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Hosting a Website. Learn About Your Options




Hosting a website sounds very simple, but getting the right host provider requires some level of thinking as it is one of the most important decisions you will have to make on your road to getting on the Internet. You often hear that it’s good to have options, but with the number choices you have today choosing the right service provider can take up a good amount of time with all the research and diligence involved.

It is possible hosting a website yourself by dedicating a powerful computer server to it. However, making sure it’s running and accessible to the internet 24 hours a day is a whole different ball game. This route requires technical expertise and can be very expensive, relatively at least to paying a service provider.

A better and more cost efficient route for most website operators is to go with a professional website hosting provider. Competition in the online marketplace has reduced hosting costs significantly over time. A simple search in Google will yield hundreds of hosting options for you – all at a reasonably low cost.



Website hosting cost

Website hosting costs are determined based on the storage space your website will require and the amount of traffic that you anticipate your website to generate. This is often referred to as the “bandwidth” size. Costs are also based on the flexibility and functionality of the host server and provider. If you would like the ability to modify and add various functions to your website, you might want to go with a host that offers such flexibility in exchange for a slightly higher service fee.

You will find most host providers charge anywhere from $3.99 to $70 per month to host your website. $70 is not the norm by any means. Expect to pay around this amount for top website hosting. Overall, the amount you pay will depend on your website’s bandwidth requirements.

If your budget has some flexibility, consider hosting a website with a provider that gives you the tool to build your site. Since you are going to be paying a little bit more, make sure that the tool allows you to build a website using point and click technology. That means you simply have to drag and relocate objects to design your website. A very good program to consider is Site Build It (“SBI”). This is a one stop provider of website design and hosting solution. It is affordable and gives you the option of integrating a shopping cart if your website purpose is ecommerce.

My only complaint with SBI is that it somewhat limits you in your control and options as it relates to the design of your website. If you want full control over the design of your website, you need to obtain a freestanding website design tool that will allow you to design your website without needing to know HTML. For this purpose, Coffee Cup is the best and most economical option. If you want something more advanced, there is no better web design program than Dreamweaver.

Most website design software companies allow you to try their products for free. So don’t hesitate to try them out before making a well informed purchasing decision.



Hosting is the heart of your website

If your web pages together make up the skeletal system of your website, then your web host is the heart of your website. It is what makes your website beat into live action. Without a web host, your website is like a dead body that is static, does not function and will eventually rot. How is that for an analogy?

Your host provides you with the online space where you build and securely park your web pages for others to see. Your host is also your personal email account provider. This email account will reflect your domain address. So for example, if your domain is www.yourdomain.com, then your email address will be you@yourdomain.com. Depending on the option you choose, your host will also provide you with the option to add additional functionality such as shopping carts, feedback forms, forum discussions, chatting capabilities, etc. to your website.

It is important to keep in mind that while all these options may be available, their availability is strictly dependent on the website host provider you choose. That is the purpose of this discussion. Learn the facts in advance and choose your host wisely. The last thing you want is to put in all that time and hard work into your website and realize that you are limited in your expansion capabilities. The good news, however, is that you can often switch host providers relatively easy.

Everyone has a different reason to ride the online waive. Whether for fun or to make money, the Internet has no barriers for anyone and everyone is welcome to create a presence online. After the domain registration process you will need a host provider to get your web pages displayed online. And as you probably have already determined, there is no one best solution for all website.

If your goal is to have a one page recreational website where you post random pictures of yourself then you really won’t need much space or sophistication in the tools you go with. On the other hand if your goal is to create an interactive website or one for ecommerce, then you will need more advance features and functions. That is exactly why it is very important to preplan your web presence.

You HAVE to know what you want in order to work towards it. This section will give you a brief summary of the various options you need to consider as you shop for your hosting solution. Keep in mind that these are not ALL the options but a mere list of the common ones. I hope that you will gain a better understanding of each as you go through this section as well as understand what exactly you need to build and maintain the website of your dreams as you navigate through this website.



