Hello and welcome to my ‘do it yourself’ guide on making and managing your own website or blog.
This will be a longer guide so I strongly suggest you bookmark or socially share this page.
To do so, you can use those little sharing buttons at the right or bottom side of the page (depending on whether you’re browsing on mobile or not), and you can even email it to yourself.
Perhaps some of your friends and family would like to read it as well.
Also, if there is anything that you don’t understand, you can always send me an email, or write me a comment down below, I will be happy to help you out.
With that being said, let’s begin.
So I’m a gamer. And this is my gaming website. Not that it matters much, but it kinda does.
I will use this website to demonstrate and illustrate my points throughout this guide, as a live example of what I’m writing about.
Literally everything that I will show you here will be from my own personal experience.
From the beginning stages of simply planning the project and thinking about it, all the way to executing things and making it all ‘click’ just the way I wanted it to.
If you got:
- Basic computer skills (you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this)
- $50 or less to spend on needed resources once a year (your site can earn this back on its own and then some)
- A bit of free time to do something new and exciting (not much time needed at all if you know what to do, hence this guide)
Then this is for you.
So let’s talk a little bit about why you should do it, and although sometimes I’ll be referring to things from a gamer’s perspective, this is NOT just for gaming websites, this is for everyone.
Simply click on the little ‘open’ links to expand each section.
You can read in order, or skip to whatever interests you the most, it’s up to you.
Part 1: Why Should You Start a WebsiteOpen
I’ve been making Youtube videos for some time and over the years I’ve had a decent number of people ask me about written guides that correspond with some of these videos.
Right there I knew there was a group of gamers/players that would be interested in visiting my site and learning more about the things I do. If I had one.
But then I realized. What if making a gaming website can actually help me promote my Youtube channel too?
Well of course it would. If there were new people who would find it in Google (or anywhere else really) and then watch some of my videos on it, then that would mean automatic promotion for my Youtube channel as well.
That’s a good enough reason on its own to do it, but it’s not the only one.
Next reason was just as important, and that was – to simply have fun, help others and help others have fun too!
I learned a lot, I experimented a lot and I felt huge satisfaction throughout this process of making something that’s, at this point, visited by hundreds and hundreds of gamers 24/7, day after day.
In fact, there is always someone on my site, reading content and guides I’ve done, watching my videos etc.
You’re here too, and I thank you for that – I really appreciate it!
And that’s something that makes me very happy. I see now that what I do has helped so many people around the world and that’s a great feeling.
So in the end, making and running a website makes you happy. Sometimes a bit frustrated, but happy.
Now it’s your turn to figure things out. Why would you make a website?
Well, if nothing else – to make yourself happy and to do something new that you haven’t done before.
Also, this is not early 2000s anymore, nowadays things are different and much easier, and you’ve also got me to help you – which is what I’m doing right now.
So whether you’re a gamer, a retired grandma, a plumber or a professional programmer, whatever and whoever you are, I’m sure if you ask yourself ‘How can I benefit from having a website?’ you will not only come up with an answer pretty soon, but multiple ones most likely.
For me it all came down to ‘I want to do something new, I want to help people and I want to have fun’.
And if nothing else, you have the monetary reason as well.
Nowadays there are so many people around the world writing their own blogs and making an awesome living off of it.
True, it takes some time to get there, but if you’d like to improve your financial situation slowly but surely simply by writing about the things you love, then you’re definitely at the right place.
Also, later on I will be showing you a couple of tested and proven monetization methods for your virtual real estate.
Part 2: How to Pick a Good Domain NameOpen
In this case, my domain name is legendarymage dot com
It doesn’t matter if it’s with www or non www, you’ll end up on my site anyway.
In order to increase your overall website’s value, and enable your visitors to return easier to your website on their own, a good domain name is needed.
Here’s a couple of guidelines and then we’ll talk about mine a bit:
- It needs to be short and easy to remember.
