FAQ's About Creating a Website
I Don't Have a Website
How Much Does a Website Cost?
How Do I Begin My Website?
Do I Need to Register a Business Name?
I Want a Free Website
Blog or Static Website?
What is Site Build It! and Why Use It?
I Want to Hire Someone to Design My Site
How Do Websites Make Money?
I Want to Get Into Affiliate Marketing
What is a Niche Website?
I Want to Create an Online Store
I Want to Create a Membership Site
I Want to Sell a Book
I Already Have a Website
How Do I Promote My Existing Online Store?
I Need Help Writing Content
What's the Best Structure for a Website?
How Do I Build Traffic?
How Do I Make Money With AdSense?
Where Do I Get Images for My Site?
There are various costs involved with building a website, make sure you read my cost overview page for details.
No. A business is not needed to create a website but you should read about your options in case you decide to do this down the road. As your site starts to make money, you may want to consider doing this.
You can purchase a domain and hosting from numerous places on the Web today. If you go with my store, Website Palace you will receive a getting-started guide (eBook) and my Easy Starter CSS templates with video instructions for free (for static HTML sites).
Learn more about how to register a domain name and create your website.
In 1998, I lost several of my sites when the free hosting company I used went bankrupt and then decided to start charging for hosting.
I didn't want to pay their ridiculous, inflated fees so I lost all my sites.
That is why I no longer recommend free sites. Not to mention you cannot add things to them like shopping carts, forums, user interactive features, etc.
Trust me. You don't want to join the hundreds of people who have emailed me over the years who were frustrated because they realized the mistake they made with free hosting.
If you're taking this venture seriously, you'll invest in a domain and hosting from the start. I'm warning you. Don't create a website using free hosting. You will regret it. Read why I don't think you should build a free website.
A blog is a kind of website where the content is arranged dynamically by date and category (by default).
You are free to change the content structure/layout but it may require some manipulation of your blogging theme.
My blog is where I publish "newsy" content every week on Internet marketing, blogging, making money online, etc. Notice how the content is structured -- by category and date.
Blogs are best for people who want to publish a lot of newsworthy content on a regular basis.
Creating a blog is simple. Once you choose and register a domain and sign up with a hosting account, you simply install the WordPress script, choose a pre-existing theme and begin publishing your content. No software needed.
Static websites are created manually by hand (HTML/CSS) or with web software. This is a static site you're reading now. I used Dreamweaver to create it.
Artisteer is another option. It's cheaper and easier to use than Dreamweaver, but it's only a design tool -- not a full-blown web editor. The great thing about Artisteer is you can use it for blogs and static sites.
Which is Better?
Many people today view static sites as old fashioned now that blogs have become so popular and are much easier to setup.
I personally like having a static site because I have more control over every aspect of the layout now that I've learned how to use Dreamweaver.
On the other hand, blogs are very easy to setup, and WordPress blogs have a plethora of plugins to help enhance your site quite easily. Just know that customizing your design to the fullest can be tricky if you aren't familiar with CSS and PHP.
Nevertheless, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Click here to learn more about the difference between a blog and a static website.
Site Build It! is an all-in-one website building and marketing system for static websites.
If you go with SBI!, you don't need to go anywhere else for your domains, hosting, web page building tools, etc. Everything you need is all under one login -- including keyword research help, website templates, a mailing list manager, autoresponder and more.
SBI! is not for blogging sites. It's for static sites like this one. So if you want to create a niche/affiliate website, for example SBI! would be the ideal solution for that kind of website.
A lot of people today wonder why anyone would buy a premium system like SBI! for $29/month when there are many more economical solutions.
The value with SBI! comes with the step-by-step video action guide, help with topic and keyword research and all the additional help and tools that you wouldn't receive with standard web hosting plans.
You can also use any template you want with SBI!. You do not have to use the templates that come with their program. As I write this, they are in the process of upgrading their site building system.
I realize that everyone is creating blogs these days, so you may be wondering if a product like SBI! is still relevant today.
I can assure you that it is.
As long as people are going online to search for information, a product like SBI! that teaches you how to build and monetize an information-rich website will always be relevant.
WordPress is quick and easy, but it's not going to teach you how to find a "profitable" niche and make money. Site Build It! will.
Have any doubts? Look at their Facebook page. They are gaining roughly 5,000 new "Likes" per month. SiteSell is certainly doing something right over there and I'm happy to recommend them.
Just to give you an idea of the kind of support you'll receive...
In October 2011, Google did a major update which affected a lot of people's traffic negatively. SiteSell assembled a team of 200 volunteers to help "audit" the websites that lost traffic and provided feedback and advice to help them get their rankings back.
I was so impressed!
You'll never get that kind of support from a large, standard web hosting company... ever! So with Site Build It!, you are definitely paying for a unique kind of community support.
Maybe you've found a blog theme or web template that you like and you need help customizing it. Or perhaps you'd like someone to build your design from scratch. These sites are perfect for this.
I've used vWorker several time for techy jobs that I didn't have time or resources to complete. Once you accept a bid you like, the worker begins your job and you don't pay until you're satisfied. The money is held in escrow until you release it.
