There are lots of .com domain providers out there. In this economy you may want to go with one of the more well known (e.g., goDaddy.com) rather than a local host provider who may or may not be sticking around.
You can practice building websites with programs such as MS Office Frontpage or Expression and view them on your computer as you build. Then things are ready to upload once you settle on a domain name.
Before the domain name, however, you need a place that will host your website for you. If your ISP provides webhosting, that might be the best way, but if not, you may need to check around.
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From an email I wrote for a friend, a few months ago, describing how I had set up a website for a camp we both work for:
Real Websites 101: you need a domain name (the thing you type into the web browser to find the site). I purchased camp's through 1and1.com for a reasonable rate (they were having a promotion, under $10). More complicated is the server space where the website actually sits. I have some personal space that I get because I'm a university student that the camp website is currently occupying for free, though we will be migrating it over to the Crossroads server soon and then we'll have to pay. I know you can get the server space for under $100, but I don't know about free. A lot (all?) of the commercial server services will give you a browser page through which you can upload your pages securely, and will walk you through how to link up your domain name and the pages on their server. I think my dad uses me.com for my parents' square dancing club website. These services also usually give you 1+ email accounts.
You'll need some sort of program to design the pages (you might know this already, from what you said in your email, but I figured I'd put it in anyway). I use Dreamweaver (complicated, not for the faint of heart) and Crossroads wants me to move over to Microsoft Web Expressions 3. If you have a Mac, I recommend you at least start with iWeb, which comes with the iLife suite and is very intuitive - it helps set up templates and you can have a website up in no time. Then you can muck around with other programs if iWeb doesn't give you all the functionality you want.
Fake Websites 101: get a free gmail account, use it to set up a free blog on blogger, design the blog to have the content you want on all the side bars, post announcements as blog entries. I've seen people do mostly for personal websites, but I don't see why it wouldn't work for a group website, too.
P.S. I should add that Crossroads is a server some friends set up in their basement, not a commercial service.
[This message has been edited by Kitti (edited February 04, 2010).]
Most writer's websites seem to be wordpress blogs, at least that's what I've noticed lately (professional highly successful writers, even!)
I buy my domain names from networksolutions.com, because that's just where you bought domain names "back in the day" when I was first looking into this. I own a couple - one is my author's name, one is our family website. We host one website from our home computer (our ISP permits this, though we technically have a potentially changing IP addy, it's only changed twice since we've been on this service going on 4 or 5 years, and that just requires an update to a logfile somewhere...that I always blank on where and my brother-in-law has to remind me of.) My authorname website I may do via a blog, I haven't decided yet, so for now I'm just sitting on the domain name so that nobody else buys it (I have an extremely common last name, so it's kind of important for me...your mileage may vary.)
Yes, you can add images to a blog. I've seen many folks just use their blog (wordpress/blogger etc) to just have 'news'; the blog software also allows you to have pages about specific products etc.
You'll need some sort of program to design the pages (you might know this already, from what you said in your email, but I figured I'd put it in anyway). I use Dreamweaver (complicated, not for the faint of heart)
If you go for manual coding, which is really not that scary, I suggest you visit W3schools.com and browse and examine the code behind the pages over at CSSzengarden.com
If your goal is simply to create a website you can do it on your hardrive first (step 1 below), and learn about getting a domain name and web hosting and uploading your website later after you've designed your website.
In steps: 1) Design your website and how it looks all on your hardrive first (1 day to 1 month depending on how complex): - Learning sources: W3school.com; software I use is Notepad++ since it has color codes and autofill - and it's freeeee! - I suggest downloading free template websites and see how the simple ones are written. Then you can vary them to suit your own design. - you can also search for free buttons or banner designs - Don't reinvent the wheel. If you need some special quirk to your website, chances are the code for it is in an online library somewhere for you to cut, paste, and modify slightly.
2) Decide on a name for you website and register it: - I use godaddy.com to search for possible names - it's usually about 10 bucks to register the name, plus some extra fees for each year - I paid about 200 bucks to hold the name for 5 years with some extra frills (email, privacy). They'll explain it all
3) Find a webhosting service to suit your needs: - Your needs depend on how much space you need for your website - If you plan to put a lot of video you need lot's of space and lot's of bandwidth. - If it's just text and pictures - it might add up to <10MB - you won't need all the space, bandwidth, or processor power. - These days you share the same computer (server) with other websites, so if your website is hogging the computer cpu the webhosts may charge you extra. Lesson: always read the fine print of your contract. -Godaddy provides basic webhosting for a fee - it's not the best, but you can try it first and find better ones later.
4) Upload your finished, poliahed website using an FTP software. - Go daddy has instructions how to upload your website. - You can use a variety of FTP (file-transfer-protocol) programs, - I like FileZilla, which is freeeee!
And - You're done! That's all there's to it.
