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A Creative Entrepreneur Should Own A Self-Hosted Website

A creative entrepreneur should own a self-hosted website, not one hosted on a free service. This isn’t expensive when you consider all that your website will do for you as a creativepreneur: it will be your shop front, your calling card, your marketing hub, your sales funnel and your cash register. Below are instructions for setting one up. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour, all going well. I’m utterly not techie and I managed it… more than once!

I’m constantly surprised by the number of indie authors and artists, coaches and educators who build websites on free platforms.

NOT the best option

I’ve bolded, italicised and underlined that. Please take note.

With free services, you save a small amount of money to risk so much. Your website will be:

  • how you connect with friends, fans and followers, show them who you are, your work’s mission and purpose, and how to connect with you.
  • how clients, customers, managers, agents, publishers, journalists, bloggers and podcasters find out about you and decide if you’re a fit for them
  • how you explain your creative business to yourself and to the world.
  • how you can build your own email list of like-minded people who love what you do. These people become your own creative circle, one not owned by Facebook or WordPress or any other entity.

In short, your website is the heart and soul of your creative endeavors.

As you create, you will be building it into your most significant creative and commercial asset.  Own it.

Set Up Your Self-Hosted Creative Website In Under An Hour

Below, I explain a bit more about why having your own self-hosted website is important and the two things you must have to get such a website working (a domain name and a hosting account).

And give you instruction in how to set up a WordPress site that will work for you. All in under an hour.

It’s quick and easy to set up using WordPress, a free, open-source PHP platform. In non-geek speak, this means a powerful system for creating words and images, audio and video, what the geek world likes to call content.

WordPress, an awesome content management system (CMS), can be yours for a tiny investment of time and money.

This is the system I used to create this website that you’re now reading and on which I run the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Creativist Club.

Please note: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to purchase any of the recommended services, I get a small fee. It’s one of the ways in which this website is self-financing, at no extra cost to you.

Why A Creative Entrepreneur Should Own A Self-Hosted Website

Just before we get into the nitty gritty, and in case you are not yet convinced, here are the reasons why you want your own creative corner of the internet to be self-hosted:

  • More Functionality. Self-hosted sites have access to a range of plugins that enable you to do very groovy creative things.
  • More Traffic. There are also plug-ins that help you optimize your site for search engines and increase your traffic.
  • More Control. If you own your site, no one can take it away from you or make some sweeping change that benefits their business but is detrimental to yours. Another mantra in The Creativist Club is: Build Digital Assets. Creative control of your own assets will be the basis of your creative business. Nothing is more fundamental to that ownership and control than your website.
  • More Professional Impression. Some clients, customers, managers, agents, publishers, journalists, bloggers and podcasters judge will see your free site as unprofessional and may decide not to do business with you as a result.

How to set up your self-hosted creative website: Step by step

(1) Get a domain name

A Creative Entrepreneur Should Own A Self-Hosted WebsiteA domain is your address on the internet – usually your own name or business name e.g. OrnaRoss.com or AllianceIndependentAuthors.org.

You can get domain names at lots of places (GoDaddy.com is one of the cheapest options and I have used it) but you can also use the hosting site (Bluehost) that I introduce below, and have domain and hosting in one place.

(2) Get a hosting account

Your website host is where you store your site. Essentially specialized hosting companies lease you a little space on their computers. There are lots of good options out there. I recommend Bluehost, which meets the needs of most creativepreneurs very well.

Why Bluehost?

  1. Easy to use. (I’m totally not techy so that’s my No. 1 requirement)
  2. WordPress recommended. There are only four hosting companies recommended by WordPress and Bluehost is one.
  3. Reliable. Bluehost’s “up time” averages 99.9%No limits – unlimited disk space, bandwidth, domains, email accounts – so your site can grow
  4. Affordable.  A few dollars a month depending on which plan you pick (and you can get a discount off the advertised price through the link below)
  5. Returnable. Bluehost offers a 30-day money back guarantees.
  6. Great customer service. Excellent 24×7 support by email, online chat or phone

How to set up your account on Bluehost, claim your domain and install WordPress

1. Click here to go to the Bluehost site.  The first page will give you an option, depending on whether you have a domain or you need to get one.

