Creating a Website: Looking Back on the First 3 Months

CREATING A WEBSITE - PERSONAL FINANCE BLOG

When Joe and I decided to create a website 3 months ago, we did plenty of brainstorming and planning in order to be as efficient with the launch as possible. However, there were many things learned in these short 3 months that are good to think back on. Unlike other pieces on this website, this is more of a reflective article rather than commentary on current events or finance.

Creating a Website is Easy- Building it is Harder

When someone has an idea for a website, the first few things they think about is the website name/ URL, the topic, and a general sense of what the website design should look like. An online store, for example, should have a catalog, shopping cart, etc. After this initial stage, though, it becomes much less clear.

Where do you buy a domain? Is that the only thing you need? What is hosting? What website creator is best? Which version of WordPress do I use?

All of these questions are encountered in the first steps in creating a website. Maybe to a web developer or a WordPress veteran these questions are straightforward, however to the new web developer they are actually difficult to navigate. For most people, YouTube tutorials and other online guides will help with this. However, this also has a few roadblocks.

Many content creators on blogs and YouTube are compensated through affiliate marketing. In other words, companies will pay the content creator each time someone signs up for their service. Because of this, tutorials are often biased towards a few required services that offer the highest affiliate rates. These services are also not the best price or service. This is a mistake I made when creating websites for other projects. When creating Four Eyes Finance, I looked more closely at URL vendors, as well as hosting services.

WordPress vs Other Services

Outside of choosing which services to use, you also need to decide what you will use to actually build the website. We went with WordPress, which offers plenty of customization options, and is the most popular website builder on the internet. However, WordPress is not very newbie friendly. There is a learning curve, and knowing some basics around coding is going to be required. Thankfully the many YouTube videos have been helpful, but WordPress is going to be learned best by doing.

Depending on what type of website you want, you can use more straightforward website builders, like Wix or Squarespace. These are much easier to use, however there are limitations. For one, WordPress is free to use (some plug-ins cost money, but you only need to pay for hosting). Wix and Squarespace have free trials, but free accounts are very limited in the scope of their website. For example, Wix will modify your site’s URL by adding “wix.” unless you pay for a premium account.

Creating a Website with Shopify

Shopify is another very famous website builder, aimed directly at ecommerce. It offers an all-in-one solution for online stores, and includes many essential tools like sales analysis and customer tracking. Shopify is the largest ecommerce website builder on the internet, and for good reason. They offer a free trial service, however most people will want to be the monthly premium in order to get the most out of the service.

If I had to recommend a service to someone, which one would I say? For an ecommerce site, I would easily recommend Shopify. There are too many tools offered by Shopify that, while available on other platforms, are already built in to the platform with no other maintenance needed.

For non-ecommerce sites, I would recommend biting the bullet and learning how to build a website with WordPress. While the learning curve is much higher, you will have many more customization options available to you, which are essential down the line. Plus, when using a service like Wix or Squarespace, you are limited to their themes and templates. There are nearly unlimited options in WordPress- it just takes some work to get set up and running.

What Do You Write About?

Once your website is online and a basic format is laid out, it is time to start creating content. At this point, we had a broad idea of what kind of content we wanted to write, but there are more things to keep in mind rather than just writing about what you want.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the process of increasing your website’s traffic by catering to what search engines like to see. In other words, you use the guidelines set by Google to show up closer to the top at Google searches. If this sounds difficult, its because it is. Google gives a general idea of what they look for, but when millions of websites are trying to compete for traffic, it gets difficult to show up on Page 1 instead of Page 10:

The search results for finance returns millions of results.

In order to rank higher, you need to write, format, and even title your articles correctly. This was a completely new world to us, so we used an SEO expert (his twitter is linked here) to give us some guidelines to follow when writing articles, as well as a list of keywords that are searched often. Using this list of keywords, we are able to write articles and content that is relevant to what people are searching for.

This presents a challenge though, because sometimes we want to write about something that isn’t really trending on Google. While we want to be able to rank higher on Google and continue to increase our readership, we also want to make sure that this project remains fun! It is a balance, and its something that we are still trying to figure out. In other words:

Meme Marketing: Birth of a New Consumer Language – LIFE @ IMI

Looking Forward to the Future

Three months seems like an extremely short time in the grand scheme of things, but there is so much we learned already in creating a website that we are ready to implement going forward. There is still much to learn, but our goal is to see the continued growth in readership.

The biggest goal we have by the end of 2021 is to have hundreds of different articles that are not only interesting, but will always be relevant. News articles are timely, but they eventually become out of date. Educational pieces and other articles that teach people more about finance will (almost) always be helpful. We also would like to create other relevant products and classes (like my Stock Investing E Book) that we can promote here.

There is still much more to come- so stay tuned!

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