It seems everything is online today. Of course almost all businesses have a website and email, as do a large percentage of people I meet. In fact, many people I know have more than one website.
Years ago this could be expensive costing hundreds of dollars a year. Today, there is no need for that. You can get a WordPress website with unlimited email and unlimited storage for as little as $4 a month or $48 per year without a sale. That even includes twenty four hour technical support by phone.
So let’s delve into this a little bit so we understand all the pieces.
The main parts of a website
There are two main parts to most ‘websites’; the domain name and the hosting service. The hosting service can also be broken into two pieces; website and email. Everything starts with the domain name so let’s start there.
A domain name is the name that appears in the address bar when you visit a website. It is also usually at least representative of the name of the website. For example, the website you are reading this on is Paper Bird Tek and its domain name is paperbirdtek.com. The same holds true for yahoo.com and microsoft.com.
You could of course name your website Acme Ink Blotters Incorporated while using the domain name of cutefuzzyanimalsonthemoon.com but that would really confuse your visitors.
Domain names are purchased from a registrar. These are companies authorized by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to sell domain names. I should note that most people use the terms buy a domain name and sell a domain name even though it is more accurate to say rent or lease as you will always be paying for as long as you want to use that domain name.
Domain names have something on the end called the TLD (Top-Level Domain) and comes after the period or dot. For example yahoo.com has the “.com” TLD. There are a wide array of TLDs that you can use with the most common being .com, .net and .org. Originally the .com was for for-profit businesses, .net for networks (such as ISPs) and .org for organizations or groups. While a company can use .net or .org and non-profit organizations can use .com it is generally frowned upon. While younger people and those with less internet knowledge may not care what TLD you use, the older and more tech savvy may think you lack technology knowledge if you use an inappropriate TLD.
A web hosting company is someone who owns servers and rents or leases space on them for people to put their websites and email on. It is common that a web hosting company is also a registrar, or that they can seamlessly provide registrar services through their systems. It is also possible for you to use one company as your registrar and another for your hosting.
You can also split your website and email up between two different companies such as using Google Apps for Business for your email and a standard hosting company for your website. This is typically done for larger companies and/or those that need more management options than a standard hosting company provides.
Now that we have discussed both domain names and hosting companies let’s talk a little about hosting packages and what options you may want to look for.
All three have some things in common such as unlimited website storage space, unlimited email addresses and unlimited bandwidth (how much data you can send and receive on your website). All of these are even standard on their least expensive plans starting at $0.99 per month (limited time offer, on sale, $6.99 per month after 12 months). They also all include MySQL databases on their cheapest plans which is required for WordPress websites.
Where differences exist in the basic plans it is usually something such as GoDaddy only giving you 100GB of website storage and 100 emails addresses which is still overkill for any normal person or small company. If you are a larger company or have specific needs for extremely large email inboxes (my web hosting account on 1and1 which is one step up from the basic account has an email quota, or limit, of 50GB per email address).
Many companies even offer services such as moving your existing website over to their servers. Sometimes this is a free service, sometimes not. If however you can move from your current hosting solution at $300 a year to one that charges less than $100 a year then your one time expense in moving over is an easy cost to absorb.
You can also opt for a hosting package specifically for WordPress if you have a WordPress website. These packages typically offer assistance in installing, managing and backing up your website for a small fee. This fee ranges from a couple of dollars a month to around five dollars a month depending on the company and services offered. It is important to note that this provides services you can easily do yourself, but it does save you time and effort. Just don’t think you have to have a WordPress package to be able to run a WordPress website.
Virtually all hosting companies post lists of packages and their features on their website making it easy to compare. Things to watch out for are limited time offers where the price increases after so long (almost all hosting companies do this at one time or another, they may call it a sale), premium features you really don’t need (my host keeps trying to sell me on their upgraded email which does nothing I need) and packages that may or may not include registration of your domain name (and if so, how much is that domain name costing you?)
Sometimes paying a little more for a domain name at your hosting company is worth the added convenience of having everything on one control panel with one tech support number. Sometimes the price is too high. Take a look around and compare. I have all my domain names through my hosting company and their rates are reasonable.
One thing to avoid is chasing the rabbit. This term refers to always looking for the best deal. I like deals as much as anyone else but my time is worth money too. Unless switching from my current host to a new one will save me enough money to offset the pain in the rear of moving my stuff, reconfiguring my email programs (computers, phones, tablets, etc), remembering new webmail addresses, etc I am not interested.
The bottom line here is that you can do all this yourself, for less than $100 per year, easily. What are you waiting for?