Just starting out, you can start with a simple informational site, which is all most need initially, and build up to a fuller site (e-commerce and/or interactive) when you can afford it.
Your goal should be to get an online presence. Remember, most surfers are looking for information. Dancing cartoons, streaming video and other interactive features are, in the great majority of cases, unnecessary.
Naming Your Site: Selecting and Registering a Domain Name
The first step in getting a web site is to select and register your domain name. Even if you can't afford a web site right now, it is a good idea to register your name. This can be done for under $10.00 a year (eg, namecheap.com).
Choosing a Web Designer / Web Design Company
Choosing a web designer will depend greatly onthe type of site you are having built. Prices are all over the place. Many designers/firms have a dollar minimum that you must spend in order to work with them.
Ball park figure: If you are having a simple informational site built, I suggest spending no more than $500. Learn how to update it yourself to save ongoing maintenance charges.
An even cheaper option is to do it yourself. There is plenty of easy-to-learn software (eg, FrontPage) that make it easy to build a site. Also, many companies (Yahoo, Microsoft BCentral, AOL, etc.) have templates that make it simple to drag and drop text and create a site. Rates begin at around $19.95/month.
Web Hosting Costs
Fees range from free to hundreds of dollars per month. As a guideline, the average cost for hosting a personal web site is $10-$25/month. Business sites with higher traffic are in the $45-$75/month range.
There are excellent deals to be found on web hosting (eg, peoplehost.com), so shop around. Usually, if you prepay for a year or more, you will be given a discount. I recommend this because once you get a site, it is highly unlikely that you will ever discontinue it, unless you change careers altogether.
About Free Web Hosting Companies
I do not advise the use of free web hosting companies. This is your professional online presence and you get what you pay for. More often than not, free host companies have limitations such as space, email specifications, domain name use, et cetera, that won't allow you to operate as a professional site.
How Much Should You Pay A Content Developer
This depends so heavily on the type of content your site requires that it's almost impossible to answer. Freelance writer and editor rates range from a low of $25 an hour up to $250 an hour, or more. Most are in the $50 to $100 per hour range. Shop around.
As an editorial professional, I'm assuming that you will provide your own content. However if you have neither the time, desire, or skill, you will definitely want to spend the money for a professional.
If you choose to go with a web designer and are simply having a 2-3 page informational site built, pay no more than $500. This is assuming that you write your own content and do not have custom work done, such as logo/graphic design.
Cheapest Option: Do it yourself. A template site, or buying a software (eg, FrontPage) and doing it yourself, with hosting fees should top out at about $300/year.
The beauty of buying software and doing it yourself is that after you purchase the software, you only have to incur the hosting and domain name fees on a yearly basis. These can be under $50/year - making your site really economical as time passes.
See you online!
Parts of this article were excerpted from How to Get Your Small Biz on the Web Quickly & Affordably, available for immediate download.
About The Author
May be reprinted with inclusion of the following: Yuwanda Black is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and syndicated small business columnist whose focus is controlling your destiny through small business ownership. Her most recent e-books, How to Really Make a Living as an Editorial Freelancer and Advice from Successful Freelancers: How They Built Their Careers & How You Can Too! are available for immediate download at http://www.InkwellEditorial.com/bizguides.html Visit her on the web at http://www.EntrepreDoer.biz for a complete list of how-to, small business books and articles.