Last week we had a national fried chicken day. I don’t know about you but I don’t need a ‘day’ to celebrate fried chicken (haha). Anyway in honor of this “holiday” I’m giving you my two piece combo.
Speaking of that tomorrow is two piece Tuesday’s at Popeye’s
All jokes aside I’m not talking about chicken I’m talking about the basics of building a website. In building a website you need two essential components: hosting and a website theme. Hosting and web themes determine the appearance of your site but not in the way you might think. Hosting, specifically self-hosting is a key to the professionalism of your website. To be honest it helps people take your site seriously. Think about it for a second, how many websites that you frequent have their own .com/gov/net domain. Have you ever visited a website that was hosted for free on a larger website? For instance, .tumbler/blogger/WordPress.com, what did you think of that website? No matter how well built the free-hosted site doesn’t look professional. You can hack it and buy web domains and just redirect to your site with masking. You will have to buy additional domains if you want your website’s “pages” to be masked as well. Bottom line just go with self-hosting for a much cleaner result.
The theme gives your website it’s look. There’s only one reason to go the theme route, it’s the most simple way to build your site. Look if you’re like me you don’t know how nor do you want to know how to code a website. If you’re not and you do code or want to know how perhaps you can skip the theme option. Themes come in many different looks and since they’re created by coders they have varied functionality. I’m going to get into where you can get themes and hosting packages as well as my setup in a second.
But before that…
*Full disclosure I am an affiliate for many of the companies I will be giving my opinion on, meaning that if you decide to purchase something via the links provided I make a small commission on said purchases. This is not to say that these commissions influence my recommendations. Rather to stay transparent with my audience. Further by purchasing through my links you don’t pay anything extra 😉
Anyway I’ll give you my recommendations as well as some alternatives.
As I said above self-hosting can impact your professionalism online when executed correctly. One thing I didn’t mention was that self-hosting is also a way to protect your content. When using free-hosting for your content you are subject to their terms of service. The ToS is that long legal notice that none of us actually read when we sign up to use services such as Facebook, cell phone apps, Xbox live, etc…. Most ToS agreements say that anything placed on their servers becomes their property. Property which they can use at their discretion. So all you guys posting status updates telling Facebook they can’t use your pictures are just silly. By using Facebook you wave ownership of your content! Just so you know.
When it comes to hosting my service of choice is Bluehost*. Bluehost has a lot of good going for them. Yet they catch a lot of flack because they are toted as the best when really they are not. Bluehost is however the de facto host of choice for many newbie and seasoned online marketers and bloggers. Paying out over $5 million in commissions each year certainly buys a lot of referrals I’m sure. All is not bad though. As one of three recommended hosts from WordPress, Bluehost is a popular option. Price wise their plans are cheaper than a lot of other options. The speed of their servers leave something to be desired. Then again with over 2 million websites on their servers what do you expect? They still boast above industry standard uptime, which is the amount of time a website is live over a month or year. Most blogs that I see with a monthly income report earn a large portion of their income from Bluehost commissions. And at $65 a referral (currently) you can see why. Believe it or not they aren’t the highest payout anymore.
A2hosting* is a great alternative to Bluehost, advertising the fastest hosting speeds on the internet. How fast you ask? Apparently 20x faster than the competition. I don’t have any experience with nor do I know anyone using A2hosting’s services so I looked online for some reviews. As I looked for info I checked out their website too, might as well get some info from the source right? What I found is they are relatively priced with Bluehost. One thing to mention is to get that 20x speed I talked about earlier you need their highest dollar per month offer. You’ll pay a pretty penny for faster website loading but that’s to be expected. This host had some of the highest rated reviews I’ve seen online. A2 ranks first in speed, uptime and overall functionality. They also have a higher payout than Bluehost at $85 per new signup through your links. In my opinion the higher cost leads to a higher commission payout luckily you don’t haaaave to use their services to be an affiliate (wink).
