A writer seeking to get work published must have an online presence—a Web site, a blog, or both. Many writers try to get by with a blog provided by one of the free sources, but I think it’s better to have a brochure-style Web site with an associated blog or a Web site that includes a link to a free blog.
The Site Itself
If you have budgeted for a site, I congratulate you. Since most beginning writers prefer to use a free site, I provide information on site-builders that allow you to start out free and upgrade later to a paid version.
Take a look at www.webs.com (formerly Freewebs.com). There are two versions, free and paid. To get rid of ads, you must upgrade to a paid version. Webs has a blog feature so you can have your blog and other information on the same site.
Some site-builders offer a free trial so that you can work with their product a bit before you have to pay. Check out these three and look at the pricing page before you sign up for a trial. I have tried all except Homestead myself.
Vistaprint (Offers business cards to coordinate with design of Web site)
Keep in mind that free builders are not going to offer the range of options that you get when you pay. If you have budgeted for a site, try the free versions before you make your final choice. If you must begin with a free site, set a goal to upgrade to the paid version within six months. Some of the options above are available for about $5.00 per month. It’s a small price to pay for a professional-looking Web presence.
The Domain Name
When you set up a free site with Webs.com, for example, you get a Webs.com address. Visitors know that this is a free site, because it has the Freewebs URL first. Your site is a subdomain of Freewebs.
It looks more professional to have your own domain name. Choose the domain name you’d like to have, like www.yourname.net. Go to www.namecheap.com or www.networksolutions.com and buy it. Have alternatives ready, because your first choice might not be available. Prices vary depending on the extension (.com, .org, .net, .info). Buy it for two years the first time because that will get you a better rank in the search engines. Once you own your domain name, you can re-direct it to a free or low-cost site. You will use www.yourname.net on your business cards and other promotional pieces. Once you’ve set this up, when the visitor types in or clicks on that URL, she will be taken to your free site and will probably not even realize you are using the freebie.
Beware: Some of the companies that offer free sites also offer to sell you a domain name. If you buy your domain name through one of these outfits, be sure that you will own the domain name and not the company. If you should decide to change to another site-building company, you want to be able to take your domain name with you. If your current company owns it, you’ll have to buy it from them in order to change companies.