I’m going into the clowning business. I think I need a website. I have no idea what to do, or how to do it. I think I can get some friends to do the actual site in exchange for collectible toys or favors. But what do I do to get the domain name? Where do I host my files? etc.
Web hosting has gotten really cheap and good about taking care of all the details for you, e.g. domain registration. I’d check out one of the big hosts like GoDaddy or 1&1. (I have no personal experience with either of these, but have heard positive things about both.)
I had a political activist website back in 2002 through geocities.com. (There was a state initiative I was trying to defeat. It passed, but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.) Registering the domain name was fairly inexpensive, and although geocities offered a free website service, I opted for the $14.95 one to avoid the ads and get some more goodies.
Basically, come up with your domain name, and if it isn’t already taken, you can register it.
If all you need is some webspace to promote your clowning business and provide contact details then why not set up on networking sites? Myspace, facebook, faceparty etc all seem to be good bets and I know a lot of businesses have myspace accounts (especially musicians).
Another vote for GoDaddy. I also had a professional web designer create my site for me – I did all writing and figured out how many pages and how they would all link, but she programmed it and did graphic design for me. She also trained me on how to make changes to it myself, so I’m not overly dependent on her in the future. The cost was probably around $1000, but my site is fairly in-depth and I could take it as a business expense.
I’m not sure how you find a designer, exactly. I know several just because it is a common profession, and my work brought me into contact with the person I hired. Surely you have friends with websites that you could get recommendations from.
$8.99 a year will get you your domain name, so that once you get a server to point it at that name in the address bar will point no where else. Best bet is to register it through a registrar on this page, the official ICANN list of accredited domain name registrars. Anyone not on the list who offers to register a name for you will have to go through one of the companies on the list to achieve that, and my money says its usually cheaper on average to eliminate the middle man.
Once your friends design the site, you need to get hosted on a web server, which is a computer with web serving software and the ability to handle lots of incoming requests for your page simultaneously. You could do it out of your home if you wanted to invest in the equipment, but it’s easier and cheaper to rent disk space on a hosting company’s computer. A lot of accredited registrars also offer hosting, but the non-accredited companies are usually hosting services that offer to go to the trouble of registering your domain as an added service. Any will do, but some think it’s best to register and host through two different companies. I don’t know why.
There will be some technical specifics about getting your created web files onto their server, but that’s about it.
If that’s the domain name that you really want, you should register it damn quick. Domain name squatters have been known to trawl the web looking for people who are checking out domain name availability. If they see that you’re thinking of registering a name, they’ll register it first and then offer it to you for a lot more than $8.99.
My advice would be to register with GoDaddy asap (they are widely considered to be the best registrar), and get them to “park” the domain name. That means it’s yours, and once you decide which host to use, you can get GoDaddy to point your domain name to your files on that particular host. You don’t have to use GoDaddy hosting, even if you buy your domain name through them.
Log onto your account whereever you have registered rlan.org and look for something like “aliases” or “redirects” and you should be able to tell it to point to reallylongawkwardname.org. I’m not sure of their exact setup so you might want to ask tech support, but as the owner of rlan.org you can tell it to point someplace else.