These days, having a website for your business is more important than ever. With everyone spending hours checking email, surfing websites, and posting on social media, the internet has become the best way to reach millions of people, anytime, anywhere.
Here’s the good news: Getting your own website is easier than you think.
With our quick three-step guide, all you need are 15 minutes and $20, tops.
“What? No coding skills?”
Nope! Website creation is much more accessible these days. You don’t need to know PHP or PERL or some other newfangled programming language to build a gorgeous website. Heck, it can be as easy as dragging and dropping elements on the page!
“Okay, but $20? You’ve got to be kidding!”
We’re dead serious. We’ve been talking about the similarities between websites and your brick-and-mortar store, but here’s one big difference: websites don’t cost as much as real-life store space. In fact, $20 is the generous estimate. You can easily spend as little as $4 a month for yours.
Sound good? Then let’s get started!
Step 1: Choose a web host and domain
Just like any other store, we’ll start by getting some space and an address.
Many companies offer web hosting and domain name registration, but we recommend signing up with HostGator.com. HostGator is one of the most popular and beginner-friendly companies on the web: an account with them will give you not just a domain name and hosting, but all the tools and expert guidance you need to build an effective website from start to finish.
But what is a domain name, anyway?
Do you go to Google.com? How about Amazon.com? For your business’ website, you’re going to need your very own “.com,” or domain name. Simply put, this is the address that customers use to find you on the web. There are a lot of extensions available, like .net, .org, or .biz, but for maximum recall, we recommend sticking with .com.
You get a domain name by registering it—that is, claiming the address for yourself. Registration is usually valid for one year, after which you can renew it to keep your domain.
HostGator has a great tool for finding and registering domain names starting from as low as $0.95 per year. The name itself can be anything you want, as long as it hasn’t been claimed yet. Be sure to make it memorable!
Once you’ve got an address, you need to make sure it actually points somewhere. That’s what web hosting gives you. When you sign up with a hosting provider, you’re paying for a space on the web for your website or online shop. Hosting plans come with all the resources your site will need to run: storage space for your files, bandwidth to determine how many visits your site can handle, and so on.
HostGator offers some of the cheapest plans out there, without skimping on the value. For as low as $3.95 a month, you’ll get unlimited storage space and bandwidth, plus tons of other great freebies that make it easy to set up and manage your website.
If this is your first crack at web hosting, the Hatchling Plan is a good place to start. On the other hand, if you plan to have multiple domains—if you want separate sites for your store and your professional profile, for example—then the Baby Plan is a good money-saving option.
Signing up is as easy as clicking the registration button, choosing your preferred plan and billing cycle, and entering your payment credentials.
Step 2: Set up your website
Now that you’ve got an address and your very own space on the internet, it’s time to build your website. There are a lot of ways to do this, and the method you choose will depend on what you want your website to achieve.
For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to assume that you’re working with a HostGator account. That means you’ve got three methods at your disposal: using a website builder, installing a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, or making a website from scratch.
Once you sign into your HostGator account, all of those options are easily found on your account’s Control Panel. We promised a no-code setup, though, so let’s take a look at website builders and content management systems.
HostGator gives you several website builders free of charge, including the easy-to-use Weebly Website Builder.
HostGator offers more than 4,500 pre-made themes and layouts for you to choose from. You can browse their extensive gallery for the template that’s closest to how you want your website to look, and then simply modify the template’s details to reflect your preferences.
Weebly and most other website builders use a drag-and-drop interface, so you can immediately see how your website will look. With Weebly in particular, you can select from a wide array of elements on an easy-to-navigate left-hand pane. By dropping these onto the page, you can arrange your website’s content and elements in any layout you want.
Those are just the basics, of course. If you’d like an in-depth guide to using Weebly or similar website builders, HostGator’s well-organized Support Portal has clear step-by-step articles and video tutorials to help you with the nitty-gritty of using these tools.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
If you’re comfortable with a method that’s a bit more technical, then you can look into content management systems like WordPress. These systems give you a website that’s more powerful and flexible than what you can usually get from website builders, making them perfect for a long-term website that can easily cope with significant audience growth over time.
Thanks to HostGator’s Mojo Marketplace QuickInstall tool, installing WordPress (or another popular CMS) takes all of one click. Again, you can find this option on your HostGator account’s Control Panel.
From there, you just need to enter a few details, like your preferred username and website title.
And you’re done!
Each CMS comes with ready-made themes and templates, so you won’t have to worry about finding a suitable layout for your website. Whichever CMS you choose, you’ll also find tons of plugins and add-ons: from multimedia galleries to sophisticated comment systems, and much more.
A Note on Scripts and Web Applications
It’s not all blogs or standard webpages, of course. There’s an endless variety of website types and functions for you to have. Thanks to one-click installers like Softaculous or Mojo Marketplace QuickInstall, you can have forums, shopping carts, surveys and polls, wikis, and more—all in one click!
You’re Always Covered
If all of that sounds daunting, don’t worry! There are tons of free and comprehensive resources out there to give you more detailed advice. HostGator’s Support Portal, for example, has an extensive library of articles and video tutorials to help you out at every step. Plus if you need help with a specific issue, you can contact HostGator’s friendly and responsive support staff 24/7/365 through phone, live chat, or their support ticketing system.
Step 3: Spread the word!
A great website is nothing if it doesn’t draw an audience. In fact, this is where the real work lies: with millions of other websites out there competing for people’s attention, you need to find ways to stand out and raise your brand’s profile.
Figuring out your next steps can get confusing very quickly. Fortunately, HostGator starts you off in the right direction. Every HostGator hosting plan comes with $100 worth of Google Adwords credit and $100 worth of Bing/Yahoo Advertising credit. That way, you can dive right into developing your business’ brand and name recognition without blowing your entire budget on marketing.
Build Your Business Better
With everyone spending more and more time on the web these days, the internet has become the biggest marketplace on the planet. Thanks to great hosting companies like HostGator, setting up shop can be as cheap, quick, and easy as 1-2-3.
So what are you waiting for? Follow our simple guide, and level up your business today!