So, I got this email this morning from a new CrossFit affiliate:
I would like to start a web page for my new box, but have no clue where to start or what you would recommend. I don’t have a ton of cash on hand to drop on this, but would like to make it easy for someone like you when I get up a going and I can drop some $$ on a updated site. Anyway, Thanks!!
I asked Chuck if I could make a blog post out of this, since I knew it was a question that a lot of affiliates have (or did, or will). He said yes, and so here we go…
I’m going to suggest, first things first, that you go grab my free “Six Things” PDF from this page over at Bright Coconut. Knowing what’s in there is going to save you a lot of time, headaches, and frustration, and your readers will appreciate your savvy design sense, praise your clarity of presentation, and be amazed at how much you’ve got it together.
I’m not just saying this because I want people to read what I write, either – I’m saying it because if you know what it says, then the rest of this post will make so much more sense, and you’ll be well on your way to rockin’ the free world. Go get it. I’ll wait.
First, go with WordPress
I’m not going to elaborate on this too much, since there are oodles of blog posts written about the genius of WordPress, and why it’s such a good choice for creating and maintaining a small business website. But because I know how much people like lists…
- WordPress itself is free.
- It’s very user-friendly, easy enough to learn, and works a lot like a word processor.
- The WordPress community is huge, so there are plugins, code fixes, and ideas for how to make your site do what you want it to, no matter what kind of situation you’re in.
Simply put, WordPress rocks, and even though I’m a professional, I won’t ever bother learning another system. And that’s not because I’m lazy; it’s because I haven’t seen a compelling enough reason to deal with anything other than WordPress.
Assuming you’ve got a halfway decent web host, it’ll probably have a way of installing WordPress for you with a few clicks… and if you don’t have hosting yet, allow me to recommend HostGator. I’ve used more hosts than most, given my insider view from having built more websites than the number of times you’ve squat snatched, so trust me on this one. Save yourself the pain. Embrace the awesomeness.
Second, get yourself a Premium theme
I know that one of the big constraints in this conversation is money, and I get that. So if there are literally thousands of free themes out there, why am I so adamant about getting a premium theme?
Think of it like this: Sure, you can go down to Sears and get a cheapo weightlifting set to start working out in your garage… but chances are, sooner or later, something like this is going to happen:
Instead, go over to Rogue or Again Faster and drop a bit more on a real Oly bar, and you’re set for life. Besides, the difference in how these bars feel and perform is like night and day… and so is the difference between working with a free theme and a premium theme.
Premium WordPress themes—assuming they’re done right—are coded well, designed beautifully, and are rife with options that just don’t exist in free themes. It not only makes creating your website easier, it makes some things possible that just aren’t with a freebie theme.
So, where to get a premium theme?
Without bogging you down with too many details, here are my top choices:
(full disclosure: these are affiliate links, if you don’t mind… no biggie either way, though.)
- WooThemes : My favorites, hands-down… WooThemes are full of awesomesauce. I’d definitely go here first.
- Elegant Themes : If you just want something to install, and you aren’t going to customize it at all, then Elegant is a solid choice.
- ThemeForest : A marketplace for a multitude of theme developers, there are some real winners here… and some dogs. Could be tricky to navigate through them… but some that I like are here.
Now, fill it with good content
The “Six Things” PDF will help you here, so much so that instead of putting in a few pointers, I’m just going to leave it to the PDF to do the talking.
Also, take a look at some awesome CrossFit/fitness sites out there, and see how they’re doing it. Don’t copy, but let yourself be inspired.
A quick list of sites that are rockin’ it:
The Final Point
In Chuck’s initial question, he asked about upgrading in the future, and potentially dropping some coin to a designer. Two things about that:
- You may find that by following my 1-2-3, you never need a pro. If so, congrats – welcome to the empowering world of self-administered web awesomeness.
- If you do end up engaging the services of a professional at some point, you’ll be at a very good jumping off point already.
See, once your content is into WordPress, it’s not going anywhere, because WordPress stores all your content in a database. You can change themes at some point, and probably have less than an hour’s worth of fiddling around to get your new theme configured.
A solid WordPress designer will know this and account for it, and even if you end up doing a complete overhaul on the way your site presents your information, chances are good that you’ll save a bundle of time having set things up correctly in the first place.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments?
Drop a comment, and let’s get to it.