Setting up a website has never been cheaper and easier to do. With Web hosts like HostGator, prices start from $2.08 (£1.51) and Bluehost at $2.74 (£1.98). WordPress is a free, open-source content management system removing the need for people to learn HTML and CSS coding. So now, people from all technical backgrounds can set one up on a budget.
If you’re wondering if you can make money from a website, then the answer is a resounding YES. Can you make a quick income? Well, the answer is probably no, unless you already have a large customer base. However, in time, whether you have something to promote yet or not, you can make more money at home from this than in any other medium, and if you read my detailed guide to the end, I’ll show you exactly how.
Setting up a website is a great way to make a passive income through Affiliate marketing and advertising. Lots of websites offer web builders making the setup process easier; however, this is more limiting for the growth of your website. I would avoid this and take the time to learn WordPress, which will not just allow your website to look less generic, but has the scope to adapt and develop as your knowledge expands and your needs grow.
If at this point you are struggling with some of the terminologies such as Web Hosts and WordPress/web builder, then let me take the time to explain below.
There are essentially three types of web hosts. Depending on your technical ability, needs, and budget, you will need to decide which one is adapted best to your needs. Below, I’ve listed each type and highlighted what brings the pros and cons to the table.
Shared hosting is the most popular Web hosting for people building their first website as it is the cheapest out there. As we have mentioned, you can set up a website for less than $2.50 per month.
Shared hosting is used mainly for small content and low-traffic sites. With Shared hosting, a single server divides between multiple users with a shared amount of bandwidth; one analogy made with shared hosting is a shared swimming pool. All users in the complex get shared access to the same pool. However, if one user decides to throw a party (A user can add multiple websites to the same account or get a significant spike in traffic), this will affect every other user on that server.
I would think hard about the requirement for your site and the budget you have to spend, then weigh up if this is the best solution for you? One word of warning is that site load speed and performance are factors that Google considers when rating your site, something we will talk about later in this guide. If you go for this option, then the best hosts out there are HostGator, and Bluehost both offer great resources for your money.
Cloud hosting or cloud VPS allows you to use the resources of multiple servers rather than a single server used in shared hosting. Cloud servers will enable an unlimited number of machines to act as a single system, and your website is on a particular partition of that overall cloud service.
It means it can draw down the resources from a whole network of existing servers. If there is a spike in data (the pool party analogy), the load can spread across multiple servers in the network giving your site incredible speed and reliability.
Another advantage of cloud hosting is that it is very scalable, and you can increase resources if you come to need more CPU, RAM, etc. It is also more secure.
I found that HostGator has the best Cloud Hosting Plan. I highly recommend them since I use them myself; they have an excellent support team who help users with basic IT knowledge set up their website. You can get an introductory offer from $4.95 / £3.59 per month; however, you will need to sign up for 36 months, so $190/ £137.83, but then nothing to pay for another 36 months.
It is surprisingly cheap for a cloud service, but they don’t compromise on quality for this price.
For this kind of hosting, your site is on a single server dedicated to yourself alone, which means It is fully customizable to your needs. You also get far more control of how the server is configured. You can add and remove the software, install updates, and make changes to all settings to suit your particular business needs. Dedicated hosting requires a more significant amount of technical knowledge and, as expected, comes at a higher price. I would say this is possibly not needed for someone new to website building; however, if you’re a technical guru and you have a plan to scale your website business at a rapid rate, then this may be just for you.
One of the best-dedicated server hosts out there is INMOTON Hosting you can get their basic package for as little as $139.99 / £101.54 per month, which gives you 16 Ram and 1TB SSD Hard Drive.
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
Just like a General User Interface (GUI) such as Windows 10 allows you to create content on your computer without knowing how to program, a Content Management System (CMS) helps users create, manage and modify content online without the need-to-know HTML coding. It makes the process of setting up a website much easier for individuals on a budget who don’t want to employ a web developer from the outset.
