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Web

Building a Website for Free

Hangout with me long enough and I’ll help you launch your own WordPress blog or website. I’ll talk you into it somehow! I live and breathe this stuff.

This morning I helped my girlfriend Kara launch her blog at karajade2020.wordpress.com. Earlier this year I launched a co-authored blog with my good friend Charles at alwaysdeep.wordpress.com. And I helped my HOA launch theirs at inspirationhillsnet.wordpress.com. I’m on a spree because the list doesn’t end there!

In 2018, there’s no reason not to have your own blog or website. WordPress.com is free! So it doesn’t cost you anything. It’s a WYSIWYG, meaning you don’t have to learn how to code. The bar for entry has never been lower. You can always get fancier with your website, but keeping things free and simple works too!

Personally, I like having my own domain, configuring DNS Records, and managing my own @agarcia.tv email addresses. I enjoy it.

There was a time when it was more difficult. Today, it’s easier. It costs a lot less too. IT admin won’t tell you that because it’s their own job security that they’re worried about, but you could easily get away with launching a WordPress or Squarespace website for $96 or less!

Your student organization can launch a free site with WordPress. There’s no excuse not to be online! Every entity can now have their own website. There’s no cost associated with having one. Unless you want more features.

I remember hearing that a church I previously attended paid $40,000 for their website. It wasn’t mobile friendly, it was very hard to navigate, and it was rarely updated with new content. I now realize they could have just paid $299.04 for the Business Plan (the top tier) and still saved thousands! The site would have been mobile-friendly on day one and would have been easier to keep updated with fresh content.

Times are changing. Costs are diminishing. And while I could see this as a threat to all the hours I’ve spent learning how to do this stuff, I recognize that times change. And there will always be people who want it done for them. So if your business or organization wants a website, doesn’t want it to cost too much, but you don’t want to do it yourself, I’m always here to help!

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Web

How to Make a Website

Your website is an important component of your lead generation strategy. It will be the metaphorical flagship of your online fleet. All of your social media profiles and newsletters will link to your website which should be the centerpiece of your online presence.
Building a website is a lot easier than it was at the turn of the 21st century. You do not need to know how to code or be incredibly tech savvy to launch your own website. But, you might need some guidance on where to go to get what you need. This post will show you one method to achieve this goal.
Once you are familiar with web administration, you’ll eventually feel more comfortable trying different services or configuring your website differently to rank better in Google or load faster on mobile devices. It can get complicated fast, but don’t worry we’re keeping it simple in this article. Baby steps!

Choose a Domain Name

Depending on your personality, choosing a domain name can be easy or hard; it’s a lot like naming your first pet or child. Some thought needs to go into it, but not too much. Remember you can always buy another domain. Many are nominally priced.
Most people are familiar with .com domains. Ideally, you’ll want to go with that.
For example, I launched a website called llamaleads.com I could have chosen llamaleads.net or something more trendy like llamaleads.marketing. But, I chose llamaleads.com because it was memorable and more importantly available.
If the domain that you want is not available you may attempt to buy it from its current owner using a domain name negotiation platform like Domain Agents.
To purchase available domains, I recommend Hover. Try a few names, keep them short, easy to spell, and consider getting a .com if possible. After you have purchased your domain, return here to continue your journey.
Choosing a Domain Name

Choose a Web Host

Congratulations on purchasing your first domain! Now it’s time to put that domain to work for you. I recommended a domain registrar that makes this next process a little easier than most.
You may choose any domain registrar that you wish, there are many out there, but I thought that you would appreciate the one I selected because it offers a lot of one-click choices. You can achieve similar results with other registrars, but I would have to delve into what DNS Records are and I promised to keep this simple, right?
Assuming that you have already purchased your domain from Hover and are already logged in, the following steps will help you connect your domain to a web host (the easy way).

