I’m about to tell you something and I need you to bear with me because your first response is probably going to be to scoff.
When people ask me how to start building their website, my response is typically to just do it. Get started. Stop waiting.
I don’t say that lightly. I have often been the victim of my own mind when it comes to where to start, or what to do, or how to do things.
There’s a big difference between not starting because you genuinely don’t know something and need to figure it out, and not starting because you’re out of your comfort zone and know the task is going to take a lot of brain power.
We put ourselves in this paradoxical place between wanting the thing to be done and over, and delaying it so we don’t have to find out if it’s going to be successful or not.
You can go online and download my ultimate website checklist and find out everything you need to know to create that awesome website — but you need to figure out what your reasons are for waiting, what your path of least resistance is, and just get it done.
You can download every guide, how-to article, and walkthrough video you’ll ever need and still not be able to get it done — or even get started.
Here’s the next really wild thought for you: just because you decided to start off doing this yourself, doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to continue going it alone until it’s done.
You can get halfway through and decide “You know what? This isn’t for me, I’m just going to get someone to do this so I don’t have to keep thinking about it and trudging through my days with dread knowing I’m just going to end up putting it off some more.”
You aren’t ‘losing the time you already spent on your website.’ You needed that time to realize and make the decision to get help. Putting more and more time into something that has become mentally painful is a sure-fire way to waste your time. This is the sunk-cost fallacy.
There are a few basic steps to every website that if you follow them, the only thing that will stand in your way is yourself. None of these decisions need to be final or complete or perfect. That’s the other huge piece of this.
The Basic Steps
Get a domain.
You can have more than one domain for your website. Picking a good one is important, but it’s not the end of the world to switch it at some point down the line. So do your best, pick one that’s available, and move on. Some platforms will even give you a domain for free for the first year. Wild, right?
Pick a platform.
Just pick one. Set a timer for 20 minutes, do a quick internet search of the pros and cons and pick one before the timer goes off. Sure, if you change your mind you’ll have to spend time migrating things or moving things over or maybe even starting over. But having a starting point is huge. Use whatever platform is going to be the easiest for you to work with and put something together. When you are ready to go all in and have someone create the website of your dreams, having a place to start will be helpful.
I love WordPress and think it’s the most flexible tool out there. But it’s not going to be the easiest, especially if you’ve never even heard of it before. There are things you’ll need — like hosting — that other platforms aren’t going to require you to understand and figure out that could help speed up the process.
Write your content.
Most websites get hung up on the content part even when they have someone creating the website for them. Put together whatever you’ve got, it’s better than nothing. Once it’s on the page, you’ll have a better idea of how everything should be organized, and what pages you should have. Once you’ve done that, you can have someone look it over and edit or improve it.
Content writers will often have a call with you where they ask you questions and then write content based on your answers. So write out some questions to ask yourself. Just do as much as you can and get it on the page. The waiting and not thinking it’s enough or good enough or right — that’s what is going to keep you from finishing your website.
Pick your design.
Spend some time picking one that goes with your brand, but set a 30 minute time limit for it, pick a top 2 or 3, and get started. Don’t let decisions be something that lets your brain avoid finishing this. Whatever templates or designs are there for you to choose from, pick one and go with it. Go with one that has the most flexibility. That’s going to be more helpful than one that’s pretty.
Build some pages.
Start with whatever page is going to be the easiest. This might be the contact page or the about page or maybe you have PDFs of your services that you can easily translate to a page on your website. Do the pages that are easy so you can have as much done as possible without having to think about it.
Then, move on to some of the other pages. Maybe an FAQ page or your other service pages. Create the pages you need, and don’t make it more complicated than it has to be. Remember, this can all be changed as you go. If you have one page with a simple list of services, that’s okay! It’s going to be helpful to someone wanting to know what you do. You can expand on them one at a time later.
Finally, do the home page.
Some people think the home page is where you should start because it’s the first page people see. But that’s what makes it the hardest. It’s the first impression. It sets the tone. And, it’s where you need to be concise and clear about what to put on that page and where to send people. This might even be the page you change the most depending on how your focus changes over time.
Based on the content you have on your site, think of the one thing people should do, and build your content around that. Then you can put some other things on the page directing them to other places if you want, but the first and most important thing is getting them to do what you want them to do.
Don’t forget to add your analytics to the site. This will help inform some future decisions and allow you to make changes, and give you recommendations. The more data you have the better, even if you aren’t going to do anything with it yet.
You’ve done it!
You may not have the website of your dreams when you’re done with this, but you’ll have something you can improve on. You’ll have a website you can make changes to as you go, something you can redo and use as a starting point, something you can check off your list.
Getting your website launched will help you communicate your offers, have some control over your content, and be a place for people interested in you to learn more, stay in touch, sign up for your emails, and whatever else you offer them.
This is just the basics, folks. There are so many things you can do once you’ve gotten this first step of just moving past that block of not being able to get through to having a website.
If you want the complete guide, all the ins and outs, all the steps involved in this process, download the ultimate website checklist. If you’re procrastinating, do the things above first, then use the checklist to make your website awesome.
If you’re having trouble with any of the steps above, you can use the checklist to help you with that step since it goes into more detail — I didn’t want to flood this with too much detail and give the procrastinators something else to procrastinate with. You understand.
Now get out there and get your website done!