Insider tips on how to build your unique, free website

Nearly 50% of small businesses in North America don't have a website. WHY?

The reasons are mostly based around limiting beliefs: I can't do it myself; I don't have the time; I don't have the skill; It's confusing; I don't know where to start; It's expensive... even when they're told they can build a free website. Sound familiar?

In this article I'm going to expose you to an entirely different way of looking at websites. I'm going to address the two common, initial questions most people ask and I'm going to eliminate some of the decision making process for you. I'm going to bust three common myths. You're going to learn the six core steps to building your first free website.

But I have to warn you, this is a very addictive skill to learn. So much so that you won't want to stop at just one free website.​
Write that down with the date and save it somewhere safe, because right now, you probably don't believe me.

Who am I and why do I feel qualified to teach you this? My name is Tanya Jones-Thibodeau and like you, I have NO formal training on building websites, using computers, using the Internet, or understanding technology. I also started out with a massive budget of ZERO to make an Online Presence happen.

However, where we differ is that twenty years ago when I first heard about the Internet and websites, I grabbed at it like a baby with a new shiny toy. I devoured it. I couldn't get enough of it. As soon as I'd figured out one layer, I was digging deeper to figure out the next one, and the next one. And you know what? I'm still digging today and I still love it.

Fortunately, I also have a natural ability for transferring my knowledge to others. I taught piano lessons to all ages for many years, then years later, I went on to teach business owners, authors, teachers and students how to find their way around a computer.

I'm very active online in business and writer communities and it was in seeing the struggles that so many are facing when it comes to the different aspects of an online presence, combined with the requests for help that I constantly get in my local community, that I decided that it was time for me to put some serious effort into helping people.

There are several components to an online presence, and it can feel overwhelming when you're getting started - especially if you feel alone and unsupported. But it absolutely can be broken down into small steps, you absolutely can do this yourself - even if you think you're non-techie, you're absolutely not alone - because I'm here to support you, ​and simply by reading this article you are now ON THE RIGHT PATH!

This article is just going to tackle one component of your online presence, which is your website - and your website should be the central hub​ of your online presence. It's the place where you pull everything together and make sense of it all for your audience.

So let's get started with the two common initial questions (and eliminate the need for a decision); then we'll bust three common myths; and you'll learn the six core steps to building your first free website.

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There are two, initial questions commonly asked, that you'll likely be wanting answers for when you first decide that you need a website for your business/brand/product…

  1. Do I want to hire someone to do it or do it myself?
  2. Which platform should I use?

If you see yourself as a non-techie then you would likely assume that you're not capable of doing it yourself, which eliminates the first question. This by default then eliminates the second question, because you'd end up going with whichever platform the person you hired recommended.

I've seen this happen with so many businesses and individuals and the unfortunate part is that they then often end up with a website that is completely useless to them for any number of reasons:

  • Because they can't afford to keep paying a designer to do regular and consistent updates.
  • The person they hired decides they don't want to do website design or maintenance anymore.
  • They never properly learn how to maintain their site themselves (even to do simple updates).
  • The platform that their designer chose was too complicated for them.
  • The platform that their designer chose was too limiting for the future growth that they ended up needing eventually.

So let's bust two myths right now:

1.

YES you absolutely CAN create a free website yourself without the need for hiring a designer.

2.

YES the platform you choose now will make a difference in the long run.

So, let's agree that you're going to put aside your limiting beliefs that you're not capable of setting up your website or that you don't have the time to do it. We both know that at the end of the day you can most definitely find the time and I know that you absolutely ARE capable.

Why do I know that with such confidence? Because you already do what you do, and I can guarantee that there are aspects of what you do that are far more complicated than figuring out how to create a free website.

So with that out of the way, you're now faced with the task of figuring out which platform to use for your website. Now here's the thing, you believe that you're not techie and you don't know what you don't know. So what this means is that trying to pick a platform today could indeed cause you problems weeks, months or years from now when your website needs have out grown the platform you've chosen.

