There are thee major components to creating your own website: content, hosting, and naming. You will have several options in each of these areas, and your choice will affect the appearance and cost of your site. If you want your own domain name (e.g. something like, or and your site will not get major traffic (most personal sites will not unless you post big files), then the two best and inexpensive services to consider are 1 and 1 Internet or Directnic (I will discuss the tradoff's between the two later - see hosting). If you don't need your own name and can tolerate long URL's like:

then check with your ISP as they may already provide you with space for your web site. All of these options are discussed below.


You will need a place to store your web page. You will want this computer where your web pages will be stored to be always on and reachable by others on the internet. Unless you really know what you are doing and leave your own computer on all the time, you will want to "host" your site on a commercial hosting provider.

If you want to avoid paying for hosting, you should check to see if a a hosting service may already be provided by your internet service provider (e.g. America Online, Earthlink, MSN, Comcast, Road Runner, etc) as part of your service. If you prefer not to use your ISP for hosting, you can also use one of many free or low cost hosting services like Geocities (part of Yahoo!). There are a lot of other companies providing this kind of service. Such web hosting providers will allow you to host your site, but they may add advertising content, so that whenver someone visits a page on your web site, they see advertising added to you pages by the web hosting provider. These services will also allow you to host your site without advertising, but they charge you for this option, often more than directnic or 1and1 options which I described later.

If you are just starting out, read the documentation provided by your ISP to see if they offer space to host your web site, and if so, start out there. If your site is small and only has a small number of users, this option may allow you to host your site without added advertising, and without paying anything more than you already pay to connect to the Internet. The downside is that if you later decide to move your site, either because it has grown larger, or because you move or otherwise change your ISP, then the address of the site will change and you will have to tell everyone that uses it about the new web address.

If the offering form your ISP does not fit your needs, then choosing the right web hosting provider is very important. Your host must be able to handle all needs and all traffic to your site all the time. That is why it is important to check for good reviews of a possible web host before you set up your site.

Email Addresses

This last concern brings up the issue of e-mail addresses: If you presently use an email address from your ISP (e.g.,, or an address provided by your employer, then it will be necessary to change your email address if you move, change ISPs, or change jobs. This can be tedious and there will always be some people that don't get the message, and such mail from them may be lost. This is a good reason for you to get your own domain name, not jst for the web page address, but also so that you can keep your e-mail address through all of life's changes. Services like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail will give you an email address that is independent of your ISP or employer, and some of them will even forward your mail elsewhere, like to the mailbox at your internet service provider, but you may be concerned about what happens if they change their terms later.

By getting your own domain name you not only protect yourself from such future changes, but you can have an e-mail address that is more meaningful after the @-sign. Unfortunately, a domain name is not free, but it is inexpensive and support for e-mail is usually included either with the cost of name registration, or with your hosting package.

Choosing a Registrar

A nice feature of registering your own domain name is that in most cases, once you have registered your domain name, you can transfer the name between registrars in subsequent years if you find you don't like the one you are with, or if it raises its rates. Just be sure to read the terms of your agreement with the registrar you choose to make sure it does not impose a fee for subsequent transfers, and that it does not claim ownership of the domain itself (most won't, unless they offer free domain registration - but read the agreement to be sure).

When deciding where to register, you need to consider the total cost, both for name registration, and hosting. Many registrars provide limited hosting for free, including forwarding of email from the domain, and in some cases a free web page (to which they add advertising). You probably don't require the more advanced hosting options, although many of the registrars or hosting providers will try to upsell. If all that you want is the domain name for forwarding of email to another account (like gmail, or you home ISP), you shouldn't pay more than about $30 per year. If you want a low traffic web site without any added advertising, you can probably get that for an additional $20 year. The registrar that I use is 1 and 1 Internet.

Technically, there is a difference between the registrar and the hosting provider, but hosting providers usually have a close relationship with a particular registrar, and you will often register your domain name through a page provided by the hosting provider.


Once you have established and hosted your web site it is time to create the pages that will be displayed. Many hosting services provide tools for creating an initial web site. Some offer to create you initial site for a fee, some allow you to subscribe to use special sitebuilding software, and almost all allow you to upload your own HTML pages. Read the documentation available from your hosting service to see what tools are available and can be used with their system.

If your needs are real simple, you can create the site yourself using HTML, HyperText Markup Language, the language for describing web pages. You can also use a web page editor like Microsoft FrontPage. (part of some versions of Microsoft office). If you don't have FrontPage or another HTML editor, or for some other reason choose to write the HTML code for your site by hand, you can find many guides on the web to learn how to write HTML. If you can tolerate lots of pop up ads and distracting banners, one such guide can be found here.

If creating the site yourself you will create the pages on your own machine and upload them to the server following instructions provided by the hosting service, or you might write the pages through a web interface provided by the service. Almost all hosting service provide guides to help you create and upload content to your site.

The following are for more advanced users

Affiliate Networks

There are several major affiliate networks, each of which supports a different set of merchants. You can join multiple networks. To be effective, the merchants you promote should be related to the content of your site, and they should be merchants you trust. Remember, you are recommending these sites and mechants. If you wouldn't use them yourself, don't recommend them to others. On several occasions I have dropped merchants from my site when I found the quality of service dropped to a point that I was no longer willing to use the services of the company myself. The major affiliate networks are:

Search engine optimation tools