When you see “DIY,” you’re probably expecting an article on how to remodel a kitchen. But DIY can also apply to a website, one that you can have up and running by this time tomorrow.
The key to creating your own web site is simplicity. It doesn’t need to be flashy or elaborate. It doesn’t even need to be complete on Day One. Start with the basics and build it gradually. Here are the first steps you’ll need to take.
- Define it
- Name it
- Write it
- Design it
- Launch it
Don’t get a web site just because everyone else is doing it. You need a plan and a purpose. Make it brief and put it in writing. For example:
The purpose of my web site is to give my clients all the information they need to enjoy a good buying or selling experience.
Once you’ve defined your purpose, create an outline of the pages and content you want to start with. Plan on a minimum of five pages, including the home page and a contact page. You can add an “About Me” page, featured listings, buying and selling tips, or a blog.
Your domain name is your website’s identity. You will want to choose a name that’s easy to remember, and something that enables your site to show up on search engines when prospective clients search for Realtors in your area. (This is known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO). Be straightforward rather than cute or tricky with your domain name. For example, stansellshomes.com is far better than stanthegreathomesalesman.com. Avoid hyphens, numbers, and punctuation marks, which people can easily forget or enter incorrectly when typing a web address.
Do an internet search to be sure the name you want is not being used by someone else. You’ll need to register your domain, and there are many online web hosting services that will do this for you (see below).
You’ve already outlined what goes on each page, so now you can write your copy. You’ll save time if you have everything ready to go before you get to the design stage. You can write in first and second person, as though you were having a conversation with your readers. Or you can write in third person, as though someone else is telling your readers about you. But choose one style and keep it consistent throughout the site. Run spell check and have at least one other person read your copy before you post it to make sure it is error-free
You don’t have to be a tech wizard to do this. There are dozens of companies on the Internet that have already done it for you. They will provide a large gallery of templates created especially for Realtors. Just choose a template you like, cut and paste your copy into place and you’re good to go. These companies also provide domain name registration and web site hosting packages, which can cost you as little as $5 a month for a bare-bones site. A fairly comprehensive package is available for around $20. Most hosts offer a 30-day free trial, which gives you time to refine and perfect your site before you have to invest any serious money.
If you desire to look at a WordPress website I do recommend AgentPress Theme by a friend of mine Brian Gardner (StudioPress).
Three of the most comprehensive design and hosting services are GoDaddy.com, vistaprint.com, and wordpress.com. Be sure you choose a provider that offers telephone tech support, in case you need assistance while you’re putting everything together.
Make sure your site navigation is simple and the page titles are easy to understand. Then push the button launch your site. Before you announce it to the world, let it settle for a few days. Revisit it, refine it, and have some of your colleagues critique it. Then announce it to the world!