Let’s look at the most important basic aspects of the ‘net you need to understand a little about, before taking your business online. And I am going to assume that you already KNOW what the Internet actually is LOL
For those of you who have read my story, I’ve always wanted to be an Architect. As it turned out, I finally am one… just in a different medium 🙂 I now call myself an Online Business Architect, because I help people build their own business online.
I often find using that using more common “architectural” terms, helps a lot when explaining what the Internet involves.
So let’s get started on “building” your online house…
What’s in a Name? Everything.
Now, you’re not quite sure what type of house yet, or where… but you think it would be nice to build one 🙂
You’d probably start off by giving that house a “name” – which probably describes the project!
In my case, I might want to build “Spry Manor”! That sounds pretty spiffy 🙂 and I can name my house ANYTHING I like in the real world! But, if I wanted to build my house “online” I would need to make sure that NO-ONE ELSE has already called their house the exact same name!
There’s a whole HEAP of suggestions in Module 6 of YBI that are extremely relevant to helping you choose the “best” domain name for your business! This article is simply meant to be an overview of the whole “process”.
So I would first try to:
Register a DOMAIN NAME for my Project
Lucky for me, the name sprymanor.com IS available for me to register and purchase if I want. And I would OWN that name outright. for as long as I keep paying for it!
So I could check that all out, and then set it up, by heading off over to what is called a
Domain Name Registrar
These Domain Name Registrars use special rules to decide who can get what names, and how much to charge them. A normal dot.com domain name is quite cheap at around $10 a year. So this step isn’t going to break the bank unless you want to try and get a fancy or “premium” domain name!
You will probably notice while you are at the Domain Name Registrar, that they will try to upsell you a whole heap of EXTRA STUFF that probably makes NO sense to you at all! And I STRONGLY URGE you to say NO to all of that!!!
To be honest, the ONLY THING you should buy from a domain registrar, is your DOMAIN NAME! And nothing else at this stage, otherwise that $10 investment can quite easily cost you $200+ which you don’t need to spend right now!
So, these Registrars keep track of all of the names, by looking after what is called the DNS or…
Domain Name System
Registrars make sure that domain names get registered, and then recorded into the whole “system” correctly.
And that’s vitally important because the DNS is the “map” for the whole Internet!
The DNS contains ALL the addresses of everything online, and is the first port of call for ANY computer trying to find something on the Internet! Your computer can’t work out how to get to ANYWHERE else online, without first checking the map!!!
However… at this stage… all you have is your DOMAIN NAME (house name). You don’t have an “address” as such yet, so no-one can find you right now!
How do you fix that?
Well, if you were going to build a house somewhere, what do you need first? That would be a vacant block of land to build it on! And that comes with an ADDRESS 🙂
And online, you can get your virtual “block of land” from a…
Web Hosting Company
These companies are like the people who develop the land releases in a subdivision! The hosting company owns a computer (a BIG server, or the land subdivision). They set up a whole heap little parcels of “virtual” land on that server. And then, they RENT these to you to use as your “address”, and to build your “house” on!
I would strongly recommend you look for a hosting company that includes cPanel AND WordPress as part of their package! Why? Well because if anything goes wrong with the hosting company, that combination makes everything very easy to MOVE to another host! And, almost anyone can do it! Peace of Mind 🙂
I would ALSO suggest that you DO NOT PAY for any hosting plans LONGER than 12 months! Some offer plans up to 3 years to “save” you money! But, the reality is, ANYTHING can happen in that time which would require a MOVE to another host, so it would be WASTED money!
So once you choose a hosting company and plan, and pay for it, they will ask for your domain name, and then set your name up on one of these vacant blocks on land for you!
The first important thing to notice here is that you do not OWN this “address” (but yes, you DO own the domain name).
You are only RENTING it from your hosting company! If you stop paying your rent, you know what happens don’t you? Yes, they can evict you and turn you out on the street with NO address to be found!
The second thing to notice here is, like in the real world, not every vacant block of land is the same!
These web hosts are all different, and so are the parcels of land they rent out! Which explains the plethora of hosting “plans” you’ll come across, making it hard to decide what to get!
Sometimes there might be hundreds, or even thousands of addresses crammed into your subdivision (server)! Services might be reduced or suffer a lot because of that! This could also mean there might be problems with some of your neighbours doing the wrong thing online and giving the whole neighbourhood a bad reputation!
