With all these services, you build everything yourself, starting with a template you choose from a (hopefully) wide, well-categorized selection. Most use simple drag-and-drop interfaces that let you include items such as social share buttons, photo galleries, blogs, and media players. Some even let you restrict viewing with a password and let you have people join up as members of your site (see the table).
Stop whatever you're doing and ask yourself this simple question: "Do I need a website?" If your response was anything other than "yes," you need to think again. It doesn't matter if you're the head of a multinational corporation who employs thousands of people or a local mom-and-pop shop from around the way, you need a website to help potential customers find you online. If you have a business, failure to establish an online home is a failure to grow.
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.
Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
If you already signed up for hosting, you’ve created an account. If you don’t already have a web host, we recommend signing up for the Wix sitebuilder via its website. Simply enter your email address and password at the Wix.com signup page to begin. Note that the email address handle will become part of your free domain (if you don’t have a custom domain), so keep that in mind when signing up. If you’re still unsure, I welcome you to check out our expert review of the Wix platform below.
Most hosting plans include easy access to WordPress — installing the software with one click, or better yet, having it preinstalled for you. In most cases, you can simply log into your hosting control panel and find the option to install the WP platform. If your hosting service doesn’t have this capability, you can find the manual installation instructions here. These web hosts make installing WordPress especially easy:
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
Test the customer service team: You will need post-purchase support at one point or another, so you want a hosting provider with a knowledgeable customer service team that’s available 24/7 via different channels, including phone, email, and chat. Contact customer service at different times of the day, and evaluate the quality of their responses to very specific questions, such as “How do I set up my business email?”
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By creating a website, you are creating an online presence. This allows you to connect with people that you might not otherwise be able to reach. Whether you’re making a basic website with contact information for your small business or medical practice, creating a landing page for your freelance work, a multi-page experience for your wedding photography business or you just want a place to blog about your thoughts on food, having a website will give you a dynamic advantage.
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