Now that you’ve created your business plan, having decided on the topic of your business and what makes you different from your competition, direct and indirect, you need to create your web presence, otherwise known as your website and your social media pages.  Let’s start with your website first.     First you need to decide what you want your web address, or URL, to be and where you want your site to be hosted.  There are hundreds of companies that will host your website.  That means they will let you use their huge server to store all the information about your site and the bandwidth needed to run your site smoothly for a monthly fee, usually paid by the month or in several months at once.  Often when you subscribe to a hosting company, they will give you a free URL as incentive.  A URL is typically $11 or $12 dollars a year no matter where you buy them and once your first year with the company is up, you start paying the yearly fee.  There are many hosting companies but I have only tried two: GoDaddy and BlueHost.  I haven’t hosted with GoDaddy, although I bought the URLs from them.  GoDaddy is an established brand name online and they feel comfortable having higher prices than some of the smaller hosting companies.  When I tried to switch my URLs over to BlueHost where I currently host my sites, I had to go through a process that involved a phone call, a scanner, and a few days for the transfer to complete.  However, I have found BlueHost to be an excellent hosting site with helpful chat, tutorials, and phone help if I run into a problem while creating or maintaining my site.     Not every hosting site will fulfill your specific needs.  Some sites have smaller servers than others and don’t provide space for a site to grow very much while others allow you to pay more as your websites use more bandwidth by getting more viewers.  Look at the details of your hosting company and their terms before settling on one hosting site.

It is also possible to create a website for free on various sites like Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and a number of other sites designed for new web designers.  However, they often control some of the look of the site and put their own advertising on your site making it look less professional.  If you pay for your own URL and hosting, you have absolute control over how your site looks, acts, and you get every penny of advertising money earned on your site.         (Tip: you can check sites like GoDaddy.com for free to see if a URL is in use or available while you search for a hosting site.  That way you don’t waste hours looking for a relevant URL with useful keywords once you found the hosting you want.)

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