If you’re like me, you’d rather not spend any money when building a new site … right? However, spending no money at all isn’t actually possible. I mean, whatever you do, you still need a hosting account and a domain.
And please, don’t try to launch a site on a free host and a free subdomain. This won’t work well, it simply can’t.
However, in spite of this mandatory expenses, you can still spend very little money and have a great website. And in this short guide I’m going to show you exactly how to do it. You see, the truth is that some of the best tools and resources, are available for free.
Domain and hosting
I’m sorry, but as I said, there’s no way of getting a quality hosting account and a nice domain for free. These are two of the few things you will have to pay for.
You can get a cheap domain with a registrar like GoDaddy. Getting a .com domain for the first year will cost you $12,99 (at the time of writing). GoDaddy also runs frequent promotions, so if you’re ready to wait a month or two, you can get the domain for even less money.
When it comes to hosting I recommend one of two great companies:
- Host Gator. You can get started at $3.96 per month. This price will get you unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, 1-click script installs, 99.9% uptime guarantee(!), 45 money-back guarantee, 24/7/365 support, and an extra $100 Google AdWords credit.
- WPWebHost. Specialized in WordPress hosting (more on WordPress in a minute). You can get started at $4.95 per month. Such a hosting account is suitable for less than 30,000 monthly visitors to your site, you get easy-to-use control panel system, and a free migration service.
I advise you to check both of these companies out and pick the one that sounds more attractive to you.
Your actual website
Now the interesting part. Many people believe that the process of building a website and launching it has to cost money. I tend to disagree. It can cost money, but doesn’t have to.
This is all thanks to WordPress – the best website management platform you can get. It’s free, powerful, and easy to use.
Depending on the hosting plan you’ve chosen, you should be able to use a free script installer, which will take care of installing a blank version of WordPress on your domain and hosting.
In most cases, you don’t even need a professional to install this for you. Besides, you can always ask for support. Installing a new instance of WordPress is a pretty common task so the support team at your host is sure to be able to handle every issue you stumble upon.
Once you have a fresh installation of WordPress it’s time to take care of customizing your website and making it unique.
Getting a quality theme
You can’t have a quality website without owning a quality theme, it really is that simple.
If you don’t want to spend any money at this point you can simply go to WooThemes and filter their theme gallery to display only free themes. Right now there are 15 of them.
Now, why can’t you simply google a term like “free WordPress themes” and get something that way – you ask?
That’s because most free themes are not of such great quality. There’s a lot of encrypted strange code there, which you can’t remove or the theme stops working.
WooThemes, however, is a quality theme store. The themes they offer are always well engineered and optimized. If you don’t want to spend money, going with one of their free themes is the best approach.
But if you have some money left and you want to get a truly top-notch solution, I advise you to check out ThemeFuse and their premium themes.
The Standard license is $49, and it allows you to use the theme on one website. There’s also the Developer license that allows you to use the theme on multiple sites.
Getting basic plugins
No WordPress site can operate without a handful of essential plugins. Here are the ones I recommend you to get (all free):
- Contact Form 7 – a way for your readers to contact you.
- Digg Digg – a set of social media share buttons.
- Google Analytics for WordPress – Google Analytics integration.
- Online Backup for WordPress – easy backups of your whole site.
- W3 Total Cache – speed up your site by using caching.
- WordPress SEO – a complete SEO package.
This is basically it. The only money you have to spend is on your domain and a hosting account, and (if you want to) on a quality premium theme.
Apart from that, you can use the rest of your budget on marketing and promoting your new site.
Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer, WordPress developer and blogger. You can visit him at his website to get more WordPress and online business advice.