Using Hover Connect to Pair Domain to a Web Service

In your Hover Control Panel click on edit > use hover connect.
Hover Control Panel Connect Domain
You’ll then be greeted by another panel. At the time of writing, there are 23 services to choose from. I recommend taking a look at them all to determine what suits your needs best, but since you’re new to this, I’ll make a recommendation—Squarespace. It’s toward the bottom of the list.
Hover Connect
Once you’ve made your determination, be sure to read the instructions carefully when they appear. By this stage, you’ve already purchased your domain, so if any of these services say it is unavailable, it is because you already own it.
Connect to Squarespace Prompt

Build Your Website

By this point, you should have purchased a domain and connected it with a website development platform. Explore the menus of the web builder you chose and start experimenting. Web development is something you learn by doing. It gets easier with time and you will learn that there are many ways to achieve a similar result.
You may choose at a later date to move to a different web builder because the current one doesn’t fit your needs or hire a professional to develop your website for you. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. Keep working at it and you’ll soon discover that it was easy all along! You can do this!

Squarespace Now You See Me Foundation
This is the Squarespace configuration panel for nowyoucme.org (Now You See Me Foundation), a non-profit that supports disabled athletes rebuild their lives after a tragic accident. If you love a good cause, I encourage you to check them out!

 

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Web

Making a Website Just Got Easier

On the morning of March 29, 2008, I purchased paleolithicfilms.com and launched my first website with Apple’s iWeb. I followed the instructions to connect my MobileMe hosted website, with Yahoo, my registrar; entering the appropriate information into the A Record field.

With no guidance, at age 16, I had a website. I remember frantically pacing around the kitchen waiting for the DNS records to refresh while trying to convey this monumental achievement to my parents. I was ecstatic! Months of guessing, Googling and waiting for the dots to connect lead to what I believed, at the time, to be a breakthrough.

I’ve come a long way since then. So has the Internet. I can now complete the same process in under 2 minutes. It’s so easy for me now that until I wrote this post, I forgot what it was like to not know where to start.

There was no one who could help me, or rather I didn’t know who to ask, or even what to search for. All I knew was I wanted a website. I wanted to be like the big shots, you know Google, Yahoo, and Apple. I wanted my very own .com.

Maybe there are others like me? Maybe you want one too, but don’t know where to start? If so, you don’t have to spend months in search of where to begin, like I did. I’ll point you to shortcuts that will make this process seem really easy.

It took Christopher Columbus seven years to convince royals to grant the five-week journey to the new world—today it takes a few seconds to book a six-hour flight on Expedia. The distance hasn’t changed, but how we get to our destination has.

While it was challenging to learn how to build my first website unguided, today I can hand this skill over to you on a platter. I love helping people. I will admit it’s hard to see what took me years to learn, taught in just a few minutes—but that’s progress. It’s about leaving the world a better place than we found it. And if it wasn’t for all those who came before me, who developed the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, we wouldn’t have the wonderful experience we call the Internet today.

I encourage you that when you’re tempted to withhold information because you feel that a person hasn’t earned or worked for it, remember that most of our knowledge is unearned. Many of the mathematical concepts we use today were developed by those literally jeopardizing their health and even losing their lives trying to discover them.

That being said, click here to discover the easiest way to build your website. If you have any questions or want to accomplish something specific, click here to get in touch with me. I accept payment via PayPal which will enable me to perform these services full time.

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Web

Are the New TLDs Worth Getting?

There’s no dispute .com is king. For many people .com is the internet. But tech savvy people know that there’s a lot more Top-Level Domains (TLDs) out there.

Besides .com there’s .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .biz, .us and so on. There are even country TLDs like .ru for Russia and .it for Italy. There are over 200 countries in the world, so you can imagine that list would be fairly long.

Then ICANN opened up topic and industry specific TLDs like .blog, .church, .school, .tech and so on. Which brings us to the question of this post: Are these new TLDs worth getting?

Yes and no. This is an opinion. Google has stated that all TLDs will be treated fairly. So in theory, there’s no problem in getting one. People do not look at the domains that closely in a Google search anyway.

The Cons of the New TLDs

But, when sharing a link such as aaronjosephgarcia.blog you may run into a short term problem with auto-hyperlinking. Your messaging app may not recognize aaronjosephgarcia.blog as a URL and therefore it won’t be clickable like aaronjosephgarcia.com would be. And that can be a real bummer, if you’re trying to share a link.

Also, most people won’t remember .blog and will most likely substitute for .com. And that won’t be good either. About the only thing the new TLDs are good for is looking clean on a business card.