Personal/Recreational Type Websites

There are more of these than any type of website out there. Accidental website addicts are often born by experimenting with low cost and free website host providers to build their personal website. Many that are new to creating websites often like this option since it is relatively easy to select pre-designed HTML templates and to customize them into the webpage of your choice by simply pointing and clicking to add various features and pictures. There is no programming needed at all.

I don’t recommend building a website with one of the many free website host providers out there. Read here why. Rather, I suggest a tool like the Website Tonight packages that you can get today for as low as $7.95 per month. With the technological advancements today, even the most basic packages have gotten a lot better while increased competition has continued to put downward pressures on price.

There used to be a time where the most basic web creation tool that only allowed text and graphics would cost more than some of the highly complex packages today. Today, even basic packages allow you the capability of adding functionalities like on page contact forms and discussion forums amongst many others to your website.

With a package like Website Tonight, you won’t need programming experience or have to install any special software. Website Tonight is a web based program that allows you to sign into your account and start building your website. Read more about Website Tonight here.

Before you get Website Tonight, make sure you have a domain name. Website Tonight is a website creation program. It does not provide you with a domain name.



Business Model/E-Commerce

The word business is broad and can encompass quite a bit. For our discussion purposes however I want to narrow the definition of this term to selling over the Internet, or ecommerce as most familiar to us. I just don’t think you can make a business website simple, and that the more features and functionality you have the better your customer experience will be and the more successful you will be online.

I’m not saying to load up your website with all kinds of bells and whistles and just let it be. No, you will have to do everything else that is discussed throughout this website to make your business website successful. The purpose of this discussion is to specifically point out some of the tools and capabilities your website will need so that you can keep this in mind while shopping around for your online business web page hosting solution.

Some of the features you would want to consider are as follows: discussion forums (between you and your customers or amongst customers), Blog integration, message boards, chat sessions if possible, shopping cart solutions, merchant account integration and the ability of your customers to leave messages and feedback on your website (you can choose whether or not to display the feedback on a real time basis as your customer leave it)

Don’t be so overwhelmed by the list. I am not saying go out there and build a website with all these features built in. Your current plans for your website may not include all the features mentioned but it is important to have the flexibility of adding these at relative ease as your business progresses. You don’t want to hit walls later on when your business is running at full speed. You want a host that gives you the most space, freedom and flexibility in what you can do.

Knowing HTML can be advantageous with this type of a website because of the complex features and functionalities I have recommended. However it is not a must. It’s totally ok if you do not know how to code in HTML. Just make sure you get a good website building program like Dreamweaver form Adobe.com. I have not found a tool better than this in my experience with building web-pages.

You can also choose to use the website building tools that come with your hosting provider but I really recommend using something more powerful. If you do not want to make the investment in Dreamweaver, consider Microsoft Front Page if you have this with your MS Office Tools. Otherwise, I recommend CoffeeCup which is user friendly, good in functionality and extremely cost efficient. You can upgrade to Dreamweaver later as you gain more comfort and experience with websites.

Many online businesses that expand to be quite large often prefer dedicated website hosting. With a dedicated website host, you don’t share hosting space with other websites. A server is dedicated to traffic that only your website generates. Dedicated website hosting is an expensive option, but can be well worth the price for a large online business.



eBay Business

I was debating including this section in this discussion but I thought I might as well. I will make this very brief however. eBay is its own world and it’s a great solution for someone who wants to test the market demand for a particular product. The nature of the auction community will also help you set a price for your product as you will know what the market is willing to pay for the item you are selling.

eBay has also added the capability to create an “eBay store”, which is a good way to branch out from eBay and start generating sales from your own website (there are many financial business reasons why you should do this if you have an eBay business). However, if you are going to go this route, why not have your own website all together with no affiliation with eBay? This way you own your traffic and the goodwill that you will build over the years of conducting good business online.

Consider the discussion above under the “Business Model” section that will give you a better understanding of hosting options to consider for your own business website.



Advertising Model Based Websites (Blogs, Information Based)

The advertising web business model is my personal favorite way to make money online. This is a true way to create a lot of wealth from ground up with very minimal, or sometimes no investment at all. Advertising based websites are websites that strictly rely on traffic with the hope that the website’s visitors will be interested in some of the products or services offered by the advertisers on your website.

