In this Instructable, I will show you how to make your own free website, using a content management system (Joomla). I wont skip out on anything, Throughout the tutorial, I'll show you how to setup a domain, web hosting account, install joomla, the basics of joomla, how to put advertisements on your website, and how to draw traffic. I will also show you how to insert google analytics so you can track your website. The only cost to you is time, It takes plenty of time to get a decent website up and running. You'll also be expected to maintain your website and update it with fresh content as often as possible if your don't your website will only make pennies.
This (Mr.Picture) is my website. I have probably spent at least 100 hours making everything the way I want. And I'll never be done. No good website should ever be done!
(If you have lots of experience with the web, you may want to check out my simplified version)
Step 1: Mistakes I've Made.
I'm going to be honest and admit that I've made lots of mistakes along the way. Firstly, don't try to make more than one website at a time, or you will end up with two incomplete websites that your unhappy with. Don't pick a topic because of the money you could make on it. Pick a topic you really love, otherwise you will slowly but inevitably give up on it. Another thing I learned is that if you want something done right, do it yourself. Getting someone else to write articles or edit your images is your choice, but its you might not be as pleased with the results. Also, try to keep a secure list of passwords and user names that you use to maintain your website, this will greatly increase your efficiency (I can't count the amount of times I've forgotten a password to an affiliate site or a forum). Lastly, don't violate your hosts or advertising affiliates terms of service. You will get caught, and you will regret it.
I should also mention that Joomla sometimes has issues with IE6, but who cares, everyone should be using Firefox!
Step 2: Basic Planning
Here are the main things you'll want to plan:
-Picking a topic. Like I said in the previous step. You'll want to choose something you really enjoy, whether it be video games, photography, software, film/animation, etc.
-Picking a name. Pick something you like, but also something easily memorable to the viewers/users of your website. Preferably something without numbers.
-Determine your target audience. This is always a very important thing to keep in mind, thought the entire creation of your website, but mainly the creation of articles. If your audience is an older group, they may or may not know what certain things are on the web, whereas if your target is a younger group, you don't want to make puns that will only make sense to people of a different age group. Although you might have a targeted group of users, you should remain broad and try to make everything easy for everyone to understand.
-Remember Passwords and User names. You need to be cautious with this, but its very important, and saves loads of time in the long run. I personally keep a list of usernames and passwords involved with my website in a hidden document in my home folder (Linux equivalent of My Documents). But make sure this isn't easily accessible to others, you may want to keep this list on google docs or on an encrypted flash drive if your paranoid.
-Keep a journal. I have a notebook that I use to track progress of my websites. And I think it is essential.
Planning ahead greatly increases your efficiency, and will overall make the whole process easier.
Step 3: New Email Account (optional)
I would start off by making a new email account, as you will probably be signing up at tens if not hundreds of websites, and the chances of getting spam at at least one of them is likely. I made a gmail account specifically because of the forwarding feature, which would allow me to forward all the email relevant to my website to my main email account. Gmail also has superb spam protection. The only downside is that most text only email addresses are gone, so your going to have to be creative coming up with an email address. If you don't like gmail, yahoo (requires mail plus, a paid feature) and live (only to another live/hotmail address) also have forwarding and I'm sure many other free email providers do.
Another alternative to setting up a new email account is to email free email forwarding. The only free service I could come across was BIGFOOT. So theoretically you could use your existing account as the SMTP server for outgoing mail and send it to your bigfoot address and then back to yourself, therefore protecting your existing email address so if you started getting spam, you could simply remove it.
Step 4: The Domain
Were severely restricted in the domains area, however I have found two good free domain companies with DNS support.
CC.CZ (and if your feeling generous heres my referral link)
Xtreemhost (xtreemhost is the server company I recommend) requires you to sign up at cc.cz before registering with them.
If you prefer a CO.CC (referral) domain, you can add the address to your xtreemhost account.
I would first like to first like to explain how DNS works, well how I understand it. When you enter the name servers in on the domain companies side, the servers look for the domain you requested on the servers side. Once the domain server finds your server, it connects, and saves whatever it needs to load your website when someone types the address into the address bar. (If someone knows more about DNS, feel free to let me know and I will update this)
I'm sure you'll easily be able to enter your credentials into the sign up form, but if you need any help with that you can contact me. However once you sign up, you'll be asked to setup your domain. This is relatively easy. We will be using DNS (name servers) because its relatively easy but won't result in the issues that url redirection can cause. If your using xtreemhost the name servers are:
Congratulations, You now have your own domain. But It won't Lead anywhere just yet.
Step 5: The Webhost
I'm using xtreemhost as my host, I chose them because their free services is outstanding.
You get 5500mb of web space, with 200gb of transfer. Along with FTP and MySQL and other features.
