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So you need a website…

It’s time to put up a website… what’s the best way to go about it?

  • Have the content for each page of your website ready before you go any further. Of course, since I’m the webmaster here, I strongly recommend the fine folks at http://www.workingwriters.org/.
  • Register a domain name for your website. I generally use networksolutions.com but there are hundreds of other domain name registrars out there (register.com, godaddy.com, etc… just search the web for domain registrar). Network Solutions is the “high-priced spread” among registrars but they’re one of the oldest registrars (if not the oldest) and I’ve always been pleased with their service when I’ve needed support. Do not, however, use the same company for web hosting as you use as a registrar. Having your domain registration and your hosting account with the same company makes it difficult to change hosting providers should you decide to do so in the future. Registering a domain name at network solutions costs about $35 per year (and if I remember correctly, there’s a two-year minimum). However, if you register your domain name for a larger number of years, the cost per year goes down. One big advantage of having your own domain name is that it offers unlimited email addresses… xxx@yourddomain.com. This presents you to potential clients as a serious entrepreneur, not a poseur. It also allows you to change your ISP (internet service provider) without having to change your email address.
  • Find a suitable hosting company. There are thousands of them out there. I point my clients to lunarpages.com… they’re reasonably priced and have exceptionally good service when support is necessary. You can compare the different hosting plans lunarpages offers at http://www.lunarpages.com/hosting-solutions/compare-hosting-plans/. I recommend the basic hosting plan at $4.95 per month… it’s everything you’ll need unless your website turns out to be wildly popular.
  • I strongly recommend using WordPress. WordPress is a blogging platform and content management system. Many, many websites are developed using WordPress. The best parts are that it’s free and it’s relatively easy to use. You don’t need to install WordPress on your computer… it gets installed on the webserver where your site is hosted. You can log in to your site and make changes from any web browser anywhere in the world.
    If you don’t have the skills, find a web developer to work with you. I’d probably suggest you get someone to put up the basic structure of your site for you then teach you how to maintain it yourself with WordPress. WordPress in Depth by Mike McCallister and Bud Smith is a good book for teaching yourself WordPress.
  • Decide whether you want your website to include a blog or not… even though WordPress started life as a blogging platform, you can use it to develop a website that doesn’t include a blog if that’s your choice.

Note: None of the links in this article are affiliate links. They’re provided for convenience and neither I nor Working Writers of Wisconsin earns any money if you click them.

Written by Mike Starr, an independent writer based in Pleasant Prairie.

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