“How I Built My Website in a Weekend.”
You’ve probably seen titles or tag lines like this before…
And I’ll bet anything you’ve rolled your eyes upon seeing them. Maybe even scoffed a time or two.
Because you (like me) know that while some things (tasks or projects) can be completed in a ridiculously short amount of time, things like websites, products, and even services require a bit more dreaming, planning, and preparing before they can be built and launched into the world.
The problem is planning and preparation aren’t very exciting or sexy.
So the people who make these crazy cool and catchy claims of being able to do something in a ridiculously short amount of time FORGET TO MENTION all of the dreaming, planning, and preparing that went into the creation of the something…
But not me.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links.)
HOW TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE IN A WEEKEND
Because I know how VITALLY IMPORTANT planning and preparation are to the creation process!! (In fact, planning and preparation happen to be my middle names—along with color-coding, systemizing, and organization, but that’s beside the point.)
I really DID build my website in a weekend. But only because I spent MONTHS dreaming, planning, and preparing BEFOREHAND.
And because I believe a job well done is first well begun, I’m sharing the EXACT planning and preparation process that allowed me to sit down and build out MY ENTIRE WEBSITE in just ONE WEEKEND. Including all of the tools that made it possible and the Trello board that helped keep me focused and sane, plus helped me keep track of #allthethings!!
Let’s get started, yo!!In order to build your website in a weekend, you MUST first DREAM, PLAN, and PREPARE. Click To Tweet
I’m sure you noticed that I skipped right over the part about dreaming.
That’s because I’m assuming you’ve already been doing that for quite some time. That’s why you’re here, right?! You’re ready to take the next step toward launching your blog or business into the world via the world wide web…
But slow your roll, girlfriend!! ✋🏻
First, you’ve got some planning to do…
STEP 1: THINK ABOUT AND BUY YOUR DOMAIN
You might already know exactly what you want your blog or business to be called. Or, you might not have a clue. It could take you anywhere from a matter of minutes to several days (even weeks) to come up with a name you love.
Once you do, make sure you head over to someplace like GoDaddy or Namecheap to purchase it and make it yours. (If the domain is unavailable, brainstorm variations of the original name until you find one you love that’s still available!! Ask family, friends, and business besties for help.)
Fun Fact: I bought the domain for The Productivity Zone a full 3 months before I even started work on the website—it was actually the last thing I checked off my to-do list for 2016—but had been thinking about it for at least 6 months before that.
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STEP 2: THINK ABOUT WHAT PLATFORM YOU WANT TO USE
Even though there are a lot of blogging platforms out there, the top 3 contenders continue to be WordPress, Squarespace, and Showit. (Note: Showit utilizes WordPress for their blogging platform.) You really can’t go wrong with any of these. They’re all excellent platforms for building and maintaining a creative and professional online space.
Pro Tip: If you decide to go with WordPress (which I highly recommend), make sure you go with the SELF-HOSTED (.org) version!! It’s actually super easy to install with most web hosts.
STEP 3: THINK ABOUT AND BUY HOSTING
There are also a lot of choices when it comes to web hosting. I hosted my wedding blog with Bluehost for 7 years, and I’ll be honest, my experience was not great. As soon as I started moving forward with plans for The Productivity Zone, I signed up for web hosting with SiteGround.
The difference between the two companies in the quality of client experience and support, plus overall hosting (including site speed and uptime) was (and still is) like night and day!! SiteGround’s sales and service reps bend over backwards to help you. The one time I made an error that brought my site down, SiteGround had me back up and running in minutes as though nothing had even happened. I honestly can’t say enough good things about them!!
FYI: I’m currently on the GrowBig Plan. I know you were wondering. 😉
STEP 4: THINK ABOUT AND BUY THEME
I know custom websites are all the rage, but they’re also very expensive and can be hard to maintain on your own. Purchasing a customizable theme that has a library of tutorials to help you make your website everything you dreamed it would be is both cost and time effective.
