Okay, let’s talk websites. As an author, having a website is imperative to our success. Maybe not when we first get going, but once we have books for sale, a lovely website matters.
If you’re trying to discover how to create a website, I want to offer fair warning.
Before I get into this, let me clarify for any non-tech people in the house. My own tech experience is limited to about two years of dinking around in website design, so I’m no expert either. 😛 But as I’ve recently realized, WordPress.com is NOT WordPress.org (hereafter called “WordPress”).
WordPress is more confusing, and that’s for a few, key reasons. Allow me to break it down!
- To create a website, you need HOSTING space. This is basically a website that cordons off part of their server space for you, for a fee.
- Imagine it like a building on Main Street. You want to rent an apartment in that building, so you’d approach the owner and offer cash. That’s basically what you’re doing… just online. Renting space to park your website.
- Popular hosting sites include Bluehost, Dreamhost, and SiteGround. I personally use SiteGround, because of their security options and referral perks! Check out more about them here!
- Okay. You’ve rented your space. Now you need a domain name to call it yours! You can buy through any of the hosting sites above, or a third-party like GoDaddy.
- I personally prefer Google Domains. They’re cheap, and offer free PRIVACY protection for your information. Which is essential; I didn’t buy it the first time, for reasons below, and I got so many sales calls I had to change my cell number. :/
- INVEST IN PRIVACY PROTECTION WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR DOMAIN.
- Now, follow the rules on your hosting site to tie your domain name to them. There should be instructions on every hosting site to get WordPress.org up and running.
WordPress basically acts as a program you “install” on your hosting site. Once it’s installed, you can visit your new website and edit the appearance of it directly through wordpress.org. (Usually on a specific URL to your site, such as www.YOURSITEHERE.com/wp-admin)
It looks like this!
Oooooh. Nice, right? From there, you can click alter the appearance of your website and build whatever you want! I’ll probably do an instructional blog post on that later. 😀
Now, WordPress.com doesn’t deal with any of that shit. That’s because, unlike WordPress.org, it offers hosting AND website design in one, easily located area. Because of that, it’s pretty appealing to newbie website designers. WordPress.com still operates with the WordPress program, but the extraneous steps are minimal.
And whoo, boy. You’ll be paying for that. Here are some of the costs I encountered:
- $12 / year to get a domain name.
- $7 / year to get domain privacy.
- $24 / year to forward an old website to your new one.
- $99 / year minimum to get a basic website without ads.
- $300 / year if you want a functional business website that sells products.
Etc, etc, etc. If there’s a way to charge you for something, WordPress.com will find it. And all of those payments add up fast, especially for authors. We don’t make much in the first place. 😛 Check out what this article has to say about the differences:
“Matt Mullenweg, co-founding developer of WordPress, launched a company called Automattic which provides “restricted” free blog hosting service at WordPress.com, and you can pay/upgrade to unlock features such as CSS modification etc. However, to get the full power of WordPress.org on WP.com service, you have to spend over $3250 per month for hosting.”
And to make matters worse, WordPress.com is deceiving you. I’m going to say this very, very loudly:
YOU DON’T OWN YOUR CONTENT ON WORDPRESS.COM
Don’t believe me? This is directly from WordPress.com’s terms of service, under Section 1, bullet-point 2:
“By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your blog. This license allows Automattic to make publicly-posted content available to third parties selected by Automattic (through Firehose, for example) so that these third parties can analyze and distribute (but not publicly display) your content through their services.”
It goes on from there, but yikes, guys. No ease of access is worth them getting the rights to your stuff. You’d never let a publisher do that, so why are you letting WordPress.com get away with it??
Point is, there are other options if you’re looking to make a site. After discovering all of this, I’ll forevermore recommend self-hosting through SiteGround or similar, just because it gives you total control on how your website winds up.
But if WordPress and all its features is too intimidating, and you’re willing to pay a little more money, check out some of the other all-in-one sites like Squarespace or Weebly. Just make sure you’re reading their terms of service carefully to ensure you own your content!
If you decide to start a website on SiteGround, using WordPress, post a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d be happy to send you a referral code. 😀
Where do you host your website? Do you wish you’d chosen differently, or are you planning to make a change soon? Let me know in the comments below! <3