What Does it Take to Have a Personal Website?
There is literally no excuse these days for not having a website of your own. You can be up and running with a web property in less than 5 minutes if you needed to be.
Gone are the days of having to know
CSS because the technology for building a website has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years. But still, many people who have yet to create a website of their own have questions.
I’m going to do my best to answer those questions for you and remove all the excuses for not sucking it up and getting yourself a website now.
The Cost of a Website
How much does it cost to have a website? This is the question that many people begin by asking. They tend to assume that the cost is greater than the reward.
I beg to differ.
Your basic, bottom-line cost for creating your own website, that you own 100%, is roughly as follows:
- Domain name: $10-30 per year (you can get domains for as low as $4)
- Webhosting: $5-20 per month
Some web hosts will even give you a free domain name with your hosting package. Let me tell you from experience, though, you never want to go with the cheapest solution. You really do get what you paid for.
Let’s assume the average cost of a domain and moderately good shared hosting plan. The average yearly cost of owning a bare-bones website is about $130 per year.
Anybody can do that. Especially if you expect to grow an audience and make a living online.
The Technical Setup of a Website
It literally takes me 5 minutes to set up a new website. But that’s because I’ve built a lot of websites in the last 5 years.
But you don’t need to have any experience in order to launch your first website in less than 20 minutes. All you need is a webhost that has 1-click WordPress installs.
All webhosts worth your time have 1-click WordPress installs. Your hosting provider will likely have plenty of documentation or walkthroughs for you. They may even offer a service to set it all up for you.
Then, boom! You have your own website that you own and nobody else can control.
You can then use your social media profiles to send people to it. However, now you then need a way to capture their email address and keep in touch with them.
Why do you need their email addresses? How about a few quick facts:
- There are an estimated 4.35 Billion email accounts worldwide
- There are an estimated 2.586 Billion email users worldwide
- When you send someone an email, 90% of intended recipients recieve it as opposed to the 2% or less reach that you typically get with Facebook.
I could go on and on, but you can read more great stats from Campaign Monitor’s blog post on the subject.
What Does it Take to Build an Email List?
Having an email marketing strategy is not difficult. In fact, if you wanted, you could just read the book on it (it’s free)!
But if you just want to get up and running as quickly as possible, here’s what you need to do:
- Choose an email marketing software provider
- Place subscribe forms everywhere you can
- Give people a reason to subscribe
I’m going to go over all three of those points in detail further into this post.
Before I do, I’m going to answer the question most people will be asking when they hear they need to have an email list: What does it cost to have an email list?
The Cost of an Email List
Well, to do email marketing right, you need to have the proper email marketing software to do all your heavy lifting (like managing subscribers/unsubscribers, sending in bulk, gathering analytics, etc.).
The trouble is, the cost can vary greatly depending on which provider you go with and what size your email list is.
Let’s just assume the baseline of a beginner level, just getting started email list. Here’s roughly what you’ll be paying for the most highly recommended and popular email marketing services:
- MailChimp: Free for up to 2,000 subscribers, plans start at $30/mo for up to 2,500 subscribers.
- ConvertKit: Starts at $29/mo for up to 1,000 subscribers.
- Aweber: Starts at $19/mo for up to 500 subscribers.
- Mad Mimi: Free for up to 100 subscribers, plans start at $10/mo for up to 500 subscribers.
- Constant Contact: Starts at $20/mo for up to 500 subscribers.
Those are the best options for beginning your email marketing journey.
If you’re looking for the simplest solution, my highest recommendation is ConvertKit. It’s not the cheapest, but it will give you the simplest tools and they have amazing resources for getting you started.
If you’re looking for the cheapest solution, go with MailChimp. It served me well and they have a beautiful user interface that allows you to easily create, send, and track your email campaigns. And despite being the “cheap” solution for beginners, their software is second only to my top pick, ConvertKit.
The Technical Setup of an Email List
This can be as simple as a link to your sign-up page, a form in your blog sidebar or as sophisticated as a content upgrade or exit-intent pop-up. It’s just a matter of how much time, energy and know-how you have.
Most email marketing software will give you a number of ways to get people signing up to your list:
- Landing page (hosted by your email marketing provider)
- Embeddable form (copy/paste code)
- Various integrations to work with your website CMS
You can start out simple by just using the copy/paste embed code they give you. If you’re on WordPress, this is as simple as placing a text widget into your sidebar and pasting the embed code into it.
If you want to get a little more strategic with your email opt-in placements then you will need further tools to make your life simpler.
As I said previously, OptinMonster is a great solution.
Give People a Reason to Subscribe
With so many people asking to get into your inbox these days, you need to come up with a compelling reason for people give up their email address. You can’t expect to just throw a sign-up box in your sidebar with the words “Subscribe to my email list” and expect it to work.
No, you need to come up with a compelling reason for people to trust that giving up their email address to you is worth it.
In order to do this, you first need to know who your target audience is. If you know exactly who they are, you can ask yourself these questions:
- What are they struggling with?
- What do they need help with?
- What are they searching for online?
- What questions are they asking?
- What could I do that would make their life easier?
If you can answer any/all of those questions, you can come up with a compelling reason for them to give you their email address.
Create something that answers their question and offer it for free in exchange for subscribing to your email list.
This is also known as a Lead Magnet.
Optin Monster has a great article on this with 69 Highly Effective Lead Magnet Ideas. Here’s just a few to get you started:
- Cheat sheet
- Email course
Now, don’t let creating these delay you from taking action. The most important thing is that you get started collecting emails right away.
Every successful digital entrepreneur will tell you that their biggest regret is that they didn’t start building an email list sooner.
Don’t make that same mistake! Get started now!
The only way to ensure that your social media success is protected from unforeseen changes, shutdowns or anything else is to have full control over it. The best way to do that is by owning your own website and email list.
You can then utilize your social media platforms to drive people to your website where you control the environment and can capture their email addresses.
Doing this will save you from ever having to worry about or experience that fateful mistake of taking a social platform for granted and having it swept out from beneath your feet.
What question is keeping you from launching a personal website right now? Let me know in the comments below.