Isn’t starting a website too expensive or too much work?

I mentioned in the last post that I was starting this website as a place to keep track of my research in to high definition TVs, and that might just seem a little bit excessive!  Why not just open up a text file or Excel document to compare models?  Isn’t it expensive and time consuming to run a website?

Well, short answer, no.  Running a website doesn’t take much at all, especially not once you’ve got some experience setting up a server.  Wordpress, the software this particular domain runs on, is extremely easy to install – and once you’ve got it installed, you can quickly add new posts just as easily as you might write an email or fill out that Excel spreadsheet I mentioned earlier.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that WordPress loads a lot faster than Excel on this machine, so there’s definitely one advantage to be had.

What about the costs?  Well, obviously, hosting and domain registration isn’t free.  If you want to build a publicly accessible website, you will definitely require some paid services to get things going.  Fortunately, once you’ve got a web hosting account, adding new domains is extremely cheap and simple.  Registering a new domain name costs just $10 a year, and there just aren’t a lot of things you can get for 80 cents a month.  Besides, finding a good domain name just gets harder and harder every year – and that means prices are headed up.  If you find an unregistered domain name with potential, it would be actually be kind of expensive silly to pass it up!

So what about the web host?

Ultimately, the bulk of costs associated with starting a website are going to be your time and the few bucks a month you spend on web hosting.  Hosting plans can range anywhere from five bucks a month to thousands, but most people are going to be just fine on one of the cheap shared plans.  Besides, once your website is busy and successful, paying for a more robust hosting plan won’t be hard at all.  Slap some ads on the page, and once you’ve passed the point of profitability you can start to spend some money and thought on performance and scaling needs.

A $20 per month Virtual Private Server can run several relatively successful websites without much effort at all.  The Dreamhost VPS this domain is hosted on is currently also hosting another dozen sites with daily traffic that ranges from the hundreds to the thousands.  Altogether, almost 10,000 unique pageviews are delivered every day from that twenty dollar hosting account, and breaking even on the cost of hosting hasn’t been a problem in a looooong, long time.

Ready to start your own websites?

You’ve got a lot of options and you don’t have to break the bank to get started!  Quality hosting plans are available from Dreamhost and Bluehost for just $5 to $10 a month, and you can compare & contrast the details of each choice right here.  If you like the packages Dreamhost prefers, you can cut the cost even more with a promotional code like the ones listed on this page.  The options are there to to make sure you get the most out of the plan – without paying way too much.

TL;DR:  Advantages of web ownership

Good domain names are scarce, cheap to register, and they can be quite a bit if you find someone who wants to develop on a brandable name.

Lots of companies want to pay you to put their ads on your website.  At the very least, owning a website is like owning a billboard on the side of some highway somewhere.  If there are eyes on it, some business wants it for ad space.

Hosting is cheap, and increasingly powerful.  Web hosts aren’t held back by a lot of the resource limitations they used to face.  Computers are faster, and that means more hosting power for the same budget.  Don’t worry about high end hosting, because by the time you’ve burned out your cheap shared plan you will have enough traffic to be pulling in some decent spending money.

In fact, now that I’m really thinking about it and laying out all the pieces, I’m starting to think my goal should be to have this website right here pay for that new HD TV!

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