Lastly, we have Siteground* another recommended host from WordPress. Again, no personal experience here so I’m limited to other reviews. In terms of speed and uptime they also rank higher than Bluehost yet not quite as great as A2hosting. Their hosting plans were the most expensive of the 3 hosts I’m reviewing. Their payout is also the highest but there’s a catch, payout is tiered depending on sales per month. The first handful of sales pays $50 each. Once you are over 21 sales per month the payout scales to $125 each. One thing I love about their pay structure that I wish the others would do is pay for each sale. Currently the other 2 pay on the 15th of each month and you have to hit a minimum earning of $100 to get a payout. With siteground there’s no minimum AND they pay weekly. Don’t be fooled though all of these hosts hold payments for a minimum of 30 days after purchase. According to others siteground is great if you want to build an e-commerce website.
As far as my recommendations go I still say to go with Bluehost*. This is based on personal experience with the host, I’ve had zero issues so far. Right now my website is small so I have no need for faster loading speeds or even scaled payouts. I would say if you’re just starting out stick with Bluehost while you’re small. When you get bigger ie: 6-10,000 visitors per month switch to one of the other two. Until then you won’t need the extra goodies they offer. Plus you’ll save money on hosting until you start earning an income. Bonus point is they’ll migrate your website to their servers for free which wouldn’t be the case if you were moving an existing site to Bluehost. Oh and remember to look at full rack rate when comparing prices. The introductory prices they all offer are only good for the first 12-36 months.
If you’re asking yourself “what the heck is a theme?” Don’t fret I had no idea what a theme was a year ago either. A theme is kind of a pre built “skin” for your website. Themes determine the look of your website like the graphics on a t-shirt. Why do you need one? Well do you only wear blank t-shirts? Didn’t think so but the real answer is because coding ain’t easy.
You know how in a complex math problem one reversed sign can throw the whole equation off and give you a wrong answer? Coding is like that except if you mess up a line of coding it results in a broken website. It can take a long time to sift through lines of code to find the one error screwing up everything. Now if you want to learn coding more power to you but for me it was nothing I wanted to deal with.
My theme came from My Theme Shop*. Before I purchased my theme I looked around for a while to find the perfect theme for my website. In my search I came across other theme offerings on the web. I went with MyThemeShop because they had the theme I wanted and made it easier to find it (I’ll explain in a second). MyThemeShop has some great pricing. Not the most and not the least coming in at $59 per theme with free options as well. They also run sales often so there’s a chance you can get your favorite theme for half off or more! What I loved about them was clear pricing and previews in their thumbnails. At a glance you can see how much a theme cost without highlighting or clicking anything, same goes for most previews of the themes themself. If you want to see a live demo you’re just one click away with their demo option. Their support is phenomenal with a helpful forum to look up past issues matching your query. Admins directly answer new questions that you might not find the answer to. Icing on the cake is they pay out a 70% commission on purchase through your links.
Theme Forest is a great option. They have lots and lots and LOTS of available themes so many I didn’t even check but a handful. Unlike above, the thumbnails here don’t have a preview screenshot just the logo and name of the theme. In order to see any type of demo you would have to click the weblink (3 times to be exact). They have a great range of themes priced between $30-60. The pricing is clearly displayed and from the looks of the website the support is on point. As far as commission they pay a modest 30% which is still good.
Last on the list is WooCommerce. I had to go out and look for this one as I only had experience with the first two. First thing I loved about the site was big thumbnails with preview screenshots. I don’t understand why any website trying to sell web themes would not lead with what the themes look like. Make the process easy people!!! Anyway, WooCommerce had a decent amount of themes to choose. Pricing is medium to higher with some themes costing as much as $79. One thing I disliked is you have to hover over the theme with the mouse cursor to see the price, not a big deal though. Their support consisted of documentation you could read through and a help desk. I hope they have more to offer paying customers. As for their affiliate program they have one, at least I think they do. I couldn’t find any reliable info even after searching the word “affiliate” on the site. Links to more info were dead which is a problem. If links on your website are dead are there going to be issues with any themes I buy from you???
As for recommendations well again I’ll go with what I know. In terms of support I don’t see the other two sites matching MyThemeShop’s* support. Their forum is well organized and questions are answered quickly. Best of all depending on the severity of your problem you can grant an admin access to your website. They’ll take a look with their own eyes and even make adjustments for you. All of my questions were answered within a day. I even got some custom coding to make my hotlinks red instead of teal like my sites header.
And there you have it. This article is getting kinda long so I’ll add a part 2 to this later. Yes there is more because what’s a two piece without a biscuit? Anyway I hope this shed some light on how to go about getting your own website launched. More to come see you soon!!!
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