One of the hardest parts of getting started with a new website, especially if you’ve never had one, is knowing what you need, how much to budget and when to get help.

And when you’re just getting started you want to avoid over-spending by prioritizing what you need and how you phase in the implementation. This short guide will help you answer those questions.

 What you need to create a new website.

The Basics:

  • Domain Name
  • Website Platform (a way to build your website)
  • Hosting – some website platforms include hosting
  • A Plan (marketing, mobile, content, etc.)
  • Design & Content

Domain Name

The address of your website.

Where to get one:


  • Register your domain separately from your hosting
  • Be wary of long, hyphenated, hard to spell, understand or say names
  • May want to register a domain for your book and author name as well

Website Platform

What you’ll use to build your site with. There are a variety of options but realistically it boils down to one of the two choices below. The options listed are some of the most popular but by no means a comprehensive list. WordPress is the CMS of choice for about 25% websites on the Web because it is a great place to start and grow your website with a variety of affordable solutions.

Proprietary Website Builders with hosting provided:

Self-Hosted CM Software Options – you need hosting:

  • WordPress.org $ 0
  • Drupal $ 0
  • Expression Engine $ 300 – $ 400


Your hosting service provides space on special type of computer that stores your website files and database and makes the content available to the World Wide Web at your designated domain name address.

There are different types of hosting and if you’re just getting started Shared Hosting fine for most small sites. When you start to see traffic greater than 10K hits a month then it’s time to look at the alternatives.


  • Good secure hosting with support is around ~ $10 – 20/month, when you’re just starting you may be able to go with the entry level package for some initial savings. Consider your email needs as well.
  • Look at reviews, type of support, and ask a professional.

My Preference:


Other Options:

  • Inmotion
  • Dreamhost – no phone support
  • Bluehost
  • Hostgator – monthly billing

A Plan

One of the two most important success factors in any website project is a good plan and detailed specification defining what’s being done and why. You’re going to have a variety of plans including:

  • Marketing
  • Strategy
  • Mobile
  • Maintenance
  • Scope of Work with the project specifications
  • SEO/Analytics

When you’re first getting started some of these plans maybe be simple to begin with and will evolve over time. At beginning, you should know what you want your website to do (your website objectives) and make sure your site is functional on various mobile devices.

Having a good marketing foundation will help you create a hard working website and answer the myriad of questions that will come up, and save time and money. Websites usually last 2 – 3 years depending on the growth of the website, and having a good planning process in place is important down the road.

 Elements of a Good Marketing Foundation:

  • Who is your audience? (hint: it’s not everyone who…)
  • The problem you solve
  • The benefits your solution provides, how it feels to have the problem solved
  • Your unique way of delivering those benefits (USP)
  • Consider what do you want your visitors to do?
  • And, how are they going to do it?

Design and Content

Fortunately as you are getting started you don’t need to invest in a custom design. No mater your choice of website platform all of them have a variety of designs sometimes called Themes (in WordPress) or Templates to get you started.

When clients ask me “How long is it going to take?” the answer always hinges on the status of the content. Getting the content together is the most time consuming part of any website project. Getting help here and having a good plan are both great ways to keep your project on track and on budget.

Don’t forget the graphics. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media sites for a reason, we are very visual. It’s been tested many times and content with good graphics gets shared more and converts better.

How much to budget

  • Domain name – ~ $ 15/yr
  • Hosting – ~ $ 10 – $ 20/month usually paid annually
  • One-time and Annual license fees: software, themes, plugins, add-ons, graphic images or creation, etc. – $ 0 – $ 500+
  • Maintenance – plan to update your site at least quarterly, ideally monthly and get help as needed – cost varies $ 0 – 500
  • Professional Assistance – web developer, graphic designer, copy writer, etc. $ 40 – $ 200/hr

These are just a selection of the basic expenses to plan for. Costs are going to vary depending on what you need.


  • Be sure you know which costs are one-time and annual and if there’s a renewal discount

When to get help?

Answer: Always unless you have no choice. When investing your time I think it’s always best to focus on things you’ll do over and over such as publishing SEO/Marketing oriented content with good graphics and maybe even maintaining your site. As opposed to installing or customizing or setting up the security for your website.

Even when it’s something you’re going to do often such as update your site there may be too much to keep track of to make something such as site maintenance worth your time.

Some quotes to live by:

“Friends don’t let friends drive websites”

“Free is some of the most expensive work you’ll pay for.”

Tips – Working with Professionals:

  • #1 – Never work without a well-defined written specification that is part of a contract
  • Have all accounts and licenses registered in your name with the credentials for those accounts provided to you
  • Make sure you have documentation regarding the project details
  • What are the professional’s strengths and how does that fit with your needs?
  • Are you discussing your business as well as your website design and objectives?

There is a CIPA webinar with more detailed information available on the website – 10 Steps to A Hardworking Website.
CorrindaCampbellPost by Corrinda Campbell. Owner of Small Business WP Services since 2009, Corrinda helps make sure your website is doing it’s job so you can focus on what you love doing. She helps business owners make smart decisions and with the heavy lifting or even all of the lifting. And is the lead organizer of the Denver WordPress Meetup and co-organzier of WordCamp Denver. A Colorado resident since 2000, Corrinda has lived on both coasts and enjoys gourmet cooking, skiing, books, and her furry office assistants Rex and Oliver. Connect with her at [email protected].