You’re an author, ready to publish your first book, and everybody says, “You should have a website!” And you agree, but you don’t have the slightest idea how to do that. To tell the truth, you’re not even sure how to use all the features you wish you could use in Word. Here’s how to get started…
First, the easy way to set up a website — pay someone else to do it. Really.
OK, so you’re on a tight budget or you’re a die-hard do-it-yourselfer or you just think, “How hard can it be?” If you don’t have enough computer experience or if learning new skills is not something you really enjoy, I still advise checking out what it costs to have someone else do it.
But, if you want to do this yourself? Here goes…
Step One has two parts. You need to register a domain name (yourwebsite.com) and you need to find a website hosting service. The domain name is what you will call your website, the host is where your website will live. Expect to pay an annual fee for the domain name. The fee varies by the name you choose, but it currently runs about $15-$30. Don’t purchase a domain name until after you’ve found your hosting site because many hosts offer the first year domain registration free.
The hosting site will charge a monthly or annual fee and this varies by who hosts your site and whether you have just one site or multiple sites. As of this writing, hosting fees for a single site range from about $1-$25/month. For the lower price plans you often have to pay for multiple years up front and there might be added fees.
You can do all this for free, but it doesn’t look professional. Free domain names have the hosting site included in them (you.hostsite.com) and free hosting comes with ads popping up on your site. Some of the pictures attached to the ads are pretty gross. Anyone who knows anything would tell you not to go there. But… I’ve done it in the past (shh! don’t tell!), and if you buy your own domain name then you can build on a free host site and move your website to a paid host site later. Something to consider if you’re new to web stuff: you can experiment by building a free dummy website (use WordPress) and if the process works for you, great. Go build a real site with a paid host. And if you’re so frustrated you want to scream, pay someone else to build you a website. It was worth a try.
If you’re game to build your own, I’m including a non-exhaustive list of hosting sites to check out and compare plans. WordPress is probably the easiest place to host, but not the cheapest. If you don’t use WordPress for hosting, you probably want to choose a host that has “1-click” installation of WordPress. Many people use WordPress to build their site, but you don’t have to also have WordPress host it — you can build your site with WordPress and host it somewhere else. I chose Hostinger for hosting and WordPress for building. I’ll write about my experience with Hostinger here.
Here’s a list of website hosting companies in no particular order: Hostinger, DreamHost, GoDaddy, Squarespace, Bluehost, FastComet, WordPress, Namecheap, Wix (free only), OOOWebhost (free only), Weebly.