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.
Find a SHORT and CATCHY name
It must mean something
The domain name must be available
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:
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!
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:
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:
How To Sign Up
It's quite straitforward...
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
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
7- Build Your Website
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
April 2020 Update:
The golden age of affiliate marketing is coming to an end. In 2017, Amazon dropped its commissions from 8.5% average to 5% average. In 2020, Amazon slashed its commissions from 5% average to 2.5% average. And others (eBay etc.) are following the trend.
In other words, for the same amount of sales we generate, we’re making 70% less commission in 2020 compared to 2017. It definitely makes this whole “monetize your website” a struggle now…