For logos, check out LogoMyWay. This service lets you hold a contest for your logo design.
During the contest you can request revisions and small tweaks of the logos you like. Once you select the winner, you release the escrowed money and the designer sends you the logos.
I've used LogoMyWay for three of my websites, including this one.
If LMY's $200 minimum is too expensive for your budget, you can use one of the other sites mentioned or go to Digital Point forums and request a logo contest.
Many designers will create a logo for as low as $25. Just remember, the quality may not be as good as a premium service.
If you don't want to hire anyone to design your site, you can get some web design tips here.
Websites make money all kinds of ways today. From affiliate marketing programs like Clickbank, ad programs similar to Google AdSense, reviewing products, selling ad space, product sales, dropshipping, selling a service, and more.
The key to making money with any kind of model is to draw in enough targeted traffic from people who are interested in your content. It all starts with building valuable content and getting in front of the people who value and need it most.
I want to prevent you from making common mistakes people make when trying to earn money with their websites. Read my guide on making money first. You'll be glad you did.
Affiliate marketing is the #1 way I earn online today and the concept is simple. You promote products sold by other companies for a commission.
So if you create a blog about shoes, you could review and recommend certain shoes from the Zappos website, for example.
You send people to their site via a special tracking link, and earn a commission for any product that is sold as a result of your referral.
Sounds easy, right? The concept is very easy, but affiliate marketing is hard work. Just like any online money making venture, you have to build traffic and lots of it.
A niche website offers information to a very defined target audience. For example, you may want to create a support site for people who are trying to quit smoking.
Maybe you are an ex-smoker yourself, and would like to share your personal strategies with your followers.
You could create a niche site and monetize it with AdSense ads and find affiliate programs that are tied to products that help people quit smoking.
The site you're on now is an example of a niche website because it targets people who want to create websites.
The key to succeeding with a niche website is to perform keyword research and find a well-defined niche that is not overly saturated, and has a plethora of related keywords that people search for.
The idea is to create tons of content on the topic and learn search engine optimization so your site can be found in Google, Bing, etc. Of course there are many more ways to drive traffic to a site, but that's the general idea with niche websites.
You may have heard about my book, Niche Website Success. This is my first, detailed guide to creating and marketing a niche website. I've included a lot of the strategies I used to build and promote my niche sites.
Creating an online store is easy. The challenging part is driving targeted traffic to it.
Unlike content websites like this, online stores don't typically have a lot of content. So it's much harder to get a store ranked well in Google because there's very little content for the spiders to read.
But first, let's tackle setting up a store.
PayPal's Website Payment Standards is another option to consider if you want to go with a more well-known merchant.
If you use WordPress to build your website, there are a ton of shopping cart/payment plugins you could use as well.
Creating a membership site is not the task it used to be. Thanks to free scripts like Joomla and Drupal that come with most web hosting platforms today, you can simply install these scripts right on your domain from your account.
The catch with Joomla and Drupal is you have to learn how to use the systems. Some people have told me there is a fairly big learning curve, but they are both very powerful systems once you learn to master them.
The good news is there are tons of free tutorials and help sites out here that will help you get going.
If you already have a book (hardback or paperback) that you'd like to sell, I'd recommend putting it into a digital format (PDF, etc.) That way you can sell it on an affiliate network like Clickbank.
Clickbank is a digital goods marketplace, but the real benefit of being on Clickbank is your book will be accessible to thousands of affiliates who already have websites that will promote your book for you.
Let's say your book is about relationships. People who own blogs and websites about relationships and looking for revenue opportunities can browse the Clickbank marketplace for books in their niche.
Then they can promote your book on their website for whatever commission you decide. Clickbank handles all the transactions for the sale of the book and the affiliate commission.
If you want to learn how to earn money with Clickbank, check out my Clickbank guide and tutorial.
I created my books in Microsoft Word and Pages (Mac) respectively and then used Adobe Acrobat Professional to convert them to a PDF format.
Most word processing software allows you to convert your file to a PDF quite easily, but I used Adobe Acrobat Professional to password protect the book so people cannot copy and paste.
If you don't want to buy the software, you can outsource the PDF protection part from a site like Fiverr (hire someone for $5) or have a friend do it for you.
ClickBank vs. eJunkie
The cost to sell a book on Clickbank is a one-time fee of $49 and CB takes 7% for every sale that is made. eJunkie is another service to consider. They do not take a percentage of your sales, but there is a $5 monthly fee.
Even though e-Junkie is cheaper, Clickbank has more affiliates and makes it easier for other affiliates to promote your product. That is why I chose it over eJunkie.
If you need help converting your hardback book to a PDF, you can use a book scanning service.
What About Self Publishing?
If you're thinking of self publishing a book and selling it online, here's an informative podcast with 8 great tips.
Once your store is up and running, you'll need traffic. You can actually buy traffic from Google AdWords by bidding on keywords relevant to what you sell.
