How to Make Your Own Website for Free, Part 3

Okay, so you have your website at and have setup a database for WordPress to use (if you don’t go back and read parts 1 and 2 of this series, then come back here).

Now it’s time to setup WordPress itself. WordPress is what allows you to write web pages and blog posts with little technical knowledge. WordPress is generally acknowledged to be the best of the blogging software, not least because it can be customized nearly beyond recognition. What we’ll get started with is a plain vanilla installation.

Log in to your account and get to the main control panel.

Click on the “Application Installer” icon along the left (circled above). The next page that displays shows a list of the software that can be installed into your website.

Some of these applications are for blogs, some are for online stores, and some are for discussion forums.  There’s quite a range of applications you can use on (not the variety that you get with paid hosts, but they’ve hit all the big applications). 

Click the radio button next to “wordpress” (circled above). You also must provide a target directory…this is the location where your blog will live. Name it whatever you want, but remember that what you enter will show up in the web address of your blog. For example, if I enter an installation directory of blog, then the web address for the blog will be

Once you’ve entered your installation directory, click the “Install Now!” button at the bottom. The next page looks alarmingly like an error message:

Don’t panic! This is just WordPress telling you that it needs some more information before your blog is ready to use.  Click on the link that reads, “create a wp-config.php file through a web interface”.

We’re now into the WordPress setup. As the first page says, it’s going to ask you for your database name, database username, database password, database host, and database prefix. We’ll walk through these one by one. For now, click the “let’s go!” link at the bottom of the page.

On the next page is a form where we can enter the required information.

Database Name: You do remember this from Part 2 of this series, right? This will be something like username_databasename, where username is your user name and databasename is whatever you called your database. If you don’t remember this information, you can go back to the control panel and back into the “Create/delete MySQL database” section to see what it is.

Username: This is the database username, not your username.  This comes from Part 2, and will be of the form username_databaseusername.  If you don’t remember what it is, you can go back to the control panel and back into the “Create/delete MySQL database” section to see what user you created.

Password: This is the exact password you entered when you created the database user in part 2.  If you don’t remember this, you’ll have to go back to the control panel and back into the “Create/delete MySQL database” section, and create a new user with a known password.

Database Host: Leave this as is. It should contain localhost.

Table Prefix: You can leave this as is, too. The idea with this field is that you can run multiple blogs using the same database by using a different table prefix for each blog. So if you start a second blog on the same database, you’d want to change the table prefix for the second installation.  If none of that made sense, don’t worry, because you can safely ignore it.

After you’ve filled in all the fields, click “Submit Now”.  Unless you entered something incorrect, you should see this page:

If you did enter something incorrect, this page should give you an error message that hints at what went wrong.  Typically its because you entered a bad database name, username, or password.  Make sure both the database name and username have your username on the front (e.g. jshaffstall2_blog, jshaffstall2_user). 

Once everything you see the above page, click the “run the install!” link.

We’re not quite done yet, now we need to tell WordPress some basic information about our blog. On the next page that comes up, click the “First Step” link to get to the next page:

The basic information required is the title of the blog and your email. The title you enter here will be displayed across the top of the page like a banner.  The title can be whatever you want (e.g. “My Blog”, “Jay’s Splendiferous Ravings”, etc). 

Enter your title and email and press “Second Step”.  Do not click anything on this next page until you read below.

This page shows two things you need to write down. One is the user name you can use to log into WordPress (should be admin) and the password you will use. The password is randomly generated, so if you do not remember it, you’ll have to go through the entire WordPress install all over again.  Your best bet is to highlight the password and copy and paste it into a Word document for safekeeping for the next few minutes.

With your username and password safely stored somewhere, click on the “wp-login.php” link.

Enter the username and password from the previous page and click the “Login” button.

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of an Internet blog.

One thing you want to do before you leave your blog is to change your password to something easier to remember. On the WordPress Dashboard (the page that comes up when you log in), click on the “Users” link across the top (circled below):

You’ll get to a page where you can edit your personal information. You will eventually want to fill something out in most of these fields, but for now, scroll down to the “Update Your Password” section.

Type your new password into the two boxes provided, then click the “Update Your Profile” button at the bottom of the page.  Your randomly generated password has now been changed.  Don’t forget what you changed it to!

Since customizing WordPress is the reason to use it, I’ll cover some basic customization in a later post. Enjoy, and write some posts! When you’re ready for visitors, post your link in the comments below.

How To Make Your Own Website For Free, Part 2

Now that we have some space on a website, we need to install software that will allow us to easily write new pages and posts. The software I use is called WordPress, so that’s what I’ll cover installing. WordPress is free, so it fits with our theme of getting a website up and running at no cost.

WordPress stores pages in something called a database. If you’re not familiar with the term, just think of it like a big filing cabinet where all your website’s pages and posts live. Before we can install WordPress, we need to create a database for it to use.

So go to, and type your user name and password into the appropriate spots (circled below) and click Go.

You’ll get to this page, which is your control panel at  From here you can modify aspects of your site.

