Build an Online Presence From Scratch: The Simple Guide

First Steps in Building an Online Presence

By now, you probably know that you need an online presence. You need an online space to help build your business, sell products or get your name out there. The tricky part is figuring out how to do it. Below is a beginner’s guide based on my experience as a web designer and online marketing consultant.

At a quick glance, here are the four we’re looking at:

  • A social media platform – Because not everyone needs a website.
  • WordPress.org – An intermediate-advanced website building platform with complete control.

Which platform is right for your online presence?

1. A social media page

Pros – It’s free, simple and low maintenance.
Cons – Less control over design and algorithm changes.
Cost of setup – Completely free.
Learn more – Facebook / Instagram

Some businesses and businesspeople don’t need a website. It’s a hassle and cost that can be counter-productive.

Sometimes, a Facebook page or Instagram account is the best way to build an audience, connect with people, and keep them updated. These are platforms that your customers are already familiar with and there are 1.6 billion active users waiting for you!

A café or restaurant could work with nothing more than a Facebook or Instagram profile. They could upload new pictures, keep the menu updated, communicate with customers, promote events and highlight special offers all from one place.

As for video content and blogging, Facebook caters for this too. Native videos on Facebook now hit 8 billion views daily, and their Instant Articles allows you to publish blogs without a website.

Additionally, Facebook has an excellent advert platform, so you can target an audience and drive them straight to your page (more on Facebook adverts later).

The downside of only having a social media page is that you’re at the mercy of their decisions. If Facebook change their algorithm to limit your reach (which they do regularly), you may have to pay to connect with your followers.

You’re also limited in terms of design. You can upload images and headers, but the confines of Facebook or Instagram’s layout may be frustrating for some.

2. WordPress.org

Pros – Complete control and unlimited potential.
Cons – Cost of maintenance, technical skill required.
Cost of setup – Starts at $5- $20 per month for hosting and domain.

WordPress is the best choice if you want your own website with complete control and flexibility. WordPress powers 25% of all websites out there, so it’s a trusted, respected platform.

You can do just about anything with WordPress. Build an online store, create a portfolio website, post blogs and content, build an affiliate site. You can host adverts, collect email addresses, make money and run an online business all from one place.

It’s scalable too. It powers some of the biggest sites on the web, including The New Yorker, TechCrunch, Variety, Mashable and Time Inc, but it works just as well for a personal blog.

WordPress sites are customizable, so you can personalise your online presence with any design or style you like. WordPress comes with a host of free templates (or ‘themes’). Each can be tweaked to your preference or a pro web designer can create something completely different from scratch for you. (Or if you like a paid membership will grant you access to beautiful premium themes.)

All this control and flexibility does, however, comes at a cost. Although WordPress itself is free, the architecture that comes with it isn’t. You’ll need the following:

Things you need for your WordPress website

Before you start worrying about colour schemes, you’ve got to choose your type of website from the following or come up with your own type of website:

  • Blog or Personal Website
  • Business Website
  • e-commerce
  • Job Board
  • Business Directory
  • Question & Answer Website
  • Non Profits and Religious Websites
  • Portfolio Websites
  • Online Communities
  • Coupon Website
  • Auction Websites
  • Multilingual Websites
  • Knowledge-base / Wiki Websites
  • Pod-casting Websites
  • Niche Affiliate Websites
  • Photography Websites
  • School or College Websites
  • Private Blogs
  • Family Blogs
Web host
What is a web host?

A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed in the Internet. Special computers called servers host and store websites.

Examples of web hosts

  • HostGator Cloud
  • A2 Hosting
  • HostGator
  • GoDaddy
  • SiteGround
  • Bluehost Cloud
  • eHost
Domain name
What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is your website name. A domain name is the address where Internet users can reach your website. Domain names may consist of a combination of letters and numbers, and be used in combination of the various domain name extensions, such as .com, .net and more.

Examples of Domain Names

  1. website.com
  2. nathanielmoikabi.com
  3. facebook.com
  4. google.com
  5. yahoo.com
How to Register Your First Domain Name Online

Getting a domain name involves registering the name you want with an organization called ICANN through a domain name registrar. For example, if you choose a name like “example.com”, you will have to go to a registrar, pay a registration fee that costs around US$10 to US$35 for that name. That will give you the right to the name for a year, and you will have to renew it annually for (usually) the same amount per annum.

Examples of Domain Name Registrars

  1. GoDaddy
  2. HostGator
  3. NameCheap
  4. Google Domains
  5. Network Solutions
Email account
What is Email?

Electronic mail (email) is a method of exchanging messages between people using electronics. Email operates across computer networks, which today is primarily the Internet. Some early email systems required the author and the recipient to both be online at the same time. Today’s email system is a store-and-forward model. Email servers accept, send, deliver, and store messages. Neither the users nor their computers have to be online simultaneously; they need to connect only briefly, typically to a mail server or a web mail interface, for as long as it takes to send or receive messages.

An email address identifies an email box which receives email messages. A specific example is [email protected]. An address consists of two parts. The part before the @ symbol identifies the name of a mailbox. This is often the username of the recipient, e.g., nathaniel. The part after the @ symbol (domain) is a domain name for the mail box, e.g., a company’s domain name, example.com.

Examples of Email Hosting Service Providers

  1. GoDaddy
  2. Rackspace
  3. Bluehost
  4. iPage
  5. SiteGround


Also published on Medium.

About Nathaniel Moikabi

Nathaniel Moikabi is a blogger and a tech professional with 9 years of experience in the high-powered world of writing, marketing and technology. Moikabi is on a mission to help everyday entrepreneurs build sustainable business, stop stressing about their marketing, and start living the life they’ve always wanted.

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