So you have finally decided that maybe this internet thing isn’t going away and maybe it’s time you got your own website online. You may already have a business. Or you want to start a new business online. Or maybe you just want to put up a blog for fun. Whatever the reason, you are ready to take the next step.
So what’s the next step?
Free or Paid
Before you decide anything else, you need to decide whether to go the free route or have a self hosted site that you pay for. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Advantages of Free Sites:
- They are free! No cost to run.
- They are usually fairly easy to set up and use.
Disadvantages of Free Sites:
- It’s not your site. You are using someone else’s web property.
- Little control. You have to play by their rules and those rules can change at anytime.
- You may lose your site at anytime since it’s not your own web property.
- You will have a longer web address.
- You are limited in how you can design your site.
- Not good for most businesses.
Advantages of Paid Sites:
- It’s your very own site.
- A shorter web address.
- More control over how your site looks.
- More control over what you can do with your site.
- Much more design options.
Disadvantages of Paid Sites:
- It’s going to cost you a little money.
- There may be more of a learning curve to learn the ropes.
Free Website and Blog Platforms
Blogger.com is owned by google and is fairly easy to get started on and use. There are lots of blog designers out there now who will design a template for your Blogger blog so you can make yours different from the average Blogger blog out there.
On the downside, these blogs tend to be buggy. In fact that’s why I finally left Blogger for my first blog. It got to where it would only post half of my post. I have heard many others say it was buggy for them too so I’m not alone in this assessment.
Another bad thing about Blogger is if the powers that be think you are getting too commercial they will take down your blog without any notice ahead of time and you lose everything. People have lost very profitable businesses a long with the audience they had built up with no warning at all.
I sure wouldn’t want to take that chance.
WordPress.com is similar to Blogger except there aren’t as many templates out there. WordPress.com is different than WordPress.org. On WordPress.org, you use their content management system which is free and open source, but you have your own paid hosting and domain name. WordPress.com is very particular about you not putting any commercial content on your site so if you have a business, this is not a good choice.
LiveJournal.com is a fairly nice blogging platform and it looks like you can even build communities on there. Of course, as with all free platforms, it’s not really good for business sites but if you just want to blog for fun, check them out.
Tumblr.com has a large loyal community but it’s somewhat limited. It’s considered a micro-blogging site but has lots of images.
The following free sites are all for blogging but I don’t know much about them. I thought I’d give you a link though in case you want to check them out:
Paid Website Platforms
This is actually a misnomer because the platforms (or content management systems) themselves are free. But you have to pay to have somewhere to put them. That’s where a hosting company comes in. You also will need to buy a domain name. Don’t worry, neither one of these things will break the bank. A domain name cost about $10 and monthly hosting cost between $4-$8 a month. You all get off lucky. When I first started in the 90’s, if I remember correctly, my domain name cost about $80 a year and I paid about $60 a month to have my site hosted.
The best places I have found to buy domains are:
- Dynadot.com This is the site I use the most.I like that they don’t make you jump through hoops (like go daddy does) to buy a domain name. The whole process is straight forward. You also get a grace period of a few days ( I can’t remember exactly how many) to change your mind about your purchase. I have used this several times in the past.
- Namecheap.com I am just starting to use them some and so far I really like them. Smooth, easy process and reasonable prices. I have friends who swear by this company.
NOTE I do not recommend using GoDaddy although many online gurus use them. I did use them for several years, but they are spammy, they make it difficult to buy a domain without them pushing loads of add-ons to the price and I don’t like their slimy advertising.
The best places I have found for hosting (both hosting company links are affiliate links which means I will get a small commission but it won’t cost you any extra) are:
- Hostgator.com This is the company I and many others use. They are very reasonable, have great customer service and very little down time. I have nothing but praise for this company.
- Bluehost.com I haven’t personally used this company but I have heard lots of good things about them.
Once you have your domain and hosting taken care of, you can select your content management system or platform to run your site on.
- WordPress.org This is in my opinion, the best CMS (content management system) out there. It’s open source and updated several times a year, and is easy to use. It has thousands of themes and plugins so you can make it look and do pretty much anything you want it to.
- Drupal.com This is another free, open source CMS and I know some people (mostly computer geeks) swear by it but it’s too complicated for my simple mind.
- Joomla.org I could just say ditto for this one. It’s too complicated for me but some people love it.
I’m sure there are hundreds of smaller CMS’s out there but these are the biggies.
Well this is just the start. Once you decide on what kind of platform you want your site on, next you will decide on choosing a domain name. We will talk more about that in the next post.
Have I answered your questions or just caused your head to spin even more? Let me know if you need something clarified or have more questions. I’m here to help!
Article by Cathy Ratcliffe