Ask Goddess Leonie: How to create your own website for your big dream

by Leonie Dawson on April 25, 2009

Hola gorgeous Goddesses!

Today’s blog post is an Ask Goddess Leonie post!

A gorgeous goddess asked: I want to set up a website for my (insert great big dream)… can you please recommend what to use???

I surely can! I’ve been blogging & website-ing for five-ish years now, and managed to use four systems during that time.

So you’ve got a great big wonderful dream. What’s the best way of sharing it with the world via a website?

My webstory

I started my blog in 2004 using a free blog hosted on Blogger. It sat at turquoisejourney.blogspot.com. Four months later, I decided I wanted a website & blog that sat at my own domain, so I bought website hosting and a domain name, and used Blogger to push onto my website (so my blog sat at www.leonielife.com/journal.html) and FrontPage to create my website. FrontPage was then made defunct (boo!), so about eighteen months ago, I needed to streamline, so I created a website & blog using Weebly. Weebly was great for a basic website but I got frustrated by its limitations and found it didn’t perform brilliantly on search engines. Now I use a free platform – WordPress – to blog & design my website.

So yes, I’ve played with them all, and am so happy to give my thoughts & advice on how to create your own website that reflects magical, magical you.

My 2 second recommendation

To get started, you can always go for a free blog through Blogger.
To make it even bigger, go Weebly.
If you want a rocking website and greater flexibility, WordPress is the way to go.

To blogger or not to blogger?

Here’s all the yay! & boo! points of Blogger to decide for yourself:

Some of its yay! points are:

  • easy to set up
  • free

Some its boo! points are:

  • it only has blog functionality – you can’t design a webpage around it
  • it’s ding dang obvious that its a blogger format
  • not as customisable as WordPress
  • doesn’t have as much functionality & widgety goodness as WordPress
  • it doesn’t look as professional as WordPress.

To Weebly or not to Weebly?

Here’s all the yay! & boo! points of Weebly to decide for yourself:

Some of its yay! points are:

  • easy to set up
  • basic account is free, pro account is pretty nicely priced
  • you can have a blog and website in one
  • comes with pre-installed designs so you just click and play.

Some its boo! points are:

  • the biggest boo point you will find straight away is this: you have pre-installed designs. And you can’t change them. At least, not unless you are a coding superwiz like Sone (or you hire one).
  • your website will look like other Weebly websites
  • won’t look as spectacularly YOU-ish as WordPress can.

If you want to start with something that’s really, really easy, use Blogger or Weebly. Then when you’re ready for mega-deliciousness with your energy splashed all over it, go WordPress. You deserve something that’s as big and powerful as your dreams are.

WordPress challenged me at first, but now I’m converted.

Don’t get me wrong. WordPress is not as easy-peasy as Blogger. In fact, when I first made the switch, I thought WTF? What have I gotten myself into?

And then I persevered and read up on stuff, and found cool things to make the transition easier… and am so happy to share them with you!

What’s the boos! about WordPress?

  • You’ll have to buy your own domain name & hosting, whereas Weebly & Blogger is free {unless you go for a Pro account at Weebly}. This *is* actually a good thing in the long run!
  • It’s much more technical than the other two. There are fun ways around this though, and it can be fun to learn.

What are the yays! about WordPress?

  • It’s a powerful blogging & website designing framework. And it’s free. Yay! It’s a website maker & blogging machine all in one. You don’t need to buy website designer software.
  • You can settle in and really make it your own.
  • There are hundreds of free plugins you can use with it that make WordPress uber powerful.
  • Nearly all of the larger blogs use WordPress. Because it’s that good.
  • If you’ve been blogging using other major blogging platforms, you can import all your old posts into WordPress with a click of the button. Thus why this website has 4 years of archives from my Blogger days! Weee :)

What you need to know to make WordPress easier

Disclosure: I’m really *not* a website guru – the contents of this post is pretty much all my website knowledge, designed to help you get more information about creating your great-big dream website. If you need extra specific advice, Google is your friend. Or a lovely website designer. :)

Getting started with WordPress

To get started with WordPress, you need your own domain name & website hosting.

To explain these are simply as possible if you’re confused by their difference: Your domain name is the thing that looks like www.yourmagnificentwork.com, and the hosting is the space where your website sits and gets accessed by all your adoring fans. The domain name is your street address, the website hosting is the land your house sits on.

Now, how to gets the street address and land for your great big dream website?

You can usually get a domain name included or ultra-cheap when you buy hosting.

Also – to get your head wrapped around WordPress, I can totally recommend the Digging into WordPress e-book.

There is also the wonderful course: Website in a Weekend.

Website hosting – where to go

I spent a lot of time deciding on website hosting, so I’m totally happy to help you choose yours.

After wandering around with a couple of other hosting companies, I’ve turned and moved in with Blue Host (affiliate link).

And I fell in love, when I totally wasn’t expecting to. They’ve got unlimited space and stuff.

But most of all, they’ve been nice. And it’s fairly easy to navigate.

And they have one-press WordPress install.

Designly goodness

If you want to design your own blog, woo hoo! I’ve done that many times, and it can be really fun to learn. It does however take a little bit of time and software (i.e. Photoshop). I decided late last year that I needed to spend less time working out design stuff, and more time doing the stuff I really love, so I did a butt load of research into designers when it came to finding mine. I’m sure there are loads of great designers out there – but even though I did my research I still managed to pick one that didn’t give me a design when promised (or then promised. or then promised). Consequently I’m very pro-using someone you can be recommended to.

I can highly recommend Scooter Girl Designs. Sone is the coding queen of Goddess Guidebook, and an awesome design goddess. She also happens to be one of my besties, our roomie at the moment and she’s a Taurean – so she’s practical AND creative. Her specialty is helping creative & soulful entrepreneurs translate their big ideas into amazing websites to share with the world.

Some other ways for you to get a design that shrieks LUSCIOUS you-ness:

Websites for women : Two amazing women run Your Website Coach – and Websites for women courses to help you step-by-step be empowered & tech savvy to create & maintain your own website. So very, very cool.

Plugins : These are free tools that you can download and insert into your WordPress to make it even more powerful. It’s like blog bling. Functional blog bling. Stuff that can make it easier for you.

You can also buy or find ready made themes for your WordPress website. Themes are the design style of your website and there are as many themes out there available as there are stars in the sky.

Here’s some places you can start:

Themes Forest : You can buy ready made themes at Themes Forest to pop straight onto your website. Love love love!

DIY Themes : Thesis makes it much much easier to do-it-yourself. Funny that. I wonder why they call it DIY? :)

You can also search & find free WordPress themes really easily. Here’s two places to start.

Now what?

Are you feeling about a thousand percent overwhelmed by all that stuff?
That’s totally, totally cool sweetie. You’re not supposed to be able to *get* and *implement* all of this stuff all at once.

You don’t need to treat this as a main course of information. Just pick and choose and nibble like it’s an entree. Choose what is easy and right for you right now to do. Don’t let the Big Overwhelm Of Everything stop you from starting right now. You can always shift, change and fix later on.

I hope this info helps you in creating your website for your great big, glorious dream. You are magic. You deserve it.

Group hugs, goddesses!

_____

If you’re feeling called to retreat, a reminder that the gorgeous Goddess of Comfort Jennifer Louden is running her Virtual Retreat Refresher on finding peace during uncertain times tomorrow (April 25).