How to Build a Site & Earn Money
by Gondal Web Association

STEP 1- Plan your website (and business)

What will your website be about? How will you make money - selling your own products or services, drop-shipping products, or providing free information or services, but selling advertisement space, or using affiliate programs? Is there a market for this product? Use search engines to find other similar websites, and get ideas from them. Start gathering all the information and pictures together that you will use, and draw on paper a basic outline of what you want the website design to look like. Consider all of the design aspects, such as colors, images, fonts, whether to use frames or not, and other optional design features such as Javascript effects, Flash, DHTML, CGI scripts, etc. that can make your website look better (also consider some of these features may not be supported by some browsers). Chose a template from our Template colletion.

 

STEP 2- Choose a domain name (& Business name)

What will your URL (website address) be? Do you want to buy a domain name (Register domain names; for Rs.800/year), or settle for a subdomain or directory provided by a free web host? Domain names cost a little, but look more professional, are easier to remember, are portable (i.e. you can move your site to another server and still have the same URL), are resalable, and usually rank higher on search engines. You will most likely have little success without a domain name. You might want to start with a subdomain (or directory) on a free web host to build your site, and then obtain a domain name later and move your site to a different provider. If you use a free URL redirection service, you can easily modify your account to point to the new location when you move your site and change your URL.

STEP 3- Choose a web host/provider & Email account

Will you use a free web host (maybe not the best service), or pay for better service (from Gondal Web Association). Do you need advanced features like scripting in CGI, SSI, PHP, ASP, etc.? Do you need a shopping cart program with SSL secure ordering and credit card processing (some web hosts offer these services for free)? Check with your ISP -- many ISPs also provide free space for your web pages. Other considerations are guaranteed up-time, daily backups, technical support availability, server speed, unlimited bandwidth, reliability (how long have they been in business), and having room to grow. You will probably want a web host which provides an email address (preferably POP3 with autoresponder and the ability to send unlimited amount of emails), although you can get a free email provider elsewhere. In addition, for businesses, you will probably want telephone and fax services (free voicemail & fax services).

STEP 4- Build your web pages

Hiring someone else to build your web pages can be expensive. However many free web hosts have a built-in, easy-to-use editor which make designing your web pages easy even for first-timers. Some offer lots of templates, which you can modify with your specific content. A few even have ways of letting you easily add and modify Flash 4 intros and other eye-candy (makes your site look very professional and appealing). If you want to use a commercial program to build pages on your hard drive, the best and easiest to use is FrontPage, a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor - you won't even have to learn HTML. There are tons of websites with free graphics and web templates, as well as professional ones for sell . Just don't use too many graphics, or your page will load too slow. Don't forget to test your design in different browsers (especially Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator) at different resolutions and color depths.

If your web host doesn't have or support statistics and CGI scripts (such as counter, forms-to-email, guestbook, message board, site search, etc.), there are several websites which host these scripts for free on your site (list).

For more advanced users, you can study the use of metatags and other methods of designing you website to rank higher on search engines. Several websites offer free website monitoring to check if your web host is always working. Also, be sure to get a free website tune-up to check for broken links, spelling errors, browser compatibility, and reduce your image sizes. Create an Internet Explorer Bookmark icon (favicon) to make your bookmarked site stand out. If you have large HTML files, you might want to use one of these HTML compressors to make your webpages load faster (keep the uncompressed version to edit though).

If you are selling your own products, you will probably make use of a shopping cart program , or at least a form where they can input all the info to be emailed to you, or read from a file on your server. You will also need a merchant account to process the credit cards, such as shareit.com (Chose a template from our Template colletion)

STEP 5- Upload your web pages

If you used an online editor, your site will automatically be uploaded when you finish. Most free web hosts have a file manager which allows you to upload your files and images from your hard drive. Many also offer FTP access, which allow you to use a free FTP program like WS_FTP or CuteFTP to upload your webpages and files. If you are using FrontPage, you should publish your pages to the web using that program if possible.

STEP 6- Promote your site to attract visitors

Many people assume if you build a webpage, the traffic will automatically pour in. It's not quite that easy. The best (fastest and cheapest) way to get traffic is register your site with search engines (only the top 8 or so are really important). Some sites will submit your URL to several search engines at once for free.

Put your website address on your business cards, and under your name as a signature in all email correspondence. Also free are banner exchanges and link exchanges to similar sites, FFA links pages (it is best to use an alternate email address when posting to FFA sites so your email account isn't filled with spam), advertising in related ezines (electronic magazines) or newsgroups, joining web-rings, and applying for web awards.

STEP 7- Update your website

Keep your website up-to-date, and give your visitors reasons to come back again. Offer some type of useful free info, newsletter, or other content that is updated regularly. Add interactivity with message boards and chat rooms. Have a form on your site where visitors can give you their email addresses for weekly newsletters which cover the new additions to your website, and remind them to visit your site again. Mailing lists services can automate this for you.

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