Most times people tend to choose a platform based on two factors:

  1. Cost
  2. Perceived ease of use (based on how good the sales pitch is)

So again, unlike a lot of articles out there who like to offer people a myriad of choices for them to sift through and make their own decision from, I'm actually going to eliminate this decision process and tell you, go with WordPress.

Insider tips on how to build your unique, free website

But in fairness, I'm also going to tell you why.

  • WordPress currently powers over 26% of all websites on the Internet - there are at least 10 other website builder platforms in the market space… all sharing the other 74%. On an even split that means that they each hold an average of 7.4% of the remaining websites. Granted it won't be an even split, but none-the-less, it does mean that at 26% of the market all to themselves, WordPress is clearly the authority for website builder platforms.
  • WordPress is designed for growth - in the online space this is also called being scalable. This means that you can start with the bare minimum (for free by the way) and gradually scale things up on an as needed basis - and there is no limit on the top end. Meaning that you can eventually grow your simple, one page, free website with nothing more than contact information into a full blown eCommerce revenue giant with every bell and whistle you desire, without having to start from scratch each time you're ready to step it up.
  • There are MANY professional website designers who specialize in WordPress, so if/when you might need to hire someone (either because you hit a snag or your business has grown so much that now you really don't have the time but you do have the money) - they're easier to find than an expert for one of "the other guys".
  • You can get started completely for free (so you're not paying during your setup and initial learning curve process) and you can increase gradually - the first upgrade is only $3.99/month.
  • It's an easy process to transition from the .com to the .org versions of WordPress, which opens up an entire new world of website options for you - when you're ready. (More on this in a minute.)
  • It's all I use, so if you want my help you'll need to be using WordPress. 😉

Well, that took a bit longer to cover off the two initial questions than I had expected. I suppose I could have just left it at:

  1. YES you can create a free website yourself
  2. Use WordPress

and moved on from there… but hey, now you know why those are my opinions. So, if you're still with me here, let's dive in a bit more.

Create a free website - yourself

Insider tips on how to build your unique, free website

The other component that tends to get people a bit hung up (aka excuse for procrastination) is that they don't know whether to go the WordPress.com route or the WordPress.org self-hosted route. They also rarely understand the difference.

For beginners, my recommendation is to always start with a free account on WordPress.com. It's the path of least resistance, and since you don't know what you don't know, you won't be yearning for all the shiny toys that come with a self-hosted site. You also don't need all the potential headaches that "can" come with it and are more likely to come with it because you're new.

There are numerous articles that detail out the difference between .com and .org - but they tend to boil down to extended versions of stating that 'you have more options and control with .org than you do with .com'. However, think about everything you know really well in your life - surely you'll agree that the more moving parts something has the higher the risk of problems or something breaking down. Your website is no different.

The more individual pieces that you need to deal with, the more things that can go wrong. Now obviously, there is still a time and place for those more advanced options, but rarely is the time and place at the very beginning.

Learn to walk before you try to run and don't be in a rush for your palace. Get started with the free version of WordPress.com and don't even worry about a custom domain (that's your website address) at this point. Just get familiar with the "platform" (WordPress is what's known as a "platform").

So let's recap so far:

  1. YES you can create a free website yourself
  2. Use WordPress.com
  3. Start with a FREE account

Oh boy, did I really just take you through over 1500 words to illustrate those three simple start points? But my guess is that you're not feeling as confused or as conflicted about all this as you were…

So let's keep this ball rolling!

So what the heck do you do now? You're excited, you see a flicker of hope and a light at the end of tunnel…

Take a deep breath, and settle in for a nice, easy, slow process.

????

While we're here, let's bust another myth:

3.

Technology is NOT about doing everything at warp speed and making miracle mansions appear overnight. And most often, the slowest, most time consuming component to technology are the DECISIONS that you now need to make.

