Setting up your own website

As a freelancer in any industry it helps to get information and business online to meet the demands of the fast-paced generation of clients out there. This document will help you in making a bare-bones website using simple HTML and Windows GUI (Graphic User Interface). If you can use MS Office 97 and above, you can build a website using this guide.

Who can use this Guide:

  • MS Office user,
  • Internet user and
  • Freelancer with DIY knack

What you need:

1. MS Word or MS Frontpage or MS Publisher (bundled in MS Office packages)

2. Web-browser (preferably Mozilla Firefox for its tabbed interface)

3. Internet connection

4. A few dollars to be used online (credit card)

5. Creativity and aesthetic sense
Can do, Will do:
It is very easy now to get a free unique URL through the many Blog websites. All you need is an email id and you can post thoughts, opinions, updates online. But it is a blog and there are limits to what you can do to the layout and http://hotaircoldlove.blogspot.com/ looks poor on my business card and email signature. So now I need a website to post content, share links, put a PayPal button for overseas buyers (for publishers / magazines/ selling self-published ebook), connect with visitors, give a professional image as a writer, etc.

There are many ways to be online; be it blog, MySpace, or Ebay Shop. I am going to show you a simple and cheapest way to get a website online which lasts longer and doesn’t look forsaken when you don’t update it daily/weekly (as with blogs).

Many websites now use Flash and DotNet since bandwidth and broadband are not an issue with users anymore. But HTML can be decent as well as appealing in its simplicity and ease of use, not to mention how fast the webpage loads online.
Getting to the task:
Domain Name:
Domain name recognises the location of your website on a web-server to put it in layman’s terms. www.yahoo.com is a domain name for Yahoo. Domain names need not end with dot com. There are many others available; prominently used are .net, .org, .tv, .info, etc. Apart from this you can get one centric to your country – .in for India, .uk for UK, .au for Australia, etc. The reason these choices help are because there may be 100 John Does and they may have made websites like johndoe.com, johndoe.org, johndoe.uk, etc. So if your name is John Doe and someone has already bought that domain, tough luck pal.

There are various websites that sell domain names. Beware; owning a domain name is not the same as owning a website. You only bought a name; you still need a home to put that nameplate on. What I mean is web-space is not always bundled with a domain name. Be careful while selecting a domain as you are paying for it for a minimum period of a year (common and standard deal). Be also careful of how it reads, for example: Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at www.expertsexchange.com; also read as expert sex change.com Or Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at www.therapistfinder.com
I bought my domain www.ujjwaldey.com at a good discount price of $9.95 for 5 years. That is dirt cheap domain and it is a dot com and it spells my name decently. This was because I kept a watch on the various websites selling domains to get a bargain and finally http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/ had a sale and I got a loot like a rioter. So keep your eyes peeled for such deals. Keep in mind what other services the domain seller offers. If you find a good deal where web-space (storage) is bundled cheaply take it if you can afford it.

Web-Space: Web-space is like a magical hard-drive in cyber-world where all your web-pages need to be stored so anyone with a link can view the content online. A web-server hosts websites on its web-space. This includes a unique domain combined with web-pages (here we use .htm but they can be .asp or .php web-pages). So when someone hits ujjwaldey.com on their browser, they reach a web-page on a web-server.

I used the free Yahoo Geocities service http://geocities.yahoo.com/ to build a website. This has the mandatory index.htm which is the first page a user sees and the other web-pages on my website. You can design your web-pages and load it to your space on Geocities. Be careful of the user name you use for creating an account with the free service provider as that user name may appear on the URL of your web-space.

Geocities account is similar to Tripod.com service and many others. Your objective is to use their 15 MB or 20 MB free web-space and let them host your web-pages for free. 15 MB is enough to use for text and medium sized images. Free sites will have some ads but that is bearable.

Domain Forwarding: Now you need to link your domain to this free site. Yahoo as a domain seller provides domain forwarding service at no extra charge. Many other sellers also do the same for no extra expense. So now I use Yahoo’s Domain Control Panel menu option to forward my www.ujjwaldey.com to http://www.geocities.com/u_dey/ . Voila, now when you hit my website you don’t know you are actually seeing my Geocities freebie web-page. Yahoo also offered me email forwarding so I can have kingof.world@ujjwaldey.com email id where mails will get forwarded to a regular email box on Yahoo or elsewhere (say kingof.world@gmail.com ). So domain forwarding forwards your dot com (or dot whatever) to an actual web-space location.

Domain forwarding has ‘Masked Forward’ or ‘UnMasked Forward’ option. As the name suggests masking will keep showing ujjwaldey.com instead of http://www.geocities.com/u_dey/fiction01.htm whereas unmasked domain defeats our cheap evil scheme.

You can even forward your domain to your already popular blog URL (link) or to a free forum like Yahoo Groups. So people visiting CrimePays.com could reach http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crime-writers/

Web-page: This is damn easy but it takes a trial and error method to finally see how your website will look. Use restrictive margins in MS Word or MS Frontpage or MS Publisher and create content page with or without a template. Yes, prêt-a-porter templates are available in MS Office to build a web-page faster. More simply just type out your text, insert your images, post links embedded in text and save the document as a .HTM and you have a web-page. An index.htm is required as a landing page and will be the first thing a visitor sees on your website.

Posting a PayPal button or other third-party tools such as my automatically updated Daily Comics http://www.geocities.com/u_dey/comics.htm needs more skill. Open the .htm file in Notepad (Right-click the file and select Open With-Notepad). Now it is easy to read what Microsoft did to your document. Be patient and understand the basics.

There will be a:

  • <html>………..</html> : Your data is en-capsuled in this tag which holds all that will be displayed in a web-browser.
  • <title>My Own Website</title> : This text between the <title> keywords will appear in the title bar of your visitor’s web-browser. Notice how a back slash ends the title keyword limits.
  • <head>World Famous Author</head> : The <head> keyword will showcase a heading for your website.
  • <body>blah…blah…blah</body> : The body contains the majority of the content.
  • Other useful tags are <center></center>, <p></p> for paragraph, <b></b> for bold text and <i></i> for italic text.
  • You need to strategically place your third-party codes into the <body></body> tag without making it intrusive to the rest of the content.

Typically a webpage will have this layout in code:

<html>

<title>My Own Website</title>

<head>World Famous Author</head>

<body> <p>

We all live in a Yellow Submarine<br>

But Things have changed<br>

This is the end my beautiful friend

</p>

</body>

</html>

Go ahead type the above code in notepad and save the file as an .htm and open it in a web-browser.

It is much better and faster with a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) web-editor like MS Frontpage. But you can make an attempt. I could suggest any of the many free sites that have tutorials for HTML coding (Use Google.com) but then we loose sight that we want to do business and not spend too much time learning a new skill. So get Adobe/Macromedia Dreamweaver (free trial download available) or MS Frontpage and get it done quickly.

In Conclusion:

It doesn’t take a village to raise a bare-bone functional website, so get on with it.

Don’t forget to pass these tips when you get famous and have your flashy web-page on your publisher’s website.

 

Author Name & Contact:

Ujjwal Dey
u_dey@yahoo.com

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