How To Make an Easy but Professional Author (Or Blogger) Website Fast: What You Need to Know About Hosting, Templates, and Domains


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Every author needs their own self-hosted website. Not only do they allow more customization, but you don’t have to worry about WordPress or Blogspot suddenly closing out your account, something that happens a lot, especially when it comes to free WordPress blogs.

Out of the two free places to host your blog, Blogspot seems to be more user-friendly, and they aren’t as likely to lock someone out of their blog. However, anytime you host your blog on a free site, there is always the chance you could lose all your hard earned content. Imagine having an established blog, just to lose it all.

WordPress has a huge list of things you can’t do with your blog, and that includes hosting blog tour stops. This does not apply to self-hosted WordPress blogs, so don’t panic if you all ready have a website. This only applies to the free blogs.

A while back, a lot of romance authors (who have their blogs on Blogspot) had a scare, as Blogspot decided to change the rules. However, they are one of the few companies who actually listened to the public outcry, and they left things as they are… for now. This can always change, though, so why risk it?

Back in the “older” days, websites used to be a lot harder to make. So when I was shopping around for a hosting company after making the decision to move to a self-hosted site, I was concerned about this. After all, I’m a book publicist… not a programmer.

However, I found a really good company that made all of this a breeze. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but I wanted to wait and fully test things out before recommending. I wanted to make sure they offered a helpful and reliable hosting plan before sharing this company with you, my readers, as not all hosting companies do so.

Trying to locate one was not easy for me, as most of the technical details and information is greek to me. Before going with my current plan, I signed up for another company. This was a HUGE mistake, but I was lucky to realize this within the first twenty-four hours. I went through a nightmare trying to get canceled with this company, and it was a horrible experience, although the company advertises a thirty day money back guarantee. The ironic thing is I still receive emails to this day inviting me back.

I won’t publicly name the company, but I definitely learned a lesson about how not all hosting companies are created equally. It pays to go off of word-of-mouth recommendation from someone who has personally used a service before signing up.

The second company I’m with now has been wonderful. I locked in a two year plan for under $50 (this does not include your domain name, but domains are $10 to $15 a year), and they set everything up for me without any extra charge that very night. It was simply a matter of signing up, paying with a credit card, verifying your email address, and then going back to the website and starting their live chat. The customer service rep set it all up right then and there, and I was able to start setting up my site that very night.

With the hosting company I’m telling you about, you don’t need to be a programmer or website pro. If you want your site to be a WordPress site, simply do the steps above and let the customer service rep know. If you want a site without a blog, you can login and click on the Weebly icon. Everything is so easy with this. It gives you templates to choose from and all kinds of goodies to make a professional author website (or any site).

I’m fairly certain you can also have a website and WordPress blog, but I’m not sure how this would work, as I’m not a programmer. However, this is something you can ask the CSR in the chat, as they would know how to set this up.

A Note About Domains:

The domain is separate from your hosting. You can buy this from another company, but to make it easy I would recommend buying it at the same time you buy your hosting. It runs anywhere from $10 to $20 per year (on average), but most places offer a first year discount. Even if they don’t, this isn’t a big charge.

By now, you are probably wondering which hosting company I recommend. It’s a company called iPage. As I mentioned above, when I signed up I got a great deal for two years of hosting for under $50. Before writing this post I checked their website, and it looks like they are offering another awesome deal. Remember, to lock in the rate, you will likely need to sign up for a two year plan, but this is not a big deal. That means for two years you won’t have to worry about paying monthly on your site, and you really can’t beat the price for reliable website hosting.

After using the hosting for so long and being pleased with it, I decided to sign up for their affiliate program. I would NOT recommend this hosting service if I hadn’t personally tried it for myself and liked it. I am a paying customer, and I haven’t been paid for the review of their service. For the typical non-technical person like myself, iPage has made hosting a snap. As an affiliate, I will receive compensation if someone decides to click on one of these links and sign up for a website of their own. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Another thing I like about this company is that they are always available to help. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a customer. If you have a website problem they will fix it, right through the chat (at no extra charge). And the chat seems to be available twenty-four hours a day. So, if you decide to get brave and mess around with your WordPress editor and your site goes down, you can immediately head to their homepage, click on the chat assistance, and let them know what’s happened. It’s been my experience that they know how to fix this stuff immediately.

Setting Up Your Site:

(For just your basic website with no WordPress blog)

Once you’re registered and ready to create your site, simply visit iPage’s homepage and click on login at the top. Once you’re logged in, you will be taken to your “Control Panel”.

There are two things you will want to do here. You will want to create your site, and you will want to set up your email. This email address will end with whatever domain you picked out. For example: author@authorsname.com.

For the website, simply click on “Weebly Drag and Drop”. A window will pop up.  This is the same process you will go through to edit your site in the future.

If you are completely new to working with sites, I highly recommend opening up the live chat and having the professionals assist you through the process. Once you have your site set up, you should find it very simple to edit. Their CSR’s are very helpful.

For WordPress Blogs or Anything Complicated:

Definitely have the representative walk you through this. I had no clue about how to set up the WordPress blog (and I still don’t), but they had me up and running in minutes. See why I say this place is easy?

Once the blog has been installed on your hosting and you’re able to login to your admin, it’s pretty much like the free blogs. However, there are a lot of features that self-hosted blogs including: the ability to add plugins, the ability to use javascript and add different codes to your posts, and not having to worry that you might lose your blog for one reason or another.

*Plugins are awesome! You’ll find them in the admin section of your WordPress blog. You can search for all kinds of them, and most of them are free to use. Some of them will offer a “premium” service. For just about anything you can think of to do to your WP blog, there is likely a plugin, so make sure to check this feature out!*

A Note About Jetpack:

Jetpack did not work for me at all. In fact, it did something to my site in the initial set up, and I ended up having to use the “Live Chat” feature for help.  Lucky for me, this was before all of my content was on the site. Thankfully, a rep from iPage had the site restored and fully functional again within  minutes. So, if you decide to use Jetpack, use with caution. I’ve heard of others having a similar experience. If you do use it and something goes wrong, remember the “Live Chat” on iPage is your friend! It’s certainly been mine:-) Several times, in fact!

Setting Up Your Website Email:

This is very easy with iPage. From your Control Panel, simply click on MailCentral. You can then click on new mailbox. You can then pick out the email address you want to use.

When you sign up, make sure to do so when you have plenty of time. Not because this is going to drive you crazy. It won’t! However, you’ll want to get your site customized the way you want it. There are a lot of template choices. Some are free, while others are paid. Both categories have a ton of choices, and you will likely want to try out a few.  If you’re anything like me, you will likely need to use the chat feature at least once during the initial set up, so this will take time. Before hosting, it’s a good idea to know what kind of site you want. Do you want a WordPress blog only? A regular site with no blog? A combination of both? You can also use the chat feature to ask the reps any pre-sale questions, which is a good idea if you’re going to need help setting up your site.

As to the hosting itself, I think you will find iPage very user-friendly, reliable, and packed with a lot of features you may or may not use. I’ve been really impressed with the customer service feature. I’ve never had to call in, I’ve always been able to get assistance for various things through the chat at all hours of the day or night.

Ready to get signed up for your very own domain and website?

 


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