Click on the icon labeled “Create/delete MySQL database”. You’ll go to a page where you can perform the six most common tasks dealing with databases.  We’ll be doing three of the six.

To start with, we want option one, “Create Database”. You’ll need to name your database. Choose any name you want. Note that your username is in front of the box where you’ll type the database name. That means that whatever name you type in isn’t actually the database name.  The database name will be your username plus the name you type in. So if I type in blogdb and my username is jshaffstall2, then my actual database name is jshaffstall2_blogdb. Type in a database name and click the “Create Database” button. You should see a message saying the requested operation completed successfully, and then it’ll take you back to the database options page.

The next step is to create a user who will use the database we just created. Go to option two, and type a username and a password for the database user. You can pick any username you want, but I’d recommend something different from your username. Again, your username is prepended to what you type in to create the actual user name. So type in a user name, and then the same password in both password boxes, and click the “Create User” button.

Remember the password! We will need it later, and there’s no way to recover it if your forget it.  If you do forget it, just delete that user and create a new one.

Now it’s time for option three. This is where we say that the user we just created can do whatever they want with the database we created earlier. The user we just created should already be showing in the Username menu, and the database we created earlier should be showing in the Database.Table menu. Leave all the boxes checked, and just click the “Assign Privileges” button.

And that’s it for the database.

Click on the Control Panel link across the top of the page to go back to the control panel. In part 3, we’ll see how to install WordPress. If you’re not comfortable with creating databases and users, paying for web hosting will get you access to a program called Fantastico, which installs WordPress and creates databases and users automatically. As I mentioned in the last post, I recommend Site5 and Midphase for paid hosting.

Site5 $5 Hosting Deal

How To Make Your Own Website For Free, Part 1

Update: seems to be not accepting new registrations at the moment…use this tutorial as a guide to the concepts, but register instead with Free Web Host Now! instead of The screenshots will not match, but you should be able to figure out what’s different until I can write new tutorials. The one extra step you must do once you’re into your control panel is create a subdomain for your blog.

While not every way of making money online requires you to have your own website, most of them either do, or your chances are improved by having your own website. So let’s talk about how to set one up. My focus here will be on setting up a website for free but giving you the tools you need to customize it. I’ll avoid the free blog hosts, because most of those don’t give you the customization options you’ll eventually want.

The first step is to sign up at a web host. Most web hosts charge for this service, and if you’re serious about running a website that can handle large amounts of traffic, you’d be better off paying for web hosting. But since our focus is on free, go to

Once you’re there, click Register (circled in the image above).  That’ll get you to where you can put in your information:

You’ll need a valid email address. If you don’t want to use your main email address for this type of thing, I suggest you get a free Google Mail address at This allows you to separate your normal email from your website emails.  Under “How did you find us?”, choose Other and put in “Online Opportunity” (no, I don’t get anything for this). 

Also, keep in mind that your webpage address will be, so pick a username that you don’t mind being in your web address. Something that matches the purpose of your website would be good, and if you’ve done keyword research ahead of time use a good keyword as your username. 

After you register with, you’ll get a confirmation email. Click on the link in that email, and you’ll get to this screen:

Of course, your email and user name will be different.  You can safely ignore phone if you’re not comfortable giving it out.  Extra domain means that you could have a web address different from, but registering a domain costs money.  Since the focus of this post is free, we’ll ignore using a domain name.

Once you submit this information, you now have a website.  Go to, replacing username with your user name, and you’ll see the placeholder site that puts in for you. Notice that they’ve put some Adsense ads on the placeholder site. You don’t get the money for those ads, so we’ll want to put up a real web page.

In Part 2, we’ll look at how to setup a blog very much like this one.

If you already know that you want to have a webhost that will support larger amounts of traffic than and are willing to pay for it, I can recommend both Site5 and Midphase. I’ve had hosting accounts with each, and have been impressed with their level of customer service and have had few technical problems with the web sites. This blog, for example, is hosted at Site5. You can sign up for either using the links below. I think Site5 provides the best value, at more space and bandwidth than you’d really need for only $5 a month, but you won’t go wrong with Midphase, either.

Site5 $5 Hosting Deal

Get Paid to Surf the Web

About ten years ago there were quite a few companies that offered deals where you could get paid to surf the web.

Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s what I thought at the time, and ignored the offers.

Fast forward to today: I now understand that advertising space is at a premium on the Internet. Advertisers regularly pay to display advertisements to people willing to look at them. Generally this money goes to the owners of the web sites you visit. The paid to surf companies turn this around, and give part of the money back to you. After all, you’re providing the eyes the advertisers are paying for, so you should get some of the money back.

The latest incarnation of the paid to surf company is AGLOCO. They combine network marketing with paid to surf, and as such have gotten a lot of criticism from people who distrust network marketing (otherwise known as MLM).

The basic fallacy with most MLM programs is that the people at the bottom must spend money to support the people who recruited them. Eventually this breaks down. You can read more about this at my Squidoo page, How Does MLM Work?.

