Congratulations on starting down the path to launching your own sustainable online presence! Take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back – the first step to any great adventure always begins with a commitment to getting started! And you did it, way to go! While you begin launching your great idea, there are a few things we need to get squared away first. These initial steps will help you prepare for the launch of a successful and sustainable online presence. So, don’t stress. You’ve got this!
1: Finding You Unique Brand Name
Over the years, you’ve probably thought a lot about what to name your project. The challenge you face now is making sure that name is available everywhere online. These days, the most common keyword names are already taken, so you’ll have to get a little creative and start thinking outside of the box.
Finding a unique username and hashtag for your brand is a necessary beginning to the successful launch of any great brand experience. Your goal here is to establish memorable brand recognition in order to make it as easy as possible for your audience to find you anywhere online. Your username and hashtag should meet a few key criteria:
A unique keyword phrase with little usage as a hashtag;
- Easy to say, easy to read, and easy to write;
- Consistent everywhere;
- Relates to your brand’s story, ideas, goals,
- products, services, and audience.
2: Securing Your Website Domain Name
Now that you’ve secured your username and hashtag, the next step is to register a domain name for your website.
The old school of thought here has always been “.com” for business, “.org” for non-profits, “.gov” for the government, and “.net” for the community, and “.edu” for education. In my opinion, this is an outdated model.
These days, you can grab domain names with all kinds of suffix endings. For example, using a registrar like NameCheap, you can get a domain names with all kinds of different suffixes – .io, .tv, .me, .club, .co, .biz, .ca, .tech, etc.
One of the most common issues I see is when your domain name, like mine, for instance (builda.blog), is that is often confused with the dot-com version. In fact, jasonholland.com is available for sale but I’m not willing to invest thousands of dollars to buy it from a broker. It’s certainly an option! But it’s just not worth the investment at this time.
3: Safe, Secure, and Fast WordPress Hosting
For my clients, I only build WordPress-powered because the platform is free, popular, and easy to use. If you’re not familiar, WordPress is a website content management system (CMS) platform initially created specifically for blogging. Over the years, it has evolved into a platform perfect for almost any website.
Performance and Security with Managed WordPress Hosting with WP Engine
I consistently recommend that clients get managed WordPress hosting through WP Engine. Most of us don’t need a bunch of back-end server access anyway. You just need a safe, secure, and blazing fast hosting environment you can rely on. Of course, pricing matters. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. So, if you want to save now and just pay $4 a month, just know you may sacrifice security and performance later. Furthermore, if your site were ever to get hacked, you could risk spending thousands of dollars on “un-hacking” later. Or, worst-case, losing your entire intellectual property. Yes, it really does happen!
Creating a managed hosting account with WP Engine is actually one the easiest setup processes I’ve ever seen. Their basic hosting account starts at only $29/month. Once your purchase is complete, you are given access to their dashboard with a single WordPress install already setup for you.
4: DNS Management with CloudFlare Account
The following task is likely one of the most technical steps you’ll have to deal with while setting up your new site. But, don’t worry! It’s actually easier than you might think. Just take it step by step and you’ll be fine.
For optimal security and performance, I always connect my clients through a free account with CloudFlare to manage the DNS (Domain Nameservers) between their registrar and the site’s host. Doing so adds an additional layer of security. Also, I recommend G Suite by Google Cloud (not discussed in this guide), because many professional hosts (like WP Engine) do not support email hosting.
- CloudFlare Scans Registrar Domain Nameserver Records
- Update the DNS Records on CloudFlare
- Update Nameserver DNS Information with Domain Registrar
Block Traffic to Production/Staging Environments
The final step is to go back to the WP Engine admin dashboard (my.wpengine.com) to add a username and password to protect your site until you are ready to launch the site. Click “Block traffic on production/staging” on the overview screen for your install. We want to prevent search engines from searching your new WordPress install, or people going to your site (either by accident or intentionally), until you are ready to launch.
5: Create a Pinterest “Mood Board”
You’ve now finished one of the most technical aspects of setting up your website. Now it’s time to have some fun and focus on your brand! Are you in the mood for a little pinning?
Traditionally, most designers (or creative agencies) will ask you to fill out a lengthy “creative questionnaire.” These questionnaires are invaluable for the successful design of a well-thought-out brand and communicate a lot of important information. But, while you’re getting started, creating a Pinterest “mood board” is a fun, and easy, way to start the process. It will help you explore your likes, dislikes, and the overall look and feel of the style you want to project.
In my experience, I’ve learned that my clients end up having a lot of fun with this. Create a “private” pinboard on the Pinterest account you created earlier. You may choose to share this board with a designer or an agency later.
Launching a new brand is a fun and exciting time. It’s also a lot of hard work. As a passionate entrepreneur, you’re literally bringing your dreams to life. While establishing your brand, your goal is to position yourself as the expert in your field. This will build the “know, like, and trust” factor you want to create with your audience.