How to Create Your Digital Home

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Your Website is Your Digital Home

I am one of the 63% of millennials who do not own a home.

My husband and I rent, by choice, and that likely won’t change any time soon. We have to be able to move quickly in the event his job takes us to a new location (I’m crossing my fingers that Europe is on the list someday!)

Sinking money into a home when we have yet to live in the same city more than 4 years just doesn’t make sense for us.

Our current space is lovely, but we’ll never be able to do all the things we would be free to do if we owned our home. The limitations aren’t severe, but they’re enough to affect how we live in significant ways.

You may think establishing your online business presence is as simple as broadcasting your new venture to your friends and family on social media, but that’s not true.

You may be able to get started that way, but if you’re interested in building something sustainable, you absolutely need your own space online.

If you want the freedom to grow the way your business needs to grow, you must build a dedicated space to foster relationships with your audience.

“You may think establishing your online business presence is as simple as broadcasting your new venture to your friends and family on social media, but that’s not true.

Three Parts of a Digital Home

Your online platform consists of three parts which are like the three parts of a physical home: address, land, and building.

Address

You must choose an address for your digital home so that your audience knows how to find you.

Land

You have to purchase a space online to construct the “building” for your home.

Building

You need to develop a building that will store the contents of your home.

Let’s explore these three components further.

Domain Name: The Address Used to Find Your Digital Home

The first thing you must secure in order to build your digital home is a domain name. Your domain name is the address you create for others to find your website.

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a domain name:

1) Use the .com suffix – Although you can purchase any available domain you’d like, it’s not a wise idea to select a Top Level Domain (TLD or suffix as we’re calling it) that varies from the norm.

The .com is short for commercial and though there are millions of non-business websites that use the .com suffix that aren’t business, and many more that are businesses that don’t use the .com suffix, you should choose something that makes it easier for your audience to find you.

You’re not going to doom your online business if you go with .net, .co, or any of the other TLD options, but be mindful of the impact your choice can have on your branding and online presence.

2) Choose your name wisely – Years ago, I decided I would offer services as a WordPress Developer. I brainstormed and out of the pool of potential names, I decided to do a spin on my real name and the word web since my niche was web development. The final result? Taingled Web. It sounded clever, but it also left people with a lot of questions and odd associations. The main association is with the aphorism, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” *insert face palm here*

A few of my wonderful business mentors and pals pointed this out to me, but I explained why I’d chosen the name (my initials and last name are literally T. A. Ingle or taingle) and they got it, but they wisely pointed out the truth that others wouldn’t get it so easily.

Still, I went ahead with using the name. I still have the website now and use it for my freelance writing services. But I have to admit, it’s not a name that immediately makes people want to work with me. Human psychology is an important factor to consider in your branding and marketing decisions. So even though no one outside of my warm market has come out and said “Taingled Web” is a turn-off, I know enough about how the mind works (psych major here!) to know that I should’ve thought that one through a bit more. I was too busy being cute to be smart ?

But you, my friend, will do better than I did. Take the time to get feedback from others before you spring for the domain name. Sure, domain names are affordable, but the expense of rebranding down the road (which I will be doing later this year) can be great.

3) Do not use a trademarked name! – I love La Croix. Every flavor is delicious. No carbs, no sodium, no calories, no guilt? Yes, please!

I bet I could blog about La Croix if I wanted to, and that would be perfectly fine.

What wouldn’t be fine is using the La Croix brand name in my domain. That is a ticket to court (or worse).

Nevertheless, I could likely go purchase the name NumberOneLaCroixFan.com if I wanted to.

Are you wondering how that’s possible? Well, the companies that sell domains aren’t responsible for ensuring that the domain name you choose isn’t infringing on the copyright of another company. It’s up to you to perform due diligence.

If you are uncertain whether a name you like is Trademarked, you can search the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and find the answers you need.

4) Keep it short – Ideally your domain name will have just three words. Your audience shouldn’t have to type an essay just to get to your site. Choose a name that is brief and memorable so that getting to you is a breeze.

5) Don’t overspend! – My favorite place to purchase domains is Namecheap. They have a great selection, awesome sales, and the support is wonderful. When I get an idea for a business or a blog (and I have several in mind), I go and reserve my domain name for a few dollars and use it when I’m ready.

When you’re ready to secure your domain name, check out Namecheap!

Hosting: The Land Your Digital Home is Built Upon

The next step in setting up your digital home is choosing the hosting. When you purchase web hosting, you are paying a hosting company to store your website on its computer servers. It’s important to choose a company that has the power to provide you with enough space for your website to grow, top-notch security, and excellent tech support.

