Homebrewing is my hobby, but making websites is what I do professionally. Sort of. I basically sell stuff on the websites I make, but making websites is part of the deal. If you read my home page, then you'll know I started my homebrew website for fun, but I also want to make some money from it.
The thing about owning and running a website is that it's a lot easier than you think. There are a few concepts that may go over your head in the beginning, but if you can follow instructions, and ask questions when you need help, you should be up an running within a couple hours, regardless of experience.
And for the homebrewer or homebrew & craft beer enthusiast, starting a homebrew website can be fun, educational, and help you keep track of all those awesome beers you've made or tried. You'll be able to upload pictures, share unique beers, blog about your favorite breweries, and you might even make some money off of the site.
Imagine that – getting paid to be a beer expert!
So I'm going to put some of the larger pieces of the puzzle together in this post. Some of the finer details I'll let you put together yourself. You can also ask me questions in the comment box below, or ask the services that you sign up for to get your homebrew site running. They are usually very accommodating, even with total noobs.
Start Your Homebrew Website in 4 Steps
Step 1: Choose a Domain Name
This is going to be the URL or web address of your site. Mine is thehomebrewsite.com. You can choose to have a brand name that you make up, like brewloser.com, or you can choose a descriptive name like I've chosen, maybe brewingbeerathome.com. I highly recommend a .com because they rank better in search engines, but .net or .org are also popular.
It'll cost you $10 per year to register the domain for 1 year, and you can get one from Namecheap.com or Godaddy.com.
Alternatively, you can create a free site using WordPress.com, Blogger.com, or Siterubix.com (below). My preferred free website maker is Siterubix. You've probably never heard of it, but I prefer it because they allow you to monetize the site without restrictions, WordPress.com does not allow any monetization, and Blogspot is going to restrict your design, as well as block some advertisements you may want to use.
Check Siterubix to see if your domain of choice is available.
Step 2: Choose a Hosting Service
This is probably going to be confusing for newbies, but let's power through it. Hosting is where they store all your information. Stuff like pictures, video, text, and the framework for your site are all stored at your hosting service. Even if you don't understand that, just know that you need to have this for your site to work.
I prefer to have my sites hosted somewhere where I have access to some of the more advanced features of my website. But if you are happy not messing with that stuff, having a free website as mentioned above could be good enough for what you need. It'll cut out step 3, and save you a couple bucks a month.
Step 3: Connect the Domain + Hosting
You need to connect your domain address and your hosting service, so that when people go to your website URL, they know where to find all that data on your host. There are two steps you need to do to get this done.
First, you'll need to set your nameservers. If you are paying for hosting, they will give you the names of two servers where your files are stored. They will look like ns1.myhostingservice.com and ns2.myhostingservice.com or something similar. Go to your domain registrar, find where the nameserver addresses are located, and change BOTH to the names your host gave you.
No doubt I just confused you. Here's a video.
Step 4: Build Your Site
I use WordPress for all my sites. WordPress is two things – it's WordPress.com, which has the free blogs that you may have used or at least know about. WordPress.org is a CMS, or content management system. It's the framework we'll be using to build our site. There are many others, but I know and use WordPress, and it's one of the most widely used site builders in the world. And it's free.
Refer to the video above to see how the site it built. Once you have your username and password, logging in is as simple as, well, logging in.
Your site is officially built, and although it probably doesn't look too pretty, that's what TheHomebrewSite.com looked like at one time. Seriously. No joke.
Building your new homebrew website so that it looks how you want it, or at least so it doesn't send people running will take some tinkering and tweaking on your part. Add images, add pages, post, and links to other websites about craft beer and homebrewing. Then share it with your friends on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+.
If you would like to get help on more site customization, searching in Google or YouTube for WordPress tutorials is a great place to start. Instructions are free, and you'll see some examples of what you can do. If you would like a comprehensive tutorial that takes you step by step in the setup and customization process, I suggest you join this community. Some stuff is free and some is not, but it's where I learned how to build my websites and make money from them, so I highly recommend it. There are many ways to make money from a website, which I'll get into in a later post.
If you need any help, either with setting up your site, or with how to move forward and actually get some eyeballs on it, leave a comment below. I'd love the chance to get another homebrewer set up with his or her own site.