Most of us already have some sort of space on the web that we call our own, whether that be a social media profile or a personal blog. But what if you want to make the leap into running your own website without having to make any investments upfront. Well, you’ll be relieved to find out that it’s perfectly possible to have a site of your own without paying a penny for hosting or web design. However, you might have to make the sacrifice of opting for a less ideal domain extension (you probably won’t be getting a .com for free). With that said, here are five simple steps that will help you set up a free website right now:
1. Choose a Blogging Platform
First, you’ll need to compare different blogging sites to decide which platform would best suit your needs and preferences. WordPress.com is a popular choice, as are Blogger and Tumblr (see the link above for a detailed comparison of the top 6 blogging platforms). Keep in mind that each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to thoroughly consider each to select a development environment that will be optimal for the type of site you’re trying to create – there are hundreds of templates to choose from, so it doesn’t necessarily have to look like a “blog”).
2. Choose a Domain/Blog Name
Once you’ve decided on a platform, choosing a name for your blog or site is the next essential step, if you haven’t already done that. It should be noted that the blogging site you choose will determine the domain extension (i.e. – a free site from WordPress.com would end in the .wordpress extension). So if having the most professional domain name matters to you, it might be wiser to spend a few dollars on a discounted .com from a domain registrar.
3. Select a Template
Now that you’re operating inside the blogging platform of your choice, it’s time to start looking for templates. This is strictly a matter of preference, but using some of the top theme libraries and forums to find the latest templates is a great way to broaden your horizons and expand the collection of themes you’re choosing from.
4. Examine Customization Options
After choosing a template and logging into your dashboard, you’re going to notice plenty of options and settings that go far beyond the scope of this guide. Each platform will have a different administrative interface, so it’s advisable to create a demo site on each if you’re trying to determine which one has the best backend functionality.
5. Devise a Content Strategy
Now that your site is setup and ready to go, all that’s left to do is populate it with the right content in the form of quality imagery, articles, and navigational features. Spend some time browsing other sites and taking note of their menus, sidebars, widgets, content formatting, and other aesthetic features related to the content layout and structure.
Launch and Experiment
Finally, with everything in place and your content ready for uploading, spend at least a day putting the finishing aesthetic touches on. Oftentimes, you’ll find that changing the template after the content has been uploaded will help you find a design that is closer to the look you were going for.