When thinking about The Productivity Zone website, I knew that I wanted to be able to build it, maintain it, and change/tweak it completely on my own. I’d been stalking Restored 316 for a few months by that point and had fallen in love with one of her themes. 5 minutes after purchasing my hosting plan with SiteGround, I purchased the Cultivate Theme!!
But aside from Restored 316’s themes being gorgeous and completely customizable, each theme purchase gets you access to an entire library of website and theme-specific tutorials that make building and customizing your website easy, fun, and completely stress-free!!
FYI: This is one of the main reasons I was able to build my website in a weekend!! And while I did have 7 years of experience with WordPress and some knowledge of HTML coding going in, I’m confident that I would have been able to build and customize my site just as easily thanks to Restored 316’s theme and tutorials.
STEP 5: THINK ABOUT AND FIGURE OUT BRANDING / WORK WITH GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Branding is a big part of what makes your online presence look polished and professional. Unless you are a graphic designer yourself, I suggest leaving this to the pros. There are many wonderful brand and graphic designers out there these days (many more than when I first got started in the online business world), which means the hardest part is choosing one.
I knew from the get-go that I wanted to work with my good friend and graphic designer Heather Long of Simply Designed Media. Thanks to my mom (who is very creative and pretty handy with a pencil), I was able to go to Heather with a rough sketch of what I wanted the logo to look like and a pretty good idea of what I wanted for the color palette. Heather took my jumble of thoughts, ideas, sketches, and wants and created The Productivity Zone brand as you know it today in a little over a month. I’m still so in love with every part of it!!
Fun Fact: I cannot take credit for the check mark ‘v’ in The Productivity Zone logo. That was entirely my mom’s idea and I had 😍 the moment I laid eyes on it!!
STEP 6: THINK ABOUT AND FIGURE OUT SITE DESIGN + LAYOUT
Now that you’ve got your domain, your hosting, your theme, and your branding, it’s time to visualize how you want your site to look!!
I suggest you first make a list of all the pages you want your site to have. Use your theme’s live demo (they should all have one) to help you with this. Then, get out some paper and colored pens or markers and start sketching!!
Pro Tip: Include future pages for services or products you plan to launch later as it will better help you visualize the overall look. You can always change, tweak, or add more later, but I found this extremely helpful (plus, it’s great for your positive mindset)!!
STEP 7: CREATE A SITE MOCK-UP
Once I had a rough idea of what I wanted the homepage to look like and where I wanted everything to go, I turned to Photoshop to bring it to life a bit more.
I opened a new document, and using the Cultivate Theme’s live demo as a guide, began constructing The Productivity Zone’s homepage. Everything from where I wanted the logo to go to the order of pages in the primary navigation to the font and background colors to the styled stock photos I wanted to use and even some of the copy all went into this site mock-up—which you can see below!!
FYI: I only used Photoshop to construct The Productivity Zone’s homepage. I used Pages documents to construct the about, contact, and other pages. (More on that later in this post.)
STEP 8: DECIDE ON A LAUNCH DATE
Now that you’ve got a mock-up of your site design and layout, it’s time to put a launch date on the calendar!! You’ve still got lots of prepping to do though, so make sure you set your launch date far enough out, but not so far out that procrastination can get the better of you.
STEP 9: CREATE A TRELLO BOARD
Creating a Trello board to help me stay focused and sane and keep track of #allthethings was honestly the pièce de résistance of this entire project!! And I highly recommend you create one, too!! (If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. I gotchu!! 😉)
I loved the board I created for the TPZ Website Launch so much that I created a template so that I could use it for planning and managing other projects. And I’m giving you access to that template today completely FREE!! Plus, I’m sharing how to set it up and use it for your website launch (or relaunch) below.
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STEP 9A: SETTING UP AND USING YOUR TRELLO BOARD
Once you’ve copied the template to your own boards using the instructions provided in the welcome email and on the board itself, I recommend doing the following:
- First things first, RENAME the board. (I called mine “TPZ Website Launch”.)
- Under the RESOURCES list, create individual cards for anything you want to keep track of including tutorials, inspiration, links to styled stock photos you’re thinking of purchasing, etc. Use the description area of each card to jot down ideas, keep track of links, and how much things cost. You can also add attachments to cards if you prefer. (For example, I created a card for my brand board and attached a copy of it so that I could see it every time I opened the Trello board.)
