The following is what I’ve learned in 18 months and distilled down to the essentials of a professional looking website optimised for SEO and marketing.
First things first.
You want a WordPress.org website that you own and control.
With your own domain name. (See this post for advice on how to do this.) It’s useful to buy your domain through the same service provider as your hosting platform, so that it points automatically to your site
Forget website builders like Wix.
WordPress is 25% of the internet and has incredible support and a wealth of information out there on getting the most out of WP.
WP is heavily customisable and is far more powerful than CMSs like Wix.
So many service providers have integrations specifically for WP.
You need real estate to park your website.
I use WP Engine and TSOhost.
WP Engine is quite pricey and was the first hosting I bought.
It was recommended by Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch course on online marketing.
The big promise of WP Engine is that it will be able to handle the traffic when your site takes off.
I wanted more sites but couldn’t justify the extra prices, so I found a well-regarded UK based host called TSOhost.
TSOhost has an incredible deal where for £19.99, you get unlimited hosting. As many sites as you like.
The only possible concerns (which I haven’t encountered yet) are how it copes with traffic.
This website is hosted by TSOhost.
Pros and Cons of TSOhost
It’s excellent value
The dashboard interface is not that straightforward.
You don’t have access to a staging url to use while you build your site. You have to use your ultimate domain name.
You can install WP straight from the dashboard of either hosting platform.
Choose a theme
A theme is ‘skin’ or ‘framework’ for the look and feel of the site. It sits on top of WP.
It controls the fonts, colours, headers etc of your WP site.
There are 1000s of themes out there. Free and paid.
You want your site to look good, so don’t skimp here.
Get a quality theme like a Genesis Framework theme from Studiopress.
I use Genesis for most of my sites.
You need the basic Genesis framework and then your buy ‘child’ themes that sit on top on the framework.
It’s premium stuff with beautiful mobile responsive themes.
Upload it to your themes tab in ‘zip’ formats.
Follow the documentation for the theme setup.
Add About page
Get a decent headshot and put in a large image of yourself. People want to see who they’re dealing with.
Add contact page
Be careful of giving out your home address and mobile number.
Add a decent SEO plugin
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is essential to drive consistent traffic to your website.
In a nutshell, it means that search engines like Google can find your site and of well done, it can mean that your site ranks highly in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Download a plugin like Yoast.
Read SEO articles like this from SumoMe and this from Moz.
Probably one of the best plugins out there.
Check out SumoMe here.
Download the plugin here.
Successful online marketers and entrepreneurs say that not starting an email list early was one of their biggest mistakes.
You’re looking to build an audience that you can use in the future. Whether to sell to or share updates with.
If someone’s given you their email, then you have a very personal way into the lives.
Convertkit is made for bloggers.
It allows you to easily create email funnels according to how you acquired that subscriber e.g. if they signed up for your ebook on the about page, then you can determine that they go down a certain email sequence.
It also is email subscriber-centric, meaning that unlike with competitors like Aweber and Mailchimp, it won’t count duplicate email addresses. This is important when your list gets bigger because email service providers charge normally by the number of subscribers you have. Double counting will result in extra charging.
Convertkit won’t do that.
Check out this great post by Pat Flynn explaining why he made the change to Convertkit.
Check out Convertkit here.
You want to engage with your audience. The default comments functionality in WP is not very good.
Disqus is dynamic and looks great.
Add a mailbox with your domain.com
Go to your hosting platform and follow the instructions for a mailbox.
A good start is firstname.lastname@example.org
Next connect this to your normal, preferred email service like Gmail.
Follow the instructions on Gmail for how to connect this to your new domain.com email address.
Foundations are set!
Let me know how you got on in the comments section below!