(The following Only applies if your using a webhost other than xtreemhost
If your going to choose a webhost other than xtreemhost, they MUST have:
MYSQL 3.23 or higher
PHP 4.3 or higher
APACHE 1.3 or higher
these are the minimum specifications for Joomla.
I would recommend at least 200mb (500mb is optimal) of storage space. And 10gb of transfer)
I have included all the signup information in the following image. Make sure you download the file with your credentials. Trying to remember your xth_ username is difficult at first. And forgetting it isn't something you want to do.
If you have successfully completed the sign up, you should now be able to type
www.youraddress.co.cc or www.youraddress.cc.cz in your address bar. You will either arrive at a black white page that says "Index Of /" or a page at the domain company telling you to wait up to 72 hours for DNS to do its thing. You may have to wait 72 hours, and you may have to wait 5 minutes. However we can't continue from here until you reach the "Index of /" page.
Step 6: Installing Joomla
If you chose xtreemhost, you can easily install joomla from your cpanel. Navigate to http://cpanel.xtreemhost.com and login with your credentials. You will reach your new servers control panel. Under Software and Services, click the iVista Easy Script Installation. Then choose the co.cc or co.cz domain you created prior. Now, look for Joomla 1.5, and click Install Now. (If you would rather create a wordpress blog or something else, feel free, but the rest of this instructable will only cover joomla. I do plan on creating a wordpress instructable later on if there isn't already one.)
When you reach the next page, just leave the destination folder at "/" the reason for this part of the install is if you wanted to install a forum beside joomla at say www.yoursite.co.cc/forum you could do so. But for the time being just leave it at the root.
Now iVista will install Joomla to your server. This will take about a minute.
If you are unable to install joomla via iVista (or your server companies script installer) you will have to download and install joomla yourself from www.joomla.org and upload it via FTP with filezilla or the like. I will explain FTP further on in the tutorial.
Step 7: Loging in for the First Time.
You will now be able to navigate to www.yoursite.cc.cz/administrator or www.yoursite.co.cc/administrator and reach the administrative login page. You can login with
password:(same as your xtreemhost password)
You should also be able view your website at www.yoursite.co.cc or www.yoursite.cc.cz however until we make some changes in joomla, It will be a basic joomla website.
When you reach the administrative back-end of your website I would recomend, you try move around and try to figure things out for yourself. Because at this point, the worst thing you might have to do is reinstall joomla. But that dosen't mean i'm going to leave you in the dark. I will explain the basics.
Articles - are the content of your website, you can organize them in categories and sections, you can add a single article to your menu as a link, or you can add a cetagory of articles to your website like in a blog format. There are dozens of ways you can utilize articles.
Modules - Are the items on the side, (eg; menus, advertisements, slideshows, login boxes, and etc.) They can be moved around, and can contain almost anything. You can download more modules at extensions.joomla.org/, whether it be a paypal button or an tweet me module.
Menus - can contain links to external websites, or articles on your website. They can also link to components.
Components - are Major parts of your website. They can be anything from a forum to a guestbook or even an analytics component.
Plugins - are smaller pieces of your website that usually do one simple task, like display a sideshow, or integrate google analytics.
Templates - there are thousands if not millions of joomla templates on the internet. They are the style of your website. Some are free, but lots of people charge money for their templates. Usually the free templates have a small link at the bottom that links to the creators page.
The Installer - it will install components, modules, plugins, and templates. You can either upload the extension files via your computer or a directory on your server, or from an external link. Extensions are simply .zip files with php scripts inside.
Step 8: Deleting the Defaults.
Heres a list of the default items that require deletion. Using the simple delete/ remove button at the top of each section.
-Articles (empty the article trash afterwards) -- >Articles , >Articles>Article Trash
-Article Categories -- >Articles> Categories
-Article Sections -- >Articles>Sections
-Menus (along with the Menu Trash) -- >Menus, >Menus>Menu Trash
Now your ready to make your website your own!
Step 9: Adding Some Content
I will now show you how to create a simple article and add it to a menu on the front page.
-Firstly Create a new section. >Articles>Sections>(NEW) I called my section Main Pages, I will keep the home page and other important articles in this section. When your done, don't forget to save it.
-Secondly, Create a new category in the Main Pages Section >Articles>Categories>(NEW). And Save it when your done.
-Thirdly, Navigate to the Articles Section and Create a new article. If you plan on using this as your homepage, you might want to notify your viewers that your site is under construction and follow that with an intro to your site. (If this is your home page, make sure to change that setting on the articles page)
-Next, Navigate to the Menu's Section and Create a new menu. This will probably be your main menu, so naturally, you'd probably call it Main Menu. After you've created the menu, we need to add the article to it. So navigate to >Menus> Main Menu> (Add). You should now see a tree of possible things to add. You will probably want a basic layout so navigate to >Articles>Article>Article Layout. Choose a title for this article (probably "Home") and then on the right side of the page in the Parameters (Basic) section, select the article you would like to use. A dialogue will appear prompting you to choose an article. Pick the article you created previously and press OK, on the main page hit save.
