For those who are interested in learning how to do a website, I suggest you start with a FREE TEMPLATE. It means you have the design “done” and you just plug in all your content. You’ll need a program to do this. The one I used is Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 (the link goes to the latest version..you’d never buy my super old version) or you can chose a program called Adobe Contribute CS5. Many webmasters will use Dreamweaver. Contribute is cheaper and has more limits.
Dreamweaver and Contribute will do a good job of helping you “point, click and write” your website content. They will also help you get the content “uploaded”, a fancy term for getting it OFF your computer and ONTO your live website. There are training manuals or you can try to go to Craigslist, or your local community education class, and learn the program.
I always shock people when I say we’ve saved easily $40,000-$50,000 or more because I bought Dreamweaver and learned all this marketing stuff myself. That said, I have spent a tremendous amount of time at my computer. It’s very hard work and if you’re paid by the hour, you’ve got to really think about how much your time is worth.
To give you an example, my main website, Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, uses this template! It’s fun – see what I did to tweak the free design. Feel free to poke around that website for more website designs. They have free ones and ones for fees.
Keep in mind, FREE will most often mean crappy, limiting, or not-tested in the most updated browsers. (That’s a fancy way of saying your website could look awesome in Internet Explorer and be almost unreadable in Firefox… ugh!)
The start up costs, then to “do your own free website”, will be the $400 or so for Dreamweaver. $100 for hosting. $10 for a website name. Probably $40 for a training book on Dreamweaver. Plus a huge amount of frustration, stress, and annoyance! But… if you are successful, then your annual website costs are $100 for hosting and $10 for your website name. Really reasonable! However, you may end up hiring out to help build images for your website, or get some cool tools to work. And you won’t really have someone there if you destroy your entire site, so you’ll want to always keep back ups.
I’ve been the do-it-yourselfer. It’s really awesome, empowering, fun, speedy, and makes me feel more ownership over my online presence. It has also caused me extreme anxiety, near-heart attacks when things got broken, or I accidentally put a chat program on that let hackers get in sending thousands of questionable people to hidden pages on my website. I’ve managed to have emergencies that I have no way to fix JUST before major media stories send people our way. In short, my husband, father-in-law, and two techie friends have been on the receiving end of my helpless horror.
I can honestly say if you go with websites that charge a monthly hosting fee, you are also paying for your sanity, paying for them to keep up with the latest internet browsers and making sure your website looks good. You’re paying them for customer support if you run into problems or have questions. You’re also paying for them to make it really easy for YOU to update your own website. Dreamweaver isn’t hard, but it’s not as simple as pay-per-month website services.