18 Feb 2019
Those of you who have poked around the footer of this website may
know that I host this blog on GitHub Pages. What you may
not know is that I do so for free. This post will walk you through
the basics of standing up a website using GitHub Pages and how to
give it a custom domain name (e.g.
In the future, I may cover how to use the Jekyll static site generator to easily publish regular posts on your site (like I do here).
The first thing you’re going to need is an account on
github.com. If you
don’t have one, register now, and if you do, login.
Frankly, the instructions on
pages.github.com put it
more succinctly than I ever could, so I’ll refer you there for the
initial setup steps.
To modify and add content to your site, you’ll need a text editor you like. For the uninitiated, MS Word and the other word-processing programs out there add lots of tags and markup for formatting that are hidden from you as a user, while a text editor shows you the exact contents of a file. If you don’t have one you like, Atom is pretty solid, if a little heavy. If you don’t want to install a new program, Mac has TextEdit, and Windows has Notepad.
To add content to the landing page (what people see when they visit
your site at the “root,”
index.html in your text editor. I won’t teach you HTML in this
post, but Code Academy has a fantastic
course that gave me my start in web development many years ago.
To add another page (e.g.
simply create the file within the repo and put whatever you want in
it. Try creating a link to it from the index page:
And <a href="/about.html">this</a> is my about page.
For a relatively simple example, checkout the layout of
willbadart.com’s index file. You can
ignore the bits between the triple-dashes (
---) for now.
To set your site’s style, login to GitHub and navigate to the
repository you created in step 2. Under the Settings tab
you’ll see a section for GitHub Pages configuration with a tool for
selecting a theme.
If you don’t like any of these, but still don’t want to create your own, you can use any theme with a GitHub repo, following these instructions. This blog uses a custom theme, which is available here.
If you don’t want to use the URL
myusername.github.io when you
share your site, you have the option to apply your own domain name.
You’ll first need to purchase one from a registrar like GoDaddy (I use
them, but unfortunately was not paid to include them in this list) or
The steps themselves are straight forward, but will seem complicated on your first pass. As in step 2, GitHub puts it better than I do, so allow me to refer you to their instructions for setting up an apex domain (sub domains won’t be covered in this tutorial, but I can add instructions if there’s demand).
Hopefully this is enough to stand up version 1 of your site. Creating a personal page is a great way to both build brand and learn HTML. Happy hunting!