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This is Day 14 of 31 Days to Start a Freelancing Business (or Make Yours a Better One). If you want to catch up, click here to read Day 1.
Today you’re going to do something potentially scary if you’ve never done it before: install a WordPress site.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I highly recommend you use WordPress to set up your professional site. I should clarify that I meant WordPress installed in your own domain name, with web hosting you pay for, rather than a site on WordPress.com, which is free.
Having your own site, rather than a free one, gives you instant credibility. You’ll also have much more control over your own site. WordPress.com and other free sites have many restrictions, which will stifle you sooner or later. In fact, with a free site, it’s possible for your site to suddenly disappear because you’ve violated a term of service you may not have even been aware of.
So why WordPress and not an ordinary HTML site? WordPress is open-source, which means it’s free. You don’t need to buy software to create your web pages. It’s accessible anywhere you have Internet access and a web browser. It’s fairly easy to use; definitely much easier than HTML authoring.
WordPress is also very highly customizable. You can change the look of your site. Although WordPress is a platform for blogs, you can make it look like a regular website – if that’s what you want. You may or may not want to put a blog on your professional site (more on that in future posts).
Using WordPress widgets, you can automate certain functionalities (like what you see on the sidebars of TheSavvyFreelancer.com).
Finally, WordPress is very attractive to search engines. It’s easy for Google to index a WordPress site, sometimes within hours of installing it!
If Your Web Host Has CPanel
If you followed my advice yesterday and signed up for web hosting with a CPanel, then this shouldn’t be too hard or take too long. In fact, you can instal WordPress in 5 minutes.
To do this:
1. Go to your CPanel and look for a selection of Software/Services. You should find either Fantastico Deluxe or Simple Scripts, or both.
2. Click on either Fantastico or Simple Scripts. Now you will see a list of programs you can install, including WordPress.
3. Click on WordPress.
4. Follow the instructions to install WordPress.
I can’t go into more detail because each web hosting is different. If you run into any problems, contact your web host’s customer service department.
Or, if you’d rather be saved from all this trouble, get your web hosting from Reliable Webs and have them install WordPress for you. Then all you’ll have to do is log into your site and start customizing it.
If Your Web Host Doesn’t Have a CPanel
Contact your web host and find out if it’s possible for you to install WordPress at all. If it’s not, it’s not yet too late to switch web hosts. You’ll thank me for it!
Choosing Your Website Theme
Once you’ve got WordPress installed, the next step is to choose a theme for it. You can find plenty of free WordPress themes by doing a Google search.
If you’re willing to pay for a theme, the premium ones I’ve used are Revolution, Thesis and Headway. Thesis and Headway are considered rivals in the world of WordPress themes. I use and like them both. I used Revolution for a magazine-style site, which may not be suitable for a freelancing website.
I chose Thesis because of its elegant look. Thesis sites look very clean and uncluttered. It also has built-in SEO features that help your site rank in the search engines.
Thesis claims to give you total control. In fact, you can customize a Thesis site any way you want – as long as you know how. In the beginning, I did a few customizations by following tutorials in websites and the Thesis forum. But eventually, I just got way too busy to keep playing with it. (In fact, I just recently noticed that I lost my custom colors when I last upgraded the Thesis version of my professional website. Take a look here.)
Enter the Headway theme. This is a fully customizable theme as well, and it’s much easier than Thesis. TheSavvyFreelancer.com uses the Headway theme. I was able to get just the look I wanted in under an hour. It would have been faster if I had watched the tutorials first instead of trying to figure everything out myself!
Before you spend money on a premium theme, make sure it’s the one you really want and will use for a long time. There are lots of options out there, including free ones. Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford a premium theme. You’ll find plenty of free themes that look amazing. In fact, I used free WordPress themes for almost a year before finally plunking money on premium themes.
How to Choose a WordPress Theme
Whatever you choose, keep these tips in mind:
- Select a widget-ready theme, so you can easily add functionalities in your sidebars and footers.
- Make sure your theme has font sizes which are legible. Look at sample sites and check the font sizes, background color and font colors. (You can change these things if you know some HTML. If not, choose something you like with minimal changes)
- Choose a theme that reflects your personality and/or the image you want to project with your business. Don’t use an overly frilly theme if you’re in the business-to-business market, for example.
- Make sure your theme’s colors look professional – no neon colors unless you’re in a very creative field.
- Look at numerous sites using the themes you’re considering before you commit to any one. Observe what the possibilities are with the particular theme, and any elements you’re not too happy about and might want to customize later on.
So which WordPress theme did you choose? Share a link to your site when it’s up, ok?
photo credit: pshutterbug