Whether you want to start your own business, share your opinions on a blog, or build your platform as a leader, I want to empower you to act on your ideas and not let technology get in the way.
There are far too many options available these days to cover them all here, but I will cover what I consider the best options at a variety of levels.
These platforms can have you up and running in fifteen minutes and are free forever! This is a great place to start out when you’re not ready to pay to get going.
In my opinion this is the easiest of these platforms to operate. Out of the box you can write and post all your posts just by sending an email. It functions best as a blog style platform, but you could build out a small number of supporting pages pretty easily.
One great thing about Posterous is that it allows you to use your own personal domain free of charge. That means if you ever graduate to the next level and move your site your visitors can still find you.
This is an interesting platform that allows you to mix different types of media with ease. You can post pictures, video, text, audio, and even conversational dialog and it will look great! Tumblr also doubles as a social network which gives your content to spread by being “re-blogged” by other Tumblr users.
Tumblr also lets you use your own domain for free which is great! Additionally, you have full access to edit the HTML & CSS of your site to make any custom tweaks you prefer. Again, this is a great fit for just getting started and the built in platform is an interesting advantage!
WordPress is probably the most popular platform for building both blogs and business websites. WordPress is a full blown CMS (content management system) that allows you to build out a complete website as a blog, static site, or a combination of both. It’s a little bit more difficult to use than Tumblr and Posterous, but if you’ve been using the web for long you won’t have any trouble figuring out the basics yourself. You can sign up for a free WordPress blog at WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is free to use for personal use and your blog will be hosted at thedomainyouchoose.wordpress.com. Note that the “.wordpress.com” part stays on there if you stick with the free version. That means in the future if you want to move your WordPress.com site to “hosted WordPress” (covered below) your address will change. For $10 a year you can have them use your personal domain to alleviate this problem.
You should also note that when using WordPress.com you won’t be able to use many custom themes, plugins, and widgets because of the restrictions on free accounts. When you do need to make use of these and graduate to a hosted WordPress solution, moving will be easy though!
WordPress is such an important platform for building websites that I recommend everyone start here unless they have a compelling reason to go with Tumblr or Posterous.
When you’re ready to start doing more with your website or want to build a business site it’s time to start considering “hosted” solutions. My number one recommendation is “hosted WordPress.” Because WordPress is free software (this is wordpress.org now, not wordpress.com) you only have to pay for a share of a computer for your site to live on (hosting).
With hosted WordPress you’re using your own domain name and you have complete control over your website. You can use any plugins, widgets, and themes you choose, and you can typically host as many sites as you want under your single hosting account (I’m hosting both this site and bedrockcoaching.com on the same account).
Blue Host (affiliate link… because it’s awesome!)
This is my top recommendation because their customer service is lights out! They have a great suite of tools to help you get a WordPress site up and running in under 10 minutes (check out this video from Pat Flynn showing how easy it is). Plans start around $6/month which is an awesome deal!
Hostgator (affiliate link… because it’s awesome!)
These guys are equally good at hosting, but they don’t get the top recommendation because Blue Host customer service is so great. I’ve hosted sites with Hostgator for years though with great success. One plus with Hostgator is that they offer some beefier server options if you’re expecting a lot of traffic (or need to upgrade later).
Once you start getting a tremendous volume of visitors to your site daily you’ll need to step it up a notch and explore some more serious hosting options. I’ll keep this section brief since it’s well beyond the level a brand-new site should consider:
Dedicated Hosting & VPS
The cheap hosting accounts we covered above are technically “shared hosting” accounts. That means that your site shares a server with a bunch of other peoples sites. This is typically fine because the sites are small enough that they only need a fraction of the computer. Once you get to the big leagues though you’ll need some dedicated computer resources to handle your visitors.
These two platforms are much more expensive then basic WordPress hosting, but they’re the best at what they do. These guys know how to make a WordPress site screaming fast and reliable. At this level you’ll be shelling out about $25 to $50 a month for a single site so make it good!
Choosing a Website Host
So that’s a quick rundown on what I consider the best of the best for starting a website. If you’re looking for a free blog to build your personal brand then something like Tumblr is a great option. If you’re interesting in starting something a little more serious then hosted WordPress is for sure the way to go.
I’m Here to Help
This is a little outside the scope of what I normally write at Life Stoked, but I felt strongly that I wanted people to be empowered to go out and build their idea. Don’t let technology get in the way!
If any of this sparked some questions or you’re wondering what’s the best fit for you just drop me a comment. I love helping people!