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Monday, November 29, 2010

Starting and Running Your Own Website on the Cheap

One of the main obstacles to launching your own website is cost. The initial cost of starting a website could be given as the sum of:

  • The domain name
  • Hosting charges
  • Charges for designing the website
  • Advertising cost
For something that you launch out of your own interest, we could eliminate the advertising cost. Let's look at each of the other factors to find out the minimum required capital.

1. Purchasing a domain name
You could easily get your free .co.cc domain name from http://www.co.cc.
But for if you have long term plans for the site, and if the site is something you could profit from, it's always better to get a .com domain (or .net or .org according to your purpose). Your website would get better exposure and recognition this way. The cheapest registration service that I've found so far is http://www.domainsarefree.com, which offers .com,.net and .org registrations for $3.99. There are cheaper services which have a lower price point ($1.99) but it's always better to go with a reliable service which you trust since you would have to renew the registration annually.

2. Hosting charges
This is one of the most important steps in launching a website. Selecting a good host is critical to ensure the performance and up-time of the website. So it'll be bit of a juggle in the cost-benefit department. You need to get a cheap host, but also someone that offers a reliable service. I settled on HostGator since it had a good track record and was a recognized and trusted service. So far their service has been extremely good. My site's never gone down. There's extremely good support for PHP, and mysql via the control panel. They also provide a free site builder with pre-designed templates. They have three plans:

  • Hatchling - $4.95, Single Domain, UNLIMITED Disk Space, UNLIMITED Bandwidth, Shared SSL Certificate
  • Baby - $7.95,UNLIMITED Domains, UNLIMITED Disk Space, UNLIMITED Bandwidth. Shared SSL Certificate
  • Business - $12.95, UNLIMITED Domains,UNLIMITED Disk Space,UNLIMITED Bandwidth, FREE Dedicated SSL & IP, FREE Toll-Free Number
*The above are new prices. Previously the hatching plan was $7.95. Price might change in future.

The hatching plan is a good starting point for a new website.

3. Designing the website
The cheapest way to design your website is to do it yourself. If you are tech savvy, you could write on from scratch. If not, you could use pre-built free website templates available online (or use website building tools provided by the host). But the easiest method by far, is to create Wordpress blog. Some think that Wordpress could only be used for blogging. This was my impression at first. But after using it for a while, I realized that you could customize a wordpress blog to suit almost any requirement. You could add content to the site as blog posts, post them as a stream or sticky on the home page, customize the theme to suit the context and install plugins to boost productivity. You have to learn a few tricks to make it behave the way you want but it'll come after you play around with the files for a while. This would be the best option for a website for which you will be adding content continuously and want to minimize the hazzle of maintenance.

4. Advertising your site
In order to get the full benefit from your site, you have to make people aware of it. Assuming you don't want to spend any money on it (as is the case with most personal websites) you could start link building and adding the site to social networks. Post on relevant forums and make sure you're not breaking the rules by providing a link to the site. Create tome directory listings. These and more steps are explained thoroughly on several blogs and sites so I'll skip this step.

Final total(first month): $3.99+4.95 = $8.94
Monthly cost:$4.95

It's always best to go with a better vendor if you could spare a bit more cash. I did my domain registration also with hostgator and the total cost for me was:
Final total(first month): $22.16 + $7.95 = $30.11
Monthly cost:$7.95

That's it. Now all it takes is a bit of your time, some link love and SEO and you'll be on your way!

Visit my site to see what I ended up with ;)

1 comment:

Cheap SSL Certificates said...

Very informative blog, that is good from the website point of view. I am greatfull to read it.