-Lastly, we must ad the menu to our page as a module. So navigate to >Modules>(NEW)>[MENU] and select the menu you just created. Give it a title, and make sure its enabled, and hit save.
Congratulations. You now have a single articled website. If you made it this far, Pat yourself on the back, and accept my congratulatory applause.
Step 10: Extensions
Extensions. Probably the main reason for joomla's popularity. There are thousands of extensions that do many different things, whether it be a slideshow, a donate button, a Google adsense module.
Step 11: Changing the Theme.
There are thousands of places you can find joomla templates, some of them very good, some of them horrible, some of them free, some of them expensive. You won't find templates on the joomla extensions website. You can look through the list I have down, here and if you
Here are some places you can find joomla templates.
>Free Joomla Templates
Some of these websites may require registration to download their free templates.
If your really fussy, just cackle "Free Joomla Templates" and you'll come across hundreds of template websites.
Step 12: Plugins
Plugins can do a variety of things for your website, whether it'd be adding security, a sideshow, an addthis button, or a thousand other things. You can download plugins from the joomla extensions directory. And then use the installer to upload them to your website. Read the documentation for your specific.
Step 13: Modules
Modules, are small "boxes" on either one or both sides of your website. They can contain, many different things, slideshows, menus, login inputs, and many other things. They can be rearranged, and ordered in almost any manner.
Step 14: Components
Components are larger extensions to your website, they can be anything from a forum, guestbook, or even a guest book. Just like any other extension, you can upload it using joomla's installer. After installing a component, you can go to the menu's section and add your component to one of your menus.
Step 15: Advertising.
Advertising is a tremendous multi-billion dollar industry, And if you can direct enough traffic to your website, you can get a chunk of that scrum-didly-umptious pie. But theres a problem, theres millions, if not billions of people that are trying to earn a quick buck on the internet, so you need to compete with them, and its not easy, thats why I mentioned earlier that you will need to dedicate a decent amount of time to your website if you want to earn more than a couple bucks.
There are hundreds of advertising and affiliate programs available for free on the net, but I'm only going to explain the popular ones listed here.
------Pay Per Click and Pay Per View------
-Google Adsense - Google IS advertising. They control about 70% (2008 Statistic) of the Internet advertising market. Its rather easy to use, and you can connect to it via your existing google account.
-AdBrite - Adbrite is also one of the large companies involved with advertising. I have earned the most profits with adbrite so far.
-Commission Junction - I'm still experimenting with commission junction but I will eventually update this. I will however say that commission junction gives you great control over which ads you use.
Amazon Affiliates - I have no experience with them, but I have heard they also have great control over advertising.
After signing up with a couple of affiliates you will need to find a banner rotator in the joomla extensions directory, and install it. The module will have specific documentation. And generally a tutorial with pictures! In colour!
Step 16: Driving Traffic
By now you've installed advertisements on your website, you have enough content on your website to keep your viewers on your website for several minutes. Now its time to bring in some traffic from your website. There are good ways of doing this, and bad ways of doing it.
Lets cover the good things first.
-By Joining forums related to the topic of your website, you can add links to your website in your signature. But for this to be effective, your going to need to post often.
-You can use websites like facebook and the like to get friends and family to gain some hits. Just remind them that you update your content often, and that they should check in often.
>Video Sharing Sites.
-Make appetizing you tube videos that bring intrigued viewers to your website.
>Submit Your Website to Search Engines.
-You can submit your website to the major search engines
*Yahoo (Requires a Yahoo Account)
* You could alternately use a website like Submit Express, However most search engines offer controls that submit express just won't give you. It's all about the finite details.
*There are hundreds of other search engines out there, but as long as long as your indexed by google, your covered. According to HitsLink (as of February 14th) Google has 87% of the search engine market share.
>Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
-Insert Meta Tags into your articles, Use titles with keywords in them,
-Spell check your website!
-I've been trying out the free tools on SEOmoz for awhile, and there great for determining pagerank, backlinks, etc. Its worth checking out.
Bad Ways to drive traffic to your website.
>Click Exchange Websites. You might make a quick ten cents, but by then google will have banned you from adsense. These types of websites can also bring down your page rank, making it less and less likely, that the googlers of the web will find your website.
Step 17: Final Notes.
I wish you all the best when it comes to your website. If you would like some feedback, post a comment with a link and I'll be sure to check your website out. If you have any questions leave a comment or PM me.