Setting up your own website like Badge Discounts, blog, or other type of website is not as difficult or expensive as you might think. From blogging about your Police, Fire, and EMS experiences to selling something (ecommerce), you will need 3 things: 1) A website builder and host 2) A domain name 3) A way to monetize your site.
1.) A web host is essentially a company that owns a whole bunch of huge computers that specializes in creating the home where your website lives. There are a bunch of companies out there these days that will host your website, and provide an easy to use drop and drag website builder. You do not need to know any HTML code to build a professional looking site. I use Weebly to host and build my site. They offer many different templates/themes to choose from, apps, an ecommerce store, and many other options. I think they offer the most bang for your buck. They offer different levels at different prices depending upon what features you want to have. If you just want a basic site or blog, they also offer a free option. I have been very happy with Weebly and would recommend them to anyone.
2.) The domain name is essentially the name in the address where you want your site/blog to live (i.e., badgediscounts.com is the domain for Badge Discounts). Getting one is really easy, as any host/website builder you sign up with can get you your domain name at the same time you sign up (I did all of this through Weebly). Weebly offers a free domain that looks like this (yoursitename.weebly.com), or you can pay to have a ".com" name. Think long and hard before you choose your site name, because if your site is successful, you’ll be stuck with it for a long time. Be creative, because obviously a lot of the simplest names have long been taken. Generally speaking, shorter is better. More memorable is better. If you have to spell the name when telling a friend about it, that could be an issue.
3.) Now that you have a domain name and built your site, why not try to make a little money. (Note: this is more for blogs etc than an ecoomerce site.) There are 2 main ways to monetize your site: Pay-Per-Click Ads and Affiliate Marketing. Pay-Per-Click is just as it sounds. When someone clicks on an ad you have placed on your site, you get paid for it. The big one in this area is Google Adsense. Affiliate Marketing is different in that you get paid a commission. When someone clicks on one of the ads on your website and then buys something from that company, you get a percentage of the sale. Some companies run their own, like Amazon, and others outsource their affiliate program to companies like ShareASale.com which have thousands of advertisers to choose from. I use both Amazon and ShareASale.com, and I've seen decent returns through both.
That’s it. Follow those three easy steps, and you can have your site up and running and hopefully make a little money too.