Maybe you might decide you want to get the web server equivalent (a VPS perhaps) of a much larger block of land to build on. A few acres perhaps, where life is a little more pleasant, and neighbours are more affluent? 😉
And if you’ve got the money, maybe you even want a harbourside mansion (a dedicated web server) of your own!
And once you’ve got your web server/hosting sorted… you’ve got an address! Woohoo!
So now, head BACK to your Domain Name Registrar, login, and then edit your domain name record and enter your:
These are a couple of numbers (IP Addresses) and also names, of the computers (the name servers) which map the addresses contained on your hosting company’s computer!
So get that info from your hosting company, and then enter it into your domain record at your Registrar!
And after a few hours (it takes that long to update ALL the computers in the DNS around the world)… you can be found!
Sometimes this can happen in a few minutes, but it can take 24-48 hours too
But hang on…
Don’t get too excited yet!
While you DO now have your address, you still haven’t actually BUILT anything there yet!
And there’s no letterbox for any mail to be put into… and there’s no house there yet for people to come and check out! Just the vacant block of land!
But it’s all good… all the basic services you need are now connected to your “block”, so you can start playing!
So the first thing to do would be to
Log In to Your Control Panel (cPanel preferred)
Your web host should provide you with an address, and your web server username/password etc., so you can log in to the “back-end” of your server. This is where you can control all the software that runs your server, so just be careful what you fiddle with!
I say I prefer cPanel for several reasons… apart from the ease of use and intuitive dashboard, the main reason I like cPanel nowadays is that, with most hosting companies who provide cPanel, it comes with a SECURE SERVER CERTIFICATE (for FREE)! And having a “secure” server is becoming a very important “trust” factor in helping people decide who they do business with!
There are only a few areas you really need to play with here inside your cPanel, and we cover all of those in more detail elsewhere.
First up however, you should:
Set Up Your Email
There’s a separate lesson inside YBI Module 6, on all the things you need to consider when setting up your email accounts. Please check that lesson BEFORE doing too much else here! There’s a range of recommendations there that also relate to email security, spam and more!!!
Right now, however, you really only need to establish ONE main mailbox for checking, and one alias/forwarder, and that’s ALL at this stage.
You also need to set up the email client on your computer/phone so that you can check your new email account there!
And now, once all that’s done, the postman can find you!
Build That House
Next up… we need to make start on that house!
Set Up WordPress
There’s a lesson in YBI Module 6 which takes you through my complete initial setup of WordPress in glorious detail, so please check that out 🙂
WordPress is the software I recommend most beginners use to get their online presence set up! It is a well established and popular Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is ALSO used by a lot of the BIG names online, which means you can start off small, and scale up to biggerer and betterer if/when you like!
Because WordPress powers about 30% of the world’s websites (according to them) it is usually available as an option to install from most web hosting Control Panels. So go look for that option in cPanel… it should be there somewhere 🙂
And then, if your hosting company offers to “install” WordPress for you (for a fee), forget it! The whole process takes less than a minute! LOL
When you find the install button, you’ll need to decide WHERE to install WordPress! So this is like deciding WHERE to put the house on your block of land!
Most people want it right up the front! Like here – yournewdomain.com – where it’s at what is known as the ROOT level of your site! A stupid name IMHO as all the roots are underground and out of site… but oh well…
Or maybe, you might want to set up a few different things on your block, so you might install it in its own directory… like – yournewdomain.com/putithereinstead/
You also need to provide WordPress with some credentials (an admin username – which better NOT just be ADMIN!!!! and PLEASE use a very strong password) which protect the front door of your new house!
IF you have the option available to you at this time, please ALSO change the DEFAULT name of your database to something “strange” and different. A useful small tip to try to keep hackers out later!!!
Then, click the button, and you’ll be done in a few seconds! Easy Peasy!
Now in your web browser, go check out yournewdomain.com and see what it did for you! Congratulations, you now have built a very quick, pre-fabricated house on your virtual block of land!
It’s a bit like building what they call a “spec” home… there are hundreds of them which all look alike… and of course, they don’t come with any furniture, and so…
It’s time to Decorate!!!
You now have to log in to the backend of WordPress – into your CMS or Content Management System – to see HOW you can “manage” all the content on your new website!
So find the log in button/link on your brand new site, click that and enter your admin details to get in!
And as you do… we’re going to change EVERYTHING! LOL Well we’re NOT (yet)… but we COULD!
This is the beauty of WordPress! Pretty much EVERYTHING to do with your website can be done here!
