Setting up Your Website: 3 Easy Steps to Getting Started

We know you already have an email address – because if you didn't have one, you wouldn't be able to receive The Golden Thread. But, being "connected" offers freelancers a lot more than just being able to send and receive e-mail.

For starters, it opens the door to an amazing amount of easily-accessible research. But, equally important, as Bob Bly has taught us, having your own website can be a very powerful marketing tool for your freelance copywriting business.

According to Bob, there is no better way to show a potential client what you can do for him than by getting him to "click" on a site that you've set up to showcase your services and provide samples of your best work.

But how do you do it? Where do you start?

It's a simple, three-step process.

  1. Choose your "domain" name. (AWAI’s domain name, for example, is awaionline.com)

    Your domain name is unique. And once it is registered, it can't be used by anyone else.

    You don't need a domain name in order to have a website, but it's highly recommended. For one thing, when you have a domain name, you can use it for your website (e.g., www.mycopywritingservice.com) as well as your business email address (e.g., joan@mycopywritingservice.com), and so present a more professional appearance to potential clients. Another benefit to having your own domain name is that if you change ISPs (see below) for any reason, your business email address will not change. In other words, you will not lose any email during the transition.

    In general, you don't want to use your own name for your domain name. (Bob Bly's is a notable exception, because he is so well known as a copywriter.)

    The ideal domain name should be easy to remember and descriptive of what you do. To give yourself an advantage with search engines – and make it easier for potential clients who don't know your name to find you – it's a good idea to include key words such as "marketing" or "copywriting" as part of your domain name.

    Here are two good websites to check out to help you come up with a domain name:

    • At www.whois.net, you'll find a list of domain names that were once registered but are now available.
    • At www.nameboy.com, type in one or two key words and, using such things as similes and rhymes, it will create matches that have something to do with your key words.
  2. Register your domain name.

    Domain registrars are companies that keep track of the millions of domain names that are out there and the Web hosts that are taking care of them. Registering your domain name is inexpensive (between $5 and $35 per year) and takes no more than 10 minutes. It saves your name for a specified period of time, usually between one and 10 years before you have to renew it.

    The best way to find a registrar is to do a Google or Yahoo search using the term "domain registration" and choose one that best meets your needs

    The first thing you do on the registrar's website is a search to make sure that the domain name you have chosen is available. Then, you'll be able to choose from different domain "extensions" (.com, .org, or .biz). Choose ".com." That's what your clients expect.

    This entire process is very simple and straightforward.

  3. Sign up for a Web-hosting service.

    You already have an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for email and accessing the Internet – maybe with AOL or CompuServe. Now, you're going to sign up with a Web-hosting provider.

    The Web "host" makes it possible for you to have a domain name that will allow people to (a) access your website and (b) send you business email at an address that's connected to your website.

    The Web-hosting service keeps all your website files. So, when a potential client goes to your website address, he's actually going to the Web host's computers (called "servers").

    Your Web host can forward your business email to your existing Internet account so that when you sign on to your ISP, ALL your email (business and personal) is right there. If you prefer to keep your business and personal email separate, you can set up your email software to send and receive business email directly through your Web host. (Your Web host will have instructions on how to do this.)

    Many widely used ISPs – such as AOL and CompuService – also provide basic hosting services for websites. So do many domain registrars. That makes the process of laying the groundwork for your website even easier.

Once this basic work is done, you'll be ready to build your website and learn how to direct clients and potential clients to it – two very important subjects that we'll be covering soon.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: April 19, 2004

2 Responses to “Setting up Your Website: 3 Easy Steps to Getting Started”

  1. in your website seminar, we were advised to just say "no" to any of the add-ons offered when signing up for a hosting service. What about the "Site-Lock" feature?

    lrmykJuly 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

  2. @lrmyk - We actually told you to "just say no" to everything else offered when registering your domain, if you were doing it through someone other than your hosting company. Site lock isn't necessary, but if you think it adds any value to you then by all means add it. One additional thing to note - this article was published in 2004.

    Rebecca MatterJuly 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm


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