The Little Black Book For Side Projects: From localhost App to Working Website (and Beyond)

As those of you who have launched your first website are well aware, there is a big gap between building a working prototype on localhost and operating a production website. Much less getting some traffic. Or generating some revenue.

The material in this section will help a new developer successfully navigate this path, taking your creation from a localhost demo to a real website or online microbusiness. Visited by someone other than your mom. Generating real revenue from real users. Hopefully helping you turn this little side project into something sustainable.

If your tutorial for your web framework is supposed to help you get through your first month of using the new toolkit, consider this a tutorial to help you get through the first couple of months of your public launch.

I’ll be building this section out over the next couple of months. Most of this material is Python / PHP oriented but can be applied to other languages.

Step 0 – Things To Do Before Your Big Idea:

There are several things I wish I’d done earlier, before I knew what I wanted to build:

  • If you aren’t on Linkedin, go ahead and get your self a profile. Get some Linkedin endorsements as well – I suspect they’re going to be significant in the future.
  • While you are at it, get Twitter and Reddit accounts. Post something (preferably dignified) so the accounts are “aged” and visibly participating in the community. Having several seasoned social media accounts can really help with your launch.
  • Start a blog and write a couple of useful articles about an original topic. It doesn’t have to be much, but having an existing blog can really help launch a new site. This also gives you exposure to WordPress (the swiss army knife of marketing).
  • If possible, install Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools on your blog. Check the reports every once in a while – learn to move around within the tool.

The goal at this stage is to build your online presence and proficiency in the basic tools. Your presence will help you share your concept with a larger audience. Getting some exposure to the basic tools reduces the amount of stuff you need to learn during launch. None of this is “absolutely critical” – but all of it is stuff I wish I’d done a few years ago.

Step 1 – Secure Some Hosting and a Domain:

Got a working demo? Great…let’s figure out how to share it with the world. For those of you trying your first student project, you may want to check out some of the free hosting options for Python projects. If you are looking to build an actual business, you may want to go ahead and spring for a paid shared hosting account: you can usually find a decent one that costs only a few dollars a month but will save you a bunch of time on setup and technical support. At some point you will want to upgrade to your own VPS or dedicated server (article coming), although you probably won’t need to do this for your first project.

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