Setting up your small business online: Part 1 Hosting

The pitfalls of setting up your small business online: Part 1 Hosting

If I could afford to just help out every “little guy” that approached me with their website in an uproar or unreachable and un-updatable or valued at the thousands of dollars for a simple page I would. I’d have to be a non-profit because frankly most of the people have been taken to the cleaners already.

As I pondered this today I decided maybe I would do a series of articles that might help (and help save) a small business or two from the pitfalls of setting up a website.

I’m NOT going to link to any of my example hosting sites. I do get paid for referrals to companies, but for the sake of this article, I want you to read and learn, not buy. I think this is important enough for you to know I won’t make a dime off of this and really just want you to avoid being conned. I have a few links below, but they are to geek sites, nothing selling you anything. Do research on this off the internet….which is hilarious since I’m expecting you to take my advice.

On the surface, setting up a site may seem like an easy solution, however setting up a new website is a quagmire of choices (a lot of them bad and expensive ones) and great “deals” that end up not being so great.

So I’ll start with the basics.

You really need a domain. By this I mean apricitymarketing.com – not apricity.hugesite.com. (read more about domains). The article I just linked to talks about whether or not you HAVE to buy a domain name, and I’m just going to tell you – yes. You don’t want to look like a temporary business. On top of that free hosting sites go out of business and will take your site with you. Don’t do it.

So, get a domain name. They range in price from $8 a year to crazy amounts. Don’t get conned. Find a nice name and stick to it. There was a day when it mattered to have every domain name, but Google dings you for that practice now. So now it’s just a matter of branding. Pick a name, use it everywhere and don’t change it.

You need hosting.

And here’s where it gets complicated.

I just did a quick Google to find options and even reputable publications like “Entrepreneur” magazine have listings that are outdated or link to the site (a sure sign they’re getting a kick back). So what do you do?

My first recommendation is ask other people. Not someone who has just set up a site, but someone who’s had one up for a long time and has had to call customer service.

I have used a variety of hosts – from small companies to huge ones. I currently use one of the huge ones because they cost less, but there are some pitfalls.

Support stinks. I know with the host I use I get a decent person on the phone about 25% of the time. The rest of the time I get people who after an hour of me yelling at them end up “escalating my ticket” where I finally find someone who knows what I’m talking about and usually can fix the issue. What’s sad here is that I generally know what I’m doing. What happens if you get hacked, or locked out of a site or something else terrible. I shudder to think and I’ve spent hundereds of house digging my clients out of exactly those situations.

They sell you add-ons. And add-ons and add-ons. How many of them do you need. Probably none of them.

Probably the best advice is “buyer beware” – look at all of your options and know that this is a difficult area. Most web hosting companies are holding your email and your site in their hands and can charge you for all sorts of things like security and extra services and you really won’t know whether they’re necessary or not.

One example is that most sites now need a security certificate – Google requires them for good search results. Some hosts are giving these away free, but some may charge over $100 a year, so it’s another thing to think about.

Also, if you use an open source solution like WordPress you can get hacked. Security for this can cost a lot, so know your options.

I’m always happy to answer some basic questions and consult on these issues to help you get off to a good start, but if not me, get help from someone you trust.

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