I’ve used a number of hosting companies and by far my favorite is Siteground.

I’ve outlined exactly why Siteground is an amazing company to use for your hosting needs and how to get your website up and running in this step by step guide.

In short, Siteground is the only company I’ve used that checks off all the boxes for me – room to grow, tight security, and incredible support – so it’s the only company I recommend. If you look around at who the top bloggers and webpreneurs are, you’ll see they agree with this assessment.

Don’t just take our word for it. Try Siteground for yourself.

Content Management Software + Theme: The Building Where Your Digital Home Lives

The final step in setting up your digital home is choosing Content Management Software (CMS) and a Theme. Your CMS is the tool that lets you build your website.

The most popular CMS in the world is WordPress. It’s a powerful and flexible software used by some of the largest brands in the world. It’s also used by serious bloggers and entrepreneurs.

The best thing about WordPress is it’s free!

There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com which is hosted by WordPress and WordPress.org which is self-hosted.

WordPress.com is perfect for hobbyists, but for creating your website, you need to use WordPress.org. Nearly all hosting companies have the self-hosted WordPress software available to install in just one-click. When you sign up for hosting, your provider will show you where and how to activate WordPress so you can get your site up and running!

Once your site is ready, you can dress it up with a free or custom theme. I use Divi for all my websites. I love the easy to use templates, the visual builder, and the intuitive back end.

If tech is not a strong suit for you, Divi will make building your digital home a whole lot easier (and more enjoyable!)

I’ll be releasing a tutorial on how to use Divi following the conclusion of this series. Can’t wait? Check out this one instead.

Putting Your Home Together:

At this point, your head may be spinning a little bit trying to understand how to fit these pieces together.

Take a deep breath!

It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed if you have little experience with websites and technology, but it’s not impossible to understand. Believe me, if I can get it, you can get it!

If you would like a step by step guide on how to set up your digital home in under 30 minutes, I’ve written one just for you. It’s full of screenshots and my secret tip to guarantee your setup will be a success!

Social Media and Search Engines: Vehicles That Bring Your Audience to Your Digital Home

Your audience will never come to your home if they have no idea where you live. Two of the best ways to bring people to your website are by establishing a presence on relevant social media sites and optimizing your content for search engines (SEO – search engine optimization).

Social Media

A common concern for new entrepreneurs is how to choose the best social media platform to build a presence. This question is difficult to answer because social media encompasses a wide variety of platforms including several you may have never heard of before.

Most of the time people are thinking of the major social media players – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube – when they are asking this question.

There are plenty of industry articles around that provide in depth studies of each of these platforms and I recommend that you read them. However, the simplest way to decide which platforms to begin with is to go where your audience spends the most time.

That’s right: it all comes back to market research!

Think about the data you collected during your initial market research. Where were you able to find the most information?

Wherever you found the majority of the data you collected on your audience is likely an excellent place to set up a social profile.

If all else fails, check out what the reports have to say about the demographics on each platform. Choose a platform that has demographics that match your Ideal Client Avatar and dive in.

One thing to remember when you are first starting out is to stick with only 1-2 social media platforms.

There are so many moving parts to running a business and it’s a lot of work for a solopreneur. Managing social media well is a lot of work on top of everything else you’ve got to do. It’s better to pick a couple of platforms and knock it out of the park than to do a poor job trying to do everything everyone else is doing.

Search Engines

Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Pinterest are integral to your getting traffic to your website. So how do you make sure your site stands out from the crowd? You accomplish this through structuring your content so that the likelihood of your audience discovering your site through their organic searches is high.

SEO is a broad discipline within digital marketing, but all you need is to master a few basics in order to make it work for you.

You may have noticed that I classified Pinterest as a search engine rather than a social media platform. Though there are some social aspects to Pinterest, it is a “Visual Discovery” tool.

Pinterest is where people come to shop and the conversion numbers are staggeringly good. A reported 73% of Pinterest users have made a purchase because they saw a product on Pinterest while 93% use Pinterest to plan their purchases. For a closer look at what Pinterest can do for your business, check out these articles.

Pinterest is my favorite search engine because I know what it can do for business. No other search engine gives users the power to directly influence how well their content performs.

When you are mapping out which vehicles you want to bring your audience to your digital home, I highly suggest getting set up on Pinterest.

The Final Word

Building your own digital home is necessary to be free from the constraints of other platforms that only allow you to “rent” space with no guarantee of a return.

Your website is a business asset that can generate streams of revenue that will blow your mind.

Get started building the digital home for your business now with my step by step guide.

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