OUTSIDE VOICES: Abban Dunne's On The Cheap!
Penetrate the Internet and get Yourself a Professional Portfolio on the Cheap.
Every creative should have a website but there are many factors why people don’t do it.
Some people think that they have to pay thousands just to get their work online. While this is true if you want to have a fully custom site made it’s relatively cheap these days to buy everything you need.
Another issue is people think that they don’t have the technical skills required. This also isn’t the case anymore, in fact it’s possible to get a professional site up and running with very little work and no coding skills. Trust me I do it every day and I’m lazy and stupid.
Lastly a lot of people think that it’s not important. While that is probably the case for established freelancers with loads of contacts a website can act as a way in for talented people starting out. Imagine what you would do if you were looking for a WordPress coder in Dublin. Most likely you would Google ‘WordPress Dublin’. The same goes for people who are looking to hire Illustrators and having a website gives them a gateway to find your work and hire you.
So, this post is going to address those issues and help you get your work online and get you found and published and on TV and into space and straight into the future. On a budget.
The anatomy of a website
There are 2 things a website needs to work. First you need to find a domain name. This the web address that people go to to find you (such as www.arsebiscuits.com). Second you need hosting. Hosting is basically a place on a computer somewhere in the world that’s always turned on, you stuff your webiste into it and it then vomits it out at people who type in your web address.
A quick Google search will show you that there are hundreds and thousands of places where you can buy domin names and hosting.
I like to recommend that people buy Irish so I’m going to send you to Blacknight. A .com domain on there costs around €9 and a Linux Minimus hosting account costs €60 per year. When ordering make sure you pick Linux as Windows hosting sucks almost as much as Vista did. You can also buy hosting over the phone like how they used to buy stuff in grandads day and their customer support will take you through getting set up if you have any trouble. You shouldn’t have any trouble though unless if maybe you’re the type of person who is still uses a hotmail email address. In fact the chart for difficulty based off what email you use would probably go like this:
- Gmail account: No trouble.
- Yahoo mail account: A little trouble.
- Hotmail account: Uh oh, you might want to get your 4 year old kid to help you out.
Setting up a WordPress site on Blacknight
Buying the domain and hosting is a straight process so I’m not going to go through that and I’m going to jump straight into how to get your site set up once you’ve bought everything. This is super simple, once you have your account you into the Blacknight Control Panel and in the left toolbar click Application Vault > Blog Software > WordPress. Then hit install and it will install a blog onto your website. It will give you the login details and the address to go so you can login. BAM! Your site is installed, easy huh?
Installing a theme
The beauty of using WordPress is that it’s easy to use and there are millions of themes for it. Selecting a good one is paramount however. You want to look as professional as possible and make sure everything is secure and it has a good guide to setting it up and perhaps some support for you Hotmail users. To install your chosen theme you just download the zip file to your computer then in your WordPress admin panel go to Appearance > Themes and hit Upload Theme. You can then activate it.
Selection of Themes
You can search through the theme repository right from the Themes tab in the admin panel and pick from the thousands of themes there. You might want to go premium though and find a good paid theme. These cost between $20 and $50 and usually come with support from the author. I highly recommend spending some time looking through premium themes and picking one that suits your needs and that you like the design of.
I work with WordPress a lot and I like to bookmark likely themes so I can find them again if I need them. Here’s a few good premium ones:
You can also find loads of roundups of the latest cool themes by Googling it. I found these:
- 35+ Free and Premium WordPress Portfolio Themes
- 20 Responsive WordPress Portfolio Themes
- 65 Excellent WordPress Portfolio Themes
Also there are a few premium theme selling sites:
Note: Don’t just go and install free themes you find on Google as some of them have spyware built in. Always find your themes from reputable sources
You can also install plugins on your WordPress site that let you do lots of cool stuff. Here’s a few I use:
- Yoast Seo– SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, by setting up your site right you can ensure it ranks higher in Google. This plugin helps and teaches you to post your content with SEO in mind. It will also submit your site to Google and get you found quicker.
- JetpackThis adds a load of cool stuff to your site.
- W3 Total Cache– This will make your site a lot faster.
- Akismet– This is a tool to stop spam on your site. You can sign up for a free account.
- Feedburner – This lets you manage the people that subscribe to your sites RSS.
And thats the basics, there obviously is a lot more involved in getting your site up and running but this should give you a good position to launch from. If you’re interested in learning more here’s a few useful links:
- WordPress Quick Start Guide
- Short SEO Guide
- Smashing Magazine WordPress section
- Digging into WordPress
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