers give for free such as SSL encryption (to keep the communication between your website and its visitors secure).
I knew it was time to switch to a different provider: meet SiteGround, officially recommended by WordPress.org as one of the best WordPress hosting providers. This is the hosting I am using so I have no problem recommending it to you (and using my affiliate link).
Registration and setup
The registration was super easy and, once done, a wizard menu guides you through the setup. You can choose if buying a domain, one-click install of WordPress or migrate an existing website from a different hosting provider. In my case I opted for the migration and the experience was painless. They offer to have someone do the migration for you, or you can just use their free plugin. My website was based on WordPress so I opted for the plugin – the WordPress Migrator. No technical skills are required and in just a few clicks your full site is migrated to SiteGround.
Considering my past experiences, Support was a very important element for me and SiteGround didn’t disappoint there neither. They claim to have “Insanely fast support with a heart”. I must say my experience was true to their words. They offer Live chat, Phone and Tickets all 24/7 and with extremely short waiting time.
The reason for such short times is that they over-staff all shifts so that there is always someone to pick up the phone or online chat, so you don’t have to wait more than a few seconds for the next available operator.
I contacted them during the initial setup, to understand how to transfer my emails from my old provider. I opted for Live Chat where in less than 15” Daniel greets me. A real person, not a bot. I could even see his technical background, years of experience, specific areas of expertise and interests. Daniel quickly understood what I needed and guided me on how to perform the migration. It felt like a real conversation and not just a person that wants to get rid of me to close the ticket. It was a great experience.
They can also help you with popular script extensions, plugins and templates, investigate and fix application-related issues and requests that other hosts turn down as beyond their scope.
Extensive tutorials and knowledge base
If it’s your first website – or want to improve your knowledge, SiteGround offers plenty of ways to learn through tutorials and how-to guides. They cover a good amount of topics to create and manage your website plus more.
Good prices and state-of-the-art tech
When I switched to SiteGround, I managed to half my yearly cost for hosting while improving the performances.
To increase the security of the website, you’ll need to have SSL enabled. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it’s the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. My previous hosting provider was charging me more than 60$/year for SSL. But why pay for it when you can get it for free? SiteGround gives you SSL for free and you only need a couple clicks to enable it. To protect you, they also offer different malware and DDOS protection tools.
To make sure that your website is fast, they apply different performance optimization features on your content that gives between 20% and 500% speed increase! This in addition to having data centers in 3 continents makes sure your website will be fast and stable.
Finally, what happens if after making some changes to your website, you mess up and want to restore a previous version? No problem, thanks to the free and automatic daily backups.
I hope that after reading this you feel now ready to start your journey and create your website.
If you’d like to sign up for SiteGround you can do so—> using my referral link. If you buy this from me, at no extra cost for you, I get some beer money (not enough for a pony).