ALTERNATIVES & COMPLEMENTS
Do you really need your own website? Well, not immediately but eventually, unquestionably, yes!
They’re only getting easier and easier to figure out, even for novices. Just as an example, all Macs come with a no-brainer design program called iWeb. Plus, Apple even has ongoing, free, in-store trainings for beginners to learn this tool. But OK, let’s say, for whatever reason though, you’re on the fence about getting a website. You still have PLENTY of options that you need to be taking advantage of, web-wise. Here’s a short list of free ones that you should be using, possibly even in combination with one another, depending on the nature of your dealings:
- Yelp.com – For businesses and services of all kinds (most popular in California).
- WordPress.com or .org – Great for just about any purpose but definitely best for blogging.
- Blogger.com – Another popular and free blogging platform.
- Facebook.com – You can easily set up a private, public, or business page here for social networking.
- LinkedIn.com – This is certainly a must for professional networking.
- Flickr.com – Best if you’re a visual artist and particularly if you’re a photographer.
- Tumblr.com – I’ve seen this used for many different purposes. It’s an effective mini-blogging tool and it works especially well for showcasing photography, or images in general.
- Etsy.com – A definite for anyone selling handmade wares.
- Mixcloud.com – If you’re a DJ.
- ReverbNation.com and CDBaby.com – For music artists.
- YouTube.com – Not just for sight gags, video is a great way to create educational and promotional content: music videos, interviews, documentaries, and more!
SO WHY START YOUR OWN?
Whenever you’re ready, you will want to go ahead and invest in a website that’s all yours. “But why when I can use all the free ones described above?” The answer: Control and consistency. Remember when Friendster was the “in” thing? And then, everyone deserted it for MySpace. Then two thousand contacts later, MySpace turns into a dust bowl. Buh-bye network, ’cause now it’s Facebook that’s fashionable. And surely, Facebook can’t dominate forever. Then, what’ll you do?
It is definitely advisable to have a web presence wherever people gather – I myself use nearly all of the websites I mention in this post IN ADDITION to my own artist website as well as this new one you’re visiting now. Nothing beats having a primary site where, no matter what happens, people can always find you. Plus, managing your own site means you can control and update its appearance, functionality, content, and overall purpose – without having to worry about user guidelines, privacy issues, upload limitations, and other hassles. The web should be a convenience for you and your audience, not a nuisance. For instance, some of your readers may have to log in just to view certain links you send them, which can be frustrating and may lead them to abandon your offer to surf elsewhere. But that wouldn’t happen at YOUR site, where YOU are the boss.
To address your other question (and concern), yes, websites cost money. But they don’t have to cost a lot, certainly not these days. You can get a unique domain name and a year’s worth of unlimited space for less than $100. To put it in perspective, if you’re one of the many people that ritualize buying an espresso drink everyday, you’re already spending (or wasting) this much in just a month! If you’re a visual artist, this $100 amounts to about 10% of just one unit of study at a private arts school, meaning you’ve already spent this much in only the introductory 90 minutes of any one class during your college career. Can you imagine? You paid a hundred bucks to have someone read you the syllabus. Money, whoosh, and it’s gone! The upside of spending this same amount on your own website is the fact that you get an ENTIRE YEAR of use, plus you stand to make your money back. If utilized effectively*, you can have your site working towards marketing, communications, list building, lead generation, sales, and TONS of other things.
*Emphasis on “effectively”. This means you’ll need to stretch yourself to learn new skills and/or get comfortable seeking help for technical details. Using myself as an example, I am a total WordPress beginner and I got this ART OF HUSTLE blog up and running pretty quickly — See details below. If anything, it was and still is a lot of fun to figure out.
IT’S SIMPLE TO GET STARTED
I want to show you how easy it is to begin. First things first though. And this is important. Think of a good name for your site. It’s gotta be easy to remember, easy to spell (for example, don’t use hyphens), and must end in the extension, [dot] com. None of this kind of stuff: www.stile-n-sub-stance.net. Now, THAT would be a waste of money. Just like we said in the last post, keep it simple. This also applies to your URL. Save your creativity for the content.
Now, go ahead and click the Play button below. It’s a demo for how to get your site going in less than five minutes! Get excited.
A QUICK NOTE ON WORDPRESS: Both the basic and the fancy versions of WordPress are free. The significant differences are:
- The regular WordPress has URLs like this: artofhustle.wordpress.com. Whereas the suped up version may have one like this: artofhustle.com.
- The plain WordPress is hosted courtesy of WordPress. The upgraded WordPress must reside on a paid server of your choice.
- The simple WordPress is easy to use and has a lot of basic templates. The more powerful WordPress will require some experimentation and new skills in the customization arena, however you will also gain access to gazillions of plug-ins that allow you to specifically tailor your site to the look and functionality of your wishes. More on WordPress here.
Blogs are great for recurring new information and for conversing regularly with your audience. If you’re not much of a blogger, I’d recommend still using your hosting service to house all the critical information I mentioned in the Top 5 Essentials post, maybe using a program like iWeb to design it or teaching yourself the free building tools that BlueHost provides.
Now, you’ve got at your hands a plenitude of FREE web tools and also the KNOWLEDGE to start your own site. Go get ’em!