Web Builders VS WordPress
Web Builders typically have visual drag and drop features that are easy for beginners to use. They have several web pages templated to choose from; however, they are less customizable and tend not to have the option of adding plugins to expand their functionality. If you want to get your site up and running quickly, have little technical knowledge, or are a blogger more concerned with your writing content than customizing your site, then this might be just the thing for you.
One of the best free web builders out there is WIX. With over 180 million users, 500 ready-made templates, and build eCommerce and SEO tools, it is a great choice, and they deserve their well-earned reputation. Although it is highly customizable, this makes it slightly more complicated to use. Its blogging features are not integrated into the rest of the site; however, it has superior eCommerce options than most.
is slightly easier to use as a web builder, it has fewer customizable options and themes, but this also results in a little blander-looking website. Where it wins out, however, is in its blogging options; although both Wix and Weebly have limited blog features, Weebly’s are better, making it the web builder for bloggers in my book.
Like Wix and Weebly, Site123 offers a free plan; however, all three-use advertising or branding on their free plans, again Site123 falls short compared to Wix in customizability and features. However, it offers the most considerable bandwidth, 1GB; another benefit is that its templates are both mobile, tablet, and desktop compatible from the offset and a little better than Wix and Weebly.
is a bit more complicated but still employs themes with a general user interface. It is far more flexible than a web Builder due to addons (plugins) that add additional features. Some of the most popular WordPress addons are listed below so you can see what features they bring. All in all, over 50,000 plugins mean that not just is there an app for everything, but in the WordPress world, there’s a plugin for everything, too; this makes it far more flexible than any web builder.
HubSpot helps you engage with your site visitors by using chat features and pop-up forms to compile email lists and send your subscribers newsletters and other elements while also analyzing which tools work for you. compiling an email list is one of the most rewarding ways of interacting with your users, and done right, it will give you a captive audience when you come to recommend your products.
Yoast SEO plugin
Yoast SEO is used to optimize your pages and posts to rank higher on search engines. It gives you the ability to write high-quality content which includes all the SEO factors such as Keyword search. readability and metadata.
WooCommerce is a top eCommerce plugin that converts your WordPress blog into a fully functional online store.
If you’re familiar with HTML coding, this is the better option. Your site will load and run quicker and is more customizable.
If you’re not familiar with HTML and CSS coding, you’ll need to employ a web developer. It may be less cost-effective if your site requires regular updates. My website has lots of external links, so I would need to update and check these regularly.
Although setting up a website is relatively easy, don’t expect overnight success; the most challenging aspect of setting up your website is driving traffic to it. Now that you are familiar with the types of web hosts and content management systems available and you’ve decided which one meets your needs in terms of resources vs. technical know-how, then it’s time to jump in and build your site.
Below I’ve listed the step-by-step approach that I would take to building a site; hopefully, by reading this, you will save time and money in the long run by not having to correct unnecessary mistakes.
STEP 1 What is your site going to be?
I believe this is one of the most challenging problems you’re going to face when you first set up your website and as such is the most important, this is especially true if you’re creating a brand name for yourself.
Firstly, I think you need to decide if you’re going to be an informative/blogging site or if your site will be an eCommerce site that sells things. It could also determine whether it’s a WebHost such as Bluehost or an eCommerce host such as Shopify that you choose to host your site.
If you are choosing the blogging option, then you need to decide from the offset whether you’re going to be a hobby blogger who wants to get their message out to the world, or you’re creating a legitimate business venture? In all cases, if you’re going to reach a wider audience, there has to be demand for your niche.
I created my site to inform other families on how they too could escape the 9 to 5 and start a work-from-home business; I felt I had plenty of life experience to offer others, but realized from day one that I wasn’t a budding journalist. I wanted to get my message out there by appealing to as many people as possible while making money from the products I recommend and, in most cases, using myself; I realized there’s money to be made from recommending/ affiliating. Still, to do this, you need to understand three things above all else.
