Article by: MaryEllen | Thursday, July 19, 2012

By Ori Bengal

If you’ve been a subscriber for long you know, MaryEllen and her team work hard to generate great content in this publication to empower you.  They find the best people, and do what they have to do in order to get those experts to spill the beans, and give you the latest and greatest for your business.

All too often, many of the things you’ve read involve needing a website. With a website, you can get the word about your cause or business.  You can generate leads, clients, or branding.  You can make affiliate sales.  You can collect leads.

I could take up a whole page listing things a website could do for you.

I’ve made my parents a website for their daytrading business.  I’ve made a website to (successfully) raise $2,600 for a year-old poodle that was going to die without an operation. I’ve blogged about my travels- and built up a major brand through that.  I’ve made sites to generate affiliate sales. I’ve made on-line stores.??

There’s so much you can do with a website. Additionally, websites are extremely profitable, should you choose to do them for other people (plus my favorite perk: you can work from anywhere)!

And of course… Let’s not forget the barter system! One of my students now gets her hair colored for free at the salon any time she wants… all because she made a website for her stylist (which took her a day).

Now, if you’ve ever heard that websites are really difficult and technical, and expensive, I’m here to dispel those myths. This stuff is now cheap (practically free) and easy (one of my students is a 9 year old… another is 84 years old).

A Tiny Bit of History

Up until this millennium, you had to make websites in pure HTML (It’s sort of a programming language- in your browser, press View Source (from the view menu) on any site to see what it looks like)… then people came up with CMS (Content Management Systems) – they let you log in using your browser, save your updates easily, and make changes as if you were using a word processor.

My favorite CMS is WordPress. It’s pretty, it’s powerful, it’s simple, and it’s free. It’s because of WordPress that you don’t need to pay $10,000 for a website.

Let’s Get Started

Not too long ago, even WordPress sites were difficult to put together.  You’d have to install WordPress manually, set up a database, and link the two. These days all it takes is just the push of a button.

The first thing you need is a domain (your website name), and hosting (where you keep your website).

You can get a domain at most hosting sites.  I change my mind as to who the best host is, and one that is always at the top of my list is: http://GetGoodHosting.com.

You want to make sure that your host offers “Cpanel” – because through here you create email addresses, or install WordPress.

Rather than waste precious space in this fabulous publication with describing how to set up WordPress, I’ll just tell you to youtube search “How to install WordPress with Fantastico (or simple scripts).” Your cpanel will have one of those two.

The Business Suit of Communication

Many people have a website, with a gmail account.  This is a wasted branding opportunity. In your Cpanel, you can add yourname@yourdomain.com by clicking on “Email accounts” and then just choosing a username and password.

Don’t worry, there are tutorials in Cpanel.

The Showcase Secret

Want your site to look like you had a team of designers spend months slaving for you? It’s easier than you think, and might cost you $40.??

Think about what your site is for. Let’s say it’s for a restaurant.  Google search “WordPress Restaurant Showcase” (without the quotation marks).

There’s two things you may find here: examples of amazing restaurant websites done in WordPress, and restaurant themes.

Think of a theme as your house’s exterior.  Is it vinyl siding?  Brick? Wood?  IS there a lawn? Lighting?  With WordPress, you can change everything with a push of a button.

Googling restaurant showcase (design showcase works great too) you will find many amazing looks.  If you’re on a budget, you can search “WordPress free theme showcase”.  All you have to do is choose and install the theme you like.  Then, you can easily customize it.

Another place to type in “Restaurant” (or whatever you’re looking for) is http://ThemeForest.net – this is a my favorite place to buy themes. They’re cheap, high quality, and most have tutorials.

Many are complete applications, providing (in the theme) slideshows, easy to control menu, a booking system, a contact form (using our restaurant example) . ??

You could charge a restaurant owner $2,000 for that website, and it’d still be a bargain.

It’s All About Content

No matter what your business, copywriting is king.  Consider what the end result is… building trust?  New clients? New leads? Branding?  Who is your audience?

It is always wise to have a good market to message match.  Keep that in mind when you write the text that goes on any of the pages/posts or videos (which are also easy to add).

Secrets of Looking Like a Pro

Let’s be honest…. If your website has no images, or low-quality images, it’s pretty darn boring.   Let’s fix that.

What’s your article, page, or site about?  Consider that when adding pictures.  Every post can benefit from pictures.

Where to find awesome images?  http://istockphoto.com/

You can buy pictures for a dollar or two.  Don’t get the bigger sized images (which cost more), because those are for print.

Images on istockphoto are searchable, so you should easily be able to find something to match any post.

If you’re using your own images (pictures of the staff for example), please make sure they are well lit, and decent quality.  Webcam pictures tend to suck.  Hire a photographer, or find a friend with a Digital SLR if you have to.

Go get started now! Every day you don’t have a website, or have an ugly website is a day of negative branding!