- Under the LINKS AND LOGINS LIST, create individual cards for important links and logins. (I had a card each for SiteGround, Restored 316, WordPress, ConvertKit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.) This is just a way to keep everything together for easy access, but don’t let this be the only place you keep track of this!!
- Under the PROJECT OVERVIEW LIST, create a card for each page of your website including the homepage, about page, blog page, contact page, services page, etc. These are the main pieces of your project!! On each of those cards, create a checklist of everything you need to do to get that page ready for building. (I later added cards for Email, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, ConvertKit, and Blog Posts because they were all integral parts of the TPZ website launch and needed to be created, customized, or set up.)
- Next, create lists for all of the weeks leading up to your done date or launch date. I gave you six WEEKS TO GO LISTS to get you started. If you need more, add more. If you need less, archive however many you need to.
- Under each WEEKS TO GO LIST, I created cards for the days of the week. On each of those, I recommend using your PROJECT OVERVIEW LIST to begin scheduling what you want to work on and when. Create a checklist on each day of the week card and write in your action steps. (Make sure you check things off here and on the cards in the PROJECT OVERVIEW LIST as you get them done!!)
- On each day of the week card, you’ll notice that I created a social media checklist. This is where you can keep track of what you want to share on social media each day about your launch. (Sharing behind-the-scenes of what you’re working on is a great way to create buzz for your launch!!)
- I also included a list for LAUNCH WEEK. This week should be for final edits and clean up, lots of social media sharing, and even connecting with launch cheerleaders if you have them!! Schedule everything you have to do accordingly (just like you did with your WEEKS TO GO LISTS).
- There is also a list for LAUNCH DAY. You could simply use the card I’ve created for you to put in your launch date OR you could create cards for all the things you want to do on launch day i.e. send a launch day email to your email list, announce or share specific things about the launch of your website at specific times, etc.
- The POST-LAUNCH LIST is for you to keep track of anything you have to do post-launch.
After weeks of planning, you’re chomping at the bit to just build and launch your website already!! Believe me, I know how you’re feeling. But as the ultimate goal is to BUILD your website in a weekend… all of that planning must now be followed by a whole bunch of preparing.
I’m glad you asked!! 😉
Because in order to BUILD your website in a weekend, you must pull together things like copy, brand photos, headshots, styled stock photos, testimonials, social media links, and blog posts so that you can easily copy, paste, and upload everything in just ONE weekend with ease!!
Are you seeing the method to my madness (I mean, genius) yet?
It’s based on this Abraham Lincoln quote: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
You see it now, don’t you?
Then let’s get to it!! 👏🏻
STEP 10: WRITE ALL OF YOUR COPY / WORK WITH A COPYWRITER
Whether you’re pulling together your website for the first time or the fourth time, you’ll have to write (or update) a lot of copy. And whether you choose to do it yourself or work with a copywriter, it’s going to take some time. As copy is a rather big and important part of your website, I don’t recommend slapping something together or rushing through it.
Pro Tip: I recommend writing copy page-by-page or section-by-section if it’s your homepage. If writing copy is difficult for you, I suggest working on it over the course of three days—outline the first day, write the second, and edit on the third—to make it a bit more manageable. Don’t forget to have someone proof it before you copy and paste it to your website!!
STEP 11: COLLECT ALL OF YOUR BRAND AND STYLED STOCK PHOTOS
Along with writing all of my copy ahead of time (before my website-building weekend), I also collected and sized all of the brand and styled stock photos I wanted to use on my website.
This was a HUGE time saver and stress reliever because by the time website-building weekend came around, I didn’t have to open Photoshop to make a graphic or size a photo once.
I created folders for each page of my website and stored everything from the copy to the page layout to the photos and graphics so I could easily grab them and upload them. Easy peasy, done and easy!!
Pro Tip: If you’re having new headshots taken or a brand photo shoot done, make sure you schedule it well in advance so that you get the galleries back in plenty of time!!