Don’t like the appearance of your website? Well, go to the
APPEARANCE Menu, and select THEMES
Can you imagine changing the outside of your house with just one click? Don’t like bricks? No worries – how about this then??? Or maybe even updating the paint scheme across the whole house in one go? LOL
Well, that’s what a theme update can do, in seconds! And there are truckloads of themes available for free. You can simply upload, activate, do some customisation if needed (using Appearance > Customize menu), and that’s it! A totally new look! A new “skin” just like that! And everything IN THE HOUSE – your contents (all your furniture, rooms, carpet etc,) stays untouched!
There are also a LOT of “premium” themes you can purchase, and these often have a LOT more “features” included in them. Be careful however as many of them you may not use, and they might only slow your site down – a BAD thing these days as Google is constantly warning us about slow sites.
And a LOT of the premium themes being sold lately also include a lot of extra “functionality”, and may include several features similar to those found in some plugins (see below). Are these “bloated” themes worth the price? In my opinion… not really! All the “additions” seem to make what are normally simple modifications, a lot harder than normal to do.
Now… just because you CAN do it, does NOT mean that you should do it. Find a theme that works for you, and stick with it 🙂
With people coming to your website from all sorts of “devices” (phones, tablets, desktops etc) it’s important to make sure they can view your site properly on that device! So make sure you select a “responsive” theme!
These can magically adapt to these different screen sizes. Without one, your website could look like garbage on a phone – which apparently a LOT more than 50% of people now use to browse the web. And you’ll upset Google because you are not “mobile friendly”.
Plugin For Some Special Features!
But what if you need your website to “do” something special? Well, there’s probably a “plugin” for that – to carry out some special FUNCTION!
Think of it perhaps, as installing something in your house, so you can use the wifi network to control the lights, music etc. Or the remote control on the front gate and garage door! Or the alarm for the house security etc. All of these “extras” you could install in your house carry out specific functions that didn’t come with the original house!
Now a lot of these “things” you could probably have a go at doing yourself. But it seems we are getting lazier in the modern world. So if there is a plugin that will do that small job, chances are we’ll use it rather than make what might be a simple alteration to some code to do the same thing!
Click the PLUGINS Menu, and you’ll see what plugins are already installed. I personally REMOVE a lot of these and have a range of recommended plugins to install which I outline in YBI Module 6.
If you then click ADD NEW, you can select from a heap of free ones, or upload a paid one!
So many of these WordPress plugins are available for free! Although lately, the trend has been to offer higher priced “premium” plugins too! And some of these are now charging what can only be called “extreme” annual licensing fees too!
WARNING: before you go spending too much money on these premium plugins and themes, make sure you assess what you REALLY NEED, and whether the plugin or theme can actually PROVIDE the functions you want! 🙂
The trick with plugins is also to watch how many you use, as the more you use, again the slower your site could become!
Page Builder Plugins
A very “interesting” type of plugin which HAS gained a lot of popularity recently are the “page builder” plugins! These are designed to take you – the writer – right away from all the coding that used to be required to build a website.
Now, IF you find that the theme you are using isn’t “customisable” enough for you using the “normal” WordPress processes, you might want to look at using these Page Builder plugins.
They simply let you drag and drop page elements around on the screen! And if you know what you are doing, you can create some quite amazing pages!
And if you don’t? Well it can sometimes resemble the early days of desktop publishing from back in the 1980’s LOL
The page builder I use most of the time is Elementor, and I combine it with the OceanWP theme. BOTH of these are free, with some premium add-ons available if you decide to purchase them!
Posts Or Pages?
Generally, when people are talking about a website, they use the term “page” in relation to each “screenful” of content they can see.
But when you visit the WordPress backend, you see that you can add this content to either a “Page”, or a “Post”. And there always seems to be some confusion about the “difference” between Posts and Pages with a WordPress site.
So again, let’s turn to our “house” to explain that…
In a house, Pages would be the rooms that EVERYBODY expects to see in ANY house. For example Living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. There might be other rooms as well, including dining, laundry, family etc. It should be easy for someone to move from one “room” to the next, especially if you had to find the bathroom in a hurry, or in the dark 😉 LOL
On a website, people normally expect to see a Homepage, About, Contact page as a minimum. Depending on what you do, you might have other pages such as Services, Portfolio, Prices, FAQ, Privacy, Terms of Service, Site Map, etc.
So PAGES are generally static (ie fixed and unchanging) and are mostly used to describe the business.
You would expect to find most of the more important pages included in the main navigation of any website!
However, if you had a lot – ie several hundred pages – of evergreen content it would make sense to create and organise them all using the pages format.
