Building a Micro-Business Site

A few people have mentioned that they need a website for their crafts business. This article explains how to get started.

Websites

To open a website, you need to purchase a few separate things, and bring them all together. You can do it yourself, or ask your web host or designer to take care of it. Most will, for a small fee. Here are the things you need:

  • A domain name. foobar.com, for example. You can register these at a "domain registrar." There are many companies doing this; I personally use godaddy.com because they're cheap.
  • A web hosting company. They rent you some space on their web server, to host your site.
  • A web site. This is the actual web site, which is a group of files on the web server. You create this on your own computer, and copy them to the "live" web server.

Domain Names

Chances are, you will want a name for your site like mygreatsite.com. That name, "mygreatsite.com", is called a domain name. The name is part of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is a whole other thing that isn't covered here.

To get a domain, you have to pay a company to "register" it for you. Typically, the fee to register a domain name is between $8 and $20 a year. There are many companies that register domain names, but the technology is very basic, and you should go with the cheap companies.

You can also ask your web host to register a domain for you. They may charge you a setup fee for doing this. They will charge you the annual fee they get assessed from the domain registrar.

Web Hosting Companies

Web hosting companies own computers configured to be web servers. You will rent usage of one of these computers.

There are basically three sizes of web host: Extra Large, Medium, and Tiny. There are pros and cons to each type.

Extra Large hosts like Yahoo and GoDaddy tend to be the most reliable. They also tend to have little tech support (of any value), but have low prices for simple websites, and high prices for websites with software apps like an ecommerce shopping cart.

Medium-size webshosts also tend to be very reliable. They sometimes have better customer service. What they really excel in is supporting your adding content management software to your site. Generally, they can help you configure the software. The downside is that they cost a little more than Extra Large.

Tiny web hosts tend to be a few computers in a data room somewhere. They can have pretty high levels of reliability, but it depends on the company. They generally are run by 1-5 people, and don't have 24/7 tech support. They may also have server downtime. On the other hand, they are more likely to provide better advice because they are likely to be operated by content developers or computer programmers.

Also, tiny hosts tend to focus on specific niches, and will update and support the software. So, if you do crafts, go with a crafts host. If you do politics, go with a politics host. Whatever you do, if you find a web host who specializes in the niche, use them. They'll set you up with the right web software, and may know some designers.

A Web Site

Some people think that getting a web host means that you'll also get a "web site," but that's not how it works. The web host is like a landlord, and is just renting you the space — it's up to you to fill the space. You fill it with wour web site — a collection of pages (and potentially, some software).

You can pay someone to design and implement your site, or you can do it yourself. I tend to think everyone should start off by downloading a copy of NVU, and then try to make a site. Even if you don't end up doing it yourself, the few hours you put in cobbling something together will help you work with your designer.

NVU is okay. It's not great, like Dreamweaver, but, it's FREE.

Ecommerce

When people talk about ecommerce, they usually mean a "shopping cart" and a catalog CMS.

Search Engine Optimization

I'm not an authority on SEO (as this site demonstrates with its low traffic) but there are a few things you should do to help your site rank higher.

Add Content

One of the ways Google ranks sites is by how "authoritative" the site is. Authority is measured by how many other sites link to your site. The more authority you have, the higher your site will appear on the search listings.

The best way to gain authority is to write a little bit of content, and have people link to it. One way to do this, is to create a website within your website that has information about your field.

If there's a Wiki about your subject, add yourself to it. If there's no wiki, maybe consider starting one.

Get Links

You should go to sites that would be interested in yours, and ask for a link. Make them link to your home page, if possible. If that's not possible, then, to a product page.

You can also fool Google by creating a website elsewhere, and have it link to your site. This is invariably more work, though, because you have to also promote this other site. However, it might work if you're just starting out. It's usually cheap, because you can get a bunch of FREE websites from your ISP. They're usually included with your subscription.