Advice on how to start a website is the subject of millions of articles and blog posts, step-by-step guides, tutorials, videos, and even seminars (please don't go to or pay for a seminar!). And a lot of these emanate from very reputable sources such as web experts and high level professionals (some of whom I know and have worked with through the years). But, despite their undoubtedly good intentions, the vast majority miss the mark entirely.
Unfortunately, if there's one piece of advice on how to start a website that's almost always wrong, it's what the very first step should be.
Everything that you've heard or read is probably wrong
I've read articles from reputable web professionals that promise to enlighten you with the five, six or ten simple steps you should take to get your web venture going.
Then there's GoDaddy's advice. In their paradoxically titled article "How to start a website from A to Z: A 5-step guide," the web giant's suggested first step is "Plan your website," which evidently entails setting goals and buying a domain name.
The problem with all these guides and resources is that there's not a single mention of the most basic, primary and imperative consideration when starting a website: money.
Nothing else matters until you start being honest with how much you want to spend
Without a double, your very first step in starting a website has to be setting your budget. It has nothing to do with planning, target audiences and certainly not domain names.
Simply sit down with a pencil and paper, and write down the answer to these two questions:
- How much do you want to spend?
- How much can you spend?
Write down your answers and just like that, you're done with the very first step to starting your website.
Now you know what you can afford and, of course, what you can't. Armed with that information, you're ready to move down any one of the multiple avenues one can or needs to take at the onset of starting their first website.
But how do I know how much I should spend on a website?
The simple answer is: it's not how much you should spend, it's how much can you spend, or even how much do you want to invest in a website. This is where you start and it doesn't really matter how you arrive at your numbers. There's certainly no one right or wrong way about it. Like knowing how much you want to spend on a pair of shoes, dinner, that new car, or even your house. You invariably know how much you can and are willing to spend on those items before you start shopping or spending time looking.
So pick your number. It can be off the top of your head, or a percentage of your total funds available, or a number from a professionally detailed budget.
Before you start thinking about anything else, take a moment and be honest with yourself. Write down how much you want to spend on your website, and how much that you can spend on your website.
Only after putting these two numbers on paper can you start down the road in any other direction during your journey to build your first website.