I’m not a web designer. Nor would I describe myself as a techy person, but I can build a holiday let website.
I can make it functional and make it look professional. I can trouble shoot the smaller problems myself and make necessary changes to my website
When I first started out I had no clue.
I started with a Wix website – very easy to set up, good choice of templates yet very limiting. I wanted more than a brochure site.
I trialled Lodgify – good support desk but it didn’t give me the freedom I needed.
I’m a keen learner and if I need to improve my knowledge and understanding of a subject, I’ll spend time researching it. Very often I will pay to go on a program or a tutorial to fast track me to where I want to be.
As an aside – that’s one of my top pieces of business advice!
I found WordPress and built my first holiday let website using a tutorial from to build a WordPress Website in One Hour.
I later worked through Naomi Gilmour’s online website building program << Business Beautiful>>
Although I came to Naomi’s program with some WordPress knowledge, the Divi theme was new to me (more of this later). I’d seen other websites built using this theme and I loved them. This program allowed me to transform my website and give it the upgrade and the refresh it needed.
I 100% recommend this program. And it gives you direct access to web designer Naomi, via a Facebook group. This support is priceless! I’m in that Facebook group too so happy to help from a holiday let website perspective. Business Beautiful provides how-to, easy to follow, video tutorials. And are a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for a web designer when you don’t need one. And crucially you stay in control.
Once I’d discovered WordPress there was no going back.
It might not be the cheapest (as you need to purchase a mid range hosting package). See more of this in ‘Hosting’ section. But when it comes to my website, which is one of the most important tools I have as an independent owner to get bookings, I didn’t want the cheapest. Nor did I necessarily want the easiest and quickest, such as Wix or Promote My Place.
I wanted the best! I wanted robust and a platform that would grow with me. A platform that didn’t have any limitations. WordPress is that platform. Plus it’s constantly updated and because it’s a popular platform there are plenty of WordPress experts around if you get really stuck!
Whatever platform you opt for, being in control of every aspect of your website is so so important. You need to:
- be able to edit it yourself
- own your domain name (don’t let website builders buy it on your behalf)
- own your hosting (so you have freedom to move it to another hosting company)
- remember that cheapest isn’t the best!
- build it yourself so you understand how it works
What you need to get started with your holiday let website:
A domain name
This can be bought really cheaply eg £1.99 a year from providers such as 1&1, 123-reg, Go Daddy. All much of a muchness.
A domain is the url of your site eg www.luxuryspringcottagenorthyorksire.co.uk
Today there are many extensions availble (.org , .online , .ltd) Sitck with either .com or .co.uk. I use .co.uk for my UK holiday cottage.
This is the online space that you ‘rent’ where you website will sit. Again there are many companies you can use for this eg Hostpapa, Go Daddy, Host Gator. Often you might get a deal if you buy your domain name and your hosting from the same company. Mark from Chalet Engine recommends that “you register your domain separate to your hosting. That way if there are ever any disagreements or problems with your host, your domain can never be held hostage”.
Usually you are given 3 choices of hosting package – opt for the middle one. You need a hosting package what supports 1-step WordPress file set up. That might sound a bit techy but your host company will help you.
You can usually create email addresses for free, to match your website’s domain name through your hosting company.
Opt for your name, rather than info@ or enquiries@ . It’s more personal and also can sometimes get through email spam filters better than the generic email addresses. I use firstname.lastname@example.org
You can then get these emails delivered to your existing hotmail or gmail inbox. Again your hosting company will be able to help you with this.
This is the look of your website. In WordPress it’s called a theme. There are may fab free ones. I’ve used Accelorate theme in the past. I currently use Divi which I love as it’s so flexible. It cost £70.
WordPress has amazing functionality. In WordPress you add Plugins (a mini progam). In Joomla for example you add widgets.
Whatever you want your website to do, you can add a Plugin to do it. Do you want to create a sign up box, to make your blogs easily shareable, to add a booking calendar, to add Facebook Pixel coding (to help create Facebook audiences), to track number of daily website visitors, to help with on-page SEO? The list goes on!
I use Supercontrol which is a third party integration added to my website. Other booking platforms include Freetobook or HBook (plugin). I don’t have personal experience of these, but know owners who use them and are happy with them. You don’t have to take payments online straight away. Having an online booking system means you can capture guests’ bookings, in the moment. You can then email them to accept the booking and send them details of how to pay.
Then off you go and create your gorgeous website.
As you do so, please remember <<Your website isn’t just a place to take bookings>>
Your holiday let website is more than just a place to showcase your holiday home. Get it working hard for you, make it more than just a brochure site.