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Wondering how to start a website? Look no further! In Chapter One of our How to Make Your Own Website series we cover naming your business, securing a domain name, legal aspects such as incorporating and financial structuring, and branding elements such as logo design. Once you’ve completed chapter one, you’ll be ready to set up hosting, choose your website platform, and work on your design/layout. But first, we’ll help you choose and secure a domain name for your business.
The name of your company will have a direct implication on the domain, or URL, that you choose for your new website. Unfortunately, the domain name space is a crowded marketplace and many popular names have already been registered. It’s for this reason that we recommend you ensure that a corresponding domain name is available for your business before incorporating your company under that name.
Note: If you already have a business name, then you may not have this luxury but hopefully you can find something that is memorable and makes sense for your company. There are likely some useful tips below if you do not already own your domain name.
First we’ll look at some basic tips for naming your business and how they will apply to your website, particularly in regard to SEO factors.
Next, you’ll want to take your short list of potential names and see if corresponding domain names are available for registration.
Next, you’ll want to use a reliable domain name registrar. This is one of the most important decisions for your online business as it is literally the point of control for your entire company. In other words, if someone gets control over your domain name, they have control over your website.
Now that you’ve secured your domain name, you are ready to begin working on your website. We recommend that you first address your logo and get your legal and financial documents in order, which we describe below. But, if you already have this covered and want to jump straight into choosing your website platform, setting up hosting, and the rest, you can jump to the next chapter.
Your logo is one of the most important branding elements of your business, so you should spend some time and money to get it right. When you work on your website layout, everything can be adjusted (including the colors) to match your brand color scheme. Read our article on logo creation to help you gain access to the resources necessary for designing a logo that is both professional and affordable.
First, you’ll want to ensure that you are both legally and financially secure before proceeding with your website. This section covers incorporating your company, setting up a business bank account, and engaging the services of the necessary attorneys and accountants. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than you might think!
Step 1 – Form a Legal Entity
One option is to simply form a DBA (Doing Business As) with your city and work as a sole proprietor. We recommend incorporating (as an S-Corp, or as a LLC if you are small and just starting out) if you can afford it. Online legal services such as LegalZoom make this a breeze, and you can save a lot of money over hiring an attorney (which will typically cost you $800-$1,200). But, if your company has complicated operations, you may want to sit down face-to-face with a local attorney to make sure you get it right. After all, this is the legal basis of your company.
Step 2 – Banking
Open up a dedicated bank account for your company.
Step 3 – Filing System
Use a separate filing system for your business to save and track invoices, receipts, expenses, etc.
Step 4 – Accounting
If you wish to do your bookkeeping yourself, you’ll want to use accounting software such as FreshBooks (ideal for businesses) or Quicken (typically for personal use or one user). However, you may wish to hire a bookkeeper if this is not your area of expertise.
Step 5 – Taxes
Find a good accountant to do your taxes (or if you’re just starting out you might consider using an online service such as TurboTax).
That’s it for chapter 1 in our web series! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and move onto the next chapter in the series to learn how and where to host your website and which website platform is best suited for your business.
- Naming and Branding Your Own Website (Current Chapter)
- Build Your Own Website: Hosting, Platform, and Design
- Website Optimization: Security, Backup, and Experience
- Website Marketing: How to Get Traffic to Your Website
- How to Monetize Your Website
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