By: Christopher Small
I’ve recently undergone some renovations of my websites. You can see my DUI blog here, my DUI website here, and I’m in the process of finishing up my traffic lawyer website, which I’ll post here for your viewing pleasure as soon as it’s done.
Because this site is all about starting a successful law firm and then marketing a successful law firm I thought I’d talk about what I’ve learned so far when it comes to building a great law firm website.
Now, notice I italicized “building.” That’s because this post is going to have a very narrow focus – the act of creating a website and putting it out there.
Step 1: Secure a Domain Name
I use www.GoDaddy.com for this step. It’s really easy.
Now, when you’re getting a domain name there are some things you want to think about, although Google has made the decision much easier lately.
First, there is no doubt you want to get the domain name of your firm. For example, I have cmslawfirm.com. You may also want to get something more SEO friendly, though with Google’s recent updates, it’s not supposed to matter as much. I also have the domain name seattleduiguy.com and seattleticketkings.com, in addition to some others.
It’s up to you on how you want to structure your site.
Step 2: Secure Web Hosting
Under my plan, you are not using a free website service. You are not paying someone to set up everything for you (although you won’t have to do much work). Because of that, you’ve got to get web hosting.
I use hostgator.com to host my websites. They have a plan that’s pretty cheap (under $10 a month) and I’ve never had any problems with my site going down.
Sidenote: the recommendations I’m making here are just that. There are other companies out there that do this stuff. These are the ones I use and trust, that’s why I’m recommending them.
Step 3: Point the Domain Names to Your Host
I’ve already talked about this in an old blog post, so I’m just going to send you there (click here and go to part 3).
just wanted to break this up a bit to talk about how much money we’ve spent so far. If you bought your domain name for a couple of years you spent $20. Web hosting is $8.
So far we’ve spent $28.
Step 4: Install WordPress on Your Site
If you go check out the last post I linked to (here it is again just in case) I’ve run down step by step how to do that.
Again, this is free – just takes a little elbow grease by you.
Step 5: Installing a Premium WordPress Theme on Your Site
This step is optional, but it will make things a lot easier down the road.
Within wordpress there are literally thousands of themes. Some are free, some you have to pay for. If you want to see what’s available for free, in your sites dashboard, just click appearance/themes/install themes and search for whatever you think you might like.
For our purposes, I recommend getting a theme you have to pay for. When you pay for a theme, it’s typically more robust (i.e. won’t crap out on you), it’s typically better optimized for the search engines, and you can be confident the person you hire to create your site knows how to work on it.
The Theme I Use for All of My Websites (except this one – not yet at least)
The theme I install on all of my “real” websites is the Thesis Theme. The Thesis Theme for WordPress is great for all of those reasons I just mentioned. Developers love it, it’s robust, and it’s well built.
The down side to a premium theme is that you have to buy it. You can get a basic package for $87. And it’s well worth it. Click here if you want to see some pricing options.
My quick addition puts the total spent so far at $105. That’s perfect!
Step 6: Website Design
This is where the fun starts. All you have to do is dream up what your site should look like and then someone will make it for you!
Elance.com is a website that provides a forum for people that can build websites (as well as many other things) to get in touch with people that need websites built. All you have to do is go to the website, submit a job, and then pick out a development team that looks good to you.
I’ve had my DUI blog rebuilt (see it here, and my DUI website rebuilt (see it here) and they were both built for $190!
When I picked my development team I looked for people that had good reviews, that were in my price range, and that were responsive. One other suggestion I have is to email them first. You get an opportunity to see how responsive they are and to check out their English skills (many of these developers are from overseas).
Oh, yeah, that’s another great thing about elance – they act as an escrow service for your money. You don’t pay until the work is complete!
Voila, You’re New Website is Built!
For under $300 you have just built yourself one hell of a website! Congratulations!
Questions, Comments, I Want to Hear from You!
I’d love to hear what you think of this. Have you had as good an experience as I have? Do you have other suggestions? I’d love to hear from you!