Whether you need a side hustle to bring in some extra cash or you’re making the switch to running your own business, you need a website.
Why? Up to 80 percent of consumers visit a business’s site before making a purchase, and this number is almost certain to grow. In fact, global ecommerce sales are projected to hit $4.5 trillion by 2021. Without a website, you’ll miss out on these customers and the sales they bring.
In previous years, starting a business website was a major cost. Today, however, you don’t need to spend a lot to create a site for your business. In fact, most expensive sites are a waste of your time and budget.
Fortunately, you can create an effective and beautiful website without spending a dime. Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to create your first website for free.
Why Wix Is Your Best Option for Creating a Free Website
You have a lot of options when it comes to building a free business website. Drag and drop features have made it easy for anyone to create a site without learning code or going to design school.
Among all these choices, Wix stands out as the best option for creating a free site for your business. Not only does it offer user-friendly drag and drop technology, but it gives you access to hundreds of free design templates to help make your site stand out.
You can also take advantage of other tools, including the option to add a photo gallery or an ecommerce store.
The bottom line, however, is that Wix does the heavy lifting for you. When you’re starting a side gig or a new business, your time is valuable. With Wix, you can get a website up and running in minutes.
Step 1: Create a Wix Account
Your first step is to create a Wix account. This is as easy as going to the Wix homepage and clicking “get started.”
This will take you to a sign up page, where you’ll need to enter your email address and create a password. You can also sign in with Google or Facebook.
Next, Wix gives you the option to answer some questions about what kind of site you’re creating. These questions are designed to help Wix understand what you’re looking for, so its behind-the-scenes design platform can generate a site that suits your needs.
You can skip the questions if you want to, but it’s a good idea to let Wix do as much of the hard work as possible.
For example, Wix will ask what you’re creating the website for:
It will also ask if you’ve created a site before, or if this is your first time building a website. Depending on your answers, Wix will tailor the next questions to your needs. Are you creating a site for a restaurant? Or maybe you want your blog to be the focus of your site. Is the primary purpose of your site to sell clothing? Or photography services? Or dog training classes? Wix will present you with various results depending on how you answer.
If you get results that don’t quite fit what you’re looking for, no worries. Just click “back” at the bottom of the screen to change your answers.
When you get through the questions, Wix will present you with two options: let the Wix ADI make a site for you, or build the site on your own by using the Wix Editor.
- Let Wix ADI build the site for you – With the Wix ADI, you rely on “artificial design intelligence” to put together a site based on how you answered the design questionnaire.
- Use the Wix Editor to build the site on your own – Wix also gives you the option of bypassing the ADI system and using the Wix Editor to build a site on your own using drag and drop features.
So which one should you choose? You can create a stunning website in minutes with either option. Really, it comes down to your experience level and time constraints.
Are you truly new to all things web design? Then the ADI system is probably the most hassle-free way to go. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll sacrifice some flexibility, since the ADI system will do all the work for you.
If you’re a bit more tech-savvy, the Wix Editor offers more creative flexibility. Remember that you don’t need to be a web design wizard to use the Editor. It’s still easy to navigate, even for a novice website designer.
For purposes of this guide, we’ll stick with option #2, which is using the Wix Editor to create your free business website.
Step 2: Choose a Template
Since we’re using the Wix Editor, the next step is to click “choose a template.” This is a fun part of the design process, as you get to search through hundreds of free ready-to-go templates to find one that’s perfect for your site.
“Template” is a bit of a misnomer, though, because Wix gives you some powerful tools to customize just about anything you see in a template. Love the template layout but dislike the background color? No problem. You can change it to anything you wish, including patterns, photos, or even video.
Have you heart set on a particular template but you want to add a blog? You can do this and a lot more when you get to the customization step.
For now, concentrate on the general layout and overall look. Think of this step like the frame of a house. Once you have a basic design you like, you can add your own wall colors, floor finishes, and decor. Far from cookie cutter or uninspired, your website will end up looking as unique as you want it to be.
You can narrow your template search based on what type of business you’re launching, or you can use the search bar to find templates specific to your needs. Take time to explore a few different design options that might work for your business.
Once you find a template you like, you can click “view” to see it in action as a live website, or “edit” to customize it to your needs.
Step 3: Edit Your Template
Once you select “edit” Wix will take you to a new page where you can make changes to your template of choice. This is your opportunity to make the template your own using the drag and drop design tools on the left side of the page.
This is also where the real fun begins. The main editing menu will always be on the left side of the Editor screen. This is where you can make big changes like adding a new page or a blog.
However, you can also click on individual elements to make changes. For example, if you click on the image of the ice cream cone (or whatever image appears on your template of choice), Wix will prompt you to change it.
In other words, you can customize as much or as little as you want. The user-friendly Wix Editor puts you in the driver’s seat — and makes your journey easy by giving you clear directions and guidance.
Some basic changes you’ll want to make include changing the business address and hours. To make changes like this, find the placeholder text in the template and click on it. This will make an orange text editor box appear. Making changes is as simple as clicking inside the editor box and typing the correct address.
