Hosting
Internet Business Magic
Resources for readers of the amazing book by Rich Hamilton…

Hosting



Your website will not be located on your computer at your desk, nor will it be somewhere in your office. Your website will be located on a computer that is hooked to the internet. The computer is installed and maintained by your “hosting company.”

That computer runs all day, every day, and acts as a “server,” delivering (or “serving”) viewable pages, music, video, email, etc.

As you learned in Internet Business Magic, it’s best to hire this out, rather than attempting to set up and maintain this computer yourself. (Even Yahoo! uses a hosting company.)

It can also be a confusing choice. There are lots of hosting companies. And there are lots of options. Very few of these companies offer you the control you need, with an easy, “not too technical” interface, at a reasonable price.

Your internet business plan in less than an hour

In Internet Business Magic, I showed you how to do your internet business plan in less than an hour. Now, take that plan and use it to check off the services you need against those included in the plans of these hosting companies.

Do you really need a hosting company?

Yes, if you’re going to have a website, you need a hosting company. A few service businesses or consultants may do everything with an email newsletter, and they will get by with a domain name and autoresponder service. But no one will find them by searching the web. And there will be little opportunity to showcase products or services. So a website is pretty important.

When do you need a “big company” approach?

The hosting companies we’ve found offer services for small and medium sized firms. Most large companies will also find dedicated servers that are a good value. They will satisfy the needs for 98% of the companies who look here, probably for you. However, if you offer so many items that you fear trying to keep a list of them, with descriptions, on a computer, you may need a large database system. If you think this might be you, click here.

Hosting and Starting Your Website

Most medium- and small-size businesses can pick up a hosting service for less than a hundred bucks a month. Smaller websites may run under ten bucks a month.

Blogs

One of the most amazing developments of recent years on the internet is blogging. Strictly speaking, a “blog” is a journal of comments that a “writer” (you) post online. Sometimes comments may be posted to respond to the original comments.

Blogging started as a nice personal mode of communication. Thousands of people were posting notes to their “online diary” that no one really wanted to read. There are still thousands, probably millions of blogs online that are ramblings of interest only to one’s family.

As often occurs in technology, an unexpected thing happened. Blogging evolved to the point that certain blogs have become the most interesting and influential websites online. We have more information on blogs.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

A number of software systems have been created that are linked to a database that organizes the content of the website into an “online newspaper.” Featuring one or more top-notch writers, they are regularly updated with news and commentary. Sometimes they have a blog section with opinion pieces and responses from readers. They seldom identify themselves as “blogs.” You have probably seen them as you surfed the internet.

CMS software, including blogging capability, is installed on your own website, not on a common “blogger” website. CMS offers a number of special advantages:

  • Once it’s installed and designed, online CMS software is easy to use for content management, not requiring special software installed on your home or office computer.
  • You can post changes from any internet-connected computer, anywhere.
  • Some of the best CMS software is free. It’s one of the amazing things about the internet.
  • Search engines tend to scan your pages more often (because content changes often), and rank them higher.
  • The best software automatically notifies search engines when updates have been made. This is a feature of blogging, and good CMS software handles this for all your pages, because blogging capability is built in. Most people who use the software don’t even know this is happening; they just enjoy better rankings.
  • In many cases, you can run an entire website with CMS software, adding stories, creating pages, sorting your stories into categories.
  • Starting a new website is easy. After installing and configuring your CMS system, you post a story, and your website is live with that one story. Then, the next day, you add another story. Each new story is added to the system.

I like WordPress software. WordPress is a state-of-the-art personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time. You install it on your own website. You can have a designer modify the theme to your liking, and add other tools like surveys, forums, directories, etc.

Using a Designer

Trying to go the easy way, most people choose to hire a web designer who says they will take care of everything. But you and I have already discussed why that’s a bad idea. (My web designer friends hate me for telling you this. And they can think of all kinds of nonsense reasons why I’m wrong. You can trust me on this. You’re not pioneering online banking. You don’t need most of them.)

Often, you can find a good “template” that you can use with your software, even commercial WordPress themes. Check Cinderella Domains.

