Building a Website on a Budget
Are you thinking of building a blog? Landing pages for products? Or maybe you just want a nifty-looking website to introduce yourself and what you do to anyone who wants to know.
Whichever it is, if you’re looking for some help, you’ve come to the right place! Building a website on a budget from scratch can sound like a daunting task, but it’s not very complicated. I’m pretty tech-dumb, so if I managed to build not one, but three websites, I guarantee you that you can too, and you will probably have fewer problems than I did!
If you’re here, you most likely already know what you’re working towards, but in case you don’t, here are a couple of things you should figure out beforehand:
- What are you hoping to achieve with the website?
- What do you plan on naming the website?
- How do you plan on monetizing the website?
Simple enough questions, and it goes without saying that it may not be the best time to start a website if you’re unclear on your goal.
This website may contain affiliate links which means that I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase from a link found on my site.
What kind of website are you building?
As I mentioned earlier, websites have many uses. If you plan on using it like a blog, my advice would be different for you than if you plan on using it as a bunch of landing pages for products.
Blogs are an entire beast of a subject to tackle, so instead of cramming it into this article, I will send you to my Complete Guide to Making Your First Blog.
Website for Landing page purposes
If you’re planning on offering many digital products, like eBooks, video courses, PDF guides, templates, etc., You may be looking at having a website with many landing pages, without actually keeping the website “together”. That usually works better for people who have a budget for ads.
In that case, my advice is to make a few products first, or at least have one ready to go when you set up your website. Products will work better if you’ve done some market research and made sure to have a quality offer than people will want, so that’s something to prioritize.
Buy your domain name early, but don’t buy a hosting service until you’re ready to put up at least one (or 4-5 would be my personal suggestion). Otherwise, you’re buying hosting for empty space.
Figure out the colors you’ll be using repeatedly. Make sure you have a catchy logo, catchphrase, or other thing that will be easy for people to remember. Make your first few products, but plan out a lot more products for later; it’s a good way to know how much material you’re working with, AND it should help with the continuity of your work.
Want a bit of guidance to prepare for your blog? My Blog Starter Kit was made for you!
“About Me” Websites
If all you need is a landing page to introduce yourself, you may be able to avoid having a website altogether thanks to services like Linktree (yes, I put my own Linktree profile as a link because why not). While having your own website certainly has perks, Linktree is free, and it’s a very simple way to centralize your info for everyone.
Linktree does have subscription plan to give you a lot more malleability, but if you’re going to spend money, you’ll have a better return on investment by paying a monthly hosting fee for a website than a Linktree subscription.
online Shop Websites
If you’re wary of websites like Etsy (their rules can trigger bans for a few days and it’s a bit weird), you can sell your digital products and anything you planned to sell on such a platform through your own website instead.
For that, you’ll need a shop plug-in for your WordPress website (woocommerce being a really good pick) and you’ll need to set up a full shop yourself. It may be a bit more work, but you’ll own that shop.
A good argument for setting up your own shop is that you can complement the shop section with a full-on blog if you so wish, and link to your shop or specific items in your shop that way.
For an online shop + blog website, you’ll need to figure out quite a bit of stuff before getting started:
- Shop + Blog name
- Have 1 or more product ready to be listed
- Know how you will use the blog part to talk about the shop part
- Set up brand colors that will work in both the shop and the blog
- Set up listing images, icons, etc., that will work with your overall branding
On top of all that, you’ll need to be ready to give customer service. Some people may want refunds, more information, or they may have trouble at check-out, and you will be responsible for helping them out. Just like on platforms like Etsy, where people can contact you for questions and refunds (but payment and check-out is Etsy’s territory), you’ll need an email address they can reach you at AND you’ll need to stay on top of those emails. Unlike Etsy, which has an internal message system, it’ll be directly through email.
If you’re planning on having a Print-on-Demand shop, I highly recommend Printful. It has a wide range of items, fair prices, and amazing customer service, on top of a lot of tutorials and guides to help you along the way! It was super helpful for me, as a beginner, to have a POD service that offered guidance.
So, you need a domain from Namecheap, hosting from BigScoots, and a whole lot of knowledge. If you’re looking for a solid step-by-step (and I MEAN IT, every step of the way) I cannot recommend Blogging 101 enough. Sadie Smiley is a fellow disabled person who loves to blog, and she is SO good at teaching blogging that I could never hope to make something as good as her Blogging 101 course. It’s free, and it covers everything you need to know to set up your blog.
You may even be tempted by the following course, Blogging 102, which is not required to set up your blog from start to finish, but it packs a punch of useful info. It is included in her 7$ monthly membership., and not only is that membership worth it, but I assure you that it is SEVERELY UNDERPRICED (on purpose) and you will get SO much knowledge out of it, you’ll feel guilty it’s so cheap!
the elephant in the room
It’s time to talk about e-mail marketing. I can hear you grown from here, and I’m severely deaf! I get it, it’s no fun to do emails… But let’s get one thing out of the way: you shouldn’t feel like you’re annoying your subscribers by emailing them once a week, or twice if need be.
They subscribed to you on their own, afterall.
Don’t forget that. They’re there because you gave them value, and they’re looking for more value.
My email marketing service of choice is Flodesk (this link will get you 50% off for a year, too!). I didn’t want to spend money on it at first, but I’ll admit, it changed my email game! You can setup series of emails depending on how each person interacts on the previous email, you can add your brand colors and fonts to keep a cohesive look, and you can put subscribers in different “sections” based on their interactions, like whether or not they bought something, or clicked on something from an email, or depending on where they subscribed.
Emails should be short and to the point, with an invitation. “Read the full blog post” or “check out my new eBook” or “click on this link for a discount” are all great ways to get interactions from your subscribers.
Let me know in the comments if you’d like to know more about email marketing! I don’t like to sound pushy or spam people with a ton of emails, so I could show you how to do that too! “The Do’s and Don’ts” of email marketing, if you will.
See also: Affiliate Marketing For Disabled And Low-Income Beginners.