Theres no place like home.
Okay, Okay, Okay, so maybe I’m not truly starting at square one with this blog. Obviously I needed a website in order to even have a blog to begin with. So allow me to backtrack a little and I’ll talk about that.
A website starts with money. Plain and simple. Unless you have a good friend or the skills to do it yourself, your website will reflect the amount of money and time you invest in it. When doing all that reading and research I spoke about in the first post, I got an idea of what to spend money on, where best to spend it, and how much to spend to get the things I needed.
The top three things I’m going to spend money on are Editing, Website and Formatting. (In that order.) But the website comes first on the to-do list, so let’s just talk about that. (Normally Covers would be in the top three, but I have a plan for that)
First off a confession; I have none of the required skills for producing a quality website. But I do have the next best thing; a friend who does. She’s also a graphic artist, so she’s been a godsend to me. She informed me of the various types of websites out there; Flash, WordPress, etc. and we debated the merits of each.
Flash is well…flashy, with lots of video and moving parts. If you’d like to see an author’s example, Stephen Coonts has an awesome Flash website. The downside of Flash is that it’s on the expensive side and you really need to know your stuff to update and maintain it. Something I’m not ready to learn and it would be a little too much to ask of any friend. But if you have the money and the computer skills, you can have a top-of-the-line website with Flash.
We decided on a WordPress website as it offers the best all-around presentation, and it’s easy enough for the average person to maintain and update. A WordPress website can be very good or very plain, it’s like everything else out there; you get what you put into it. But your website is very important as it becomes the hub of your marketing efforts, your exchanges with other authors, and most importantly, the source of information about everything that’s YOU for your readers. In other words, all roads lead to your website. It’s your new home.
So where did we start? With a domain name. Most authors pick dubya-dubya-dubya dot my name dot com. If you can get that it’s great, but unless you have an unusual name there’s a good chance some domain-name troll has it already and is holding it hostage. These are people who live at home with their mother and make a living registering every name in the phonebook. They then hold it hostage waiting for you to come calling. They may ask anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in ransom for it. My troll lived inAustraliaand wanted several hundred dollars for my name. He spent maybe four dollars registering it for the year and waited for me to call. So it’s basically like legalized identity theft; he wants hundred’s of dollars for something that cost him four dollars and two minutes of his time. I offered him a hundred. He declined. I laughed and said bu-bye. He probably shrugged it off, yelled upstairs for his mom to bring him another vegemite sandwich, and went back to his video game.
The easiest way to deal with the troll is to just go around him. Try using your initials and your last name, or do what I did and tack on a suffix. There’s a million options; Joe Blow Books, Amy Sue Writes, you get the idea. Some people will say you need something in the name that will steer the Google search engine to your website, but I think if you have enough key words in your webpage content it will do pretty much the same thing. Anyway, the chances of the troll having these other options is pretty slim, and you’ll be able to get your second or third choice without paying a ransom for it.
I get some brief satisfaction knowing the troll will most likely renew the registration for my name next year in the hopes that I’ll call back. I have a reminder on my calendar now to do just that, it’s like my own personal troll tax.
So, after dealing with the troll I came up with a name I liked, one that wasn’t taken, and it was time to register it with a provider. Again, more research, but I also had my resident expert there to help me. There are big company’s out there that offer cheap rates for registration, but what you’re really looking for is service. Scantily clad racecar drivers have nothing to do with how well a domain provider operates. We chose one that was new, as new companies seem more eager to please. We also felt the package and service provided was sound, as was the pricing and other options.
We chose Bluehost, http://www.bluehost.com, as they came recommended by WordPress and so far they have been very easy to work with. I registered my website www.RandallWoodAuthor.com with them as well as my publishing company www.TensionBookworks.com. It took about ten minutes total and cost me around $20. The monthly fee for each is around $4. I called their customer service line and had a real person on the phone in under thirty seconds. I also opted for the back-up plan for an additional $13.00. Make sure you get the monthly fee that you want. One package has a lower start-up fee but a higher monthly fee. I paid for 36 months up front as it offered a lower rate. You’re most likely going to keep your website for several years, so choose the plan that’s geared for the long haul. I would also choose the automatic renew option. If you were to forget to renew your domain name some troll may snatch it out from under you and you’d have to start all over, or pay the ransom, to get it back.
Neither option sounds good to me. Screw the trolls.
Domain Name registration $20
Monthly fee x 3 months $12
Back-up plan $13
36 months of hosting $187