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Posts Tagged ‘building a writer’s web site

Building a Writer’s Web Site Series: How to Choose a Web Host

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Last week, we talked about how to choose a domain name for your writing Web site. Once you have purchased your own domain name, you need to have it hosted somewhere. Today we’ll talk about how to choose a Web host.

Choosing a Web Host: Hosting Packages

Before you can choose the best Web hosting company for your needs, you need to know what your needs are. Do you just want a small site to showcase your writing samples? Then you probably won’t need an expensive package that includes high levels of bandwidth. If you need hosting for a high-traffic blog or plan to have free downloads available for your visitors, you’re going to need a more comprehensive package. Make a list of features that you absolutely need and features that would be nice to have. You can use this list to compare different hosting packages and choose the one that’s right for you.

Choosing a Web Host: Identifying Potential Hosts

When you are choosing a Web host, I recommend getting referrals from your colleagues and friends. Hosting companies are a dime a dozen, so it’s nearly impossible to research and compare them all without losing your mind. If none of your friends have their own sites, check out some of the blogs you visit frequently. I know several people that I link to here have recommendations for hosting posted on their blogs or sites. Develop a list of ten possibilities so that you can get information about each host.

Choosing a Web Host: Comparing Web Hosts

Once you have your list of ten possibilities, get ready to do some online research. Visit the Web site of each hosting company and find out what packages they offer. Compare their hosting packages with your hosting needs to determine what level package you need. You will find that some hosts on your list do not offer the features and capabilities that you desire. You can eliminate these hosts from your list and concentrate on hosting companies that do offer what you need.

Narrow your list down to three possibilities, but be careful not to make price your main consideration when making your selections. It’s important to save money, but it would be a lot better to pay $10 per month and get stellar customer service than it would be to pay $6 per month and have no way of contacting your host if you had a problem.

Once you’re down to three potential hosts, do some additional research. Use a search engine to find information about each company. Is contact information available? Does the company make it easy for you to report problems, or are you going to be on your own if you experience any technical issues? Check Ripoff Report or similar consumer sites to see if any negative reports have been filed against the company. One report is probably not indicative of a widespread problem. In some cases, customers whose hosting has been cut off for non-payment file negative reports just to be vindictive. However, several reports can indicate that the hosting company has serious customer service issues.

Once you have information about price, hosting capabilities, technical support, and customer service for each company, make your choice based on this information. You may choose a slightly more expensive host that offers more features and excellent support, or you may choose an inexpensive host for your basic Web site. Once you have chosen a host, you will need to follow their directions for pointing your domain name to their servers. Once you have done that, you will be ready to move on with building your writer’s Web site.

In the next post in this series, we’ll talk about making the decision to hire a designer or using templates to create your own site. If you have any Web hosting recommendations, feel free to post them in the comments.

Written by lzaykoski

October 20, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Building a Writer’s Web Site: What NOT to Do

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So, I broke my Web site last night, and I really don’t know how to fix it. Inspired by Kristen King’s blog makeover, I decided to get my butt in gear and get my site going. I’d decided to use WordPress since it’s more visually appealing than most platforms, and I already know how to use it, so my learning curve would be pretty short.

The WordPress installation went fine – I uploaded the files to my server via FTP and changed the WP configuration file so it has my database name and password in it. When I was finished doing that, I went right to the install screen and chose a blog name. I got a message saying WordPress had been successfully installed. Except, when I visit my site, I get a 403 forbidden error that tells me I cannot access anything. Now what do I do?!

Written by lzaykoski

October 20, 2008 at 11:36 am

Building a Writer’s Web Site Series: How to Choose a Domain Name

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This is the first post in a series of what will be dozens of posts designed to help you build a writer’s Web site from the ground up. We’ll talk about how to design your site to meet the needs of potential clients (instead of your own needs); how to follow the principles of good design and avoid common Web design mistakes; how to make your site more accessible for people with disabilities (particularly vision problems); and how to use your site as a marketing tool. If you don’t have a writer’s Web site or you’d like to give yours a makeover, join me as I build my own writer’s Web site step by step.

Building Your Writer’s Web Site: Choosing a Domain Name

The very first thing you need to do when building a writer’s Web site is purchase your own domain name. It’s very tempting to use a free Web hosting service, but purchasing your own domain gives you much more control over your site. In fact, the benefits of having your own domain name far outweigh the cost of paying a few dollars a year to register the domain. Some of the benefits of having your own domain name include the following:

  • Increased control over the advertising that appears (or doesn’t appear) on your pages
  • Opportunity to build your own personal brand
  • More control over how your graphics and content appear to visitors
  • Ability to choose your own Web hosting firm
  • Improved search engine rankings, if chosen carefully

Tip: Don’t let concerns about coding, technical issues, and site function turn you away from buying your own domain name.  Even when you buy your own domain name, you can still use templates and other easy Web publishing tools that make building your site as easy as possible.

Now that you’ve decided to purchase your own domain name (you have, haven’t you?), it’s time to learn how to choose the best domain name for your site.

Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

  • Don’t use your name as your domain name; instead, use words related to your business so that people can find you when using the search engines.
  • Keep your domain name as short as possible.
  • Avoid using clever spellings or misspelled keywords; it will make it difficult for people to find your site.
  • Use a .com domain extension instead of .net, .org, .biz or other extensions.

Purchasing a Domain Name

Once you’ve decided on a domain name, you must find out if it is available, and then register it for a period of one year or more.  I recommend Name.com for domain name registration, as they are very inexpensive and have provided me with good customer service.  Go to their site and you will be able to check on the availability of your domain name right from the home page.  Enter your desired domain name (e.g. http://www.copywriter) in the text area and then check off your desired extension (.com).  Click on “check availability” and you’ll be able to find out if the domain is available to be registered.  If it’s not, continue trying new domain names until you find one that is available.  If it is, you can make your purchase.

When registering the domain, you will be asked for your contact and billing information.  Be sure to give an e-mail address that is checked frequently, as they may send you important information about your domain name.  You may register your domain name for one year or more and you can also choose to make your registration information private.  Once you have filled out all of this information, you can submit your registration.  Keep an eye on your e-mail for notices that require you to confirm your account or address.  Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you’ll be the proud owner of your very own domain name.

How to Choose a Domain Name: Quick Review

  1. Choose keywords related to your business and come up with several potential domain names.
  2. Avoid using long domain names or domain names that use misspellings or clever spellings.
  3. Check to be sure your domain name is available.
  4. Register your domain name for your desired period of time.
  5. Check your e-mail to be sure you do not need to take any further action.

Next Step: Choosing a Web Host

In the next post in this series, we’ll talk about how to choose a Web host so you can start using your domain name.  In the meantime, how many of you have your own domain names?  If you’re nervous about getting your own domain, what fears are holding you back from taking the leap?  Are there any domain research or registration tools you would recommend?

Written by lzaykoski

October 14, 2008 at 9:42 pm