1) what do people want?
2) how can I find opportunities where I get paid to promote the things people want while aligning these to my site’s brand and beliefs? ( I personally wanted to make sure that I was adding value, and helping people along the way. There is a quote from Zig Ziglar “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” and that is the ethos I want to instil in my Website.
3)How do I compete in SERPS (search engine results page) to get enough traffic to make money?
The answers to all these questions come down to our next topic, SEO.
STEP 2 Do some keyword research
Before you start to target a specific audience and define your site identity, you’re going to need to know two things
- Is there enough demand?
- Are you going to be able to compete in this market?
For this, you will need to do some keyword research; start by using Wordstream to check if people are searching for your subject and in what volume; it also displays results by country and a basic overview of the competition difficulty as well as alternative keyword suggestions.
STEP 3 Search Engine Results Page (SERP) analysis
Both Google search engine and YouTube search engine use a complex set of Algorithms to rate your site when someone does a keyword search such as “how do I set up a website?”
There are actually over 200 ranking factors for websites, and although you can’t influence all of them straight away, it’s a good idea to have a good understanding of all 200 if you want to appear anywhere near page 1 of a Google search.
The main ones to understand are
Site Quality Factors
Site speed and reliability
The truth is that you can have the most unique, informative website globally; however, if you don’t understand SEO (search engine optimization) and deploy this on your site, it will be buried in obscurity when it comes to a google search.
Add these keywords into these SEO tools. It ranks the search on how many searches for the keyword against how much competition there is.
They will also recommend other keywords similar to the one you’re looking for and rate these accordingly. I recommend choosing a keyword with an easy to medium ranking; this should give you enough traffic without competing with the other well-established sites.
SEMrush is a fantastic SEO tool that I would recommend once your site is making money. It can be used to health check your site against the competition and make recommendations on how to improve your ranking; however, with a starting price of $119.95 / £87.01mth, it can be a little pricey for beginners.
I would recommend Mangools SEO which, along with other SEO tools such as LinkMiner (a backlink checker tool) and Site Profiler (which provides site metrics and insights), also includes their Excellent KWfinder.
Once you’ve found your keywords, you can deploy these in your site’s page names, your H1, H2, and H3 headers on your site, and blog pages to help you rank.
Site Quality Factors
Simply adding your chosen target keywords to your website’s page name and headers doesn’t mean you’re going to rank for that search. Google algorithms have become more sophisticated, and they judge your site on the relevance of your content and the user experience. They are looking for rich content which includes pictures, video, and statistical quotes. You will notice that when you search for say “best camera” after the paid-for ads, it will not display an online shop. instead, it will favour review sites over eCommerce in the organic search page ranking, since it considers the user intent behind the search. If the user searched for a specific camera, then e-commerce sites would rank higher, and this gives a richer experience for the consumer.
Backlinks and Domain Authority
Domain Authority is one of the essential factors in SERP rankings and comprises the number and quality of the backlinks to your site. It is the most difficult to influence since it is dependent on other sites linking to you. If you’re thinking of using shortcuts such as link-building software and paying for links, then think again, the quality of your links is under scrutiny, and your site is penalized accordingly. Since googles Penguin updated its Algorithms in 2016, site-wide links and spam sites were penalized heavily. My recommendation on all SEO factors is, to be honest, and have your visitor’s experience at the front of your mind; I understand that this can be difficult for a new site, but later in this guide, I’ll show you ways that you can build backlinking opportunities to increase your Domain Authority (DA)
Site speed and reliability
It may seem obvious, but site speed and reliability are essential factors for your users and googles search ranking algorithms. Around 50% of users expect their pages to load in less than 2 seconds, with 50% leaving if the site takes longer than 3 seconds. When a page is requested, WordPress needs to convert it to HTML and present it to the user. The more users, the longer the request takes. You can, however, install caching plugins such as WProcket to increase your site load speed. They work by caching your pages so that instead of recreating the page every time it’s requested, they have a ready-made copy to send to your visitors. I would say that this is essential to your site’s reliability and is one of the few paid-for plugins that I’d recommend.