Would you blindly grab a dress or suit off the sale rack of a store and buy it for the most important dinner party of your life? (I really hope not.) So be prepared to put a bit of care, attention, and love into the process of creating your free website. Because your website should be the most important dinner party of your online presence - and you'll be inviting the entire world to it.

Everything you need to know about creating a free website.
#PanopticFoundations #Websites

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Step 1 - you need to choose a theme.

A theme is the general, overall look and feel of your website. Every WordPress website is based on a theme and you start with a base theme and then over time you can tweak and customize things as your skills improve and you're ready to grow.

But don't just grab any theme. Take the time to take a close look at many themes (at this stage just look at the free ones). Through the WordPress.com website you're able to browse themes, there are filter options and you can view a demo of each of the themes. (I'll give you the direct link in a minute, let's stay focused.)

Do keep in mind that the demos won't be perfect and some of it might not really make sense to you - that's ok. You're looking for overall visual appeal. Do you like the default colours, do you like the fonts used, do you like the layouts presented… the images that they've used in the demo are completely irrelevant so don't worry about liking those.

By choosing a theme that most closely resembles an end look that you'd be happy with (though it doesn't have to be perfect), the easier the whole process will end up being, with the least amount of work.

Once your theme is selected you'll want to get familiar with the options available to you and make a few tweaks.

Remember, during the sign up process always go for the free options. Don't get distracted or lured by any paid options at this point.​

Step 2 - decide on your pages.

Start out by thinking of your free website as a digital brochure - be careful with this line of thinking and don't get stuck in it, but very loosely it is a decent place to start. So, if you were putting together a tri-fold brochure that wasn't restricted by space in any way, you'd have six panels to fill with whatever you want.

Think of these panels within your website as your "static" pages - they're pages that won't be constantly changing, though you will still update them periodically.

What would you put on those six panels? The easy, initial choices are:

  1. Cover
  2. Contact info
  3. About us

This leaves three panels to dive into the details of what you do, your products, your services, your packages…

(TIP: You don't have to fill all six panels right now, or ever… you can leave your website at the above three points covered in one, two, or three pages; you can add one page for details or a hundred pages for details - this is the endless space benefit.)

With a website you do want to find the balance between cramming TOO much information on one page that scrolls forever and ever - versus - dissecting things up so much that people are having to click on a zillion links and pages just to find things, and there being very little of value on any given page. So keep things grouped together logically and only break it down when it truly makes sense to do so.

Once you know the topics of your pages, it's time for the next step.

Step 3 - add content to your pages.

The great news is that a webpage isn't limited the way a print brochure is, so you're not limited in the wording you can use on each page.

The terrible news is that a webpage isn't limited the way a print brochure is, so you're not limited in the wording you can use on each page.

Yes this is very much a love/hate relationship in marketing. So heed these suggestions:

  • Choose wording that is CUSTOMER-CENTRIC - focus on THEM not you.
  • Keep your wording tight and concise and on point - just because you have unlimited space, doesn't mean you need to use it all. Frankly, no one will read it all on static pages anyway.
  • Find your "voice" - meaning, present your wording choices in a way that actually reflects you and your brand without actually talking about you and your brand. Let people "hear" you when they read your words.
  • Take the time to find, create and/or take great images to compliment your site.
  • Make sure that everything you put on your website provides value to your customer/audience.

The subject of content can actually get extremely deep. There are many, many options and angles that you can take. For now, keep it simple. Use your words and put a few really nice images with them to support what you're saying. IF creating video is something that you're already skilled at, then absolutely go for it... but in my experience the thought of video sends most beginners running for the hills, so like I said, just keep it simple and work with what you already know. You know how to speak - so just put those words into writing. And YES, write the way you speak, it's the most authentic thing you can do.

[Side note: We have a pretty great article on finding free images for commercial use that you might like to read, AND we have a free course on how to use Canva, which is a free, web-based design application that will have you creating professional looking imagery in no time - yes even if you believe that you're not techie or not a designer - remember, you're who we specialize in. When we say something is simple, we mean it.]