Be careful, though. If you aren't monitoring what you're spending, tracking your return on investment and setting a monthly budget, you could lose a lot of money very quickly.
Another way to get your store noticed is to create a content website around the products you're selling.
Let's say you're an abstract painter, and you'd like to be able to sell your work online.
You could publish a site about art. Perform keyword research to find out what keywords would be good to target.
Once your site begins getting found in Google, Bing, etc. and you start drawing in traffic, you now have an audience to sell your art to.
The key with selling anything online is to learn how to build targeted traffic first. Whether you do that through SEO, YouTube, guest blogging, or social media marketing, targeted traffic is a necessity.
You may be worried that you're not the best writer. Don't sweat it. The good news is you can learn. There are so many resources out here today, it could make your head spin.
So I'll keep it simple. Start by subscribing to Copyblogger. I've learned so much about writing and visitor engagement from Brian and his team.
Also, download Ken Evoy's free book, Make Your Words Sell.
What a gem this is. There are pages and pages of useful writing tips that will help you capture your audience's attention and convert more sales.
I don't know if you've noticed it or not, but there has been a big trend over the past few years with web design, and that trend is clean.
In other words, websites have fewer columns, more white space, and limited navigation options.
I just redesigned this site... again (sigh) :-) and noticed a tremendous improvement in my page views per visitor and the time spent on my site as reported by Google Analytics.
When you give your visitors too many navigation options, people become overwhelmed and often miss important information.
It's tempting to put links to all your content in your navigation, but people are more likely to browse if they aren't overwhelmed with so many choices.
I used to prefer a 3-column layout, but I now use 2 columns because it helps the eye focus on the content. After all, that's why you're here, right?
And if you need to search for something, there is a search box conveniently located right underneath the header. So far, this design seems to be the most user-friendly for my audience according to my stats.
It's a good idea to keep an eye on your site usability statistics through Analytics to get an idea of how people are using your site, how long they are staying, bounce rate (the number of people who leave after viewing one page), etc.
Traffic is the key to success no matter what kind of site you build.
Search engine traffic is my absolute favorite because it's free and very targeted. Compare that to the traffic from your Facebook friends or family members paying a courtesy visit.
The latter is nice, but your family is probably not going to be your long-term visitors and customers. People who are actively searching for content that matches your site are the people you want to attract.
Social media can be another great source of traffic, but it's not about just joining Twitter and blasting links all over the place.
Social media is about making real connections with real people. It's about sharing valuable information and networking with people in your niche. When you do those things well, you can unleash the power of this social world we live in.
YouTube is one of my favorite marketing tools. I absolutely love recording videos and it gives my audience a chance to see the real me.
Video can do wonders for your own credibility and building trust, which are very instrumental in building sales.
AdSense is a byproduct of Google's advertising program called AdWords. As an AdSense publisher, you can post the AdWords ads on your site and earn money when people click them.
Once your site has 10-15 pages of content and looks polished, you can apply for the Google AdSense program.
AdSense is purely a numbers game. The more targeted your visitors are, the greater chance they will click the ads (assuming there are relevant ads in Google's database for your niche.)
Also, some niches have more relevant ads than others. For example, finance is one of the most popular advertising niches for AdWords, according to a report that was released in early 2012.
Compare that to a niche like fish food that does not have as many ads or advertisers. So that means there is less earning potential as a publisher.
So if your primary goal is to make money with AdSense, you'll want to do some research first. Start with the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
If you're logged into your Google AdWords account, you will be able to see how much the advertisers are paying Google to rank in the sponsored results when you enter certain keywords.
So let's say you are researching the niche denim skirts, for example. You can plug that phrase into the GAKT and it reveals the average cost per click that advertisers will pay.
Google shares roughly 68% percent of the click revenue with you as an AdSense Publisher. So this helps give you an idea for what kind of revenue is available through AdSense for various niches.
Of course, you'll never know exactly which ads will show on your site, and how many people will click, but it's still a nice tool for comparing niches and to get a general idea for revenue potential.
Many people ignore copyright laws and take images from any site they want. Even though most people never get caught, it's technically illegal and could get you into trouble if you're caught.
So yes, just grabbing an image from a Google image search is illegal without proper permission from the owner.
I have a Photos.com subscription. It's very pricey but I have the peace of mind of knowing that the images I use are approved for my commercial use. Getty Images continuously scans their images for copyrights to ensure they are clear for use.
Some websites will advertise their photos are free, but if you read the fine print, they are only free for personal use. So that means if your site is for profit, you are not properly licensed to use those images.
So if a website says "royalty free" images, make sure you read the fine print. Many of these sites do not allow commercial use of their images.
The peace of mind is worth the price of Photos.com for me and they have a huge inventory I can choose from.
Having said that, there is a list of websites that offers stock photos/images that are free for commercial use.
Just understand you are still taking a slight risk here because most of these sites do not go out of their way to confirm the source of all their images.
Don't forget to join my friendly community over at Website Babble. It's a great way to get questions answered and meet people who are on the same journey.
Also, check out this article that discuss many common mistakes people make with their websites. I want to prevent you from doing the same.
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