Creating a business website is remarkably easy today. Most website creators have tutorial support and users have additional videos available on YouTube. While the general tips in this training will cross over most website builders, this training will be about using WordPress, the most popular website platform in the world. WordPress is the platform used for the the FCCAM websites.
As someone who had no technology background, no coding skills, and no inhouse IT department I’m glad I was introduced to WordPress when first looking to start a website was for my small fcc business. I’ve explored other website hosts/platforms, but haven’t found an easier and more reliable one than WordPress.
Activating your own site means you have control in how the site meets the needs of your small business. You do not need to stay with one purpose or theme and you do not need to wait on an outside company to update your site.
The goals of this training are to: 1) Help providers feel comfortable with activating their own website to support their small business. 2) Be able to begin posting material on the site using posts, pages, and widgets.
After doing this training if you are looking for more 1 on 1 support as you build a website you can access FCCAM’s Peer to Peer Mentoring. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected.
Here’s an outline of the steps I recommend you take to get your website started no matter what platform you ultimately chose.
- Choose a hosting provider & package.
- Pick a domain name. (Domain name definition: a unique name that identifies a website.)
- Install your chosen platform.
- Begin to build your site. For most platforms this means choosing a theme. A theme is a layout and visual look for your website. Take some time to Customize your website. This is where you build your image – Title, tagline, color, background photo, etc. Reminder: you can change at any time.
- Learn how your Dashboard functions. The dashboard is where you navigate your site for posts and pages as well as site layout from.
While you can build a website from any device, I personally find it easiest to work from my laptop.
Step One: Choose a Host~
If you’ve previously researched starting a website, you might have seen it recommended to set up your domain name first. I think it’s more important to figure out if you are going to use a hosting provider or deal directly with the website provider for domain and website. I used a hosting provider when I activated my first wordpress website in 2006. With all the changes since 2006, I found out that I can do all I want right from WordPress directly. I want a secure, ad free site for easy access 24/7. I found most of the other hosting providers offered extras that I didn’t need. I don’t believe many small family child care businesses would find they need them either.
Bluehost and hostgator are 2 of the major host providers. Bluehost runs specials for WordPress users like this in 2021: Basic for $3 a month ($36 yr) / regularly $9 a month ($108 yr).
You can get a free website without a domain through WordPress, but there will be ads. I started with add free, but with site and domain cost under my marketing budget of $100 a year, I quickly switched to a Personal plan. Any cost of operating a website is a tax write off under ad/marketing. You save on printing costs (paper and ink), as well as, time. For a small business like family child care, an ad free website for under $100 a year is a reasonable expense.
So you’ve decided on your hosting provider. Hosts have slightly different steps to get an account open and website started. For most you will need your domain name as one of the first steps.
When I set up my first website, I researched hosts, found what I wanted and then stopped the process. I didn’t want to rush the decision on my domain name. I headed back to set up my account once I’d decided on my domain name.
Step Two: Getting Started and Choosing a Domain Name ~
Choosing your domain name is important to spend some time on. Your domain name is what people type into their browser to get to your website. I also think about it being what is seen first from online searches for child care. You need to think of this as your brand. That first impression. Understand that your website also serves as a focus point to build awareness of your small business, so you don’t want this to be continually changing. Changing a website theme is easy, but that domain name needs to stick.
Your domain does not need to be an exact match for your established business name, but you want it close. You want to include the main part of your business name, have it easy to remember, and easy to type. Here’s two examples: Family Child Care Association of Maine is long, but using the main letters works – fccamaine.com. The website to host the Family Child Care Association of Maine trainings became – fccamtrainings.com. It connected to an established association website and includes what is specific to this additional association website.
I suggest having a couple of workable domain options in mind, as your preferred one might already be chosen.
WordPress offers domain name suggestions which you can use, but you do not have to as long as your domain choice is not being used by someone else.
You will also have options for domains outside “.com”. I have always used “.com” because that has been the most common for businesses.
For WordPress you have a few pages to get through to have your account set-up. It starts simply by going to WordPress.com . (This image is from early 2021 and might change, but the process will be basically the same.)
You can choose a domain you own with a plan that has monthly or annual cost or you can choose a FREE account. The FREE account has ads generated by wordpress. You can start with a FREE option and upgrade to a paid plan at any time. If you go that route your domain will change with the upgrade. (You will have the option on your domain name at the time of upgrading.)
With wordpress plans you have the option to pay monthly or annually. Annual is convenient and offers automatic annual renewal. It’s easy to access your account and change this at any time. Once your plan is chosen, you will get to pay and your account is set up. If you go with the FREE account your site is immediately set up.
Let’s see how to get your website started. In the following video you will watch me go through the process.
Opening a WordPress account (7 min)
On to the basics of setting your website up. For the next steps the training will offer written directions and some short walk though videos.
Let’s look at Step 3 and 4: Customizing Your Website