How to start a website in 2020

Now more than ever it is vitally important to be in control of your own content. We all have a list of websites we visit every day to see if they have new stuff on there, your website could be a part of someone else's daily routine as well!

How to start a website in 2020 cover image

This article is a modified excerpt from my new e-book Passive income for creatives. This new e-book talks about selling digital products and starting your own online store, how to build your website, how to grow your social media channels and many other methods to set up your own passive income system.

If you're anything like me then you've experienced what it's like to try and share your content with an audience on social media, only to feel like you're not even reaching 10% of your audience due to ruthless algorithms that don't seem to make any sense.

The reason they don't seem to make sense is because those algorithms are not there for you (despite what the platforms say), they are there for the social media behemoths that are trying to make more money.

Now more than ever it is important to be in control of your content and your audience. This is why for the last couple of years I've been telling people to start their own website, to write content for their own blog and to start a newsletter (or at the very least start collecting people's data).

In this article I'll take you through how to start a website in 2020.

I've added the ‘in 2020' because that's better for my website's SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). SEO is vitally important to any content creator that is putting their OC (Original Content) out there.

There are many different services that you can use to set up a website.
When I started to build the one you are currently reading I was looking at WordPress, Squarespace and Wix to name a few.

The benefit of a WordPress based website is that you can customise it however you want it. There are countless plugins and themes to install to get the exact website and features that you’re after.

It’s all you.
The downside is: it’s all you.

You’ve got to do everything from hosting the website on a server to troubleshooting to optimising and updating plugins and themes etc.
There are plenty of companies that cater to this audience: they provide you with domain names, server hosting etc.

One of those companies is Bluehost.
They offer everything you need to get started with your own WordPress site. If I had to start from scratch today I would definitely go through Bluehost as opposed to working with a private server from a smaller provider.

The benefit of services like Squarespace and Wix is that it is incredibly easy to set up and maintain, it’s almost a plug and play experience.
The downside is that you don’t own the platform.
If something happens to their servers then your website gets affected and there’s nothing you can do about it.

If they change their prices or terms of service in the future you are not in a great position to negotiate. Squarespace and Wix websites are way less customisable than WordPress websites.

Like what you're reading so far? Why not join my newsletter, it features content like this and much more. You'll also get a big discount on all products on my online store.

It’s said that WordPress is better for Search Engine Optimisation than these other services, and SEO will be a major player in your passive income system.

I’ve had really great results when it comes to SEO with this WordPress website, and the biggest reason for that is: I’ve optimised my website and its content to do well for niche specific search terms.

If you google anything timelapse related, chances are high you will end up seeing one or more of my blog posts or videos.
I started my blog for a very specific reason: to get more traffic that I could monetise. It also happens to help a lot of people by educating them, which is a nice bonus 🙂

Here’s an overview of how this monetisation flow works:

  • Every now and then someone googles something about timelapse.
  • Through Google's search results they land on my website, read an article or a tutorial, discover my free e-book (a basic guide to timelapse photography) in the sidebar or embedded in an article and download said free e-book.
  • When they download this e-book they sign up to my newsletter. (read more about starting your own newsletter here)
  • Once you’ve signed up to my newsletter you get enrolled into a ‘welcome sequence’, which is a series of emails giving you more information about me, about the basics of timelapse photography and eventually about my paid e-book.
  • Another scenario is that this person buys the e-book straight from my website because my e-books are listed and advertised on nearly every page.

Another valuable tip: My blog posts get more traffic when they contain a youtube video that talks about the same subject (naturally I am the creator of said youtube video).
I make sure that the youtube video description links to the blog post, and I add this link as a pinned comment under the video as well.

Google really likes this cross referencing of content and I highly recommend you do the same if you’re in a position to make video content.

Anyways, let's go back to actually making your own website!

I recommend setting up a WordPress website as follows:

You need hosting: I recommend Bluehost.

You need a theme: I use the Newspaper theme from TagDiv, which you can get here.

You need a decent homepage: This page needs to make it clear what you’re about straight away. It should also draw people in to read or consume some of your content.

You need content: Write about the niche that you’re in. Talk about the tools that you use, what inspires you, projects that you’re working on, how you got started, tips and tricks, etc. Possibilities are endless. If you can’t come up with any content then look at what others are doing and use a similar approach (don’t steal the content, borrow the format).

You need WordPress plugins: These are a few of the key plugins I recommend you install to make sure you are making most of your WordPress site and to get the best performance: Yoast SEO, Pretty links, Contact Form 7, MonsterInsights, W3 Total Cache.

Once your website is finished and published you need to populate it with (evergreen) content.

Evergreen content is content that is always relevant, no matter the season. My articles about basic and advanced timelapse photography are evergreen for example. Here are some more examples:

  • Basic and advanced techniques that you use in your hobby.
  • A list of tools that you use in your workshop.
  • A list of inspiring artists relevant to your industry.

I'm sure you can come up with more.

It's a good idea to switch up your content with some non evergreen stuff as well, for example:

  • You favourite videos (relevant to your niche) of the month.
  • Featuring a creator in your industry (you could email them and ask them a few questions for an interview for example).
  • New projects or techniques you're working on etc.

The article you're currently reading, alongside all the other business articles I've written over the past few weeks are all evergreen content. They exist to expand my range of content, find a new audience and ultimately to lead people to my e-book about passive income.

If you'd like to find out more about how to make money on the side with your hobby or passion, then this book is for you:

Check out these other articles I've written about business and passive income:

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