Lesson 2 of 3 – All the answers to the unsexiest questions in the world
Links you might need
Note – The Namecheap and Divi links are ‘referral links’. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small payment.
Below is a video transcript of sorts. It’s not a perfect transcript because….ugh. I really don’t enjoy those.
Instead, it’s the same information presented to make sense as a written article.
ALSO – Did you arrive at this page via Facebook? If so, make sure you get the next lesson by asking for it here.
I’m Cath Wood from Webbie Dooo. I teach small business owners how to build their own professional, mobile friendly website and this is lesson 2 of 3 in which I share a whole lot of answers to those curly questions about getting started.
If you missed the first lesson you can go back and check that out.
There were so many great comments from the first video – thank you so much! There were comments and questions on the page, emails, and messages on Facebook, it was great. A lot of work goes into putting together a series like this so I really appreciated getting some love back. Please keep up the comments on this one too!
I asked you to pay attention to the little picture next to your name when you added a comment. And I said that if you didn’t have a picture you could request a lesson on how to do that. Bec Steele asked for it, so that’s coming up today too.
The video started off with some pretty stupid dancing which turned out to be really popular, hence today’s repeat. After the dancing I spoke about how getting started with building a website is the hardest part for small businesses. There are so many questions, and I’ll answer those in this lesson.
We talked about the importance of becoming your own project manager – because if you outsource any part of the building of your website you need to monitor how it’s going, and that’s impossible if you don’t understand best practice yourself.
Let’s meet Shep
All the answers to all the questions
Ok, so let’s get into the answers to the questions we raised in the first video. It’s not the sexiest topic on the planet but it’s really important.
If your brain starts to melt, remember there’s this handy PDF you can download.
What’s a domain?
A domain is the name of your website. It’s the URL, or the web address. This website is built on the domain webbiedooo.com.
I use a company called Namecheap to register my domains.
Once you’ve registered your domain you need to ‘point the DNS’ which means telling your domain registrar (such as Namecheap) where your website is hosted.
Hosting is where your website is stored. You can think about it in terms of books. The domain is like the name of your book, the website is the book itself, and the hosting is the bookshelf where it sits.
It’s just a computer actually, at the end of the day. Your website is stored on someone else’s computer.
There are soooo many different hosting companies and each one offers a number of plans. It’s one of the biggest questions in the industry – “which hosting plan should I use?” and I actually have a project going where I’m testing 11 hosting plans against each other. The thing is, hosting companies are NOT all created equal – you can put the exact same website onto two different hosting plans and one will load much faster than another. Speed is really important. So I can’t just say, “Oh, use such and such a host.” It depends on things like where you are, how much you can afford, how many websites you want to build and how many visitors you’re likely to receive. You can check out that project at The Hosting Experiment.
Managed hosting is where the hosting company takes care of some things for you. They’re all different, but things that are included might be updates, backups, security checks, malware scans and things like that.
Self-hosted is a term used to distinguish from situations where the hosting is included as part of the website itself. When you’re self-hosted it means your website is on a hosting plan of your choice and you (or your tech person) can log in and manage it yourself.
WordPress is the program we use to build your website, in the same way that you might use Word to write a letter or Excel to work with numbers.
WordPress is the most popular website management system in the world.
It’s often called a CMS, which means content management system.
What’s a theme?
A theme is a bit like a set of building plans. It’s a starting point for your website, so you can choose a theme that already includes a lot of the things you need rather than starting completely from scratch. I had a LOT of trouble choosing themes when I first started building websites. I discovered that some of them are coded really badly which makes it impossible to build a good website.
Then I found the Divi theme, which is now the most popular theme in the world and for good reason. It’s a drag and drop builder that’s versatile and intuitive. I use it in all my workshops and it’s included in the starter site that my students receive.
What’s a plugin?
A plugin is like an extra feature you can use in your website. Each website needs different things, just like in real life one family has a rice cooker while another has a massage chair. It can be tempting to use hundreds of plugins, but remember that every plugin will slow your site down a little, so you really should only use what you absolutely need.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It’s the art of making sure your website is found by Google so it’s really important and there’s a lot to it. One of the instructors in our upcoming course is an SEO specialist and I find it really interesting hearing her talking about keywords cannibalising each other.
