Home Staging Course Unit 9
Home Staging Websites
Right now we’re going to talk about something fun and crucial to your business, which is your home staging website.
If you’ve missed the beginning of the course or just want to review, go back and check out Unit 1 of our home staging course.
How to Build Your Home Staging Website
You have some options when it comes to your website, including hiring a firm to build your site, using WordPress and creating your own site, or using a website builder such as Weebly.
Hire a Website Designer
Recommended Website Designers: Mark Brinker & Associates, Deluxe
Just like with the business cards, if you have the budget to hire a designer, that’s great! Please vet them carefully and make sure you look at websites that they’ve built recently. Also, make sure they are responsive to your needs and easy to get in touch with. You don’t need any kind of elaborate functionality so don’t let them oversell you.
I have a web designer I can recommend who will build you a beautiful site without spending more than you need to. If you’re interested in going this route, contact them right here at Mark Brinker & Associates in Sterling Heights, MI.
Another company to look at is Deluxe. You can get started with it online and they also have a website builder. (I have not used the website builder myself.)
If you’re going to put your own website together, you have some excellent options available. Back when I started out teaching, options were extremely limited and DIY websites were a bit on the rustic side.
Thankfully things have evolved and you can now choose from a range of very slick, professional-looking DIY options for your home staging website.
The first way to go is to get a domain name and use a platform like WordPress.
If you’re not familiar with the platform, you can take a look at the WordPress home page right here. Please note that there are two versions of WordPress.
One is WordPress.com, where you can set up a free site but you will NOT be able to use your own domain name.
The one you want is WordPress.org, which has the custom domain capability. WordPress is definitely a viable option, however it will require you to learn a few things.
You need to know how to buy a hosting plan, configure your domain name DNS settings, and install WordPress. Then you will need to learn how to use the WordPress platform, which I would equate to learning intermediate Microsoft Word skills.
It’s not difficult, and there are tutorials online for everything you could ever want to do with WordPress. As far as the domain and DNS setup, I’m including a WordPress tutorial at the end of this section.
Use a Website Builder
Recommended Website Builder: Weebly
Another option is to use a proprietary website builder such as Weebly.
From my experience, Weebly is the best way to go for a home staging website since you don’t need the ecommerce capabilities of other web builder platforms like Squarespace.
I believe Weebly is more user friendly, and you can get a plan very inexpensively (just $5 per month as of this writing).
Weebly sites can be quite gorgeous as you can see from the theme gallery right here.
Again, you don’t need a website to do anything very fancy, but you do want it to be responsive. Responsive means it will adapt to the viewer’s device, so it will look good on phones, tablets, and computers.
You also want a nice gallery section for your portfolio.
Other information that needs to be on your site is your contact information, business hours, services offered, and a bio or about page.
People like to know who they’re doing business with, so don’t hesitate to talk a bit about how you became a home stager, what your hobbies are, how long you’ve lived in your area, etc.
We’ll go over writing your website copy in a few minutes. Two things you need to know about are basic search engine optimization and copywriting.
Update: SiteGround Managed WordPress Hosting
One thing about the world of website building is that it’s constantly evolving.
I don’t want to confuse things here in terms of giving you too many options to choose from for getting your home staging website up and running. But, I do think this is a really good solution so I’m going to add it here, at the risk of, like I said, giving you too many things to consider. (I apologize for that but I’m trying to be thorough.)
I recently had a chance to help set up a friend’s home staging website using hosting from SiteGround with WordPress automatically built in as the content management system.
All we had to do was select the specific “managed WordPress hosting” option and make our payment. The domain name purchase was part of the transaction, which makes it easier. The domain name was about $15 for a year of registration. The hosting package is very inexpensive.
With the SiteGround managed WordPress hosting package, you don’t have to go through the WordPress setup tutorial that I have detailed below — WordPress is already setup for you.
As you get your site started, you’ll be presented with some ready-made theme options that look gorgeous and professional right out of the gate.
There are interior design-specific themes that work well, and this is what I did with my friend. I have to say that we were delighted with the ease of the process and the lovely results. You can customize the site and add your content/text with a drag-and-drop builder called Elementor. I had to watch a couple of short videos to get a feel for using Elementor but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it.
Here’s what it looks like to use Elementor so you can get an idea of whether it’s for you or not.