So if Pages are the “rooms” in a house, then Posts are the “stories of the people” who live there 🙂
These “stories” give you a better insight into their daily lives… the things they do, the things they like (or don’t like), their opinions, and maybe even their dreams and desires.
Originally, people published these stories on what was called a personal web log (weblog –> blog), which was a daily journal or personal diary that they shared online.
Nowadays, the term “blog” refers to a regularly updated website (or section of a website) that is written in an informal or conversational style. The Posts are usually displayed in reverse chronological order, with the latest Posts appearing first.
These Posts may (or may not) encourage (moderated) comments on the items that are “posted” on the site.
These “Posts” can be added to a website from time to time, often with no fixed schedule. Usually, they are simply added when the writers have another story to share with the world.
However some businesses have a rigorous publishing schedule, and may add Posts on a weekly, daily, or even more often schedule, When they add so many items, it makes sense that these are “sorted” so people can easily find and read the items of most interest to them. And that’s where it’s useful to use…
These can help to group similar posts in your blog. In a family home, the groups would usually be around the things they do – eg the Sports they play, the Hobbies they enjoy, and other family Activities, Holidays and general News.
But on a lot of business websites, the category structure is often an area that can cause a lot of problems. Search engines are usually pretty clever at deciding what a page is all about. So it IS important that you don’t “confuse” them by including content and/or categories that aren’t really related to the main purpose of your website!
Custom Post Types
And then there are collections of pages/posts which don’t “fit” into that standard description…
For example, if you run an eCommerce website with product catalogs etc., there’s nothing “standard” in WordPress that does that for you. For that extra functionality, you need an eCommerce PLUGIN, which stores all your product information in custom post types in your database.
Similarly, if you want to set up an LMS (Learning Management System) with a plugin, it will also use custom post types to store your lesson data.
Like any Architect planning a house design, it is important you try very hard to plan the structure of your site properly before you start building!
Work out what pages you need, the types of posts you want, what categories they are in, and plot the hallways/pathways between sections so it is easy for people to move around your house!
Do some future planning as well. Let’s say you might want to build a large outside entertaining area on your house later, because you can’t afford it initially. In your planning you could make allowances for that, so it would easier to build and integrate into the main structure later on!
Do the same with your website! To start with, you don’t HAVE to build the biggest and best with all the bells and whistles. But you should make allowances for the things you could add later!
Your Website Visitors
While you may not want too many people visiting you at home… without visitors to your site, you’re cactus! So there are some very important considerations to make life a lot simpler for the hordes of people who visit you online!
Most visitors who come to your website are pretty impatient! They give you under three seconds to satisfy their initial curiosity before moving on.
One of the first things people look for is your main site navigation which is expected to be at the top of every screen. That’s why it’s so important! It’s like the big “map” – the “store directory” – that’s in all shopping malls – it’s just expected! I just hope that yours is a lot more useful than the standard mall directory LOL
If they can’t sort out WHERE to find what they want on your site in that 3 seconds, you have lost them forever!
Other internal links within your site should also be included at the bottom of every screen in the footer, and on some pages, in the sidebar – a space which can be made available alongside the main content of a page or post.
Get Ready for Visitors
Normally when people to come to visit your home, they knock on the front door and come in that way. Not so on the web!
While a good portion comes in via your home page, you’ll find a significant number of visitors arriving on your internal pages as well, especially once the search engines discover and index your website! Check the navigation on your internal pages as well, to make sure people don’t get lost when they arrive, and that they have a Call to Action (CTA) when they get there.
A smaller portion will try to get in through some “back doors” (cPanel or WordPress Login pages etc) that they shouldn’t be anywhere near! In which case, you need to check your website security to keep these clowns out!!!
What’s A Landing Page?
So it would seem that visitors can “land” on your site from anywhere… and on any page… Does that mean ALL your pages are “landing pages”? No they aren’t. Sorry.
Online, a “landing page” is a special page which usually has NO navigation on it (or extremely limited nav), and has a VERY obvious Call to Action (CTA) on that page. There’s no navigation because that gives people a choice. And if people can’t decide what to do? They probably leave!
A landing page is designed for one purpose only.
It “greets” people you sent there from a specific advertising campaign, and encourages them to take the action you want them to take!
That action could be to give their name and email address, or buy something, or download something.