What’s a cpanel?
A cpanel is the control panel for your hosting account. It’s one of those things that can seem a bit scary but once you log in it can be quite interesting to look around. I spend a lot of time in cpanels. It’s the website equivalent of opening the hood of your car. Sometimes hosting companies don’t offer cpanel and that can be really frustrating because you have to figure out their special way of doing whatever it is you’re trying to do.
One of the really handy things about cpanel is the File Manager, which looks a lot like the Windows Explorer on your computer. That can be quite a handy alternative to FTP.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s a good way of moving things from your computer to your website or vice versa but sometimes it can be tricky to connect and that causes frustration and lost time. I can’t remember the last time I used FTP – I achieve everything I need to do using the File Manager in cpanel.
What’s CSS and HTML?
CSS means cascading style sheet and is used to change how a website looks and behaves. It’s a whole language that you can learn if you want to but none of my workshop students have ever needed to do that. If you want something specific to happen on your website that’s not available as a standard option you’re better off to ask someone else to write the css for you.
Otherwise it would be like learning Russian because you had a Russian architect and you wanted to ask him (in Russian) to change the shape of your kitchen benches a little. Everything else about his design is perfect. Why would you learn an entire language when you could just use the translator sitting in your front room?
HTML means hypertext markup language and is actually the thing that controls your whole website. But that’s about as much as you need to know about it. It’s a bit like how you know your car has doors and windows. It is what it is.
Do I have to worry about being hacked?
Ooh yeah. You’re best off to assume that at some point you will be hacked, and be prepared for that rather than adopting a ‘head in the sand’ approach.
Make sure you have offsite backups and that your hosting and domain are kept separate. If your host goes down you need to be able to quickly point your DNS somewhere else and get your website up on new hosting.
There are lots of things you can do to prevent being hacked. Make sure your password is ridiculously strong. That’s the most important tactic yet heaps of people don’t do it.
Do I have to backup my website?
Yes – see above.
There are various plugins available for backing up and there are some good tutorials on YouTube showing you how to backup and restore your website. The most important step is to take the backup and download it to your computer. Then if you ever need to restore it you can call on help – and you’ll be one of a very small minority who ever bothered to take this step.
If you don’t have a backup and your website goes down, there’s nothing you can do about it.
It’s not just hacking you need to worry about either. This year one of our hosts suffered two power surges which fried databases and deleted websites. You can’t foresee that kind of thing.
Be ready for it.
How do I get my picture showing next to my name in comments?
It will ask you to sign up with WordPress.com.
This can be confusing if you already have a WordPress website but you won’t be using those login details. WordPress.com is its own, separate thing so you’ll need to create an account there.
Fill in your details and click Sign Up.
Now you’ll be brought to the Gravatar website where you can upload your photo. Click on ‘Add one by clicking here’.
Crop if necessary and click on Crop and Finish at the bottom.
(Thanks for providing the screen shot Alicia!)
Choose a rating for your gravatar and you’re all done.
Now post a comment on the bottom of this page and check out your fancy new gravatar!
A special note for Kim, Harold. Chris, Carolyn, Bec, Deonne, Emily and Jackie – if you’ve done this go back to lesson 1. You’ll see that your picture is now showing there too.
A big mistake and a cool trick
In lesson 3 I’m going to talk about the one BIG mistake that most small business people make when managing their own website. It’s the one thing that really stands out to me when I’m teaching live workshops. And it’s so important that I’m going to actually teach you how to do it properly. This is content that’s straight out of the paid course and you can use it whether you do the course or not.
I’m also going to teach you that cool trick that my workshop participants always love. It really surprised me because it’s a simple thing that I use all the time but a lot of people don’t know it, and it gets them really excited because it’s a big time saver.
Please leave a comment below.
I’d especially like to know – am I going too fast? Too slow? Just right? Do you have more questions? Or are you just here for the dance moves?