The Technical Side of Creating Your Own Author Website

You’ve finally decided to get your own Web site to promote yourself as a writer. Congratulations! Now the real work begins.

Where will you host it? What will your domain name be? Where do you begin?

Just when you think one question is answered, another one pops up. Like:

What’s all this jargon about hosting and domain names?

Hosting
Think of hosting as an empty piece of land. You’ll build your home on the Web on this piece of land.

Some Web hosts are free but they usually require you to have their ads on your Web site. Many free hosts do offer free Web templates where you simply plug in your information and go.

This is extremely helpful if you have limited experience with HTML (the code used to create a Web page) or you just want to get a Web site up and running quick. In this case, a free Web host may be the right choice for you. Over time, you can learn more about HTML so you can design your own site and eventually get a paid Web host so you can maintain your site the way you wish.

These days, you can have your own domain name and Web host for a relatively low cost so if you have about $10 a year for a domain name and even $5-10 a month for hosting, you can bypass a free service that’s going to plaster ads all over your site. Remember, if you’re doing business as a writer, costs for domain names and hosting are also tax deductible. So you have a more professional appearance on the Web and you get a deduction you can use on your taxes.

For paid hosting, you pay a fee and you get to do what you want with this piece of land without having someone’s ads on your space. You don’t have as many restrictions on your site and you get to do more of what you want with your site. This is how most people prefer to maintain their Web site.

If you’ve ever searched for “Web hosts,” you’ve undoubtedly come back with pages and pages of results for “best Web hosting” and “cheap Web hosting.” Choosing a host can be difficult and you may even find you have to switch hosts every now and then if a service isn’t up to par with your expectations.

Finding that right host when there are so many out there can be a time-consuming task. But spending lots of time evaluating a host is vital to choosing the right company.

If you’re looking for hosting, start with this great tool: FindMyHosting.com. Search out a host for your Web site by choosing your price range, disk space, etc., and the results you get will give you a good place to start your research on each company. FindMyHosting.com shows you the company’s ratings submitted by the customers, the monthly price for hosting, disk storage and even offers a link to check the host’s reliability.

Reliability is crucial in your search. You don’t want a host that offers $2 hosting per month but their server is down 50-percent of the time in any given month. No one will see your site and the super cheap deal you got on hosting won’t make one difference.

What you should look for when evaluating a host:

  • Payment Terms
    Is that low rate you found only good if you pay for a year in advance? Be cautious of paying everything up front because if the host is unreliable and you find your site is down more than it’s up, most hosts won’t refund your money. You can take your site elsewhere but you won’t get that money back.
  • Response Time
    Send in a few questions to their support team. Ask if you can see some of their clients’ sites. Ask about uptime of their servers. These questions are important to ask but you’re also gauging how quickly support is getting back to you. If you have to wait several days, or worse — you never even get a response — chances are this is the type of service (or lack thereof) you’ll be getting after the company has your money.
  • Setup Fee
    Web hosting companies are so competitive these days that you should look for one that doesn’t require a setup fee. Any host that is charging a setup fee for simply assigning you a username and password for your new hosting account is making easy money. A majority of hosting companies do not charge setup fees.
  • Host Reliability
    How much is their site up? In other words, if the uptime is 80-percent for one month, the server was down the other 20-percent of the time. That’s a lot of downtime in today’s world. Most hosts have at least 98-percent uptime.
  • Shared Vs. Dedicated
    It may sound like a great idea to have your own dedicated server. This means you, and only you, will have your Web site on the server. Dedicated servers can be very expensive and you can get just as good service on a shared server. Other sites will be on the shared server with you but you probably will never even notice and the cost is much more affordable.
  • Disk Storage
    The more disk storage you need, the more you’ll pay. Fortunately, most hosting companies offer several tiers of hosting. So if you choose a hosting package with 100 MB of space, you can easily upgrade to the next tier with no problems. Be sure you ask if this is a possibility before you buy. Also, for your writing site, you’re probably not going to need a whole lot of space. A host that promises 2 GB of storage space will be way more space than you’ll ever need for a site that shows pictures of your book jackets, book excerpts and the like. You don’t have to purchase a huge piece of server to get a really professional, sleek-looking Web site on the Internet.