- Preferably no hyphens or numbers (exceptions can be made but generally it’s better if there are none).
- Preferably .com since this extension is the most branded one online (people often type .com at the end if they don’t really remember your address).
Basically, if you go on the phone with someone who has never visited your website before, and you tell them the address, will they be able to type it in their browser with no problems and access your site?
If the answer is yes, you’re on the right path.
So let’s analyze my own domain, legendarymage dot com
It’s only two words, not very long (under 20 characters easily), it has no hyphens or numbers, it’s a dot com and it’s fairly easy to remember, especially for people who follow me on Youtube or in games that I play.
Google also considers your domain name as a ranking factor for your ‘keyword’ so if someone types ‘legendary mage’ into Google, my website is more likely to show up.
It’s not a big ranking factor, like it was in the past, but it’s still there and every little bit helps when it comes to search engines.
Now, here’s a little bit of hard data to help illustrate just how important a good domain name can be.
About 40% of my website’s visitors are ‘returning visitors’.
This means that there is still a little cookie in their browser that remembers they were once on my site, and my traffic analytics script picks this up and registers them as returning visitors.
About half of those returning visitors seem to end up on my website ‘directly’, meaning that they simply type in the website’s address in their browser and they’re back.
Some of those could be coming from a ‘bookmark’, but most of those just remember my site’s address because they find content on it useful and they often want to come back to check if there’s anything new.
Now, if my site’s address was extremely complicated, say for example legendarymagethe-mmo-player1990 dot com – I’m sure this wouldn’t be the case and the number of my overall returning visitors (at least the ‘direct’ ones) would be much lower as a result.
That’s what a good domain name can do for your website.
And guess what? The effect only gets amplified the more visitors your site gets over time.
Your domain name can literally help propel your ‘business’ to a new height if things are set properly.
There’s no rules when you’re coming up with a name for your site, but it’s a good idea to write down a few options and review them carefully, or even consult with friends/family and ask them for their opinions.
Start with yourself. Filter out options that clearly do not seem like a good name for a site. Then get another pair of eyes to review the rest.
You don’t have to of course. If there’s a domain name that you think would be a perfect address for your site (either .com/net/org), then by all means write it down and just check if it’s available.
If it is, you’re ready to proceed to the next part.
Here is a good tool for checking whether an address is free or not:
Do not buy it there though, the buying part comes in the next chapter below and for a good reason.
Also, from the same website I just linked you, there is a page at the top that says ‘domain name generator’.
You can start by entering a keyword into the field.
It then brings back some available combos for you to review. You might find a cool gem this way. Play around, see what you come up with.
One more thing.
If you have some variations and you don’t have anyone to take a look and tell you their honest opinion, feel free to send it to me via my contact page, I’ll be happy to assist you.
You can also post it as a comment below, but I’d suggest you contact me privately because someone might take it.
Play around with the tools I gave you and when you’ve come up with something that you like and it also happens to be up for grabs, we’ll move on to part 3 where things are about to start happening.
Part 3: Where to Buy a Web Hosting AccountOpen
A web hosting account is pretty much the only requirement, or an expense, that you have for running your website on the internet.
It’s where your website is physically located and served to your visitors.
There are free alternatives which I will strongly suggest you never go with due to their limiting nature or tricky terms of service that always change.
Web hosting is very cheap nowadays, a basic account that will serve the majority of website owners such as myself should not cost more than $4 – $7 a month depending on features and the company that provides it.
The ones in the $7 – $10 per month range usually allow multiple (or ‘unlimited’) websites to be hosted on a single account, but you don’t have to start with anything other than a basic $4 – $5/mo account that can easily be upgraded later on if need be.
You might be wondering what about those free ones I mentioned?
Free providers will often infest your site with their ads. On top of not giving you an option to connect your domain name, create a database or a custom email address, or use some of the most popular software that will help you create and maintain your site as easy as it gets.