Here is the WordPress Setup Tutorial
An easy way to start a website is by setting up a WordPress site. This is the platform of choice for some of the internet’s most popular sites, and once you have your own WordPress site you will understand why it is so popular.
Just follow these steps to get your new WordPress site set up:
First, you will need a domain name and a web hosting package for your website. A domain name will cost you about ten dollars per year and the web hosting will cost less than ten dollars per month.
When choosing a domain name, think carefully about the image you want to convey. It is also advisable to get a dot-com name rather than any of the other extensions such as dot-net or dot-biz. We’ll get further into it in a sec.
Recommended Website Hosting Company: JaguarPC
Once you have purchased your domain name you can move on to shopping for a web hosting package.
You are looking for what’s known as a shared hosting plan. A shared hosting plan simply means that your website files are stored on a server that also stores the files for other websites.
The company I like to use is called JaguarPC — you can get a discount through this link.
After you purchase the hosting package, you will receive an email from your new hosting provider that will give you the necessary account details including your sign-in information and your nameserver settings.
Go back to your domain name account and look for a link that allows you to modify nameservers.
The site may use the wording “DNS settings.”
You will be able to enter two nameserver settings in the blank spaces provided; copy and paste them from the email you received from the hosting company.
Be sure to save your settings before you leave the page.
Finally, sign in to the cPanel portion of your website. Just type www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel into your address bar and you will arrive at a log-in screen.
Once you are in, you will see a screen full of different icons much like the ones on your computer’s desktop. This is the back end of the site where you will be able to set up email addresses, check traffic, and a lot more.
For now, scroll down the page until you find the Fantastico or Softalicious icon and click on it. You will see WordPress listed on the left side of the screen. Click on WordPress and then go ahead and do a new installation.
The WordPress installation process is self-explanatory. Pay attention to the prompts and make sure you remember your user name and password. Where it says “install in directory” you want to remove the default entry and leave it blank.
The installation only takes a minute or two. Once this is completed, your new site is ready to go.
You can simplify this process substantially by getting your domain name and your web hosting set up at the same time through JaguarPC with a discount on your hosting through this link.
Also, their customer support is above average and they’ll take care of you if you need help.
(I ask for help all the time even though I’m pretty familiar with this stuff.) 🙂
Domain names are important because that’s going to be how you get found.
Ideally, you want a domain name that short and easy to remember.
Think about how it will sound when you mention it in conversation.
You want something easy to say and easy to spell. Not that you’d use a corny name like this, but just to illustrate:
Your domain name is KatesKuteDesigns.com.
I mean, it’s cute… but when you want to tell someone how to look you up, you have to say “It’s KatesKuteDesigns.com, Kute with a K not a C.” It’s a nice idea on paper but a little awkward to deal with in practice.
Try to keep it short and sweet. I am still a purist when it comes to domain extensions, and even though endings like “dot io” or “dot design” are gaining ground, nothing beats a good old dot com.
It’s true that it can be tough to find the ideal dot com. Names are taken, and plenty of great names are being held, unused, by domain collectors. If that’s the case with the name you want, you can always look up the owner and make an offer.
You can also add your city name/nickname to the dot com to find one that’s available. Around here, people add Portland’s airport code PDX, so you get HomeStagingPDX.com.
I know that’s not done everywhere, but it works here. (I have no idea who owns that domain name.)
Personally, I’d rather use something like “ElegantStagingMiami.com” than “ElegantStaging.design” but you may see it differently. I think I’d avoid anything over about 20 letters; again, the shorter the better.
If you’re using a website builder like Weebly, be sure to have your name ready. Check it first on a site like Google Domains to make sure it’s available.
Please do not use GoDaddy; they are overpriced and they try to upsell you ridiculous and unnecessary add-ons.
I hope this wasn’t too much information for one unit. If you’re not familiar with websites already, it may take a second reading to get it all to make sense.
The key is to first choose what kind of site you want: professionally built for you or DIY.
If you want to build your own site, decide on using WordPress or Weebly.
If you want to use WordPress, decide on a managed WordPress hosting solution like SiteGround, or go with a self-install and use JaguarPC.
The pricing is very close and even though I like JaguarPC, since I just found out how easy SiteGround is to use, I would probably go with them.