Whether you are launching a new business, non-profit, or other organization, you need a solid and professional web presence. A website and an email address at your domain hold the same validity that a brick and mortar did for business in the past. Not having a solid and professional web presence and/or using a gmail, ymail, aol, etc. email account for your organization can give you an undesirable image in the mind of others. Many view such as a deficiency and grossly unprofessional.
So where do you start?
You have a couple choices. Either you pay someone to do the following or you do it yourself and utilize the support of the registrar and Web Host you choose to do business with.
1. The first thing you need to do, is to purchase a domain name. A domain name is defined as your organization’s online name or online identity. Picking the proper domain name is critical. As I recently learned, Google® wants to see consistency between the legal name of your organization and your domain name. For instance, we recently purchased 24x7protectit.com because Google® did not like our old domain 247protectit.com when we started setting up our paid advertising.
You can purchase your domain name and get free private registration (you want this service), for less than $9/year, here: http://www.namesilo.com
2. The next thing you will want to do, is to purchase a hosting package from a Web Host. A hosting package is what allows you to host a website and email at your newly acquired domain name. I recommend 1&1: https://www.1and1.com/web-hosting, where you can purchase a hosting package for as little as $4.99 per month for the first year and $9.99/mo. after that. Keep in mind that 1 & 1® will give you 1 free year’s registration of a domain name with the purchase of hosting package.
3. It is time to get your email setup! I recommend using a password generator, such as https://random.org/passwords to obtain a secure password that is at least 8 characters long, includes numbers, uppercase, lowercase, and symbols. We offer hosted Exchange and hosted Enterprise class spam filter services that will give you unprecedented synchronized access to your email, contacts, calendar, tasks, etc. on any device you own. Make an appointment on your phone, and it is instantly replicated to all of your other devices.
4. Now it is time to develop your website! You’re in luck, as there are several amazing tools that make developing a clean, professional and search engine friendly website incredibly easy. Most businesses will benefit from a Word Press® site. You will need to install a FTP client on your computer and configure it to securely log into your new Web Hosting account. Next, you will need to download the desired web package, i.e. WordPress®, unzip it, upload it to your hosting package and install WordPress®. You will also need to setup a database and have secure credentials that your new database driven website uses to interface with it. Typically, a professional would charge you about $200-300 to perform all of this.
5. Now that you have a fully functional WordPress® site, you can use one of the built in and free themes or you can purchase a custom theme for under $50. What is a theme? A Theme allows you to get a jump start on the design of your website. All of the code needed to give you the clean and professional look you desire is already written. All you need to do is to customize it and add your content, pictures, etc. This can all be done by you and there are awesome tools on the internet that will walk you through everything step by step.
Congratulations! You now have your own domain name, professional email account and a website.
The next thing you need to do, is to start driving traffic to your site. There are 2 ways to accomplish this. Organic Search Engine Optimization or SEO and paid advertising. Ideally, you want to do both. Sometimes budget constraints force us to pick one. If you need immediate results, then start with paid advertising; however if you want long term results, then you want organic search engine optimization. Keep in mind that organic SEO is the best form of online marketing, however it can also take up to 4-6 months of paying a professional before you see results. If you are ambitious, you can do the organic SEO yourself, but you will want to educate yourself thoroughly before starting down this road. Often your hosting company can help you with this for a modest fee.
You are now armed with enough information, to find the information you do not know. Utilize Google.com for all it is worth! There is so much knowledge available for free these days. Heck, I just gave you a ton of knowledge for free!