The Pros of the New TLDs

All that being said, eventually all messaging apps will recognize .blog and .com equally. And at which point things might change. Google might start to recognize these new TLDs based on the category they’re in. And if you’re one of the early adopters to select a short TLD, it might be worthwhile in the future. Example last.fm.

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Web

How to Set up an SSL

One way to get a free SSL is to migrate DNS control of your domains to CloudFlare. By default, CloudFlare offers a free “Universal SSL”. Under the “crypto” menu select “Full” for the SSL box.

cloudflare_crypto_ssl_full

The process takes 24 hours before your certificate works consistently. After 24 hours have passed you can force your website to only be accessed through https. This option is found under page rules. You’ll want to create two rules for your non-ssl URL: http://yourdomain.com and http://www.yourdomain.com and turn on “Always use https”.

agarciatv green lock

If you don’t wait to turn on forced https your website will work intermittently for 24 hours in 30-minute intervals. But don’t worry, it will start working tomorrow!

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Web

Now Using SSL and DNSSEC

Today, I enabled Secure Socket Layer (SSL, also known as, HTTPS) and Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) on this website; my first time working with these technologies. This is a major milestone for me. Self-taught since 2008, my journey has led me to this day.

For those who know what these technologies are and already use them, try not to laugh. This was a real journey for me. For everyone else, I’ll do my best to explain.

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), both of which are frequently referred to as ‘SSL’, are cryptographic protocols designed to provide communications security over a computer network.

Wikipedia

Basically, I added a green lock to my website (agarciatv.com). By doing so, I have joined the ranks of Facebook, your bank and every payment network that you’ve ever interacted with (assuming they were all legit). Granted there are different levels to these certificates; you’ll notice that Twitter has a really fancy green box next to their lock that says, “Twitter, LLC [US]” while Facebook doesn’t. And I certainly don’t. But, the green lock is good enough for me and obviously good enough for Facebook.

agarciatv green lock
Twitter green lock
facebook green lock

In addition to getting my very own green lock, I enabled DNSSEC. I had been curious about it ever since I had seen it in my registrar’s control panel. It’s my personality to want to fill every box and flip every switch. Some have told me that DNSSEC was unnecessary, but it sounds like a security measure I didn’t want to pass up. Wikipedia explains DNSSEC as:

The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a suite of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for securing certain kinds of information provided by the Domain Name System (DNS) as used on Internet Protocol (IP) networks. It is a set of extensions to DNS which provide to DNS clients (resolvers) origin authentication of DNS data, authenticated denial of existence, and data integrity, but not availability or confidentiality.

Wikipedia

I thought Google explained DNSSEC more clearly:

Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) protect your domain from attacks such as DNS cache poison attacks and DNS spoofing. Your DNS provider can provide you with the values you need to activate DNSSEC.

Google Domains

To further simplify, now you will not have to worry about visiting a fake version of my website or hackers snooping on you. At least that’s the idea. I’ve stepped up my game and I hope to continue, as I learn more about security. If you have a website and would like to add an SSL too, ask specific questions in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to answer them!

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Web

Mobile First Design

Let’s face it, our readers prefer purchasing a new iPhone every other year than buying a computer. Computers are for nerds. There I said it.

In 2015, designing a website for desktops and laptops when our readers will only view it on their iPhone is embarrassing to say the least. So, when are we going to start designing with the predominate mobile audience in mind?

It’s the dominating statistic: 61% of my website viewers are on mobile. The majority of these views come from iPhone’s Safari browser. This is a trend that I’m seeing everywhere including with older demographics; even 65+ (I work closely with the oldest operating HOA in San Antonio and eight public golf courses).

Using a computer just as much as your iPhone makes you elite. Unfortunately, not everyone is elite. That’s why we cannot design for ourselves anymore (not that we ever should have). Some leave their laptops off most of the time. I guess laptops remind people of work and school.

So moving forward, we need to ask our friends to check out our websites as we are developing them. If they grow impatient with how slowly it loads or how many finger flicks it takes to scroll down the pages – redesign it. The desktop versions of our websites are the best around, scoring a 77 easily in Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but if the mobile site makes our audience put down their phone in boredom, that’s a clear sign of failure.