With an advertising based website, you can display private advertisements by establishing relationships with interested advertisers. Or, you can partner up with Google and advertise on their behalf. Google Adsense is discussed below.

Advertising websites can come in the form of information based websites that provide a wealth of valuable information and thus attracting heavy traffic. You will also see many popular Blogs turn into these types of websites. A popular Blog that has many participants often generates a ton of traffic which is attractive to advertisers.

To be successful with an advertising based website, you will need a host that can handle a good amount of visitor traffic. If you are relying on traffic, you want to ensure that your website’s visitors do not experience delays in web-pages loading up or images on your website taking time to display.

You want your host to allow you to integrate some type of email marketing software that allows you to remain in touch with your website’s visitors. You can use one of the many free email programs like Hotmail and Gmail. However, using a proper email management tool of your choice and integrating it with your website so that your visitors can automatically sign up is a lot more convenient and time efficient. You don’t need a shopping cart or merchant account integration with this type of a website as you will not be conducting financial transactions over the Internet.

Read a comprehensive discussion on email marketing here.



Affiliate Marketing based Websites

Online advertising models may also involve an Affiliate Marketing type website, where you team up with other businesses to promote and sell their products and services on your website. You are rewarded each time a visitor converts into a customer through your website. Alternatively as a business owner, you can start your own affiliate program where you allow others to promote your offering in exchange for either a fixed payment or commission on a sale by sale basis.

Since Affiliate Marketing type websites are nothing more than focused advertising websites and mainly thrive on heavy traffic, I recommend a host with similar characteristics as for an advertising based website. The bottom line is that you want to attract as much traffic as possible without having to spend too much time and effort doing it. This ensures that you can spend your time in establishing more affiliate relations and expanding your streams of income. And not to mention – you need a website host provider that can handle the traffic your site brings in!

Read a comprehensive discussion on affiliate marketing here.



Google Adsense Based Websites

Within the online advertising model space, Google Adsense is my favorite. With Google Adsense you can get paid to advertise on behalf of the thousands of businesses that advertise through Google. You simply allow Google to use a portion of your website to post their advertisements and in turn you get paid each time your website’s visitor clicks on any of the ads.

Getting started with Google's free Adsense program is simple and easy. The only requirement is that you DO NOT host your website with a free host provider. Very rarely does someone not get accepted by Google to join this campaign. The launch of Google Adsense back in June, 2003 single handedly has given many people a reason to create a website. (Check out this article) Making money online has never been easier and many people are doing it..

Traffic is king as you would imagine for a website like this. More visitors translate to more page views, which translate to more advertisements show (exposure) which will generate advertising revenue when the advertisements are clicked on. You want to make sure your host can handle a lot of traffic flow and is flexible enough in its design to allow you to modify the HTML of your website easily and frequently should you desire. Google Adsense gives you an HTML code that you will have to integrate into your website for Google’s ads to appear.

Read this important SBI section if you want to make money with this model because of the heavy traffic that SBI brings to your website. SBI was also created with Google Adsense in mind, specifically designed to help you make money from the opportunity.



So hosting a website is not a quick decision after all is it?

The website host provider that is best for you will depend on the type of website you build. Regardless of the host you select, you can be assured that each provides great customer service through phone or email, your own personal email accounts for your use, 99.9% uptime guarantee and the ability to access your website and make changes at any time.

Please pay close attention to the details in this section to understand the tools you need for the type of website you are interested in. I do recommend reading this section over a few times before selecting a host.

Most of the hosting options out there are stand alone in the sense that they are just hosting options. This means you will need your own domain name as well as an HTML editor tool or some other type of webpage creation tool.

It does not matter whether you get all these components from one vendor or multiple vendors. What is important is that you understand what you need and what you are getting for your money. Integrating everything together can be relatively painless once you understand the different components you need for your website. Of course, there is always SBI that will save you the hassles involved in website creation and marketing if you choose to go with their services. Read on more about SBI here.

Another option:  In order for your site to grow, you'll need to have enough space. Network Solutions has three webhosting packages, so you can plan for the future and adjust when you need to.






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