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How to Build Your Own Website, for Creators and Small Businesses

Screenshot of WordPress dashboard used to build your own website

This article is a part of our How to Run a Creator Business series, so it’s written with creators in mind. But, if you’re a small business that sells goods or services, the information in this article can help you too. The high level information on how to build your own website the same, no matter which type of business you run.

Of course, the actual work involved in building a website can get quite complicated. You won’t be able to learn all that from just one article. Our goal is to guide you through the various services you have to buy and the choices you’ll have to make to build (or hire someone to build) a website.

Let’s start with why you need a website at all.

Why Build Your Own Website?

For any type of business, your website is your online home. For some businesses, it’s a place where others can learn a little about what you do. For other businesses, it’s a place to sell merchandise. For creators, it can be both.

Most creators start out on someone else’s content platform. But these platforms can change their rules or even shut down suddenly. You’d have no control, and, if they shut down (or just shut you down for an alleged violation), you’d lose your followers and would have no way to tell these followers where else to find you.

This is why we think, as a creator, you should build your own website. This way, you can have an online home that you can control. If something happens to the online platform you post your work, your followers can still find you and your work on your website. You can also tell your followers on which other platforms to find you.

Should you build this online home right away? There’s probably no hurry. It’s OK to wait until you get better established and have a larger number of followers.

When to Build Your Own Website Depends on the Type of Creative Work You Do

When you build your website also depends on the type of work you create. If you’re a writer, you should probably build a website sooner than later. This is because you can monetize a writing business from your website more easily than other types of creator businesses.

But if you’re an influencer on TikTok, then it’s probably not necessary for you to build your website until you’ve built a following and maybe are posting on other platforms as well. Content platforms are many times better at helping you gather a following than Bing or Google search results ever will.

With other types of creators such as musicians and podcasters, the exact timing for building your own website probably ranges somewhere between the writer and the influencer.

What Types of Revenue Can You Generate from a Website?

For any small business, you can sell goods or services from your website. For creators, you can do the same. For example, artists can sell prints of their work or even T-shirts printed with their work form their website. Musicians often sell their work from their website too.

Basically, when you have a website, you can pretty much generate revenue using all the methods we discussed in our intro article on content platforms. Other than merchandising, you can endorse brands, do affiliate marketing, show ads, and ask for donations or tips.

While it might not be obvious, you can sell subscriptions through your website too. Often, you can set up restricted access areas to your website so that only your subscribers can see the content.

Do You Have to be a Tech Guru to Build Your Own Website?

There’s this stereotype that artists aren’t good at technology. In our experience, that’s not always true. Still, it’s probably fair to say that most people—creators included—are a little bit afraid of technology.

The truth is, it does take some tech knowledge to build your own website. Fortunately, you have some options. There are website building software that are basically drag-and-drop and designed for the non-techie. You can also hire someone to build the website for you. Or you can try it yourself (and hire someone if you get stuck). Let’s look at these options more closely.

If You’re Afraid of Tech, You Can Use a Drag and Drop Website Builder

There are some website building software that are designed for non-technical folks. They’re mostly drag-and-drop. All of them have a reputation for being easy to use.

You’ll have to pay a monthly fee to use most of these services. The fee includes both the site building software and space on the platform to run your website.

We have articles on some of these software, but not others. We’ll come back and add to these articles once we finish building our how-to-start-a-business guide.

Easy to Use Drag and Drop Website Builders

Here are some popular website building software you can use to build your own website. Follow the links to more detailed articles:

  • Google Sites. This one is free. But it’s a very basic site and not very much optimized for search engines.
  • Wix. A lot of creators like this one. The article we’ve linked to was written for merchants selling a physical product. But most of the info in the article apply to creators too.
  • Squarespace. Not to be confused with the payment processor Square. Many folks recommend the service.
  • Weebly. Weebly is a subsidiary of Block, which also owns Square. It’s a very established drag-and-drop website builder. It has a good reputation for being easy to use.
  • Usually, WordPress isn’t mentioned as one of the drag and drop website builders. But they’ve been improving, and we think they’re coming pretty close. Don’t confuse .com with .org, though. is open source and DIY. is more drag-and-drop. If you have no experience building a website, try before considering

Pros and Cons of Drag and Drop Website Builders

There are some pluses and minuses to using drag-and-drop website builders to build your own website. The obvious plus is that you typically won’t need too much tech knowledge to make things work. Basically, if you can set up a Facebook homepage, you can build your drag-and drop website.

Another plus is that this is a one-stop-shop type of service. Usually, you can buy a domain name and pay the platform to host your website. They typically handle all the backend tech issues, including optimizing your site for search engines. So, all you need to do is to focus on making good content.

The biggest minus with these services is that the website-building software is proprietary. If you ever wish to change your service provider, you basically lose all the look-and-feel of your site (the content belongs to you, of course). To move your site elsewhere, you’d basically have to reconstruct every page of your site.

But why would you ever want to move? Often, it’s because of pricing. These website building platforms aren’t hugely expensive, but there are often cheaper options out there.

There’s one exception to the ability to move your site: As mentioned already, WordPress has an open source, free version. In this case, you can move from the .com version to the free, open source version without losing much of your content. (You might still lose a few plugins, though, but you can wean yourself off them one by one.) Then, you would be running a WordPress site hosted by someone other than Which we’ll explain how to do next.

