I run a small shop in Black Mountain, NC for which I had a web site made through my cousin for free. How do I put the web site on the Internet and how much will it cost? I’m not wealthy but do want to keep up with the Joneses.
Jan Marie Claire
Jan Marie, welcome to the World Wide Web. The cost of putting your web site on the Internet can vary from $50 to about $200 annually which I’m sure was way lower than what you had imagined, right? I’ll even tell you about the free (yes, 100% gratis) option though I would dissuade you to going ahead with it. Anyway, let me explain in detail what these costs are and how you should go about getting your shop online!
Since it’s the web site of your shop, a business, you should aim for a professional online presence as the bare minimum. For that, you have to get a domain name. Ideally, the domain name, also known as the web site address, should be the name of your shop as in SHOP-NAME.com. Domain names are not doled out for free, though they are very cheap costing as little as $5 per year. This is one thing you NEED to purchase.
The second cost associated with putting a site online is web hosting. A web site consists of web pages and other files such as images, video etc. Some sites may also involve a database and server-side programs. All these files have to be placed on a computer that’s connect to the Internet 24/7 and runs especial software which enable your site to be available to everyone. Such a machine is called a Web Server.
There are hundreds of companies offering web hosting and their prices can vary from $40 to $200 per year. A small site like yours can happily run on a basic hosting plan, which also would be the cheapest.
From where do I take a domain name and web hosting?
Like I said there are hundreds if not thousands of companies offering these services and all would clamour for your business. However, do not rush things up, especially at this stage; and don’t be swayed by just the costs of the domain name and hosting plan. Your aim should be to pick up a reliable web hosting company, one which would ensure that your site is up and running 24/7 and also offer personalized support and guidance.
The company I use myself and recommend to everyone is [affiliate link →] Network Solutions. They are one of the oldest names in this business being the first domain name sellers in the world. The company regularly runs promotions and discounts by which you can get a domain name for as little as $4 per year!
Not only that, they have the best security in place which protects the domain name ownership – something you would be very serious about as it determines your online identity. NetworkSolutions has attractive hosting packages that come with every conceivable requirement a small business can have like email, web site builder, online shopping cart etc.
And if you are wondering why you cannot use the computer at home to put the web site. That’s because the costs and time spent on maintaining and monitoring this computer would be prohibitive. Also you definitely don’t have the expertise to run such a machine. And thus, it’s strongly recommended that you take the services of a reliable web hosting company. Intrigued? Read more about it on how to host a web site on your home computer.
How to put your web site on the Internet?
Typically, developers upload web site files to the Internet using FTP, the File Transfer Protocol. It’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? However, don’t let that scare you. You can quickly learn how to use FTP – it’s just transferring files from your computer to the server. I use the freely available and stable FileZilla program.
But before we delve into that, you need to realize your limitations. You are, after all, not a web developer. I’m sure you have much better things to do in life than pick up nerdy lingo and technologies. Anyway, what you need to confirm with the developer is whether your web site has simple HTML files or uses server-side scripts and a database. Below is a quick and dirty list of the different ways your site could have been developed:
- Simple HTML pages, images and other multimedia files: You can attempt to learn FTP and upload files to the server.
- Web site has a shopping cart: It most probably utilizes a database and requires a bit more work to get up and running online.
- Web site runs on a CMS (Content Management System) like Joomla, WordPress etc.: Forget learning FTP. You would unnecessarily be wasting time. I suggest directing your efforts in promoting the shop offline and letting someone else (probably your cousin) put the web site on the Internet.
How can you avoid the expense and put your site online for free?
As promised, I will be briefing you about the free option but will also dissuade you from this path. Why? I think your shop deserves at least its own domain name, right?
Anyway, you can put up your site without spending a cent. There are many companies that offer web hosting for free. But, as you probably know, there is always a ‘cost’ attached to something being free. I think it’s just not worth it!.