2. Choose an account plan. The Plus plan allows you to build more than one site but you can start small and upgrade later. Enter your payment details.

You’ll get a confirmation email saying your account has been created and your domain assigned. You can now set up a password for your account on Bluehost. This is your administration password so keep it safe and easily accessible.

3. Install WordPress softwareA Creative Entrepreneur Should Own A Self-Hosted Website. Bluehost makes this super easy. Either you will get a pop-up which says “Install WordPress”, or click the icon on the control panel.

Once installed, you will receive login details. Again, keep this safe and easily accessible as it is the Administration access to your new website.

4. Find A Theme. Congratulations! You now have the bones of a great website. Now we need to add some flesh.

Before you start adding your content is to choose, and install, what’s called a WordPress Theme. This is a template that gives you the design, the look and feel, sometimes called the “skin”, of your website.

You can update the theme any time, without your content being affected. I’ve changed themes twice on OrnaRoss.com but all my blog posts since 2008 are there.

You can find an up to date selection of great free themes here

If you’d like to invest some money, you can buy beautiful themes at StudioPress. There, a premium theme with SEO (search engine optimization) and mobile compatibility (see below) can be had for under US$100.

Whether you choose paid or free, ensure that the theme is:
a) mobile responsive — most people look at creative stuff on their phones and tablets now. Make sure your theme adapts effortlessly to all devices.
b) SEO — search engine — friendly. (In another post I explain why SEO is so important and introduce you to a great plug-in for it)
c)  has a track record. Choose a company that has been around for a while and has good customer service. Look at the ratings and customer comments, both of which are excellent for Studiopress.

5. Choose Your Theme

  • I run three different websites with three different themes. I use the Himmelem theme for OrnaRoss.com, Kubasto for AllianceIndependentAuthors.org and Canva for SelfPublishingAdvice.org. All have been customized for the various needs I brought to the themes. (See below)

A Creative Entrepreneur Should Own A Self-Hosted WebsiteThese are the sort of issues to take into consideration when choosing a theme but mostly it’s about a gut response.

Give yourself 30mins to browse, then make a decision. Don’t let this lead to procrastination by getting stuck in analysis paralysis.

One of our creative mantras in The Creativist Club is: Production Over  Perfection.

Another is: You Can Improve It Later. Today, Just Get It Moving.

You will find as you go on that you’ll change things anyway (it’s so easy to make changes in WordPress). That’s normal creative evolution.

So for now, just go ahead and choose something you like, so you can get it finished and up there, working for you.

6) Install And Customize Your Theme.

Whichever theme you choose, free or premium, you download it as a .zip file onto your computer. Then on your WordPress dashboard go to Appearance -> Themes  to upload it.

Now you will want to customize it. Each theme comes with a guide to optimizing it, so you can make it look how you want it to look.

  • I wanted my personal website to be a colorful and inspiring experience for readers, authors and other creative entrepreneurs.
  • I wanted ALLi’s site to be clean and professional looking, as appropriate for an authors’ association
  • I wanted the Self Publishing Advice center to be suitable to use for our online conference, Indie Author Fringe, as well as running an active blog site and evergreen pillar pages, full of advice, ratings and charts.

Have fun with this, but again, don’t get stuck there.

7) Go Create!

So that’s it. I hope I’ve convinced you that a creative entrepreneur should own a self-hosted website.

Convinced you enough to take action, I mean. Just agreeing with me in your head doesn’t cut it. Creative agreement means creative action.

What are you waiting for? Less than hour, a small investment of money, and you will be  the proud possessor of your very own corner of the internet.

Go create!