These landing pages SHOULD BE ORPHANED PAGES! In other words, they are standalone pages and should NOT be part of your official “map” or site structure! They should also NOT be indexed by search engines as they are ONLY used to welcome visitors from your promotional activities These can be from external promotions, or even internal promotions – but DO try to keep them separate 🙂
Call to Action (CTA)
Interestingly enough… while every page on your website is not “technically” a landing page (using the above definition), each page should still have a specific purpose!
It should contain an “obvious” call to action you want your website visitors to take! After all, what’s the point in getting lots of traffic (or people visiting your website) if they all just turn around and leave?
Do you want them to call you? Fill out an enquiry form? Subscribe to a newsletter? Download your latest “report”???
BUT… when you put TOO MANY CTA’s on one page, you only confuse your visitor. Typically, a home page can easily become THE most confusing page ever!!!
An example of simplicity itself is the Google homepage. There’s really only one “obvious” thing you can do there, and that is search! Although they DO have other options available on the extreme top and bottom of the screen.
At the other extreme is the main Yahoo page… where the infinite scrolling of “newsy” items will eventually clog up your browser memory and cause your computer to crash LOL !!!
In our case WordPress allows us to use for our home page, either a specific page, OR the latest X number of blog posts, OR perhaps even a combination depending on your theme.
So which do you use?
I would suggest that if you HAVE a definite “purpose” for your site – eg you want a phone call – then your home page should be a specific page with THAT CTA on it – and forget listing your blog posts there 🙂
Again, if you want people to sign up for your regular (useful) newsletter, then THE main CTA on your homepage would be a subscription form!
Which leads us to…
Your Mailing List
An important part of being in business online is collecting the names and email addresses of interested people so that you can do follow-up marketing with them later! Or offer them regular support suggestions once they become customers.
So you may need some sort of “lead magnet” – a free giveaway that has some value, or what some call an “ethical bribe” – to entice them to exchange their details with you on the “promise” of getting something useful in the future.
Just make sure you obey all the anti-spam rules 🙂
You should try to set up different lists depending on the offer made.
Now, these “lists” can be saved and operated on your server. Check with your hosting company to see what their restrictions might be. The main problem is going to be your ability to SEND email is often severely restricted – perhaps under 100 emails an hour. Obviously, it won’t take long before you could take all day to send one email… so that’s not a great system to use!
You may need to look at setting up with an email marketing service provider – like Aweber, Mailchimp, etc – to look after your data and mailouts for you. Trouble is… these services can start to get very expensive, quickly, once you start adding a decent number of subscribers!
One question I often ask is do I really need thousands of freebie seekers in my database? If not, then make sure you set up your lead magnets etc above, with a more specific target audience 🙂
So… you get all these people to add their names to your mailing list.
Well, you can do two things with them…
1 – Set Up An Auto-Responder (A/R) Sequence
A number of emails can be pre-plugged into each “list” you set up. Once someone signs up, they automatically get sent the whole sequence over the next week, month or even years, depending on the number of emails you have put in there.
If you DO set up an A/R Sequence, it could be something like (after all the spam checking, double optin etc was done):
- 1st email – immediate – deliver the lead magnet
- 2nd email – 1 day later – check they got it
- 3rd email – 3 days later – first “support” type email
- 4th and beyond emails – every 7 days – ongoing “support” type email
And if you want to get really clever, you can segment your lists! This means moving people around to new/different lists, depending on what actions they take, or how far through a sequence they get!
2 – Send Broadcast Emails/Newsletters
You should ALSO try to “broadcast” a regular, up-to-date, email announcement / newsletter to EVERYONE, on all your lists at the same time.
A common hassle people have with their mailing list, is deciding how often should they send these broadcast messages?
Well, that’s simple… how often would your “ideal customer” want to receive useful news from you? After all, you DID do your customer research earlier didn’t you? And you should have also determined WHAT type of “news” they want as well 😉
- Remember, if they are ALSO part of your A/R sequences, they will also be getting that email sequence.
- Send newsletters REGULARLY! If you are too infrequent, they WILL forget who the @$#% you are, and unsubscribe, or report you for spamming! Regular? That means at least once a week… possibly even more often.
- DON’T make your newsletter like one big constant promotion all the time… no-one likes that! Offer useful support and advice in the majority of your emails, and maybe send the “occasional” separate promo!
That’s about it… pretty much all the “technical” things you need to know to get your new web business started!
After this? Well, scaling the growth of your business is a lot harder if you don’t have these basics sorted.
And that’s another story… for another day!
Putting your stuff online IS the focus of Module Six in our course here @ YBI. To take it for a free 14-day test drive then make sure you register here… 🙂