If you have a very complicated website in mind - likes forums, or 100s of automatically generated webpages that change everyday (like the news), etc, then you should get special software to handle it - But only if you want to handle it all by yourself. At this point, I would just hire an expert to set up and manage the whole thing, lol.
Meredith, let me know how your eventual web site exploits go for you.
Hm. This wordpress thing looks promising but if it's free there's usually commercials on it. Does anyone use it? Ads are normally found in hosting services, not platforms. There are a lot of platforms that are generated by the Open Source community, and Wordpress is one.
So, in short, Wordpress does not saddle you with ads.
Well, I put my website up through Register-dot-com...it costs me money to keep it there, but it's money I've got. (Also I registered my domain name, plus a couple of others.)
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Several Hatrackers use Wordpress. In my opinion, it's easier than Blogger (another popular blogging platform) on visitors and offers more design flexibility. Anyone who doesn't want to blog can hide the blogging page and create new pages for whatever. Note that Wordpress.com is different than Wordpress.net, which isn't free but offers more control.
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I like wordpress a lot. As "free" web sites go, it's a very good one. Of course, you have to provide content -- in the form of text -- but for a writer that shouldn't be too hard?
Of course, I also do my own web design, outside of wordpress.
Nothing fancy. I used Microsoft Frontpage, and have used it for many years. It suits all my needs.
Also, if you have an internet service provider, then it's very likely you have a default amount of web storage space alloted to you through whatever package you've got. I am with comcast and they give me a gig with every e-mail "slot" I fill. Which is great because I can have a web site (or sites) and not have to pay extra for a domain.
I will probably get a domain in the not too distant future if my sales are good in 2010. Then I will need to worry about truly "branding" myself, and I don't want to see my name get snatched by a domain horder trying to cash in on my "brand," as it were.
Until then, my service provider's built-in web storage works fine for my needs.
Lastly, once you do get the page built, be sure to a) make sure it works by going to your own URL and looking at how it displays, then b) submit the URL to Google or Yahoo, or even have a friend link to it from one of their pages. It will then get "spidered" and your URL will start showing up on the search engines.
As a follow-on to my comments above, I am relatively conversant in website design and can use a lot of Adobe Creative Suite 4 products including Dreamweaver. I've created a number of websites including graphics.
My choice for my writer's site? I have a hosted domain (owasm.com) but I downloaded Wordpress as my own site software. The nicest thing is that you can choose how you want your site to look without going through all the design process. If you wish to change the look of your site, you just pick a different design and everything shifts automatically over to the new look. (Unless you are using your own images in the code.) Images that you embed in the content stay the same.
Using stock software saves you a great deal of hassle unless you are really intent on having your very own original look.
Start easy, then move to the more complex if you feel the need.
I do website work freelance and in my paid job. Here is some advice I give my clients:
1) Never allow a webdesigner or an ISP to register your domain for you. Do it yourself. The person who purchases the domain name owns it, because the purchase will be tied to their credit card. That means they control the passwords and access to allow you to make ANY changes.
I tell my customers: "Think of it like you are buying a warehouse, but you give someone you really don't know the keys (passwords), and have no ability to actually get in and move stuff yourself. If that person/business flakes out on you, you can look in the windows but you can't remove stuff, bring in new stuff, or move stuff around."
I've had to clean up after other web designers who have moved, gotten too busy, gotten too "don't care anymore." It's a pain to try to wrestle a domain away from the person who registered it, particularly if they are being surly about things or non-responsive.
2) When you buy your domain, buy the hosting service from the same provider.
Regardless of who you use, and I prefer www.GoDaddy.com, you are minimizing your headaches if you don't have to play the game of "No, it's THEIR fault" when something on your website doesn't work. The reality is making any major change to your website (adding features, changing ISP, etc. usually involves a series of steps and it's a whole lot easier if one company can handle the changes start to end.
And for those who don't know what the difference is, domain name is the URL, or www.myname.com type name. Hosting is the rental of the actual storage space where your website files will reside, using a computer hooked into the internet 24/7.
3) Start small.
If you don't know what you would put on a website, then don't leap to that stage just yet. If you have a clever domain name, go ahead and purchase the name. But you don't have to buy hosting until you are ready to put web files online. Try blogging first (some have suggested www.LiveJournal.com, which I use and like) and figure out what sort of content you want to have online. Research sites of authors, and see the type of content they have online.
If you are fearless and want to learn web design yourself, you can go to www.lynda.com and for $25 a month take tutorials on any web design software you want. (In fact, they offer tutorials on a wide range of software.) This is the source of HOT Training, Hands-On-Training that my college class in webdesign used for their textbook. Check out the site, some tutorials are free.
Do research on "Search Engine Optimization", or SEO. Learn what the Google algorithms for search are based on so you can utilize those tricks in your website.
