HOW TO CREATE A TEACHER WEBSITE IN 3 STEPS

Are you wondering how to create your own virtual space – a teacher website or blog?

I’ve written this post to show you some of the details behind creating a teacher website, and to help you avoid some pitfalls and save your time and money down the road.

What do you need to create a website?

a) Tech skills / coding / special training

b) Money

Neither. You don’t need to be a tech wizard to build a website. You don’t need to invest much money either. In fact, you can do it completely free or for very little money.

Before you start reading or watching endless how-to-guides to setting up a killer website for the price of a cup of coffee, think

Why do you want to start a blog/build a website?

I started this blog about eight years ago. At that time, I was engaged to train a few groups of teachers and encourage them, among other things, to start teacher blogs as a form of CPD. ‘Practice what you preach’ they say, so I thought I should start my own blog first (see my top five reasons for NOT starting a blog here). I didn’t really think much would come of it, nor did I have a clear strategy what I wanted to do with it later on. It was just my space to share thoughts, ideas and materials. I started my blog for free on WordPress.com – click, ‘agree’, done.

ELT-CATION back in 2014.

The blog was quite successful however its limited functionality started hindering it down the road.  It took me quite a bit of time (and money) to make it look and function the way I needed. It would have been much easier and less costly if I had built a self-hosted website from the very beginning.

Lesson learnt: think about your objective – your needs and what you hope to achieve before you start building your website.

Now that the world is going digital, your own virtual space – your website – serves multiple tasks and is becoming more and more essential to teaching. It can be your:

CV & Portfolio – your personal website where you introduce yourself to the world, detailing your approach to teaching, and your skills (if you consider becoming an online tutor or providing other language-related services online);

Content hub – to keep your ideas, including resources that you’ve created and shared on other education platforms and links to useful learning resources available online, organized and easy to find. and to upload and share your materials (this may also help you showcase your skills as a materials writer/e-learning developer);

Virtual classroom – to provide in-class and after-class assistance and create your own network and interact with students (this way you won’t need to rely on any third-party platform).

Your website may also be your extra income generator. I don’t have much experience in monetizing a teaching blog but you can read more about it here – Monetizing your Teaching Blog by ELT Planning.

Can I create a website for free?

Yes. There are numerous free platforms like WordPress.com that offer a free plan. However, you should think about your objective before you go for it. If you intend to use your website as your blog for posting ideas and reflections or as an organiser of resources, a free plan is quite a good option. However, ‘free’ definitely comes with some downsides or limitations. You will have limited control over your website:

– your website may feature various ads posted by the platform which you can hide only if you upgrade it to one of the paid plans;

– you cannot customize the address of your website;

– you cannot utilize various add-ons and plugins to create a website with the design and functionality that you need;

– you cannot post any large videos or e-learning/html materials;

– you cannot post any ads or affiliate links;

– the platform may close down your website or restrict your access (due to various reasons).

This may not seem like a big deal at the beginning but can be a major problem later on. There is always an option to upgrade your free website to a paid plan, but it is more expensive compared to starting with a self-hosted website. Transferring your website to another platform once your website is established is also not always an easy process and may again incur some additional and unnecessary costs.

So, what do I start with?

STEP 1 – Choose your HOSTING PROVIDER

First you need to find a “home” for your website and all your website files and data – a hosting provider.

My top considerations for picking a host (and a hosting plan) were not much different from choosing a house:

  1. Affordable – I post my materials for free so I want to keep my costs at a minimum;
  2. Good location and safety (good reputation on the market) – My site’s performance depends on my host so if something goes wrong, my website will be affected;
  3. Helpful and fast maintenance support – 24/7.

Having considered ‘all the angles’, I chose Bluehost.

Bluehost is one of the hosting providers officially recommended by WordPress, affordable, offering a free domain for the first year, 1-click WordPress install (or a website builder), 24/7 customer support and a 30-day full refund guarantee.

I’ve been using Bluehost for MyEnglishDomain.com and my ELTCation blog for teachers for a year already. I am particularly happy with Bluehost customer support – extremely helpful! Every time I have an issue with the websites or have any question, they are always available via live chat 24/7.       

STEP 2 – Choose your domain NAME

Choosing a domain name is definitely not a lifetime commitment, but it may be challenging to change it later on once you have established your website.

A domain name is the address of your website that people will type in the browser to visit your website. A domain name consists of a website name and a domain name extension.

You can find a million and one tips on how to choose a good name for your website, and many name generators online. There are no rules set in stone but, from my experience, the simpler, the better.

There’s a wide range of domain name extensions available. “.com” domains typically cost about $10-12 per year. There are also less expensive options – e.g., “.site”, “.club” or “.space” or  “.online” (about $1-5 per year).

With Bluehost hosting plans, you’ll get a domain free for the first year, and then you’ll need to renew its registration.

STEP 3 – DESIGN your website

The last step is to design your website. If you are on Bluehost, you’ll be offered to install WordPress (in 1 click) or build your website using their block website builder – a tool with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. Both options require no coding or specific tech knowledge.

With WordPress, you’ll be offered thousands of WordPress themes (templates). The majority of themes have free and premium versions (more customization features) that look great out of the box with minimal customization. Your choice depends on your budget and preferences.

I’m using a free version of Blocksy for my websites – it has lots of customization options and easy to use. You can customize different aspects of the theme such as adding images, a custom logo, menu, colours and typography, and many other features.

As a quick solution, you can install a starter website – apre-designed template – with all pages ready. You’ll only need to change or add some content before you go live.

You will also need to create images for your website – for your posts, pages, handouts, etc. You can explore numerous stock photo platforms or make your own images using the Canva image library and editor. Canva is an incredibly useful tool for all things visual. Browse through thousands of high-quality images, make edits as necessary and get unique images that will match your website style and content. 

It is also a good idea to install a few useful adds-on or plugins to add some handy features, and protect, backup and keep your website running smoothly.

Now click ‘publish’.

Hello, world!

Now you can start populating your website with content. In my next posts I’ll describe a few highly useful free plugins to turn your materials into interactive tools that can be created and played on your website.

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