What You Have to Do
To Get Your Own Website
What I do to create your site takes time, and I charge by the hour. See prices for more on that. But there's lots you can do to save me time and you money, and some things only you can do.
Web hosts cost between $4 and $55 a month or more, and by now probably less.
There are thousands of web hosts out there. Each one does things differently.
Nearly perfect will probably cost $50 or more a month. For $4-8 you'll get plenty good enough. Sometimes you get an even better price by paying a ahead. If your WebHost turns out to be a clunker, however, you'll be stuck. Best advice is to try a new one out for six months to see if you're compatible. To see if they stay online. Many don't.
You need a URL
URL = universal resource locator = web address
Like www.DallasArtsRevue.com or www.JRCompton.com or AnnHuey.com or LotusEaters.net or www.Coach4Lawyers.net or joelcooner.com to name some of the sites I do.
Strictly speaking, a URL is spelled starting with a http:// and ending with a .com or .net or .info or one of several others. The www. part is no longer necessary.
http://www.DallasArtsRevue.com still works, but so does http://DallasArtsRevue.com, although many of us only type the www version, and it works, too.
I spell DallasArtsRevue with strategic capital letters, so readers will know immediately how to spell it.
If you have a domain name in mind and wonder whether it is still available, there are places to check. One is in the upper right hand corner of WestHost's home page at http://westhost.com/
Type out the URL you think you want (without the www) and the next page will tell if it's available. And, of course, try to sell you something.
If it is Unavailable, click on the Check Whois button to see who owns it. Or come up with an alternative spelling or dot something.
WestHost's iteration of this service is the best and fastest I've seen, although I was able to send it off into never-never land with some odd choices.
You can register a domain (URL) for $10 a year at Register.com. There are other places. I paid a company that has since gone out of business $10 a year eight years ago for http://www.DallasArtsRevue.com, so I think it should be cheaper now. The first company went out of business and sold my registration to Network Solutions, which has not given me any problems with it.
Keeping your URL well into the future is a good idea. Long-term registrations keep you from forgetting and letting it lapse — or from having to deal with dumbwad ISPs who only re-register when you fill out specific forms online before their deadlines.
Don't use NetworkSolutions to test for domains. They'll grab it for five days and won't let anyone else sell it to you. Their prices are substantially higher, and they're hell to deal with. Just don't.
Do involve your webbie (we used to call ourselves "webmasters") in your domain naming process, because we can usually help find a variation of your name or business that will be easy for others to remember.
Avoid using hyphens - or underline spaces _ because it's difficult to tell people "hyphen" or "underline space" (Most people aren't sure what those are.) and it's difficult to remember where they go. No spacebar spaces are allowed in URLs.
YOU have to do this, because they'll need your credit card number, and that domain name belongs to you not me. I can do everything but the credit card number, and I don't want to know that — it's too messy.
Often, you can buy a domain name from your web host. It's usually free as long as you have your domain with them. I bought DallasArtsRevue.com long before I started doing business with DreamHost, but JRCompton.com, which was not pre-registered, is renewed every two years with them. And it's a mess. I wish I could register it for a couple dozen years ahead of time, but it's free this way.
You need a Web Host.
My current recommendations are either DreamHost, which comes highly recommended from folks online I trust, or FatCow, which I've heard good things about but don't know anyone who uses it.
Do not change your email address to a site address, which can be forwarded. Those things are spam magnets!
DreamHost calls their online email setup "Squirrel Mail," and it truly is nuts. I probably still get a ton of spam a day to jr at DallasArtsRevue.com, but it's not worth checking. It drove me crazy until I forgot the password (mental block). It would probably also drive you crazy. If a web host offers you one or twenty email address, keep the one you have from your ISP. Remember that free online email account addresses like hotmail or AmericaOnLine make you look like an amateur.
You'll still need internet access with whatever ISP (Internet Service Provider) you have now or will move to. If you like your current email address, and email client (program) works well, keep it.
How should your site be organized?
One of the more important things you can do is decide how your site should be organized. What sorts of things do you do? Which of your interests are important enough to go on your website? Which of those are more important?
More specifically, what elements should appear on the top page of your site?
If you are a painter and a graphic artist, as are some of the people I do sites for, that would be the basic structure of your site, and both would go on your main page.
Add a picture. At least one picture. Two pictures is better.
Many people think words can convey what they do. But the world thinks in pictures, not words. At least it thinks much faster in pictures.
You're lucky if I'm doing your site, because I throw in my photography at no-extra-cost (except my standard hourly rate. Not free). I know what works and what won't.
Yes, this page needs a picture.
See my prices page for more info.
Something else you can do is to make lists of keywords that are appropriate to your site, and especially those that are specifically appropriate to your site alone.
If you are a painter who paints rutabagas and tiddlywinks in Banian trees, each of those words would be appropriate keywords for your site in general, as well as for the specific pages where those words (or images) appear.
These keywords and a very specific description of each of the pages on your site appear in "meta statements" that are part of your pages, but not visible. Meta statements float in a special, easily-found place among the slurry of code that forms your pages.
What this means is that if someone out there is looking for paintings of rutabagas, tiddlywinks and/or Banian trees, your site comes up near the top of the search results, because there's unlikely many sites that combine all three of those.
"Paintings," "drawings" and "sculpture" are much less specific keywords and not worth putting there, because they are not unique to you. Yagoogle any of those words on the internet, and you'll get a list of thousands, perhaps millions. The more specific are your keywords, the more likely someone looking for those very specific things will find you.
It is a really nit-picky task that is very important. I can help but you know you better than I ever will.
My latest email address is always on this site's Contact page.