Every freelancer needs a website, no matter your specialty.
A website gives you a way to provide information to interested parties that are searching for your services online. However, a website launch can be both expensive and time-consuming, which is why some freelancers shy away from it. Fortunately, there are options for creating a free website and you can get it launched in less than a day!
This is where WebStartToday.com comes into play. It is an amazingly simple site builder tool specifically designed for freelancers and business owners with little technical experience. The process of launching a website with WebStartToday is intuitive. The other great benefit is that they allow you a free website for an entire year (with the domain name of yourbusinessname.webstarttoday.com).
For those of you who would like to give WebStartToday a try, use this tutorial for tips on how best to go through the process for creating your own freelance website in less than a day.
While this tutorial is made to help you create a website with WebStartToday, you can check out other website builders in my previous article. In fact, I would encourage you to first go through tips for launching your freelance website to make sure you have gathered the right resources, such as images and planned keywords, before starting your design.
1. Start Now
If you haven't done so already, go to WebStartToday.com and then click on the green Start Now - It's Free! button located in the center of the home page.
Fill out the Get Started Now box that pops up. Next, check your email to make sure you've received the welcome message and that it's not in your spam folder.
Before we move on, you may want to take note of the Need Some Help? box, which is locaed in the lower right corner of the page. The Live Support box is also available in the upper right corner. This is one of the many perks of WebStartToday -- at any point in building your website, before and after, you can always chat with one of their specialists if you have questions.
2. Select Your Design
After you create your account, it's now time to build your website.
First, you'll need to select your base design. WebStartToday has made this easy by dividing websites into categories based on industry. Although all of the designs are viewable on other devices, not all are responsive (which means they adapt to the device for easier navigation). Just recently, though, WebStartToday added 6 responsive designs for those clients who need a website that is specifically optimized for mobile or tablet use.
You'll notice, too, that if you don't want a site for a specific industry, you can simply search for Responsive, Businesses, Professional Services, or Nonprofit Organizations. Just keep in mind that the specific industry designs will be more SEO-friendly for your line of freelance work. Click on a design category to start browsing.
Each of the themes have little icons in the lower right of the thumbnail. The first icon indicates multiple color selections. The second one shows that there's a gallery available. The third one indicates SEO content. Not all themes will have all of these options, so make sure when selecting one that it contains the features you need.
To see just the preview versions of each theme, simply hover over them with your mouse. In this preview window, you can see different color choices as well. To see a full page version, click the Select button below the theme or in the preview window select Choose this design.
Once you are in the full page view, you can still try out different color themes by clicking on the thumbnails at the bottom of the theme. Or to go back and choose another theme, click on the Select another design. This will take you back to the Select a Design page on which you can browse through more designs.
Once you have found a design and color you like, you have two options. You can click on the Publish Your Site button to make your site live right now using WebStartToday's content and images. For now, though, let's click on Start Customizing to see just how quickly you can add in your own content and images.
3. Customize Your Home Page
Once you click on the Start Customizing button, a box will appear that asks you to enter your contact information. Notice the message on the top: this is NOT your account information. This is the contact info that will appear on your website. Enter your information and then click Continue.
WebStartToday will take you back to your website view where you should now see your information inserted in the content of the pages. You are ready to begin customizing. Notice that as you hover your mouse over different sections of the page, an Edit Control button appears.
Just click on this button to start customizing. If you edit a section with text, a Rich Text Control box appears with any option you may need to create customized content. You may notice options such as insert images, adding flash, and even adding and creating new buttons. You can even add in a radio play button, a checkbox, or a form. If you are comfortable with HTML, then you can click on the Source option to see the page in code.
If you edit an image, you'll see the Image Control box appear. This is where you can add in new images to replace the stock ones if you so choose. One very important SEO aspect to note is the Alternate Text option. WebStartToday already has keyword text entered in here for you - your business name and industry. However, you can further optimize this by including one of the keywords on which you are focusing the page.
Ideally, you already have a list of keywords. If not, then read through the important steps for launching a website in a day, or get some more great tips on what keywords freelancers should try to rank for. You may also notice that each image on the page contains different keyword tags, since good SEO practice usually optimizes each page for 2 or 3 keywords.
During editing, you can always preview your entire site simply by clicking the grey Preview button, located in the lower left corner. This will show you exactly how your site will appear to visitors.
If you decide you really hate the design you picked, you can always completely scrap your choice and start over by clicking the Delete and Start Again button. Or create a completely new website by clicking the Make Another Website.
At any point in the process, you can click on the Help Center to search for answers to common questions or click on Live Chat, which is available 24/7 for those burning the candle late at night.
4. Managing Pages
You may have noticed that you can't just edit other pages from your home page. To make changes to pages, or what pages your website contains, click on the Manage Pages button, which is located in the lower left corner. This will take you to a Manage Pages view from which you can rearrange the order of pages in your navigation bars, edit pages, delete or add pages, and even edit metatags for SEO purposes. You will notice, too, that to rearrange the pages you simply drag and drop.
Hiding pages is easy with a simple click on the eye icon, but why would you want to hide pages? If you delete a page, it's gone. However, if you hide a page, you can add it back later. For instance, you may not have time to work on some of your pages now, so you may want to hide them until you can customize them for your viewers.
If you click on Settings, you'll be taken to a box that allows you to change the name of the page and add in keywords and other SEO information. The Page Name is what will show up in your navigation menu. The Page Title and the Metatag Description is what will show up in search engine results. The Metatag Key Words are simply the main keywords associated with that page. Thankfully, WebStartToday already has all of these fields set up for existing pages, but if you add new pages, you'll have to fill in these fields yourself.
To edit any of the pages on your site, click on the pencil Edit Page icon. Or to go back to editing the page you were just customizing, click on the green Continue Editing button in the lower left hand corner.
5. Publish Your Site
Once you are ready to take your website live, click on the Publish This Site. First you will need to click on and move the slider to the billing of your choice. For now, let's simply choose the Free option. You can always choose a paid option at any point, which will get you a free custom domain and no ads on your website. With the free account, you still get a custom domain, but it will be listed as YourBusinessName.WebStartToday.com.
Now type in the domain you'd like to have in the text box. Ideally, you went through my previous tutorial on getting started with launching a website in a day, and searched for an available domain that matches your business name. If so, then this domain should be available. If it is, then click the Publish Now button and your website is now live! It does take a couple minutes for your website to show up, but should be up and running by the time you finish reading this tutorial.
At any point in the design process, now or later, you can click on My Account, located along the bottom of the page edit view, to make changes to your account. This is where you can change your account from free to a paid version, add or change billing information, or even use a domain name that you've already purchased. This is also the page you'll see when you log back into your account at another time. To start editing again, you would just click on the Edit Website button that is in the My Websites section.
Make Use of This Quick Web Builder Tool
As a web builder tool, WebStartToday makes it pretty darn easy for anyone to create their own website, especially those with little to no technical experience. Minus the slow response time, it's a great way to throw up a freelance website in less than a day. And it's easy to go back and further customize for your freelance work later. If you decide that this is the design for you, at any point in the free year, you can switch to the paid version to get a unique domain.
For those that have budgeted for a custom site, hiring a professional website designer is certainly a strong choice. Yet, WebStartToday is a good tool to use to get started with building your first freelance website while on a really tight budget.
If you give this web builder a try, be sure to share your thoughts and experience with the rest of us!
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