Creating your own freelancer’s website is not as difficult as you might imagine. Choosing a domain name and setting up website hosting are the first steps on the road to your new website.
Buying a Domain Name
The very first thing you must do is to purchase your domain name. That is the name of your website. This is a very simple process and the cost is minimal. If you operate under a business name, like The Best Copywriter Ever, purchase www.bestcopywriterever.com.
Even if you have no immediate plans to build a website, it would be a good idea to purchase your business’ domain name or you might be surprised to find that your name is not available.
In fact, that’s why you need to purchase your personal name too. If there is more than one Joe Smith in the world and you want to use www.joesmith.com, you have to own the domain.
How to Choose a Domain Name
Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz: 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name
Smashing Magazine: The Effective Strategy For Choosing Right Domain Names
Problogger: Choosing the Domain Name for your Blog
Keep in mind that your domain name is how people will find you on the internet. When you select a domain name, make it short, easy to remember and easy to type.
Resources for buying a domain name
Hosting: Where Will Your Website Live?
Think of your hosting as the home your website lives in. Free hosting is like a youth hostel or summer camp where anyone and everyone can live. The beds are uncomfortable and the breakfast buffet is a banana. Self-hosted is more like a room in a hotel with a variety of amenities. You might have the full breakfast buffet or a continental breakfast.
Depending on your needs and the type of hosting plan you choose means the difference between a Budget Inn or a suite at the Four Seasons.
Self-Hosted vs. Free Hosting
You can create a free blog or website on sites like Blogger and WordPress.com. They offer a limited number of choices in template design, as well as taking care of your hosting. This is just fine for a personal blog.
It is also a good way to give blogging a test drive before you set up a site for your business. Also, many of the free hosting companies will run advertising on your site. You might even have a competitor’s ads on your site.
You should also look at the advertising policy of a hosted site if you plan to monetize your site. WordPress.com does not allow you to add any affiliate ads.
Normally, I would say free is always better for a cash-strapped freelancer. However, for a professional business website, self-hosting is the best way to go. With a self-hosted site, your domain name would be www.mycoolwebsite.com instead of www.mycoolwebsite/wordpress.com.
With a self-hosted account, you also get an email with your domain name. Think of the impression you’ll make on potential clients when you send an email from your own domain, instead of from Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail.
Price is not the most important consideration when selecting a hosting company. Security, customer service and ease of use are essential. While most hosting companies will have similar services, you should use a hosting company that offers 24/7 technical support and an easy 1-step WordPress installation.
The Benefits of Using Self-Hosted WordPress
- SEO friendly
- Easy to use and make updates to your site
- Tons of forums, groups and online help available
- FREE or low cost to get started
What Type of Hosting Do I Need?
Hosting companies offer a confusing array of services. If you are not careful, you will purchase services that you do not need. A shared hosting account should work well for most blogs and websites.
Shared Hosting simply means that several customers’ websites reside on a single web server and that the server’s resources (CPU and RAM) are shared among every customer account on the machine. The costs for shared hosting is generally less than $15 per month.
Once your traffic increases, you might want to upgrade to a Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Hosting. E-commerce and web sites that require more resources might benefit from Managed Hosting that specialized in WordPress websites, like Synthesis and WP Engine.
This is a more costly option but provides a much higher level of security and service. This is perfect for E-commerce websites with tons of traffic.
A hosting company should have a C-Panel (control panel) where you can set up your hosting plan, install WordPress, create an email account and other options. The hosting company’s technical support should be able to walk you through the process.