As I said, very limited and definitely a thing of the past.
You should only go with a free provider if you absolutely cannot afford to get a real hosting account.
With that being said, it is of utmost importance that you go with the right company and I’ll explain why.
A good web hosting company will provide you with the following:
- Great pricing on an either monthly or (highly recommended) annual basis.
- Awesome customer service, 24/7.
- 30 day money back guarantee (if you ever change your mind, you get your cash back)
- Can and will handle registering and maintaining your website’s domain name (actual address of your site).
- Provides all the latest up to date software, configurations and utility for easy website management (even my grandma could do those 1 click installs).
- Can potentially help you with other aspects of your site (such as monetization – which I will talk more about later).
If you find a company that can do all of these things for you, you have a full house right there.
And since I’m here helping you do all of this, I have just the right company for you: MaxBounty Web Hosting.
This company satisfies ALL of my previous criteria.
And yes, it can even help you monetize your website later on, which is huge convenience since having all of these things with a single company means you won’t have to micro-manage everything like people did long ago.
Bad hosting companies are a nightmare for website owners. Migrating websites is also a nightmare and a huge inconvenience.
Avoiding all of that will save you so much time and help you execute things much more smoothly.
Sign up for an annual hosting plan with MaxBounty’s Web Hosting Service and this will be taken cared off just like that.
Their prices are pretty much top-notch in the industry.
I’ve researched dozens and dozens of web hosting providers and it is very rare to find one that isn’t trying to trick their customers into buying additional stuff, up-selling add-on services and what not.
I value transparency. I like to buy something at a great price and close the deal right there.
Some hosting companies even go as far as to change their renewal prices under the excuse that the first year was promo-only and what not.
All of that needs to be avoided and that is why it’s very important that you go with a company that doesn’t do business like that.
If you buy MaxBounty’s Annual Web Hosting Package via my link, not only will you get top notch service in the hosting department, but you will also be directly helping me, because I’ll get a commission from your purchase so we both win.
This is called affiliate marketing and I will teach you a bit more about that later as well.
Also, you get a free domain name which they will automatically manage and renew for you, as well as configure and connect with your hosting account, so you literally won’t have to do a thing there.
This is why I told you in the previous part to not buy anything just yet.
Since we already talked about your website’s domain name and how to check if it’s available, you should be all sorted there and ready to proceed.
Go with the most basic starter plan, you don’t need anything else.
Part 4: Installing a Content Management PlatformOpen
If you’ve got yourself a domain name and a hosting account, you are now one step away from creating and customizing your site.
Let me introduce you to the most popular, robust and easy to use ‘do it yourself’ platform for creating an awesome website – WordPress.
Or, as people simply call it, WP.
I won’t be giving you much history about WordPress, but let’s just say that it started as a blogging platform and has since developed into something so much more, having countless of thousands of developers working on plugins, extensions and theme designs, making it possible to create almost any type of a website.
Even my site runs on it and I love it.
Good thing about WordPress is that it’s so easy to use and expand upon.
In fact, I will let it speak for itself, so let’s login into your new web hosting account and click on that little ‘WordPress’ icon to install it.
Generally installers are pretty much the same, only a few things are asked from you to provide before finalizing the installation and making the site live.
Your WordPress installation will require a ‘path’ which should be your domain name.
No sub-directories or optional fields because we want the site to be on our starting address.
For me this was legendarymage.com, for you it will be your domain name.
You also don’t need to enter ‘www’ since these little details can be configured later on within WP itself.
Then the installer will require a username/password for an administrator account within the WP installation itself.
These will be the credentials you use to login into your website itself, and are different from the ones you have for your hosting account.
And then some database settings which can be handled automatically so you don’t have to do anything there, just follow the basic installation instructions.
Now some people get confused with login credentials, control panels, billing panels etc.
So I’ll take a minute and explain that.
Web Hosting providers have their own customer billing panels where people can login and pay for their own services, upgrade-downgrade their accounts, create support tickets and so on.