AGLOCO avoids this problem by making it free to join. You do not pay any money into the system, the advertisers do. In return, you offer space on your computer screen for them to display advertisements, and you get a piece of the money they pay to do so. The network marketing aspect of it is that if you recruit more people into AGLOCO, you get a slightly larger percentage of the profits.

As of this writing, AGLOCO is still in the pre-launch stage. This means that they are recruiting people, but do not have the software (the viewbar) ready to allow you to get paid to surf. This doesn’t mean you should wait to join, though. I see this as a no-brainer. You join now and recruit a few others to join, and when the viewbar is released you’ll start getting paid to do what you already do.

To join AGLOCO, click the banner below.

Agloco Banner by

Making Money With Squidoo

Squidoo is a website that allows anyone to easily write web pages.

Squidoo pages can be about anything: gardening, rock climbing, the ten best web sites, etc. Squidoo sells advertising on their pages (including yours, if you write a web page there) and collects money from advertisers. Squidoo then gives you a portion of the money, based on how popular your web pages are.

You can also recommend books or movies on your web page, and provide links to purchase those books and movies online (e.g. an affiliate link, if you remember from the last post). If someone purchases the product through your link at Squidoo, you get the commission from it.

Making money with Squidoo requires a large investment of effort. Unless you write a phenomenally popular web page, you must write a lot of web pages to make any amount of money. As an example, with about four web pages written, I made less than a dollar my first month.

The key to success with Squidoo is getting traffic to your web pages. Indeed, this is the key to any online success, so we’ll talk about traffic generation in a later post.

If you want to see examples of Squidoo pages, you can take a look at a couple of mine:

Roleplaying with Kids
Computer Game Making for Kids

To get started on your own pages, sign up at Squidoo.

Internet Business Models

I realized I started out the first post talking about monetizing a website, and haven’t really talked in more general terms about making money online. So I’d like to talk a little about the business models on the Internet.

A business model is basically a description of how a business operates, and in our case the most important part of a business model is how we make money.

The Internet has two basic ways to make money online: advertising and sales.

I talked a little about advertising in the last post. You provide human eyes to look at advertisements, and companies pay you money. They may pay you only when someone clicks on an advertisement (e.g. pay-per-click or PPC) or they may pay you when someone just sees the advertisement (e.g. pay-per-impression or CPM) or they may pay you only when someone clicks on an advertisement and then buys something (pay-per-sale).

Selling advertising space is the easiest way to get started making money online, but it does generally require a website.

Sales is the other main way to make money on the Internet. You have a product, and you create a website to allow customers to purchase your product. This also requires a website, but there are companies that will make it easy for you to create an online store. Yahoo, for example, will do this.

Since I haven’t tried creating an online store yet, I won’t recommend any specific programs. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of starting an online store, you can also promote affiliate programs. An affiliate program is where you become a salesperson for an online product, and promote it on your blog, in your email signature, on a web page, where ever. When someone clicks on your link to the product and buys it, you get a commission.

So advertising and sales are the two traditional ways to make money online. There are some other options that I’ll talk about in later posts.

How To Monetize Your Website

Word of the Day: Monetize

I first came across this word a few months ago, when I started my current foray into making money online. It’s a great word, catchy.

What it means is to make money off of something you already own, generally by selling advertisements. You could monetize your car, for example, by selling ad space on it. That ad space would have a specific value, based on how popular your car was, how many people see it during the course of a normal day, where you park it, etc.

On the Internet, websites are monetized all the time. You’d be hard pressed to find a website that isn’t monetized these days, even if it’s just through a few Google ads shown discretely somewhere on the page.

The key to monetizing a web site is that advertisers want people to see their ads, and the more people the better. So a website that gets good traffic coming through is valuable to advertisers, especially if the content of the website matches what the advertiser is selling (this is called targeted traffic).

What does this have to do with making money online?

Well, one way to make money online is to start a website and sell advertising space on it. Using Google’s Adsense, you can let Google decide what ads are good fits for your website’s content. Everyone seems to want to advertise with Google, so you would have a good selection of advertisers.

Certainly, making any significant amount of money this way requires a great deal of traffic coming through your website, so a personal home page probably won’t make you rich.

My experiences with monetizing web sites have not been successful, primarily because the websites I create never get much traffic. You’ll also note that this website does not have generic advertisements on it…each advertisement on this site was picked because it represents a program for making money on the Internet that I feel is worth your time (except for the examples of Adsense ads below).

Here’s an example of what an Adsense ad block would look like.

Edit: Adsense ads are not currently displaying. Could be a problem with upgrading to WordPress 2.2, but I’m still investigating.

To get started monetizing your website, you should be comfortable editing the HTML of your pages. You should also already have a website up and running. Then sign up for Adsense using the button below, and wait a few days for approval email. The approval email will contain a link to the Adsense control panel, which will provide you with the HTML you need to paste into your site.


Welcome to Online Opportunity!

This is the obligatory welcome message to get some content in the blog while I continue to work with WordPress plugins. The look of the site might change drastically over the next few weeks as I come up with the configuration that I like the best.

Future posts will be real content on the topic of making money online.