I started my first business, Borne Too – a maternity label after I had my first baby. I had zero knowledge of clothing design or manufacture – I was working as a registered nurse in the 10 years prior to starting a business.
I knew that I needed a website if I was going to run a successful ecommerce business and in hindsight, I had no idea what I was doing. But I was committed to learn and I spent hours, days, weeks immersed in teaching myself everything I needed to know about a DIY website.
I made so many mistakes and wanted to share with you what I’ve learned in the years of building and maintaining my own websites. From one tech-illiterate person to another, these are my 4 tips for getting started in building a website yourself.
Firstly, decide on your Content Management System (CMS).
Some of the most popular CMS are WordPress (+ Woocommerce) , Shopify, Squarespace and Wix. I decided to go with WordPress. I already had a blog on the free version of WordPress so I just stuck to what I knew – and it meant I could bring my blog over easily to my new website.
WordPress being so popular also means there is a lot of info available online in the form of blogs, forums and professionals that can help when you get stuck (which I guarantee will happen).
4 Tips – How I Built My Own WordPress Website
1. Use a GOOD theme and you won’t have to chop and change.
I eventually decided to go with Divi after many months of agonizing with a few different themes. Divi is user-friendly and lets you edit the page as you see it so you know exactly how it’s going to turn out as you’re creating it.
The other thing I love is that you can pay once and have Divi forever- no annual upkeep and plus so many other websites are built using Divi, there’s so much info out there if you get stuck on something- you can find most answers in forums and the like. Their customer service though, is also great so you can always ask them any questions about stuff you’re getting stuck on.
This website is also built using Divi – it’s become my ride or die.
2. Don’t straight up delete webpages or blogs.
Holy moly I learnt this the hard way. I thought when you deleted a page from your site it was just ‘gone’ off the interwebs. No. This doesn’t happen.
The googlebots continue to crawl these pages and you just end up throwing off a bunch of error codes which makes for a shitty user experience for those visiting your website and also totally affects your SEO ranking!
Solution: I use a plugin called Broken Link Checker and another for Redirection.
This way, if you decide you want to take a page/post off your website – you redirect to another page first, this is known as a 301 redirect.
The broken link checker is great because it lets you know if any of your pages or links aren’t working and then you can redirect them to improve user experience.
Plus once Google has recognized enough times that your page is redirected, it will stop listing it.
3. If you’re going to outsource your website build – then get someone to show you HOW to use the backend.
After building my website myself, I learned a lot of things the hard (and long) way. I’m not sure I would recommend this but I definitely would look into a service that builds your site WITH you instead of FOR you.
The reason being, that you really need to have a grip on the backend of your website if you plan to self-manage and update your website. As well as the fact tech issues arise all the time and unless you’ve got an awesome web developer on hand 24/7 (and the money for same!) then there’s a good chance you’re going to have to do some troubleshooting yourself.
Get your developer to run through how to use the main features in your website so you know what lives where and what it does. Otherwise you’ll log on and think WTF and feel overwhelmed.
4. Know about search engine optimization (SEO) for building your pages.
If you’re going to be creating or updating pages or posts for your site, you need to know about search engine optimisation (SEO). Having good SEO means people will see you on the first pages of Google search results, increasing the chances of getting your stuff seen. I managed to get my Borne Too brand to the first page for custom portrait illustrations – which meant I was getting enquiries every week without having to lift a finger and I became fully booked very quickly.
There’s a lot of free education about SEO out there on the interwebs. People I love to follow for SEO tips:
Also, I use the Yoast plugin (free) for my SEO, which prompts you as to what you need to include but it’s good to have an idea of what you should be doing, too.
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