That platform is for billing and support between you and your company.
But now, your web hosting account also has its own ‘control panel’, and most of the time it’s a piece of software called ‘cPanel’.
In cPanel you can install websites, create sub-domains, email accounts and generally manage these technical details.
And then finally your WordPress website will have its own administrative panel where you will be managing the site itself, and that will be the one you use the most.
We need to use cPanel to set things up, every now and then the billing panel to manage our account, but 99% of our time will be spent in WP’s own admin panel, because that’s where we’ll add our pages, posts, install plugins, themes and so on.
In fact, even now while I’m writing this – I am in WP’s own admin panel, adding a ‘new post’.
I understand some less tech savvy people get confused with all these things, so here’s a short explanation:
- Billing Panel is your interaction with the hosting company itself. Support tickets, billing, upgrades/downgrades etc. Anything to do with your account with that company.
- cPanel is your interaction with the technical details of your hosting account, ex: creating custom email addresses, installing website software etc.
- WordPress admin panel is for managing that particular website installation, ex: adding new pages to your site, configuring details of your site etc.
As you can see, it’s very simple and you’ll get used to it in no time.
But for the ones that still don’t understand – you can get in touch with customer support personnel or write me down in the comments below, I will be happy to talk to you about it until it all clicks.
Part 5: Themes & PluginsOpen
There are tons of different themes (designs) and plugins out there, both free & paid.
In my experience, free themes and plugins are so plentiful that there is no reason to pay for anything ‘premium’ unless you really want to.
A simple Google search for ‘best free wordpress themes’ will return enough results to keep you busy for quite some time.
Another way to find a bunch of different designs is when you insert a ‘niche’ in the beginning of your query.
For example ‘best personal wordpress themes’, ‘best shopping wordpress themes’, ‘best magazine wordpress themes’ and many more.
Same thing for plugins & widgets, a simple search for ‘best wordpress plugins’ will return a bunch of results for you.
The way that I found my theme (which is called Garfunkel) is by searching for personal themes (since this is my gaming alias/persona) and making sure that whatever theme I go with, will support good video embedding.
Since I do a lot of Youtube videos, I often write pages around these and if you notice from my other posts on this site, often you will see a video at the top, and for a good reason.
I’m using my website to promote my videos, so that they rank higher in search results & Youtube, and are easily shared by my visitors.
This is the Official WordPress Themes area where you can start browsing.
Same for plugins, you can review some of the most popular ones at the Official Download area, but you can also do a simple search for ‘best wordpress plugins’ and read detailed guides on what they do.
Now, before I move onto listing the plugins that I use, I would like to touch upon Widgets a bit, since some people are having a hard time understanding what they do.
Widgets are bits and pieces of your website that can be integrated into sidebars, footers, headers or within pages themselves.
To give you an example, take a look at my footer here and notice the listing of most popular pages, Patreon button where you can go and support me monetarily etc.
These are all integrated into my site as ‘widgets’ and I can easily arrange them, remove or add new ones in my WP’s admin panel.
The possibilities here are endless.
That is the most simplest way that I can think of explaining widgets.
Now, here are the plugins that I use at the moment of writing this guide:
- Advanced Ads – This helps me manage ads on my site, to easily switch things around and customize all kinds of information.
- Akismet Anti-Spam – This protects my website from SPAM, it filters SPAM comments into the appropriate dumpster.
- Collapse-O-Matic – I use this to add those little shortcodes around the text and make it expandable, you’ve been clicking on it all this time.
- Contact Form 7 – I use this to create contact or submission forms that I can easily embed in posts or pages. Example on my contact page.
- Contact Form 7 Style – I use this add-on plugin to apply a custom design for my contact form and make it look better, since default design on this theme was problematic for me.
- Contact Widgets – I use this to display those little buttons at the top of my site leading you to my social profiles. There are more options to customize this, display in other places and select which social networks you want.