You’ll also want to add things like your business’s social links. To do this, just find the social menu on the template and click it. This pulls up a menu where you can add your own social links and change the settings if you desire.
Take your time to play with the editing options. You can modify the font size, change words to bold or italics, or choose a different font altogether.
You can also change the images. If you’re not quite thrilled with a placeholder image, just click on it and swap it out for an image that works better for your site. This can be a photo you took, a free image from a royalty-free site, or a substitute image from Wix’s library.
Some images are free, while others have various price points. Paid images have a little dollar-sign logo in the corner, so you can easily tell which images are free and which ones are paid.
In addition to images, you can also change the background, add pages to the main menu, and change the look of the menu. These tools are located on the left side of the template page, and they make editing and customizing your template incredibly easy.
Step 4: Add Pages
Do you want your site to have a blog? What about a contact page or an “about us” page? The Wix Editor makes adding these pages a snap.
To add a new page, go to the main Editor menu on the left side of the screen and click “menus and pages.” This will bring up a new window. At the bottom of that window, click “+ add page.”
This will give you the ability to add a variety of custom pages to your website.
Step 5: Add Apps
Just as Wix has hundreds of pre-made templates to choose from, it also offers hundreds of free and paid apps. These are extra features you can add to your site to make the visitor experience easier and more rewarding.
For example, if you run a restaurant, you probably want to add a menu to your website, along with a way for site visitors to make reservations online.
With Wix apps, you can quickly and easily add both of these features. As with the other customization steps, just go to the editing menu on the left and click “add apps.”
This will pull up an apps menu you can search for special features that fit your business’s needs.
Each app includes features along with reviews from other Wix users. This gives you an opportunity to see what other people think of the app before you add it to your site.
Step 6: Add a Blog
Blogging is an important part of any business’s website. While your business may very well thrive without one, a blog is an easy and free way to advertise, share your expertise, and connect with your customers.
Unconvinced? Consider these business blogging stats:
- Websites that include a blog have 434% more indexed pages compared to sites that don’t have a blog.
- Businesses that blog get 97% more links to their sites compared to non-blogging peers.
- 77% of internet users say they read blogs.
- Businesses that blog get 2x the email traffic compared to those that don’t.
Fortunately, Wix makes it easy to add a blog to your new website. Just go to the main Editor menu on the left and click “start blogging.”
Wix offers some powerful options to make your blog an effective marketing tool. For example, you can link to your Instagram account to display the latest images from your feed. You can also add a blog forum where customers can chat about your products and services.
Blogging for your business is optional, but you risk missing out on new customers and business opportunities if you skip this step. If you’re not quite ready to add a blog to your site, don’t worry. Wix makes it easy to make changes down the road once your site is up and running.
Step 7: Set Up Your Online Store
Depending on what type of business you’re running, you might want to add ecommerce functionality to your website. This is where building your website with Wix pays off.
Wix lets you create an online store in seconds. To add a store to your site, go to the main menu on the left side of the Editor and click the “+” sign. This will give you a new menu with a long list of options. Scroll down until you see “store” and click it.
Next, click “add to site.” Wix will automatically generate a store and all its features, including product galleries, payment methods, and inventory management. Wix will also optimize your store for mobile users.
You can manage your store from the store dashboard, which gives you numerous customization options.
For example, from the “products” tab in the dashboard, you can add new products and relevant information, such as a price, SKU, product description, and how many you have on hand in your inventory.
Step 8: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users
Mobile is the way of the future, which means your website needs to be easy for mobile users to navigate. Keep in mind that 81 percent of Americans own a smartphone, compared to just 35 percent in 2011.
Wix has you covered here, too. You can check out how your site looks on a mobile device by going to the top of the Wix Editor and clicking on the mobile phone icon.
This will switch you to mobile view, so you can see how your website looks on a smartphone. The good news is that Wix templates are usually already optimized for mobile search.
However, it’s still a good idea to scroll through your entire site to make sure all the pages look good on mobile. If you spot any design issues or odd text placement, you can change it in the Editor. Best of all? Changing elements in mobile view won’t affect how your site appears on a desktop browser.
Step 9: Select a Domain Name
You’re almost ready to publish, but first you need to select a domain name. Because you’re setting up a free Wix site, your options are somewhat limited here.
For example, your free Wix site can’t be a regular domain name like www.businessname.com. Instead, you’re required to include the Wix name in there. This means your domain will use the follow format:
Fortunately, you can always upgrade your free Wix site to a paid version later on. When you’re ready to upgrade and switch to a custom domain, Wix offers some of the most competitive pricing anywhere.
Step 10: Publish Your Website
It’s time to go live with your new business website. This is where you should do one last preview to make sure your site is editing to your specifications and all the pages include the information potential customers need to make a purchase.
When you’re ready to launch your site into the world, simply click “publish.” If you need to make changes, you can always revisit your site in the Wix Editor.
To make any changes, just go to your dashboard, select “manage site” and then “edit site.” Once you’ve made the changes you need, click “publish” to make them live.
There you have it. Wix makes it easy and fun to create a website for your business. More importantly, it’s entirely free. With Wix, you can set up just about any kind of business site, including an online store that lets you start selling — and earning — in minutes.