This article was originally posted on Placester’s Real Estate Marketing Academy
There’s no doubt that having a website is crucial to engaging customers online. Luckily, creating your own site is easier than you might think. With WordPress, for instance, you can launch a blog or website in minutes, customize the look and feel, and manage it all from a user-friendly admin panel — all without any Web development experience.
Homes for sale online image via Shutterstock.
So, how much does it cost to build a real estate website, and what steps should you take to get started? That’s a question we get asked all the time! While we offer an all-in-one solution for launching responsive real estate websites, some folks want to do it themselves. In this post, we’ll outline all the steps to get your real estate business on the Web and generating meaningful traffic with a WordPress website.
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar Click to tweet
Step 1: Buy a domain name
The domain name or URL is your address on the Web: for example, “www.myfancywebsite.com.” The goal here is to choose a domain name that is easy to spell, easy to remember, and has some relevance to your business.
You can begin by searching to see if your company name is available. Depending on the name, there’s a good chance the URL will already be taken. If that’s the case, you can try other domain name extensions beyond “.com” such as .co, .info or any of the multitude of “.somethings” that exist. Just remember that .com is the most common and thus the most memorable and desirable.
Once you decide on a domain name, it’s time to buy it with a service like Godaddy.com or NameCheap.com. This should cost roughly $10-$20. Be sure to check each site’s various plans, as you can choose to pay monthly or yearly for added discounts.
Step 2: Host your domain
Now that you’ve given your site an address, you’ll need a “house” to store all of its pages, information and files. Web hosting services allow you to rent hard disk space on their servers, enabling visitors to access your site and view your content. Different Web hosting services will offer different types of packages, which can be priced at up to $100 per year.
You can use Godaddy.com for Web hosting as well, or you can try other hosting services such as Hostgator.com or Fatcow.com. A good host will balance pricing, space, support, and uptime (i.e., the percentage of time that your site’s server will be up and running).
Step 3: Set up WordPress
Websites require lots of files, and you’ll need an efficient way of sending them to your host’s server. With a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program, you can upload files to your website quickly and easily. Many FTP applications, such as Filezilla, are free. Others, like ForkLift, will cost you.
Next, it’s time to download the WordPress client and unzip the file onto your hard drive. You’ll then need to create a database for WordPress on your Web server. For more help, you can check out WordPress’s very detailed instructions.
Step 4: Purchase a WordPress theme
WordPress offers lots of free themes. However, in order to make sure that your real estate blog looks and feels more like a professional site, rather than a personal blog, you’ll probably want to purchase a premium theme. These themes vary widely in price from $30-$200. Try browsing the WordPress theme library for something that suits you.
Once you’ve selected a theme, you may choose to hire a designer who can customize it to fit your brand. This is perhaps the most expensive step in the process, and can cost anywhere from $300-$2,000. However, if you have someone on staff who is tech-savvy, this may not be necessary.
Step 5: Purchase a WordPress premium IDX plug-in
Once you have your design squared away, it’s time to populate your site with real estate data. IDX (Internet Data Exchange) is the technology that allows you to transfer this data from your MLS to a real estate website. An IDX solution works in much the same way as Google does, crawling an MLS database, gathering listing data, and then putting that listing data in a searchable format. (In some instances, “IDX” is used to refer to a specific product or solution for achieving that data exchange.)
With an IDX-powered website, visitors can search an MLS on your turf, which means they won’t need to go to a national listings site to learn more about a property. There are lots of IDX options out there. If you search the WordPress Directory for real estate IDX, you’ll find IDX and lot of other plug-ins or website add-ons that can enhance your site. To learn more about IDX, read our post on the subject: IDX Explained: The Differences Between an iframe, FTP and RETS.
Seth Price is director of sales and real estate marketing at Placester, a Cambridge, Mass.-based technology company specializing in building online marketing tools for the real estate industry.