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How to Build a Website for under $100 in an afternoon

Why service professionals need a website

Your website is your online home. It’s the place people can go to learn more about you and how you can help them. It serves 4 main functions:

  1. Set you apart from other people in your field
  2. Help your prospective client know how and why to hire you
  3. Help you continue to communicate with them by getting their email address and adding them to your newsletter list.
  4. Sell your products and services

How to decide what to put on your website

If you don’t know your niche or ideal customer yet: choose design elements that you like. Don’t worry too much about details. Just choose things that are good examples of who you are and what you believe in.

If you are clear on your niche and/or ideal customer: make your design decisions for your ideal customers. Here are some questions to help you get in touch with how your site will help to set you apart and let your customer know that you can solve their problem.

  • What is their problem?
  • What is the solution they want?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What would help them feel like you can solve their problem?
  • How do they want to feel as a result of working with you?
  • What mood or message do you want to convey with your business?

How to build a site for under $100 in an afternoon, the quick and dirty edition

Your business will evolve, sometimes very rapidly. Don’t spend too much energy or money on a site that will change.

  1. Purchase Thesis theme for WordPress.org here. (affiliate link)
  2. Click here to order webhosting and domain name from Blue Host. (affiliate link)
  3. Call them at 1-800-401-HOST.
  4. Press whatever button will get you to technical help.
  5. Say this: “I have Thesis theme for WordPress. I just purchased your hosting plan. Please help me get my theme installed so that I can start making changes. What do I do first?”
  6. They’ll walk you through it. Do what they say. If you don’t like the customer service person, hang up and call back. Almost all of their people are good.
  7. Next, create your own DIY header. You don’t need Photoshop or even a good eye for design. Click here for a simple tutorial.
  8. Slap your new header onto your site. In your Thesis dashboard, choose Thesis on the left, then Header image. Then browse your computer for your header image, put that into the search box and click the button that says “upload.”
  9. Put your contact information, your photo and some basic information about who you are, who you help and how you can help your customers. This can all go on one page. This is plenty to get you started.
  10. You will eventually want to have 5-6 pages on your site: home, about, services or products, testimonials, blog (this is sometimes used as the home page), contact. Do not publish any of these pages with an “under construction” type message. Just publish them as you create them.

What to do if you get stuck

  1. Take a break
  2. Ask your cohorts on Facebook
  3. Search the Thesis help forum here.

Yep. Really is that simple.

If you have a site already, fantastic.

If you don’t, grab one and set it up just like I described above. Then, get on with the hard work, the real work, of talking to people. Go on. Do your thing.


Want more?

I have a comprehensive Website, Zero to Done guide in Coaching Practice in a Box. It covers these basics and more. Overwhelm free.




17 Responses to How to Build a Website for under $100 in an afternoon

  1. Heather Thorkelson August 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Awesome Sarah! This is a great starting point for those who are moderately technically inclined. Love it! I wish I had had this when I was starting out. :)

    • Sarah August 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Oh, that’s for sure. I didn’t know where to start at all.

  2. Christie Halmick | Jewels Branch Creative August 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Yes! This is perfect Sarah. Get it up, get it done. Then go back and tweak as your business grows.

    • Sarah August 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Get it up. Get it done. That’s a beautiful mantra Christie!

  3. Mindy Crary August 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    I have already shared this post! I work with a lot of people who are getting inspired to start their business but don’t know the first thing about websites. This is the perfect language that I have been missing to describe how simple it is! And, I love how at the end you emphasize about how it really is about talking to people more than anything else!

  4. Sarah August 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! I really hope this helps to get people into action and out of analysis paralysis.

  5. Ashley Taylor August 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm #


    This is such a great and helpful post for entrepreneurs that feel stuck or a little overwhelmed of what they need to do first. Very helpful and clear cut! You show people that it does not have to be expensive OR stressful :) I’ll definitely be sharing this with my own clients.


    • Sarah August 7, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      No! It does not! Have to be expensive or stressful. But it sure is easier to stress and spend than do the dang work. Thanks for sharing with your peeps! xo

  6. Megan Flatt August 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    OMG! I LOVE this and am totally using it. Not only the actually guide, but the message. I get SO stuck in “it has to be perfect and I don’t know what that is or how to do it” But I am just going to start operating under the assumption anything I want to do for my business can be done in 10 steps, in an afternoon for less than $100…then just do it! Thanks!

    • Sarah August 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      That sounds like a great plan! Because it can. And if it can’t, then you’re focusing on too much. That’s all overwhelm is–a cue that you’re trying to do too much at once.

  7. Ashley Gwilliam August 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    Whoa — This would have helped me so much when I was just getting started. This post is golden. I love the way you’ve broken everything down into easy steps. No need to get overwhelmed – just do it right?

    • Sarah August 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      OMG. If I had this when I was just starting…. But now others will have it. xo

  8. Kathleen Prophet August 8, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    My sentiments match everyone on this thread, Sarah! Why the hell didn’t we have this when we started out? I can’t even BELIEVE the suffffffffferrrrrrrrring I went through! and the moneeeeeeeeeyyyyy I spent. The agony with one web designer, the the money with the othersss!

    So YES to you seeding the world with your/our hard won wisdom! And… gonna be doing more sites for other businesses, so I am saving this and passing it on, Sarah! Thank you, love!

    • admin August 9, 2012 at 1:59 am #

      Oh, I know it. I know it. I’m afraid this is like so many “wise” lessons though. People won’t listen. They’ll do what we did–spending and spinning and overwhelm–even though they don’t have to. I feel like an old auntie telling the teenage girl to take good care of her body while she nods and knows I might be right, but it will be different for her.

  9. Fantastic, smart as a whip post! I am passing this along to my friend who is just starting a business and to my VA because I am always needing a site for SOMETHING!!!! YAY!

    xo, Tina

    • admin August 9, 2012 at 1:59 am #

      Holla!!!! xo

  10. karen October 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    I’m a graphic designer and I found this article very helpful. I love working with coaches, but they don’t have large budgets – this is a great way to go!

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