Step 4. Write your content.
So, you’ve done your keyword search and competition analysis and have decided on the keywords you’re going to target on your site and blog pages; it’s time to write your content. The way you do this is up to you, I use word documents, but other word processing software such as google docs will do nicely. Remember to add your target keywords in your H1, H2, and H3 headers.
Your H1 header is your page title and is the description of your page. H2 is a subheader that relates to the same topic as H2, and H3 is a subtopic of H2 and so on, etc. So, to summarise.
H1 = Main keywords of the page subject, describe what the page/post is about
H2 = Subheadings used to break up the content and make the page more scannable.
H3 = further subheadings to further break up the content helping users digest the page more accessible.
Good use of headings will help improve your page SEO since users and google can scan/crawl your pages more easily, and Google may use them to reference keywords in your article.
If you’re going to use external links, then make sure that the links are relevant to your article and are organic and not site-wide (site-wide links are links you would add in your header, footer, and sidebar, which may appear on every page on your site.)
Also, if using affiliate links, remember to add the “No Follow” attribute. If you use a URL shortener such as Thirsty Affiliates plugin, they do it for you, and I’ll show you how to add this manually for WordPress in the next chapter.
STEP 5 Setting up your website.
So now you’ve done your keyword search and written your content, it’s time to choose your web host and set up your domain.
If you’d prefer to use a green host, greengeeks.com is an excellent recommendation at only $2.95 for shared hosting. It also does VPS hosting at a competitive price of $39.95 a month and you get to save the environment in the process.
Next, it’s time to decide between a web builder, WordPress, or HTML. I would recommend taking the time to learn WordPress. Bluehost has a decent guide here https://make.wordpress.org/support/user-manual/
Choose your WordPress theme.
Choose a WordPress theme and download from sites like Themify, Elegant themes, and Elementor to install a theme; go to your WordPress dashboard and select Appearance>> Themes >> add new >> upload theme.
Install recommended WordPress plugins
In this section, I’ve listed all the WordPress plugins I would recommend; most are free, but there are a couple of paid ones listed that I believe are essential to growing your site’s reach and profitability.
Once you have chosen your plugins from the links below and downloaded them, go to your WordPress dashboard, then
- Click “Plugins” in the sidebar.
- Click the “Add New” option
- Select “upload plugin” (top left)
- Select choose file and select your plugin
- Click the “activate” button
I believe this is a must-have free WordPress plugin; you can reset your WordPress site back to factory default if you come across critical errors. Still, also you can create a WordPress snapshot of your site, meaning you can restore your site as new on any WordPress installation.
Yoast SEO https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/
Another essential WordPress plugin for your site; not just does it create a sitemap. It helps Google to index and crawl your site. It also checks your pages for SEO for Google and Bing and highlights any dead links on your site.
Is a free image compression plugin for WordPress which will compress all your images on your site. Once you start using WordPress, you will understand how important it is to optimize your photos so your site loads faster; faster load time means better SEO ranking.
Easy Table of Contents(https://wordpress.org/plugins/easy-table-of-contents/)
A free plugin that will allow you to create a table of contents on your pages quickly and efficiently is a must-have, especially for those long pages/blogs with reams of content.
WordPress is full of great plugins which come free, and MashShare is another example. The plugin allows your visitors to share your content via just about every social media site around. Some Themes have this already included, but most use external links that slow your site; I highly recommend this plugin; better load time means better SEO ranking.
Thirsty affiliates https://thirstyaffiliates.com/pricing
If you’re using affiliate links on your site or social media, then this is a must-have plugin. if you’ve ever had affiliate links from your affiliate program, then they tend to look like
Thirsty affiliates will shorten and cloak your links to point to your website then redirect to the correct destination, looking something like this helpthefamilies/kwfinder this not only builds trust with your customer but for sites like YouTube. They only let you have a call to action button that goes directly to your website to allow your affiliate link to pass. A great feature is that it tracks all your links, so you know where your clicks have come from, essential for you to know which forms of media/advertising have been successful. The premium version of the plugin costs $49/£35 per year, a one-off payment; however, you will reap the rewards for using this.