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights – I use this to track visits on my site and I disabled tracking for ‘administrators’ so my own visits aren’t logged. It requires that you sign up for Google Analytics.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – This is a fairly large plugin, I use a few of its functions. It’s also the official plugin for WP, by their own developers. Twitter Timeline, Site Stats, Top Pages, Google+ badge, Facebook Box, it’s all from Jetpack.
- Patreon Button, Widgets and Plugin by CodeBard – I use this to connect my Patreon page with my site. It has many more options though, as well as multiple author support if each has their own Patreon page. Any and all Patreon buttons you see on this site is thanks to this plugin.
- Popup Maker – I use this plugin to create pop-ups for my site, but I never enable them on mobile/tablet because it’s tricky to do it well. I’m not a huge fan of pop-ups, but if I want my desktop visitors to see something without a doubt (let’s say a cool new game that I know they will like), then I’ll use this.
- Share Buttons by AddThis – Tons of options here as well, the little sharing buttons you see at the right side, or bottom if you’re on mobile, is thanks to this plugin. You can select networks of your choice, how and where to display it, like I said – tons of options and very good for enabling your visitors to promote your site for free.
- UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore – If I want to backup my site, I can use this, but I can also use the backup option in cPanel itself.
- Wordfence Security – This is a must-have security plugin. Just make sure notifications are set properly since it often sends out emails. I like to set it and forget it. It really pays to configure this properly since websites are often targeted online. It’s no guarantee that everything will be taken cared off, but at least your site has a lot of added protection.
- WP Construction Mode – I used this when I was in the process of writing a lot of pages and the site wasn’t finished.
- WP External Links – I use this to make all external links open in a new tab, so that my visitors also stay on my site even though I’m sending them elsewhere.
- WP Super Cache – Must-have plugin, especially when your site starts to receive more and more visitors. It increases your site’s performance and saves resources overall.
- WP-Optimize – This will periodically optimize your database tables, empty SPAM comments, remove all information that is expired and not needed. I set it to automatically perform these actions once a week. Helps keep things clean.
- Yoast SEO – If you ever get more into SEO (search engine optimization), this can help you target specific ‘keywords’ more efficiently, analyze your content and let you know what might require more work. I’m not too big on it, but it has its uses.
And that’s about it for the plugins that I currently use.
As you can see, plugins can really help you out in many different ways.
Part 6: How to Promote a WebsiteOpen
In some cases it can be making sales, registering for a newsletter, or whatever else that you as a website owner would like your visitor to do.
I’ll talk from my own perspective here a bit.
This is a gaming website. I make gaming content, videos and guides.
My goal is to help gamers become better informed, to learn something and to have fun as a result.
As for me personally, if someone sends me a donation, or becomes a patron, or buys something via my referral link(s), it’s all a good bonus – but not something I’m focused on because that’s not why I made it.
The options are there of course, but there are no commercial goals such as ‘I need to get 20 new donations by the end of this month’ etc.
If it happens – great, if not – no problem.
At most, I want people to look at my videos and maybe subscribe to my gaming channel on Youtube.
Because I’m more interested in building a good healthy gaming community.
So how do I get visitors?
Well, some of my visitors come from links that I posted on my Youtube videos.
Either in the description of the video(s), as a ‘pinned’ comment, or perhaps other areas of my channel where linking is allowed.
Some of my other visitors come directly to my site, and these are usually returning visitors.
Others yet find me through Google, or other links and gaming websites where I’ve been active.
It all adds up in the end, and my site as a result (at the time of writing this) gets over 500 people on it daily, without me worrying or trying much in the first place.
The most important thing is content, and this has been said so many times online but it’s true.
A website without good content serves no purpose and at most might have a couple of stray visitors every now and then, and that’s it.
A website with a lot of high quality content, on the other hand, might receive a bunch of visitors just from Google alone, because over time all of those pages on your site start ranking higher and higher in Google, even for search queries you never thought someone would search and find a page of yours.