If you are super-fearless, you can download a 30-day free trial of any Adobe software (1 time only), like Dreamweaver, and play with it to see what you think about it. Go to www.Adobe.com. Dreamweaver isn't cheap, however. It's professional software, and retails for several hundred dollars.
Or, you can check out the free linux-based software, like Joomla. Be prepared to spend a lot of time trying to figure out their manual written by some techie geeks who are more in love with code than I'll ever be.
I know GoDaddy has a web design interface; I'm not sure if it costs extra or not since I don't personally have a need for it. GoDaddy has a phone number you can call, and their support and sales staff are super helpful and knowledgeable... which is the reason I like 'em. Google Business Apps has a website interface too, but I think there's a fee for it. Again, never needed it; not sure of the cost.
Good luck, but don't spend money until you have a purpose in mind.
[This message has been edited by Elan (edited February 06, 2010).]
I just did up a writing and acting website real quick on godaddy. They have a free web building and publishing service that was super easy to use. The website is more of a placeholder for my domain name until I do more with it. I would like to add a blog and some more features down the road.
Keep it simple for now. Ether a free blog site which their are several or a free website service which there are several also. You can make a great free website with almost everything imaginable, flash tools, menus, the whole works. If you want the www.mydomain.com just buy the name you can link it to the site real easy.
So what else can I say - a free website with all the look of a pro and your own domain name for the cost of around 10 to 17 dollars a year. Simple and sweet.
Don't buy a site until you really know what you want. You can always upgrade if you become famous and need the bandwidth for all of the hundreds of thousands of fans flocking to your website. At that point hire a pro to do it, there's about a zillion out there needing work.
Once upon a time I had my own website through AOL but they dropped that part of their business.
Now I have a blog since it's easier. And speaking of blogs I have been to a couple of the blogs of new pro writers that have been just like a web site. They had pictures, a list of their published stories and/or novels, how to contact them, etc..
For years I thought about doing a cheapy web site when I got my second story published but it's been years with no sign of a second published story so I may just forget the web site. But a writer's web site-even an unpublished writer-would have pictures, a list of blogs you like, workshops you may have gone to, what you hope to accomplish, animals and family, any advice to other writers that are trying. Any stories you might not mind not selling. (That reminds me I need to post my non PC Christmas story on my blog.)
Maybe, as someone suggested, some venting, but only a little.
Of course, at times, I have more than just a little on my blog.
As I said before some blogs can have all that too.
quote: Well, I put up some of my unpublished stories...I was gonna put up an angry rant about my disappointment in not being published, but I got bogged down in incoherency...
Are those stories that you didn't sub though? It's just that I thought the whole idea was to produce a site that a publisher or agent might refer too. I know its nice to create a fanbase but I thought the point was to get published. Is that really going to be acheived by my posting my rejects that no one else thought were good enough to print, including the agents and publishers who might eventually hit upon my website?
[This message has been edited by pdblake (edited December 14, 2010).]
quote:Are those stories that you didn't sub though?
All of 'em were rejected by the Big Three print magazines...electronic publishing didn't (and doesn't) concern me...and one of my motivations for putting them up was so that fellow would-be writers could see and read and have access to something of mine that wasn't Internet Fan Fiction...
(I am thinking of dumping one of my latest up there, though...it seems too weird...it is too long...and it's been awhile since I put anything new on my site at all. I'll know for sure when I finish it.)
Well, i also use it for my acting stuff which is more active. My girlfriend said I should put some videos and the movie poster of me and hilary swank on there so I went ahead even though I had been waiting until I published my first story.
Intersting though, I just found this article about the subject.
I definitely agree with your suggestion #1 (Never allow a webdesigner or an ISP to register your domain for you. Do it yourself).
But I have to disagree with #2 ("When you buy your domain, buy the hosting service from the same provider"). This can lead to "eggs in a basket" problems; if your domain names and content are all under the care of one single entity, and that entity (for whatever reason) goes rogue (and it does happen from time to time), or just goes out of business, you can lose control over your content and the domain names that point to it.
If you separate the two (buying domain name services from one provider, and hosting from another), you can't ever be trapped like that; if the domain provider goes off the res, you still have control of your content. If the content provider goes insane (or just closes up shop), you still retain control of your domains, and can re-upload the content to another hosting provider from your always-current backups, re-point the domains at the new host, and be back in business.
A word to the wise with regard to those thinking of creating an actual website (as opposed to a blog of some sort): Creating a website is not writing. Putting content on a website is writing, but creating the site itself is programming.
Remember: "Can" and "Should" are not synonyms.
Disclosure: I'm a web coder by trade, so I do in fact have a dog in the fight.
Wordpress is a good way to start, they will link you to domain sales as well. I used them to start my own site.
I don't know what to put on a blog either, but am learning. As for the rest of my site it is dedicated to some of the ideas within my book. I may have too much info on there right now, but I want to leave it till just before I start the submition process.
It is a place I can post some basic ideas for public critisism.