WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning that anyone who wants to use it and add elements to their site can do so. This can be great if you need your website to perform specific functions or look and operate in a certain way.
You will first need to sort out your web hosting yourself (see below) and they will often help you install WordPress to get you started.
With WordPress you’ll have access to a huge number of free or premium ‘themes’ you can choose from, which acts as a template for your website design. You’ll also have complete flexibility to customize your site. Some premium themes will be at an additional cost but it’s definitely worth it.
There are a number of ‘plugins’ you can install on your website to add a specific feature, such as opt-in forms, SEO enhancement, social share buttons etc. Some plugins are free and others charge a small fee. To summarise the pros and cons:
Open source - you will have a full control over your site and choose where it is hosted.
Very flexible - you will be able to get your site to look and operate exactly how you want.
Huge amount of free ‘plugins’ to help you get the look and functionality you want.
Has a large dedicated following - meaning there is lots of information out there to help you optimise your site and problem solve.
Is more complicated to setup and manage than a fully integrated system such as Squarespace. Can require a decent level of understanding of coding if you want to do something a little more bespoke.
Is self-hosted therefore you’ll need to sign up with a web hosting provider and upload the site.
While there are many free ‘plugins’ to help you, these can lead to reliability and quality issues and it is best to buy these from a reputable developer.
You will need to ensure your site is kept up to date with any WordPress updates - this will help mitigate identified security issues.
Roughly, the set up cost would be around $10-$20/year to purchase your domain name and approximately between $50-$150/year to host your website (depends on which web hosting provider and package you choose).
Below are my recommendations as to where to purchase your domain name and the web hosting provider for your WordPress site. These are very popular providers and you can’t go too far wrong with them.
You may also need to allow for some plugins if you want certain functions such as opt-in forms and scheduling. These don't tend to cost too much - depending on the complexity of what you need.
Your time! - This is what people often forget to consider. In the scheme of things the cost of hosting and registering a domain is low. However if you are not familiar with WordPress and decide to learn, then building your site (and getting it to look good) will take you far longer than you probably imagine. If you are starting from scratch and are not particularly tech savvy it is likely to take you weeks if not months to deliver a website you are happy with.
Web Hosting Provider
BlueHost is a web hosting services provider whose platform is built to complement and support small and medium-sized websites. BlueHost works best with WordPress-powered websites, and the platform also offers basic web development services such as free domain and a free website builder with preset templates.
If you decide to go with BlueHost, your package will include a free domain. You can get started from $3.95/month for a Basic Plan which I recommend when you are starting out.Click here to get started!
SiteGround is a web hosting services provider offers speed, functionality, and a number of useful add-on features. The platform has three separate data centers located in the USA, Europe, and Singapore, which allows users the freedom to choose from three different locations for their website’s servers.
You can get started from £2.75/month (UK) or $3.98/month (US). Click here to get started!
Domain Name Registrar
With Squarespace, you can purchase your domain name, web hosting and build website all in one place. There is no need to sign up with a third-party web hosting provider.
Squarespace also doesn’t require additional plug-ins so you’ll be saving money on that. However, this could be a disadvantage if you want a specific feature or functionality on your site that is available on WordPress, but perhaps not Squarespace.
Another disadvantage is that you don’t actually own your website if you choose to go with Squarespace – if Squarespace decide to close their business, you’ll lose your website too. This is however pretty unlikely. The more challenging issue is if you decide you want to move your site to another host currently you can't. You would effectively be starting from scratch and need build you site from the bottom up and cut and paste all your content across.
That said, Squarespace contains most of the functionality that a new business would need and I am sure they will continue to build their offer.
So here are my pros and cons:
Simple to use and update - drop and drag
Many good looking templates to choose from
Fully integrated - no need for separate web hosting
Good basic functionality
24/7 support - If you have a bug or need a fix you don’t need to figure out if it is the site or the hosting that is the problem.
Not as flexible as WordPress - if you expect your business and website to expand rapidly this may not be able to provide the functionality you need.
WordPress auto adjusts for mobile devices - so you don't have full control on how you website is displayed.
You cannot move your site as a whole if you decide to leave - you would effectively need to start again
The setup cost feels slightly more expensive than WordPress at around $216/year, but there is not much in it, and you get everything you need to get going.
Again time will be your biggest ‘cost’. Whilst this platform will be quicker to learn than WordPress, unless your site is super simple expect to spend a good few days getting it exactly how you want it.
In summary it comes down to personal choice. Some people will hate the idea of having to start again if they want to move their site and avoid Squarespace. However if you want a simple, good-looking website in an integrated package then a platform like Squarespace could be ideal. There are also other platforms out there such as www.Wix.com & www.Weebly.com that offer a similar service.
Whichever way you choose to go, building a website will undoubtedly take you longer than you think. Aside from the technical challenges it will force you to make some important decisions about the branding of your business and how you want to be perceived by your customers. This takes time and will be necessary on any platform. For help with this check out my blog on branding here: How to define your website branding, look and image
If you want to capture your readers contact details you will need to select an email marketing service provider.
Email marketing service provider
Email marketing can be a really effective marketing method, especially for online based businesses. If you want your website to capture your reader’s contact details via sign up or ‘opt-in’ forms then you will need an email marketing service provider.
They should allow you to:
Offer email signup forms or opt-in forms to capture your readers contact details
Create email campaigns and sales funnels
Manage your contacts
Segment users into groups
Track the performance of your email campaigns
If you do not have an email marketing service provider and want this function (which I highly recommend!) check out my website for a couple of examples - ActiveCampaign & ConvertKit, but there are more to choose from out there.
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