As mentioned earlier in this Guide, Load speed is an essential aspect of Page ranking, and WP Rocket is a Page Cashe plugin that will prevent your site from slowing down. A Year’s subscription is $49/£35. If anyone knows of a free cache plugin that is as effective, please let us know?
Optinmonster is a form capture tool that captures email addresses from your visitors in the form of a pop-up form, we have all seen these on sites, and lots have an exit site pop-up; this will highlight to your users what you have to offer. Email lists are a powerful way of advertising your products to your users via newsletters, special promotions, etc. It means that they now become your customer, and you can highlight any effects which might interest them and that you are excited to promote. The price of Optinmonster is $9/£6.86 per month, but you can start by taking out their free trial.
I feel email automation is another essential tool for your WordPress site if you are serious about making a profit, which you should be since your site incurs a lot of time, effort, and investment on your part. As I mentioned earlier, email lists are essential for keeping your customers informed and sending them deals that might interest them. These tools do this all for you automatically with autoresponders and email marketing such as newsletters.
My recommendation to start with would be Active Campaigns which will handle a mail list of just 500 users for $9/£6.86 per month. With a Trustpilot score of 4.4, excellent ranks out of 470 reviews the highest of all the CRM’s; another effective CRM tool is Mailchimp which also starts at $11/ £8.39; however, their Trustpilot score is 1.5 bad from 350 reviews, so be careful with the ones you choose.
- Have your main keyword in the title of your homepage
- Have the primary keyword in the hero banner (this is the picture banner on the home screen that describes your site)
- Make sure your keyword is in the first sentence of your site, written in bold (make sure it makes sense and is readable)
- Have videos and plenty of illustrations on your site to make it rich and exciting. I use Doodly Video’s on mine, which you make yourself. They are entirely original, which google loves, but they also avoid copyright infringements. For the same reason, if you’re using images, make sure they’re authentic, or use sites like Unsplash or Istock with pictures with a creative commons license.
- Please have one of your keywords included in the H2 and H3 tags; while this is becoming less of a factor as Google search becomes more sophisticated, it’s still good practice for now
- If possible, add your keyword within the domain name
- Have the keyword included in your URL; this will be automatic if you add page titles with your keywords and in your home screen/page title.
- Using SEO tools, look at your competitor’s backlinks (sites that reference their website within their articles). Backlinks are hard for you to influence, but with some effort, you can encourage others to backlink to your site
- If you’re going to add affiliate links to your site, make sure that they contain the no-follow) the attribute in WordPress. The same goes for if you pay for others to recommend your site in their blogs to increase traffic; adding the no-follow link may improve your SEO ranking.
- Check your site’s page load speed and site performance regularly; if slow, it could affect your SEO ranking dramatically; you may want to upgrade or add a WordPress cache plugin such as Total Cache or WProcket
the above steps might improve what we call organic traffic. Still, it is always worth driving additional traffic to your site, especially in the early days, since traffic is the lifeblood of a successful site. Other ways to drive traffic are paid-for ads such as Google and Facebook ads or Instagram influencers.
Depending on the type of your website, you can also promote your site for free; however, if you don’t want to pay for it, you’re going to have to work for it.
If you have a blog and are using affiliate links, see my guide on affiliate marketing to see ways to advertise your site for free
if you have an eCommerce site, then see my guide on dropshipping to see the best ways to promote your eCommerce site for free
if you not an eCommerce site and are looking for other ways to monetize your website. Other than through affiliate marketing links, you might want to place adverts on your site by using Google Ad Sense(https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/adsense/start/) or other similar sites such as the ones listed below.