Once you have the traffic, it’s about what you do with that traffic.
In my case I use it to make people watch my videos, subscribe on Youtube, join my Discord server and so on.
I’m building a gaming community, slowly but surely.
As a new website owner, my tips for you would be:
- Focus on making the best possible website you can, in terms of technicalities and presentation.
- Focus on making as much and as high quality content as you possibly can.
- Register on a few active and relevant websites such as ‘forums’ or ‘blogs’ and become involved every now and then. If you have a possibility to leave a link back to your site, otherwise skip. Forums allow ‘signatures’ often so that’s a nice start. Work on socializing with like-minded people on like-minded websites and eventually they will be checking out your site too.
- Make sure your website is easily ‘shareable’ so that visitors can perform a quick share and send your page(s) over to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others. You don’t even need an account there but it’s recommended that you make one because of my next tip.
- Utilize social networks when you can. For example, join a few relevant (non spammy) Facebook groups where people are exchanging info about your topic(s). Make new friends and they will be thrilled about checking out your site later on as well.
If your site is of commercial nature and you’d like to sell something fast, consider investing a bit of cash into a Facebook ad, these can often be very affordable and can drive a lot of engagement either via a FB post, or directly back to your site via clicks.
My 2nd best tip is to Google ‘how to promote a website’ and then go on a little reading session that will help you determine best course of action.
My top tip is to make an awesome website with awesome content and after some time, you will definitely get visitors, because if my site could – yours can too.
But keep in mind, it takes a bit of time until you accumulate a backlog of quality content and Google starts ranking your pages higher. Few months at least.
Here is one more bonus tip that might help you out when it comes to both website promotion, and digital services in general.
Fiverr is a $5 marketplace where millions of people are offering all kinds of services.
Not all services cost $5, but usually they start off with a basic package of only $5 and then they build up from there.
This is a potentially very good way to kick-start promotion for your website, get some backlinks from other sites (helps with Google), and even content if you need help with writing, or making videos etc.
Part 7: How to Monetize a WebsiteOpen
Website monetization is a huge topic, so I’m just going to tell you about some of the most popular methods as of now.
I don’t necessarily use them all at the same time, and certain methods are better for certain websites, but here’s a few that you can consider:
- Sell ads on your pages and get paid per click or per 1000 page views. Examples are Google AdSense and Yahoo/Bing Ads.
- Sell ads directly to advertisers, a good idea is to have an ‘advertise’ page.
- Sell your own services, coaching, products or even e-books directly off of your website. You only need a PayPal account to accept payments.
- Sell products and services from other companies. This is called affiliate marketing and you get paid every time you refer a customer. It can be a fixed fee or a percent of the total sale value, or even a recurring commission. There are affiliate programs for just about anything nowadays.
- Open a Patreon page where you can have your fans, viewers & readers support you monetarily, either on a monthly, or on a ‘per creation’ basis.
- Enable your website to accept PayPal donations from your visitors.
Remember earlier when I told you that your hosting company can help you here?
Well, MaxBounty is also an affiliate network (middle-man) where you can find tons of different offers for just about any niche or area, and monetize your website’s traffic easily.
Another good affiliate network is Commission Junction. You can sign up there and apply for different affiliate programs.
And my personal favorite, Amazon’s Associate Program.
They also have a very good ‘bounty program’ where you get paid a fixed fee when people join their membership programs of all kinds.
For example, Amazon Prime.
And these can also be free trial accounts so visitors don’t actually have to pay for anything, you’ll still get paid a fixed fee. If that’s not a good way to monetize a website, then I don’t know what is.
Microsoft also has an affiliate program, as well as some other big web shops that sell gaming equipment and computers, but I haven’t tried those yet, so I can’t comment at the moment.
I hope this helps you on your journey of making and running your own website!
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I’m proud of you.