What is Web Hosting?
Do you have something you want to share with the world? Awesome!
There’s never been an easier time than now to share your creativity, products and ideas with people anywhere in the world.
There’s no scribe, town crier or carrier pigeon required, although we know an alligator who’s happy to guide you through the process.
Creating a website is easier than most people expect it to be.
Before we go over the steps involved, it’s helpful to think about exactly what you want your website to do for you.
How Can A Website Help Me?
1. Publish a blog.
Whether you’re sharing your thoughts for fun or profit (or both), you need a website to serve as a home for your blog.
2. Build your business.
Most people look online for places to shop, so a website is a must if you want customers to find you.
3. Show off your portfolio.
If you’re a freelance photographer, writer, web designer, or another type of independent worker, an online portfolio can show prospective clients what you do and why they should hire you.
Feeling inspired yet?
Next, we explain how you get a website for your business.
What Do I Need to Create a Website?
You need to get three things to set up your site: a domain, a web host, and site content. If this is all new to you, it may help to think of the process like throwing a house party – only you’re starting by building the house.
1. Your Domain Name
Step one is choosing and registering a domain. Your site domain is like the lot where you’ll build your site. Every domain has a name, just like every house has a street address, so visitors can find you.
2. Web Hosting
Next you’ll need choose a web hosting service to take care of the construction and wiring. Your web host provides the space, access, hardware, and security your site will need.
3. Site Content
When you have a domain and a host, you’re ready to put up content to create your site. This is the step where you choose a template to organize site content like your portfolio, an online shop, a blog, and more. Think of it as furnishing your new house to delight your visitors.
When all that’s in place, you’re ready to throw a housewarming party and launch your site. With a reliable web host taking care of access, storage, and security, you can focus on making your guests comfortable and helping them find what they want.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Your web hosting provides four basic things:
1. File storage:
The image, text, and design files that make your website look like it does are stored on a server – a computer maintained by your web hosting service. These files are sort of like your party décor, music and snacks – the reason people come to your house parties.
The server where your website files are stored is usually one of many servers stored together in a data center. Keeping all this hardware in one place makes it easier for your web hosting service to keep it up to date and running properly. Hardware is like the furniture, lights, and plumbing in your own home.
The amount of time when your site files are available to visitors is “uptime.” Uptime of 99.9% is the industry standard for web hosts. You don’t want guests to drop by and find that your website is unavailable, just like you don’t want party guests to find your house locked and empty when they arrive.
On the internet, pranksters and criminals are always trying to break into servers, files, and sites to cause mayhem or steal data. Your web host’s security measures protect your site from break-ins, just like your home security system keeps people from breaking into your house.
A good web host will also include other services and tools that make setting up your site easier and faster, like:
- Round-the-clock live support so you can work on your site anytime and get help if you need it.
- Free templates for your website so you can create a professional looking site in just a few clicks.
- Video and written tutorials to answer your detailed questions.
- Domain and WHOIS privacy registration services.
- Shopping cart tools to help you start selling online.
- Unlimited email hosting so you can create professional email addresses for yourself and your employees or blog contributors.
- Spam filters, because who wants spam?
- Automatic site backups to protect your site files as your website evolves and grows.
How Much Does A Website Cost?
As versatile and powerful as websites are, they’re also remarkably cost-effective compared to other marketing methods throughout history. For less than $5 per month you could get
- 5 pounds of feed for carrier pigeons (pigeons and messages not included).
- 50 large postcards to mail to prospective customers (postage not included).
- Your very own website with the potential to reach more than 3 billion internet users.
Does a website seem like a better fit for you than postcards or pigeons? We agree.
Do I Have to Pay for Web Hosting?
Can you use a free hosting service instead of getting your web hosting? You can, but you’re taking a risk that the free service may shut down your site if…
- you run afoul of their rules,
- people complain about your site, or
- something happens outside your control that takes the service offline.
It’s like trying to throw a party at your parents’ place: Their house, their rules. What did they always say? “When you pay the bills, you can make the rules.” There you go.
There are other potential problems, too.
Having the free hosting brand’s logo on your pages and in your URL makes your business look amateur to visitors. If you won’t spend money on your business, why should they?
Limits on bandwidth from free site builders can cause you to miss sales if a product or promotion goes viral.
Don’t limit yourself or your site. Choose web hosting that supports your goals as your business grows.
Ready to set up your site?
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.