Of course, you can hire a designer, too.

Hire a designer to set up your hosting, design your initial site, and add a few pages of content. Then you’ll deal with changes and additions within the existing, already designed system.

How do you find a designer to get you started? First, write up the text you want for your first pages:

  1. Your theme or story. What is the key idea to be communicated by your website?
  2. Contact Us page. How to contact you. Online, by phone, and by mail. We suggest you not list your email address. Instead have an online form a user can fill out, and be sure your email address will not be hidden in that form code. (Spammers have robot computers that search the internet and pull email addresses from web pages.)
  3. About Us page. A description of who you are, perhaps with a bio or history.
  4. Privacy policy/Terms of use. Your attorney may provide some boilerplate, or write your own based on what you see at other websites. We always suggest you run it by your attorney.
  5. At least one page of information. (Remember the search engine strategy in the book; create a separate page for each search phrase.)
  6. List the different types of information you’re going to want to provide.

Now, make a list of the additional features you want on your website. Consider:

  1. Audio delivery, for testimonials, explanations, training, introductions to ideas.
  2. Video delivery, to provide a video demonstration, explanation, or illustration.
  3. Customer service functions you’d like to provide.
  4. Email autoresponders, to deliver instant information.
  5. Email capture, to build opt-in email lists. Will you offer a newsletter, an special gift, or some automated service in return for the email address?
  6. Multiple email list maintenance. What different opt-in lists will you want to maintain?
  7. Email blast capability. To be able to send hundreds or thousands of individual email messages to people who have requested them.
  8. Email accounts for you, others on your staff.
  9. Stockholder services.
  10. Employment opportunities.

Look through Internet Business Magic and through the Resources on this website for additional features you may want.

I used to suggest trying a local university or graphic arts school, but I heard too many stories about projects that didn’t get done. So search for a designer carefully.

A professional is best, but few of them understand marketing, graphics, and CMS. (By the way, they all say they understand marketing. Few do.)

Look for someone who will design your basic site, who already uses WordPress. (Or whatever you may need to use.)

Explain that you need a website designed, and that you will then be taking over when they’re done. Share with them websites that you like; you don’t want them to copy one, but this is the best way to explain what you like.

A professional will probably quote you $3000 or more. Like I told you in the book, I know people who paid over $15,000 and then couldn’t get pages added to the website when needed.

Hosting Companies: Get Full-scale Website Hosting Fast

Hosting is the computer space where your website actually exists so people can find it surfing the web. We have two recommendations for hosting:

Fast and Reliable. Hostorix actually stores your websites and data on two “mirrored” servers for faster response and… if a server fails, the other server takes over and your web pages are delivered uninterrupted. You can host all your domains in one account, subject to diskspace. They have cPanel and Fantastico, which is “fancy words” for an easy way to set up your website, email, and even your WordPress blog or forum. Wow! Hostorix.

Eight bucks Cheap. Choose the “Baby” account at HostGator for about $8 a month. You can host all your domains in one account. They also have cPanel and Fantastico. (And, yes, they have a toll-free number so you can call them for help, if you need to.) HostGator.

Can I do it all myself?

Sure!

Choose the instant Easy Little Websites approach at
EasyLittleWebsites.com.

Or set up a WordPress website. Sign up with Hostorix or HostGator. Install the WordPress software. (They have an online installer called Fantastico that will set that up for you. Start adding content and customizing your website. (If you’re not going to use WordPress, you’ll probably want XSitePro.)

You’ll probably also want to pick up a commercial WordPress template for your website at Cinderella Domains.

Design software:

If you’re not going to use WordPress,” the design software we recommend is XSitePro. We recommend against Microsoft FrontPage.

We’ve also found Nvu (pronounced “N-View,” for “New View”), software that generates websites and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. The best part about Nvu is it’s price. Nvu. However, when we tried to build pages with it, it seemed confusing and unwilling to do what we wanted. So we prefer XSitePro.

Design software will take awhile to learn.

You will want design software if you use a “traditional” hosting plan. You will NOT need these if you are going to use the instant “Easy Little Websites” or WordPress for your entire website.