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How you can start a Website for only $12 a year




Ever wanted to start your very own website as a teen? Well, it’s totally doable! No prior coding experience necessary! Here are the steps I took to start my website at the cost of only $12 a year!

Website Basics

Here are the basics of starting a website regardless of which hosting site or Domain finder you use. 

1. Determine the purpose of your website

Why are you creating this website in the first place? Is it a site to sell products? Inform others about a certain subject? Blog about your life? Determine the purpose of your website, so you know what you’ll add and create on the site later on. 

I decided my website was going to be informational and about College Admissions because it’s a problem I saw my peers struggle with. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start another website about something else.

2. Obtain a Domain Name

Now it’s time to come up with your website’s name, and URL. You can use various domain name finders online - I used the ones from GoDaddy and NameMesh, which will “mesh” together different words for you to find possible domain names.

You can also consider what type of top-level domain (or TLD) you would like - will your website URL end in a .com, .net, .org, or some other suffix? Personally, I recommend .com because it’s the most professional and memorable, even if it costs more.

Domain names vary in price based on how popular the keywords in the site are. Some are even $2,000 - even $10,000 in price! At the same time, you can also find URLs that are only $15-$50 in price. Take your time shopping for the best URL name at the cheapest price. It took a few days for me to find an inexpensive URL, with a name I actually liked.

You can directly buy from various hosting sites (definition below) like Wix or GoDaddy. However, I bought mine from Google Domains for only $12, which allowed me to connect it to a free hosting platform later. 

3. Connect your Domain to Hosting

A hosting site is a server that stores all your data - it’s the home of your website.

The only free hosting site that allows you to connect your own custom domain is Blogger - other sites like Wix and GoDaddy make you pay for it.

For these other hosting sites the service is only free if your website has an ugly suffix at the end. For example, free Wix sites have the hideous “.wixsite.com” suffix at the end.

Though Blogger is the least user-friendly hosting site, it’s FREE. After all, you can’t expect everything in life to come at zero cost. But if you're ready to invest, you can totally buy a different hosting platform to connect your custom domain to. 

Basic Blogger Setup

Next, I’ll show you the exact Blogger-specific things I did to get my site up and running.

1. Sign up for a Blogger Account

Start a Blogger account.

2. Choose a placeholder URL

Blogger will soon prompt you to choose a web address for your website with the Blogger TDL of “.blogspot.com”.

Don’t freak out - this is just a temporary placeholder and once we’re done setting up you will see your custom URL. The name you input doesn’t really matter once we connect your domain.

I was not able to obtain "studybranch.blogspot.com" so instead, I took the next closest thing which was "thestudybranch.blogspot.com".




3. Connect the custom domain to Blogger

Link your custom domain to Blogger. This allows you to edit your entire website easily, straight from Blogger. 

Settings > Publishing > Custom Domain > Type in the domain you purchased > Save


                             

4. Redirect your domain to a www.

This is essential if you want people to be able to easily search up your website without having to write “www.” in front of your domain name. No one is going to specifically search up “www.google.com” or “www.amazon.com”.

For example, before I turned this on I was not able to search up my website without “www.studybranch.com” but now I can simply search up “studybranch.com”, with no problems. 

Settings > Publishing > Redirect Domain 

5. Set up your theme

Next set up your website theme by clicking Theme on the left-hand side of the screen. Click on your desired theme and apply it to your site. Note that many of the themes look odd if you don’t have a post or two already written and published.

If you dislike all the free themes on Blogger you can opt to buy a responsive website template from Etsy for $5-10.


6. Customize with a logo, banner, and favicon.

Customize your website by designing a banner and favicon.

To create my banner I used Canva (free!) and made a custom design with dimensions of 1140 pixels by 300 pixels and saved it to my computer.

To add the banner to the site: 

Layout > Heading > Upload the banner image from your computer



A Favicon is the little logo that shows up on the tab of a website. 

                       

To create one, I designed a square picture in Canva and made sure it was less than 100KB.

To add the Favicon:

Settings > Basic > Favicon > Upload the image from your computer > Save



7. Add a Menu Bar

To add a menu on your website for designated posts you have to utilize the “Labels” function in Blogger.

First, create and select all the labels each post qualifies for under post settings while you edit the post.


                                              


Copy the URL link for the label: 

                                                   
                                 

Settings > Layout > Page List > Add External Link 

                                    

                                                                     

Enter the Page Title and the URL link you copied earlier, and click Save Link


                                      


Save everything in the Configure Page List and repeat the process with any other pages you want to add. As you create new posts remember to select which labels they go under, to keep updating your pages. 



Continuing Your Website

Write posts 

For most websites, you will also have to write posts consistently to sustain traffic. To kick-start your website, take one day to brainstorm around 50 to 100 content ideas that might address a problem or need of your target audience. That way, you can pump out content quickly and without much thought.

Continue adding to your website

If your site is for selling products, add addons so customers can easily buy your items. If you want to grow your audience and notify them when you have new posts, add a newsletter. Go back to your central purpose and figure out what add-ons are appropriate, and will enhance your website and user experience. 

Market using other platforms

Tell your friends about your website! Use social media accounts like Tik Tok (the easies to blow up on, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to funnel traffic to your site.

If you want to really invest time into getting more page views, I highly recommend taking a course on Google SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Creating your own website is a fun and fulfilling process that doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’ve created a website of your own, as a teen, comment down below! I would love to see it!


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