How To Start Your Website (And Make Money)

How To Start Your Website (And Make Money)

Creating your own website is a great way to keep your brain busy on the road, connect with other people and even make money remotely! We're no Internet gurus or experts, but if we made it happen with FarOutRide.com, so can you! Here is everything to get you started.

1- Time Investment

Content. takes. much. more. time. to. create. than. you. would. expect

Trust us. While building our campervan, we spent as much time building the van than documenting our Build Journal. It takes dedication, passion and TIME; in other words, it’s a hobby. It’s very common for people the create a website, create 2 or 3 entries, then give up after they realize all the work involved. Look around, there are many examples of abandoned blogs.

And it’s much more than content creation. You’ll have to answer questions, fix bugs, maintain the database, etc. This, again, takes time.

Still with us? Good! Keep reading 🙂

2- Choose Your Website Name

In A Nutshell

Your first assignment is to find your website name. Don’t overlook this. It is VERY important, as your name becomes your “trademark” and will follow you forever (it’s not a good practice to change it later). It took us a few weeks to settle on “FarOutRide”… brainstorm, sleep on it, brainstorm again, sleep on it… See, we told you creating content takes time! But if you’re having fun doing this, it’s a good sign.

Pro Tips

Find a SHORT and CATCHY name
  • It's easier to remember
  • It's easier to share with others online
  • 3 syllables or less is the goal!
It must mean something
  • Far: We love traveling far
  • Out: We love being outside
  • Ride: We love to ride
  • Far Out: Dude, you know it...
  • Far Out Ride = Rad Name! 😉
The domain name must be available
  • I.E. "faroutride.com"
  • .com is definitely better
  • no hyphen is a bonus
  • Check availability using this tool (but don't buy it now, keep reading our guide):

Buying Your Domain Name

You can buy your domain name from any provider. However, we strongly recommend to buy it from the same provider as your hosting service (see “Hosting” section below). Indeed, it’ll make your life much easier if all your stuff is centralize to the same place. We learnt this the hard way.

So keep reading, you’ll register your domain at the same time as buying your hosting service.

3- Choose a Website Platform

In A Nutshell

Choosing a website platform is a bit like choosing between a Ford Transit, a Mercedes Sprinter or a Dodge ProMaster… each has its pros and cons:

WordPress.com
2.5/5
  • Free.
  • Hosted.
  • Can't use your own domain name (i.e. "faroutride.com").
  • VERY limited customization.
WordPress.org
4.5/5
  • Unlimited customization.
  • Lot's of third party plugins.
  • More complex to learn.
  • Must be self-hosted.
WIX
4/5
  • Probably the easier of all to learn.
  • Drag-and-drop design.
  • Can't change theme after publishing.
SquareSpace
3.5/5
  • Stunning look and design.
  • Drag-and-drop design.
  • More complex than Wix to learn.

Our Choice: WordPress.org

It is THE most popular website platform, which means lots of third party themes, plugins, host options, online resources, etc; that’s very comforting for us knowing we have engineering background, not web design! And the keyword word is: FREEDOM. We like having total control on what we do (that’s one of the reason we built our own van!)

From now on, this article is all about WordPress!
Arrow-down

4- WordPress Hosting

In A Nutshell

A website is basically a bunch of files on a server (computer). So you’ll need a server that:

  • Is PERMANENTLY connected to the Internet.
  • Is setup to run a WordPress site.
  • Is super FAST and can manage lots of simultaneous users.
  • etc...

Sounds complicated? It’s really not, because all of that is provided by your HOSTING SERVICE! All you have to do is to select the appropriate host for your needs. We initially went for the cheapest host service we found; don’t be like us! The site quickly became too slow and customer service was pretty much non-existant. We did our homework and compared most of the host services available… long story short, we decided to go with SiteGround:

Our Choice

SiteGround logo
5/5
  • Scalable (start small $ and grow $$)
  • Easy Setup.
  • Excellent Customer Service (they proactively fix issues!)
  • FAST! (good for SEO)
  • Free Website Transfer (if, like us, you want to move your current site to SiteGround).

How To Sign Up

It's quite straitforward...
  • STEP 1: Choose your plan here
  • STEP 2: Register your domain name
  • STEP 3: Enter your information
  • STEP 4: Follow SiteGround's "Getting Started Tutorial" to setup your account.

5- Get A WordPress Theme

In A Nutshell

A theme defines the appearance, display and features of your website. It also affects the speed of your website, which is very important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There are literally thousands of available themes; some of them are free and some of them are paid (a.k.a. “premium”, expect to pay anything between $20 to 80$). In our opinion, it’s worth going for a Premium theme as the appearance and design is generally higher-end and will provide a better user experience.

Not all themes are made equal… after a few years running faroutride.com, we had to change our theme because the speed of our website was too slow. Long story short, we are now running one of the best theme out there:

Our Recommended Theme

GeneratePress Premium
5/5
  • Lightweight and FAST (Good for SEO)
  • Fully Customizable
  • Compatible with Elementor Page Builder (Keep Reading!)
  • Good Customer Support

6- Get A Page Builder (Optional)

In A Nutshell

After choosing and installing your theme, you can create content using WordPress editor (the editor is called “Gutenberg” at the moment). However, we HIGHLY recommend to install Elementor Pro Page Builder as it makes content creation much more intuitive and powerful! We started using Elementor Pro a few months back and it’s been a game changer, as we can focus on content creation (streamlined) rather than struggling with the WordPress editor.