So let's do another recap, we've covered:

  1. YES you can create a free website yourself
  2. Use WordPress.com
  3. Start with a FREE account
  4. Choose a theme
  5. Decide on the topics for your static pages
  6. Create the content for your static pages

And that's as far as we're going to go in this article.

  • Is there more? Yup, there definitely is.
  • Do you need more to create a free website? Nope, you definitely don't.
  • Will you want to get into the next steps of more for your free website? Absolutely.

Understand that a website is never finished. NEVER. And nor should it be. The online landscape is constantly changing and as such, you should be too. But don't let that spook you. We aren't talking about full-on massive overhauls. We're talking about subtle tweaks and improvements tackled at the pace of just a little bit each day or week or even month. The point is, you don't have to get it all done in one shot. Pick away at it one page at a time. Giving yourself the time to build it out gradually will also ensure that you come back to it each time with fresh eyes that will constantly make it better and better.

Insider tips on how to build your unique, free website

So what are some of the other pieces of a website that you'll eventually want to consider?

  • Dynamic content - this is consistent, fresh pieces of content such as articles/videos/audios/images that you regularly publish to your website.
  • Lead capture system - this is a setup that will collect email addresses for you, along with giving people a compelling reason to actually give you their email address.
  • Email marketing - yes this can be an automated process connected to your website, and ANY business can benefit and grow from a well managed email list.

Stay with me here, think back through this article… there are nearly 3,000 words here so far, explaining various pieces… but with the understanding behind those pieces, a mere 36 words sums it up:

  1. YES you can create a free website yourself
  2. Use WordPress.com
  3. Start with a FREE account
  4. Choose a theme
  5. Decide on the topics for your static pages
  6. Create the content for your static pages

and now you can see that it's really not complicated. Trust me when I say that I can make it this uncomplicated for each piece moving forward, no matter how confusing or complicated it may seem on the surface - it truly can be broken down.

But for now, grab your free Website Blueprint, which will keep these key points front and centre for you.

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This free blueprint will keep the key points from this article front of mind...

IMPORTANT - KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR EMAILS

Be sure to watch your emails, after you grab your free blueprint download, because very soon we'll have some exciting news about a brand new program that will be available to you that will provide you with step-by-step videos, printable PDFs, on-demand support and guidance, a community of like-minded people - all geared towards the foundation of your online presence, including your website… Anyone who is on our email list early will also be given a VERY SPECIAL introductory offer, so don't miss out.

Your action steps from this article are:

  1. Download your free Website Blueprint.
  2. Start browsing themes at WordPress.com to find one that you love.
  3. Sign up for our free course on how to use Canva (btw, this will also help you create ALL of your print materials and any ads that you might run online or offline).
  4. Watch for upcoming emails from Panoptic Foundations.

From here you can absolutely start diving deeper on your own. Setup your free WordPress.com account, start building out your free website (one page at a time). Just keep in mind, that you're brand new to WordPress... you might run into some issues with navigation, with understanding what you're seeing, with knowing where to find specific things that you want to do... PLEASE DON'T PANIC - and don't get frustrated. I assure you that when you have the right steps and guidance it truly is VERY simple. We're working as fast as we can to get you the program that will give you those exact steps and guidance. In the meantime, join our Facebook Group: Getting Going Online so that you have a direct line of contact with us to be able to start asking questions immediately.

Have questions? Want to leave a comment? You can do so in which ever way is most convenient for you:

  1. Use the comment option at the bottom of this article.
  2. Send us an email to: [email protected].
  3. Like our Facebook Page and comment on our posts or send us a PM (private message on Facebook).
  4. Join our Facebook Group where you can join the conversation and network with others just like you.

We're very excited for you, this is the beginning of a very rewarding journey that pays off with long-term benefits for you and your business!

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