Wordpress, of course! The Most Popular Platform in the World . I will tell you why below.
When I chose to make a website for teachers, I honestly didn't know where to start. The option of contacting a programmer and paying him/her over $100 per hour was terrifying as I didn't know if anyone would ever even find this site, let alone join it and participate.
The intention of this site is not to make money by charging its members, in fact it is the opposite. Members can access everything for free, such as commenting on Blogs, joining Groups, participating in Forums. and much more.
If anything, teachers would eventually get something back for joining, such as special discounts for teachers, free giveaways in contests, prizes for referrals to the newsletter and other bonuses for being a teacher member. I wanted it to be a NET BENEFIT to each teacher who joins the site!
So, in order to build this site without hiring a programmer, I had to learn how to do it myself (as any teacher would do!).
I found during my research that almost 70% of the websites on the internet were designed in a framework called Wordpress. This is because Wordpress is based on "plugins". Think of a plugin as a "piece of lego used in building what you desire" but in programming terms. Each plugin is a different mini program that works (interfaces) with the other plugins, all within the Wordpress framework. People who design these plugins usually have a free version, then a fancier paid version if you want to upgrade.
That's great, but where do I get this Wordpress thing? Well, it is downloadable for free from Wordpress.org (whereas Wordpress.com is actually a hosting company that uses Wordpress). The problem I ran into was that downloading Wordpress was not simple (unless you're a programmer type), then some of the code would have to be customized in the plugins, and finally, when the plugins are updated, some of the previous customized code could cause problems or be overwritten.
So, How Do I Make A Wordpress Site That I Can Manage?
Find a WordPress Hosting Platform
It turns out that no matter how I organized these plugins in Wordpress, I would still need to "Host" my website somewhere. That's when I discovered that there are hosting platforms like Wix, that already have Wordpress configured for you on their platform (you just have to configure it for your site).
They provide the most popular plugins free, as long as you host it on Wix. They take care of all the Plugin updates in the future, so your site always works smoothly (fingers crossed).
They also have various templates to start with so that you can design your pages without having to start with a blank page. This was the perfect solution for me, so the actual cost would be minimal to me. The only thing I would have to do is to learn how to configure each page with their tools in order to customize the Teachers Connect Teachers site.
The Initial Startup Costs: What You Need and Where To Get It
I have listed all the approximate startup costs (because they can change depending on which hosting option you choose from Wix and where you get your Domain Name and Business Email).
Hosting Domain (.com) Name - $15 per year from GoDaddy or $1.25 per month
Wix Wordpress Hosting - $15 per month to use your .com name and eliminate their branding
Google Workspace Business Starter Email - $7 per month (so you can send/receive emails from your .com name)
So, that makes for a total of $23.25 per month to get started!
A Big Step: The Learning Curve
The biggest factor (and most difficult) remaining, was the learning curve to configure each page of the site. This requires learning the back-end of the Wix Wordpress site for functionality (your dashboard), what each setting means and does, and how each of the settings will affect your live site.
Then you must also learn how to insert elements in the editor (such as tables, forms, text, shapes, etc) to design the UX (User eXperience) on your site. After that, there is the preview, so you can see if what you configured is working, and looks like you want it to look. Then you can PUBLISH it to the live site and test it again (sometimes you will not notice how something looks to the user until you see it and test it on the live site).
The Most Important Part of the Site: CONTENT
After all that, comes the biggest portion of the site launch, adding USEFUL CONTENT. That is key, as the teachers need a reason to come to the site and join it. So, I have created some interesting blogs, groups and Forums to get things started. It is also important to continuously add fresh content to grow the site organically.
Future Monetization To Self-Fund The TCT Site
There are many ways to monetize the site, but I have chosen to look ONLY at ways which do not cost the members any money. MEMBERSHIP on TCT will always be 100% FREE!
Whichever methods we choose to monetize TCT will be discussed in future blog posts as they are implemented.
But here are a few of the ways I am considering (all are free to users):
Affiliate Links - This is when you click on a link on TCT to purchase something on another site, say Amazon, for example. You would not pay a penny more for anything on Amazon (that if you went to the site directly). Amazon would just give back a percentage of the purchase to TCT as a referral fee.
Ads - We may look into Google Ads programs, but only if the ads would be discreet, minimal, and unobtrusive. More to come later if we choose this route.
TCT Shop - We are creating a store on this site to sell teacher themed products only. These will include t-shirts, mugs, sweatshirts, hoodies, signs as well as various holiday gift items. Please support us by purchasing some items and proudly supporting teachers everywhere.
Book Sales - We are publishing a book called "BarStool Millionaire" which is available in the TCT Shop and on Amazon. It is the financial framework which "should have been taught in schools but never was" and is a great platform to build wealth for you, your family, or your students.
Courses - In the future, we may offer some paid online courses. These will be unique courses, such as "How To Build a Platform, Not Just a Website" and other TCT developed courses. This is only in the planning stages right now.