Messy business

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As an exercise, I decided to build the best site I could only using free tools that a novice might be able to use.

Being a devoted DIYer and fairly competent with WordPress (WP), of course I had to build Geospan.us myself. As an exercise, I decided to build the best site I could only using free tools that a novice might be able to use. Here is how I went about it:

Instructions

The place to begin is YouTube. After some searching, I found a detailed 2 ½ hour video by Tyler Moore that walks beginners through the whole process. There are many similar videos, but if you decide to use Tyler’s, be sure to visit the WPCrafter website to download a slightly modified template and some other information you’ll need.

Domain registration and WP hosting

These services will cost between $36 and about $100 per year. The the most common way to go about this is to use a hosting service—that's the high end. The alternative getting a free WP site from WordPress.com. However, this free site will display WP site advertising on and the web address will look like “snappythreads/wordpress.com.” I don't think it's professional to be tied to the WP site and you certainly don’t want their ads! The option is to purchase the “personal” plan for $36 per year from WP.com which includes a free domain name and no ads. Not a bad option compared to $100 a year!

Page Builders

Unless you want to spend a lot of time writing CSS, PHP and HTML code, a WP page builder is extremely useful and there are many of them. I used Beaver Builder Lite, which is a free plugin that Tyler Moore teaches you about in his video.

Free graphics

Making your site unique is important. You can find very basic logos at Logomakr.com, though they look more like icons. Royalty-free photos and graphics are available at Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash.

As much as possible, I stuck with the plan and tried not draw on my previous experience with web design and graphics. I wasn’t pleased with the result, but it was as good as some of the agent websites I saw in the real estate field. The limitations of the free tools were frustrating and it became clear that while I could throw together a website that would work, it wouldn’t be what I want.

If you want to get in touch with your inner nerd, give this process a try. It’s fun, but go into it with realistic expectations. I ended up resorting to the more advanced tools in my kit to create Geospan.us on my original design platform. That’s a story for a future article.