by Jargon Writer

Writing my way to becoming a freelancer

Hosting OR Where you Keep Your Domain Name

As I discussed in Monday’s post, hosting services are services that “store” your website files in a place on the web (or, really, on a server that is always connected to the web) so that anyone can find them anytime.

Now, the reason I said not to buy your domain name immediately once you find one that you both love and that is available, is because some hosting services offer a free domain rebate or free domain name with purchase of a hosting plan. My host, dsgnrhosting.com, offers said rebate. Godaddy also offers hosting – my roommate bought her domain name through Godaddy and uses them for hosting and has been very pleased with them thus far. As with any major business decision, shop around a bit. The following are some things to consider when comparing:

Price and Payment Plans – Some sites are more flexible than others. Do you have to pay the year upfront? Can you pay month-to-month? How easy is it to upgrade or downgrade your hosting package? Do they offer any coupons (godaddy offers a number of coupons, according to my roomie)? Remember, money spent on hosting and your website is money you are taking out of your bottom line. It is an investment, and having a good website is a good investment, but you want to make sure what you’re buying is actually what you need. In addition to looking at the price for hosting services, check for extra fees –set up fees and domain registration fees, especially.

Memory – Essentially, this is how big your cabinet is; it will decide how many files you can keep up and how complex your website can be. If you already have a website built, you can look and just see how big the files are. If you don’t have a site built yet, it may be a good idea to ask a friend or colleague whose site you like how large their site is – this is likely to give you a pretty good indication of how much space you’ll need.

Email – Most hosting services include email services @yourdomainname.com. For instance, that is how I have an email account mbreau(at)jargonwriter.com. Can you create unlimited email addresses at your domain name?

Hosted Domains – This is how many domain names you can have set up for that hosting service account. I plan on having at least 3 domain names – one with my company name, one with my actually name and one for my blog (which will be http://www.jargonwriter.com as soon as I get it set up).

Traffic – This directly effects how many visitors you can get per month. In addition to actual visitors, this number is affected by search engine spiders (“crawlers” that check your site and catalog it so that search engines know what the site contains), which run through your site on a regular basis. There is a complicated formula for figuring out how many visits you can get per byte, but the easiest thing to do is just call or email the services you’re considering and ask what those numbers are.

Downtime – Servers generally undergo routine maintenance, but occasionally things happen and they go down. While the server is down, people will be unable to access your site. Ask about average annual downtime and policies pertaining to downtime, like whether the site reimburses customers for extended downtime.

NOTE: There are free FTP services out there (firefox offers one, for example) which essentially make the need for a hosting service moot. Instead, your website is uploaded to the ftp site and web surfers can access it. The downside, is many of the free services are fairly easy to hack; if you’ll be using your site for any sort of monetary transactions you NEED to purchase a hosting services or you’re putting your customer’s accounts at risk. If you’re just setting up a basic website, you may be able to get away with using a free account – but hosting services come with many additional perks (like the email address thing) and a good hosting services is a lot less likely to go down than a free ftp site.

Once you’ve chosen a hosting service, signed up for a package and bought your domain name, it’s time to start designing your site.

In the comments, please let me know what hosting service you use, what your experience has been and/or what factors play(ed) into your choice of a hosting service.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Freelancing, in practice, writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The World Wide … What??

As much as I am a nerd and a geek (after all, I freakin’ love words), I am not a techie. As you may have noticed, if you’ve checked out my goals page, one of my goals was to talk to my friend, who is a techie, about the web this week.

I spent an hour on the phone with him on Sunday, and I think I probably said, “I don’t understand. What?” more times than I can count.

Prior to talking to him I had decided I was going to buy three web domains in the coming months.
1) Jargonwriter.com – where I would host this blog
2) mbreau.com – which would host a site about me and my writing and hopefully collect leads.
3) MelissaBreau.com which would redirect to mbreau.com (or vice-versa).

I have some (very) rudimentary web skills – I know enough HTML and PHP to make dreamweaver work. I’m planning to work on the site myself with some assistance from my friend, mr. big bad web developer, who frequently fields questions for me for free when I should probably be paying him a ridiculous amount to do consulting. Needless to say, he’s damn good at what he does (danny if you’re reading this, stop blushing).

Even before talking to him, I thought I understood the basics. You have to “buy” a domain name (ie. pay money to register it). Then you need to set up an ftp site, and pay someone to host your site. The way I understand it, when someone hosts your site you pay them to put it on their computer and they keep that computer (really, i think its called a server) online at all times, allowing visitors to your site to view it. An ftp site allows you to exchange files between your computer and their server, and shows you what is on each. Okay, so far so good. And then I called Danny.

Due to the number of search results that pop up when you google my name (3 pages), he says I need a higher bandwidth than most sites include with a basic hosting package. Ok, so add on that. Then we talked about hosting through wordpress (since I can just upgrade this) and he recommended against it for reasons that took a really long time to understand, but boil down to templates and how much memory or kb or w/e this site actually uses each time it downloads and how that translates to bandwidth usage.

That is, apparantly danny thinks I am WAY more popular than I think I am, because I think 4,000 pageviews a month sounded like a hecka lot and he thought it wasn’t enough – he says search engines crawl it regularly and hosts count those as page views …. and, since I know he knows what he’s talking about … I’m going to trust him on how that all works.

Then he recommended another site, which upon visiting I promptly told him was way beyond me. I couldn’t understand every third word on their page explaining what you get when you pay for their services. Too complicated.

So now I’m on the search for the perfect host. Danny’s helping – he’s tapping his group of resources to find out what’s worked for other people.

I, in the meantime, am supposed to try and do some independent research. The goal is to find a host where I can get close to unlimited bandwidth for under $60 / year. And that’s not including start up fees, like actually buying or registering a domain name.

Needless to say, I ended the conversation by taking a few aspirins and a break from doing work of any sort. Right now, I fully appreciate the depth of what I do not know, and am REALLY glad I have someone in my personal network who understands it a hell of a lot better than I do.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | research | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments