Build Your First Website in Under 10 Minutes Without Spending a Dime
Building a website is much easier than most people think. It can also be done without spending any money by using some available free services. There are also many paid tools and resources available to make it easier for you to create websites, but the point I want to emphasize here is that none of these things are necessary to build a website. You may decide you want to use some paid services in the future, but for now lets keep things simple. And free! In this article I’m going to show you how to setup your very first website without spending a dime.
What to Expect from Your Free Website
Before we start, it’s important to understand that deciding to build a site for free means making a few sacrifices. For example, if you want your own domain name (www.yourname.com) you won’t be able to get that for free. Instead, you’ll get a sub-domain (yourname.examplefreehost.com) or a sub-directory name (www.examplefreehost.com/yourname).
Also, it costs money for companies to provide web hosting for your site. Some free web hosts will try to offset these costs by placing a few ads on the site you create. Most of the big, reputable free hosts like WordPress.com keep these ads to a minimum, if they’re used at all. However, keep this in mind when signing up for your free host and make sure they won’t plaster your site with too many ads.
When it comes to speed and reliability of web hosts, you get what you pay for. Free site hosting service can be quite good, but it usually isn’t as fast or reliable as paid web hosting. The amount of storage space you get will also be smaller than at paid hosts, meaning you won’t be able to have as many large files, such as pictures, on a free server. The amount of bandwidth you’re given will be limited as well. That means if your site starts to get a lot of traffic you may go over the limit and be forced to upgrade.
Finally, the last major thing your give up by creating a website for free is control. Some free web hosts will limit your ability to install or run PHP or CGI scripts. Other free hosts will provide you with a drag-and-drop site editor, but won’t allow you to dig into the code if you want to (or they will make their basic site editor free and charge a fee to use their advanced editor).
Benefits of Building a Website for Free
Desipte the drawbacks mentioned above, there are many benefits to creating a website for free. The biggest benefit, of course, is that you’re not spending money so all you’re risking is the time you spend working on it. And the time you spend building your free website will give you first hand experience creating websites. You’ll get to try out different website building services and platforms and figure out which one you like best.
Bottom line, building a site for free may not be the best approach if you’re setting up a business or professional website. But it is a GREAT way to build your first site or to setup a personal website. You’ll gain valuable experience, plus you won’t have to spend anything to get started. If you ever outgrow your free web host, its also easy to upgrade in the future if you want to.
How To Build Your Free Website
Now that you know a little bit about building a free website, I’m going to show you how.
Select a Free Web Host
The first step is to choose the free web host you want to go with. Anyone who follows this site knows how much I love using WordPress to create websites, so for this example I’m going to use WordPress.com as the free hosting provider. Real quickly, when I use the term WordPress I’m referring to the free, open-source WordPress software that millions of commercial and personal websites are built on. WordPress.com is the hosting service run by the same foundation in charge of the WordPress software. The free service they offer is WordPress hosting, so with your free account you’ll have a site running off of WordPress. This means creating a free website on WordPress.com will give you some great experience using WordPress in general (which is a very valuable skill for any webmaster in my opinion).
As a sidenote, if you don’t want to use WordPress.com there are lots of alternative free web hosts around. Here are a couple of high quality free hosts I’m familiar with:
- Weebly – A modern, web 2.0 type interface make Weebly a popular choice for creating a free website. They offer a powerful drag-and-drop system to build your site without ever having to do any coding. This limits some of the advanced features experienced webmasters and web developers might want to add, but most people are happy to stay out of code.
Video Describing Weebly:
- Blogger – A popular platform for creating a free blog. Blogger is owened by Google, which gives them WAY more resources than most free web hosts. Blogger uses its own platform for creating your site, which makes it easy to your site up and running. However, because this software only runs on Blogger.com its not as useful to learn as WordPress (which about 1 out of every 4 new websites runs on).
How to Build Your Free Website in Under 10 Minutes
In this tutorial I’m going to create my example free site using WordPress.com. If you want to use WordPress.com for your site then follow these steps below to get it running in less than 10 minutes:
- Step 1: Sign Up For a Free WordPress.com Account (~ 1 minute) – The first step to creating your free website is to register for an account at WordPress.com. Your site URL will end up looking like “nameyoupick.wordpress.com”. Fill out the rest of the form with the username and password you want and your email address. Click the big “Create Blog” button at the bottom of the page.
- Step 2: Complete Profile and Confirm Email (~ 1 minute) – Next, you have the chance to complete your profile by entering your first and last name and a small bio about yourself. It’s not necessary to fill this out, but if you take 30 seconds to do it that should give the confirmation email they send a chance to hit your inbox. Once you get this confirmation email, click the “active blog” button and your WordPress.com account will be ready to go!
- Step 3: Set Site Title and Tagline (~ 1 minute) – Now that your free WordPress.com site is up and running, its time for some basic customization. You’ll want to start by logging into your admin panel, called the WordPress Dashboard. Once you’ve signed in, look at the bottom of the left side menu and click on “Setting -> General”. Enter the name you want for your site as well as a short tagline that descibes your site. Click the “Save Changes” button on the bottom.
- Step 4: Pick Your Theme (~ 2 minutes) – Next, its time to choose a theme, which is a pre-made site design and layout. For my example site I selected “Wu Wei”, a clean, minimal design. If you want to keep things easy go with “Twenty Eleven”, the default theme that comes with WordPress. One advantage to using “Twenty Eleven” is it has some great options to customize right from your WordPress Dashboard. If you want to find another theme, there are plenty of different ones to pick from. I suggest starting your search here on the most popular themes page on WordPress.com.
- Step 5: Pat Yourself on the Back and Start Writing (~ 5 minutes) – You’re done! Your first website is now setup! See, it really wasn’t that hard. Now, you can start writing content for your site by adding new posts and creating new pages through your WordPress Dashboard. To kick things off, go to the “Posts” section and delete the “Welcome to WordPress” post. Add a new post and briefly introduce yourself and the purpose of your site. Click “Publish” and your post will now be live on your site! Try experimenting with some of the features and you’ll quickly get the hang of using the dashboard.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Free Website
Now that you’ve completed this article you know its possible to setup a website without having to spend anything. You also know there are a few trade-offs you’ll have to make to build a site for free, but there are also some benefits (namely the cost). If you decide to build your first website using WordPress.com you’ll gain valuable experience managing websites using WordPress. By following the steps I explained above, you can also get your free WordPress.com site up and running in under 10 minutes!
If you found this article helpful, please leave me a comment below and tell me about your experience creating your first website. Also, don’t forget to check back for some more articles and tutorials in my beginner website building series. Happy website building!
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Welcome to All Webmaster!
Hi, my name is Dana and here at All Webmaster I teach people how to build websites. I've been creating websites professionally for over 12 years and this is where I'll share the things I've learned so you can build your own website and get people to visit it. [More about...]