You Can Build the Website Yourself (Or Hire Someone to Do It for You)

If you’re confident in your tech abilities or you’re adventurous, you can always build your own website from scratch.

You’ll First Need to Buy a Domain Name and Find a Website Hosting Service

To build your own website, you have to first buy your own domain name. Here’s our article on where to buy a domain name:

How to Pick the Best Domain Name Registrar

Once you have a domain name, you’ll need to pick a website hosting service.

Websites live on specialized computers called servers. The servers are connected to the internet 24/7/365. This way, no matter when someone wants information from your website, they can connect to your server and get the information.

Technically, you can have your own server for your website. But it means the sever must be powered on and connected to the internet all the time. This isn’t practical for most people. So, most people rent computing space from hosting services.

Here are our articles on how to pick a hosting service:

How to Pick a Web Hosting Company

Best Web Hosting Service for Small Businesses

Once you’ve picked a web hosting service and rented computer space, you’ll need to pick a software to use to build your site.

Next, You’ll Need to Pick a CMS Software

Every computer needs an operating system to run other software. Well-known OSs include Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. Web hosting computers often run on an OS called Linux. The hosting service picks the OS. You don’t have to worry about it.

Once an OS is installed, you’ll need to run a web server software to make the computer a web server. The most common web server software is called Apache. Again, your hosting service will have this set up. You don’t have to worry about this either.

The one thing you do have to pick is something called CMS (content management system) software. Think of CMS software as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets. Just as you use Word to write a paper, you use the CMS software to build the pages of your website.

There are three well-known CMS software to pick from: WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal. They’re all open source and free.

We recommend you use WordPress to build your own website. It’s the one most people use. Of the websites built using CMS software, WordPress has 64.8% of the market share, as of May 2021.

Of the three popular CMSs, WordPress is probably the easiest to use. It also has the most plugins. The plugins cover every functionality a creator business (or any other type of business) might need. You can expect most developers will make plugins for WordPress before moving to Joomla! or Drupal.

Note when we say WordPress, we mean the free DIY software. If you sign up with, you don’t have to know anything in this section. You just have to start building your website.

Last, You’ll Have to Decide if You Wish to Build the Site Yourself or Hire Someone

Once you’ve decided on and installed WordPress, you have a decision to make. You can try to build the website yourself, or you can hire a developer to do it for you. Or you can do both. Try it yourself first and, if you get stuck, hire someone to do it.

There are a lot of web developers who work with WordPress. We covered how to hire a contractor or freelancer earlier in our how-to-start-a-business guide. Here’s the intro blog post. In the post, you’ll find links to other detailed articles:

Finding a Freelancer or Contractor, for Startups

But, should you decide to try your own hand first, here’s an excellent website that teaches WordPress website building. The articles are well written, and they have a how-to guide to help you from step 1.


We used WPBeginner extensively back when we were learning how to build a WordPress site.

A Word About SEO

When people talk about website building, they’ll also talk about something called SEO. What is SEO and why is it important?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a way to help your content rank higher in a search engine. This way, there’s a better chance of people clicking on the search result and coming to your website. SEO is applicable for all types of websites, but there are slight variations in emphasis for blog sites, e-commerce sites, video-heavy sites, etc.

There are two types of SEO—technical SEO and content SEO. They’re supposed to work together to make your site rank higher in an internet search result. Technical SEO is more about making your web page load faster. Content SEO is more about putting the right keywords in your web pages or image alt texts so the search engine algorithms can understand what your page is about and serve that up when people search for the keywords. Both are important.

When people talk about SEO, they often mean optimizing Google’s search engine. This is because Google has such a large share of the search market. Fortunately, if you follow the SEO practices favored by Google, you tend to also do well with Bing. (Bing also powers Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and Amazon Alexa.)

Who Can Help You with SEO?

You can do SEO yourself, but there are also a lot of SEO services you can hire. If you build your website on one of the drag-and-drop platforms, they tend to handle the technical SEO for you. If you build your website yourself, then you’ll need to handle both technical and content SEO.

It does take a little while to learn SEO, but there are also plugins for WordPress to help you as well. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, we recommend you spend some time understanding the basics. This way, even if you hire someone, you’ll be better able to tell if the person is really competent in SEO or is just a beginner.

There are some free materials for you to understand rudimentary SEO. Here are some very reputable sources to look at:

How Important is SEO for Creators?

How much should you focus on SEO for your website? It depends on the type of content you create.

If you’re a writer who publishes content directly on your website, then SEO is very important. If you don’t do it yourself, you definitely should hire someone to at least set up the technical SEO parts of your website. Then, you need to pay attention to content SEO for your work.

But if you’re a musician who publishes your music on YouTube, for example, then having great SEO for your website can probably wait a little bit. Your first priority should be building a following on content platforms like YouTube. Same with influencers.

Once you have a lot of followers, you won’t have to rely on search engines to bring people to your website. All you would have to do is to make an announcement on the platform, and people will know your web address.

It’s Important to Build Your Own Website, but Having Great Content is Key

No matter where you put up your work, the key to a creator’s success is having great content. A website is just something you use to hold your content. So, while we think you should spend some time and/or money to build your own website, remember not to get carried away with it.

Devote most of your time to coming up with great content. Then, no matter how, where, or when you build your own website, success will follow.

Interested in starting and running a small business? Here’s the beginning of our step-by-step guide: What to do right after getting that great business idea.

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