How to Build A Website for Your Online Business
The Problem: I needed to build a website for blogging and marketing my new book. But I’ve never created a blog or e-commerce hub before.
The Good: The tools and knowledge required were a Google search away.
The Bad: Having to read through a number of sites to decide which of the many solutions available fit my business needs.
To save readers the time and effort, I’ll walk through the choices I made to create my new site, tkfalco.com.
Decision 1: Website Builder
The nature of my business narrowed down my choices. I decided to sell my ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle’s self-publishing platform (KDP) and my audiobooks through Audible’s ACX platform. For higher royalties and increased distribution, I will choose to offer both exclusively on those platforms. The end result being I won’t be selling any products on my site.
No selling ruled out an e-commerce site builder like Shopify. If I simply wanted to blog, I could’ve chosen a blogging site like Medium, which has a huge built-in readership. But I wanted to promote my own site and writing, so I committed myself to build a website. I wanted my own domain name and didn’t want ads, which ruled out Wix’s free solution. I also wished to retain full ownership of my site, which eliminated WordPress.com.
My Decision: WordPress.org
This webpage solution offers free and paid plug-ins and design themes which allow it to handle both blogging and e-commerce, which gives me the option to sell my books on my website in the future. But it’ll be necessary for you to read up and watch videos about how to use this tool.
Decision 2: Domain Name
I was seeking to a site with a professional-looking domain name – not a URL with the site name attached at the end – the default for WordPress.com and Wix. I also wished to keep my domain and hosting providers separate. Separating them costs more but it gives me the freedom to change hosting providers with minimal trouble.
My Decision: Namecheap
In terms of pricing and service, Namecheap looked like the best bet for buying a domain name.
Decision 3: Site Hosting
Selecting WordPress.org meant finding a hosting provider for my site. If price was my sole consideration, I would’ve bundled my domain name and hosting and selected a low-cost hosting provider like Bluehost. But the reviews I read for the lowest-cost hosting lead my to seek a provider with a reputation for reliability.
My Decision: Siteground
Siteground has a solid reputation for service, security, load times and its overall hosting performance. 24/7/365 customer support. Well-reviewed by users.
Decision 4: Free or Paid WordPress
WordPress.org offers a customizable content management solution which includes downloadable plug-ins for improving search engine optimization. But all these customizable features requires you to pick-and-choose from an array of free and paid themes and plug-ins. It’s only natural to choose ‘Free’ whenever possible. But for a newbie like me with no experience in CSS or site-building, learning WordPress felt like a soul-crushing experience. The built-in capabilities of a quality paid WordPress theme eased my learning curve.
My Decision: Elegant Themes.
Part of my reasoning for choosing their Divi WordPress theme was that I received two plug-ins free with my purchase: Bloom and Monarch. Bloom is an email opt-in plug-in which enables sites to create forms for capturing email addresses from visitors. Since an email list is crucial to marketing my books, this was a must-have capability for growing my business.
Monarch is a social media sharing plug-in. It allows you to easily display social media buttons, pop-ups and fly-ins anywhere on your site. A dashboard for viewing stats and managing settings is included. Since I’d need to pay for plug-ins like these anyway, it made buying Divi more economical.
Lastly, most paid themes and plug-ins require monthly subscriptions. By selecting Elegant Themes’ one-time fee for lifetime service instead of the monthly option, I was saving money in the long-run.
There’s no one right answer if you want to build a website. It all depends on your budget, business and goals. But hopefully I’ve provided a clearer picture of the options available.