STEP 12: SET UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES / PLATFORMS
As you will be linking to the social media platforms you currently use or plan to use on your website, it’s important that you take the time to set up, customize, and even start posting on those pages before your website gets launched.
Use the same brand elements and brand or styled stock photos on all social media platforms to make sure you have a consistent (branded) look across the internet.
Pro Tip: Even if you don’t plan to use a particular social media platform right away (or ever), it’s still a good idea to secure your username just in case.
STEP 13: PUT TOGETHER 3-5 EVERGREEN BLOG POSTS
It’s important that you have something for people to DO when they visit your site immediately after it launches aka have blog posts for them to read (or videos for them to view). I got this advice a long time ago and it was so good that I’m passing it along to you!!
I’ve seen many people launch brand new websites with nothing much to really look at or do and it didn’t really leave a good impression. You want to show people that you have lots of value to share right from the get-go so that they’ll stick around to read, share, and come back again soon!!
STEP 14: SET ASIDE A WEEKEND TO PUT IT ALTOGETHER
After weeks of planning and preparation, it’s finally time to set aside a weekend to build your website!! Put it on your digital calendar in capital letters surrounded by emojis—I did!! Write it in your paper planner in big bold letters and surround it with stickers—I did that, too!! Do whatever you want to make sure nothing else gets scheduled that weekend, you’ve got website building to do!!
Pro Tip: While this is not included in the Trello template (I wanted to keep it general for all types of projects), I would recommend adding a WEBSITE-BUILDING WEEKEND LIST so you can create a detailed plan of attack!!Planning and preparation are key if you want to build your website in a weekend (and by that, I mean: copy, paste, and upload with ease)!! Click To Tweet
BUILD YOUR WEBSITE IN A WEEKEND
Website-building weekend is finally here!! 🎉
And I want you to be (you guessed it) prepared!!
- Make friends and family aware that you are taking actions on your dreams that weekend.
- Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time.
- Have a large supply of your favorite beverage(s) on hand.
- Schedule real breaks so you can step away multiple times throughout each day. (I took a walk and a power nap each day and never ate a meal or snack in front of my computer.)
- Last, but not least, make sure you have some way to celebrate when you’ve checked off every last to-do!! May I suggest putting a bottle of champagne in the fridge?? (That’s what I did!! 🥂)
But, before you pop that cork, it’s time to…
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STEP 15: COPY, PASTE, AND UPLOAD
Because you read this post and were intentional with your planning and preparation (well done, you!!), building your website in a weekend will be a complete and total breeze!! Because you will be able to copy, paste, and upload with ease!!
I recommend working from top to bottom and left to right, leaving no stone unturned, and no link un-linked. This will ensure you don’t miss anything or forget anything and will definitely shorten that post-launch “better go back and fix that” checklist.
FYI: I used my site and page mock-ups as guides and followed all of Restored 316’s tutorials as I went so that everything was pretty, branded, and 100% all set!!
STEP 16: CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK, TRIPLE CHECK
I know it’s been a long, hard road, but please please please check, double check, and even triple check that your site looks and works the way it’s supposed to. There is nothing worse than finding a big fat error on launch day or worse having someone else point one out to you.
Do things happen? Absolutely!! Can you fix it after your site goes live? Of course!! But I’ve been there and know how stressful it can be to fix things while people are browsing your new website. If it’s at all possible to circumvent that stressful experience, I highly recommend it!!
As you can see, my friends, it is COMPLETELY POSSIBLE to build your website in a weekend!! I did it just last year and let me tell you something… all that planning and preparation was WORTH IT!! My site came together so fast I thought I must be dreaming. But it was because I took the time to plan and prepare AHEAD OF TIME.
I’d follow these exact steps again in a heartbeat, but I’m actually still so happy with my website!! Instead, I’ll leave the step-following to you!! Now get out there and build your dream website in a weekend!! Please come back and tell me when you’ve done it so I can check out your new site and cheer you on!! 🤩
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. I only share about the products and services I personally use and love most and think you will, too.