Unless you have an unlimited budget cheap website hosting is essential when you are starting to build your own website or online business.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FREE AND CHEAP WEBSITE HOSTING
You could of course choose one of the free hosted websites but you can’t monetize those and as many writers will agree when it comes to money – every little helps.
Using a free host also means you won’t have your own unique address – your address will always contain the name of your free host which is okay but in my opinion it just doesn’t look as good.
You could also skip the idea of having a website at all but I wouldn’t recommend that. A writer needs to have a virtual base or home and when you have a website you not only have that base but you have a direct line of communication with your readers. Many older writers hate this idea – they never had to do this but times have changed and so have readers expectations. A website may not be necessary for an older, established writer but for newer writers it makes sense to connect with new readers as much as you can. It is also a source of great pleasure to hear from readers directly.
Having a web presence in today’s virtual world also really helps when it comes to promoting and selling your books. You can let your readers know about your books and what you are working on. If nobody knows who you are, or where you are, how are they going to find you, or your books?
HOW TO BE FOUND IN AN EXPANDING MARKET
Don’t underestimate this problem – the market for books is constantly expanding and this is great news for writers but, getting your work ‘seen’ and read can be another job in itself.
I won’t lie to you. It takes time but your perseverance will pay off. I started off with between 5 and 15 visitors each day and now have a minimum of 2000 unique visitors per day. Here are my stats for last month:
It’s great to have ways to promote your work but what’s really great, as well as fun, is being able to get in touch with your readers.
INTERACTION AND ENGAGEMENT – CRUCIAL FOR WRITERS
It can also be really interesting talking to your website visitors. You get fascinating snippets of information about the culture and people in places you have never visited and maybe never will. Equally they can enjoy asking you questions and learning more about you and your culture. Interaction and engagement are what it’s all about and if like me, you don’t like going out and about networking at conferences etc., this is an ideal solution.
FINDING THE RIGHT SYSTEM FOR YOU
For a lot of writers, building a website can be daunting, that’s why if you can’t afford to pay someone to do it for you I would recommend finding an easy way to build one yourself. Actually even if you can afford to pay someone I would still recommend learning to do it as it is so much easier to be able to post your own work. Otherwise you have to contact your website developer and have them do it for you. This is not just expensive but slow too. Believe me it is much more motivating and rewarding to write when you know you can publish immediately.
ARE YOU A NON-TECHIE?
I initially started my site with a particular system which unfortunately proved unsuitable and I wasted a lot of time on it. However like every mistake there was a lot to learn from it. I was still determined and on my second attempt at building my website I decided to go with WordPress – mainly because there is so much help available and because WordPress can be learned by non-techies like me.
FREE HOSTING, OR SELF-HOSTED ? YOU DECIDE
If you choose to go with WordPress.com your blog will be hosted by them for free. However, you will have no control over having their adverts displayed unless you pay to have them removed. You cannot have your own adverts either, so additional revenue streams are not available and as I mentioned above, your blog name will be www.yourdomain.wordpress.com instead of www.yourname.com
Having wordpress.com attached to your domain name sounds less professional to me because it lets everyone know that you are using a free service, but is not a deal breaker. Many writers continue to use it by choice even after they are successful, and if you can’t afford to pay for hosting then this is a great way to get yourself out there.
MAKING MONEY WITH YOUR WEBSITE
I decided to go with wordpress.org as I wanted to choose my own domain names and I also wanted to be able to monetize the blog in ways of my own choosing. I decided to go with a few adverts via Adsense. This has proven a great idea, as the extra money coming in pays for my hosting and domain name and since this income is growing beyond my expectation I am coming to regard it as a little pension, or insurance policy for bad times, or times when I can’t write.
IF I CAN DO IT – ANYONE CAN
I taught myself using Pat Flynn’s ‘How To Build A Blog In Less Than 4 Minutes’ video which you can find here on his Smart Passive Income Site. Pat is a great teacher and I have to give him all due credit for my site. There are so many gurus and teachers out there and out of all of them Pat is the one whose teaching materials I found easiest to follow and to implement.
Personally I have a love/hate thing going on with technology and find it both rewarding and infuriating. These skills just don’t come naturally to me, so believe me if I can do it, anyone can do it.
There are other systems out there as well. You could also try Blogger. I have a small site with them called Ballyyahoo In Pictures This is where I post the images from my walks around Ireland which inspire my Ballyyahoo series of children’s stories.
I find Blogger easy to use. It is also free and there are other options to monetize. However, your address will carry their name in addition to yours, like mine here : http://ballyyahoo-in-pictures.blogspot.ie
It is a good system, but as of now my personal preference is still WordPress – there are just so many options.
CHEAP WEBSITE HOSTING & GREAT SUPPORT
If you decide to go with self hosting then I would highly recommend using HostGator as your host. You can buy your domain through them as well. All my sites are currently with them and I have no hesitation in recommending them to you – especially if this is your first time blogging.
WEB CHAT SUPPORT
The reason I say this is because for me, support is everything. If I don’t get support I am in trouble and having tried other hosting services I have to say HostGator is the best.
If I have problems I don’t want to contact support and be pointed to a load of complicated technical solution sheets. Don’t get me wrong, those are helpful later on, but at the beginning we often need to communicate with a human being and that is why HostGator stands out. Their web chat support has been outstanding and their support staff have helped me get out of so many jams.
Their pricing is really competitive also – just click on the banner below to see what I mean. In the meantime best of luck with building your blog.
All the best,
P.S. Because of their excellent service I decided to become an affiliate for HostGator so I receive a small commission which helps to pay the costs of my site. It doesn’t cost you anything and I can assure you I would not do this unless I used the product myself and was totally satisfied.