Elementor Pro Page Builder
5/5
  • Drag and Drop Design (no coding skills required).
  • Offers more flexibility than WordPress editor.
  • Compatible with GeneratePress theme.
  • Because it offers so much flexibility, it is up to YOU to keep your design & layout uniform through your website (for better user experience)

7- Build Your Website

But first, let's recap

Here is what we did so far:

Organization is key

Before you start creating content, you must plan your website. The biggest challenge is organizing the information so that it’s easy for the users to find their way around. So take the time to create a “map” of your website; think about all the articles you plan on publishing and how you want your users to navigate through the website.

Streamlined User Experience

It’s important to create a modern and streamlined experience for the users. Stay away from (too many) animations, blinking text, popups, and keep things light. Make it visually appealing with lots of high-quality photos, not too much text and a few videos to complement. It’s all about balance. 

About Plugins

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available to “tweak” the look of your website and add neat features. Restrain from using them too much! Plugins add extra code to your website and slow down your page loading, which is bad for SEO and user experience. That being said, it’s OK to use a few of them especially if they come from reputable source: GeneratePress Premium, Elementor Pro, Yoast SEO, Sucuri Security, etc.

Resources

If you’re new to build a website, you might find the learning curve a bit steep. So remember: Google is your friend! Website creation topic is extensively covered on the web, so you’re always one Google search away from getting an answer to any question.

8- Get An Audience

Build it and they will come

Nope, this advice is BS. No one will come if you just “build it”. YOU need to bring people to your website, one by one to start with.

Online Communities

Discussion Forums, Facebook Groups, Reddit, etc., are all great platforms to spread the word about your website. Constantly promoting your website is considered spamming! So be an active member, answer questions, be part of discussions and take the opportunity to occasionally link to your website if it’s appropriate.

Pinterest

Don’t overlook Pinterest. After Search Engines, Pinterest is what drives the more traffic to FarOutRide! While posts on Facebook or Instagram quickly fade out (a post will drive traffic for about 24h), posts on Pinterest keep bringing traffic over time.

YouTube

Even if you don’t plan on becoming a “YouTuber”, putting videos on YouTube can drive a TON of traffic to your website. We totally overlooked this with FarOutRide, and honestly we wish we did…

Facebook and Instagram

No introduction needed here. Having a Facebook and Instagram is kind of mandatory to complement your website… While it’s a great way for people to discover your website, it’s not by any means the most efficient way to do so. That being said, it’s a great way to connect with your audience and keep them up to date.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google is what drive the most traffic to FarOutRide, hands down. Ranking high on Google is the holy grail of SEO; that’s what everyone wants, so don’t expect it to be easy. Beware of the “hacks” or “Gurus” that promise to rank high in exchange of a paid course… There’s no hack, there’s no secret. Google constantly update their core algorithm to improve their search results, so taking advantage of a “hack” will most likely not last in time.

Google’s goal is to prioritize quality websites, so your goal should be to create quality content. Okay, there is more to it actually. And because we’re no SEO experts, we’ll leave you to credible sources:

9- Protect Your Investment

In A Nutshell

Here’s one more thing we learnt the hard way: protect your investment (website). At this point, you probably spent considerable amount of time and money and it’s only a matter of time before you get hacked and loose it all.

Indeed, somewhere in 2018 FarOutRide got injected with some crypto-encrypting-something-script. We spent close to a week trying to figure it out (no luck) and before hitting the reset button, we reached out to Sucuri Security… A few hours later and everything was back to normal! (one of their staff localized and removed the malicious script from our site). Lesson learned: it’s worth investing in security!

We Recommend

Sucuri Security
5/5
  • Fix website (remove malicious code).
  • Website live monitoring.
  • Prevent future attacks (firewall).
  • Daily website backup (while our hosting service SiteGround has a great backup tool, it's a good idea to have a backup on a totally different server to prevent the worst).

10- Monetize Your Website

In A Nutshell

There are several ways to make money from your website. In all cases, make sure to read and understand the rules as you might loose you benefits if you’re audited. Here are potential strategies:

FarOutRide Income Sources

Amazon Associates
Income: 82%
  • Most lucrative of all.
  • Everyone shops on Amazon!
eBay Partner Network
Income: 9%
  • Very similar to Amazon, except people don't use eBay as much.
FarOutRide Store
Income: 5%
  • Digital downloads = no physical inventory.
Google Adsense
Income: 1%
  • Easier ad program to get accepted to.
  • No one likes ads (negative impact on user experience)
Donations
Income: 1%
  • Unreliable

That's it folks, hope that helps!

STAY IN TOUCH!

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about us

Nice To Meet You.

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

4 thoughts on “How To Start Your Website (And Make Money)”

  1. I believe that you have switched WordPress.com description with WordPress.org. The .com has very limited customization (but for a fee you can use your own domain name). The .org is the one with unlimited customization, lots of 3rd party plugins, etc.

  2. Thanks for sharing this guys! I asked the question like a month ago in comments, I didn’t expect such an in-depth article response!

    Keep up the good work.

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