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There's basically TWO ways to go with establishing your own web site: free and not-free. Below is offered info regarding both.
In general anyone who's serious about creating and maintaining their own site for any substantial period of time, OR wishing to eventually make money with their site in some fashion, OR think they might eventually want to pursue the previous two options, should get their own unique domain name and use a NOT-FREE site, from the very start-- if they can afford it at all. The reason for this? It usually requires a tremendous amount of time and effort to build up a site's traffic: and traffic is the very definition of success for most sites. If you have your own unique domain name from the beginning and manage to maintain control of it, you can usually retain and build up your traffic through a variety of other changing circumstances. But if you don't have a unique domain name, you may find yourself having to start all over again traffic-wise, over and over again. Such repeating starts from scratch can be heart-breaking for some. And is an unnecessary waste no matter what your viewpoint.
Of course if everything you plan to do online is basically as temporary as selling something in an auction, you may have no need for your own web site whatsoever. In that case use ebay.com or another major auction site for your efforts.
For those who can afford it, the NOT-FREE option may be most desirable. But you can still get by pretty cheaply if you wish this way.
With a NOT-FREE site you can buy your own unique domain name (something like "boogeytown.com" or "jjsmith.com"-- almost anything so long as someone else hasn't already claimed it) for a year or longer for as low as ten dollars or less, in early 2005. And you can get a low-end commercial web site hosting package for about the same price per month (so as little as $20 could have you with your own site online for a month). Basically web site hosting is a service where a company somewhere far away agrees to give you a certain amount of disk space on their internet server PC and make your files available to the world. When I say commercial I mean the package may offer up a bare-bones or better version of web site options suitable for a small business or individual. And e-commerce transactions can be enabled too in various ways-- without adding to the starting costs!
But keeping your NOT-FREE site costs to these minimums usually means having someone around who can help you substantially with the various technical details-- or else you learn your way around on your own.
How difficult can it be? Starting from scratch knowledge-wise, with no greater ambition than a simple personal site, would perhaps be of moderate difficulty for the average adult. That's assuming they already know how to use a PC in general for stuff like sending emails and web surfing.
Luckily there's oodles of free help and advice available for free on the internet today about these matters. And if you're lucky your site hosting company will offer up much or most of everything you need to know on their own site (of course this will vary widely among hosting companies). Many host companies also possess user forums on-site where you can post questions and get answers, or else just prowl around reading Question & Answer sessions already documented with regards to other folks like yourself.
If you want to go the NOT-FREE but low cost way, there's another hurdle to clear: choosing what domain registrar to buy your name through, and what host company through which to put your site online.
Keep in mind that the internet is still a wild and wooly place today-- as the technology is still extremely young, and related laws and regulations still largely under-developed. So people are sometimes getting burned in regards to web site hosts and domain registrars and other net-related products and services.
And this can happen even to people who do their homework! Yikes! For an internet company that's rock solid and dependable today might be exactly the opposite tomorrow. Hopefully this situation will improve as time goes by.
As I write this, godaddy.com is trusted by many to be their domain registrar. And offers decent deals on domains, too. As for web hosts, this Google search for popular budget web hosts might offer you a decent place to start shopping around.
As in many markets, one indicator of quality and reliability may be the price to perks ratio. Hosts which claim to charge only two or three bucks a month for 6000 GB or even unlimited bandwidth may well be hosts you should avoid, circa early 2007. Roughly $9.95 per month for 500-2500 GB of bandwidth seems the cheapest in cost to benefit ratios you should consider today. Paying more for the same (or less) bandwidth will often bring you reduced site downtime and more customer support, though. But THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES of this.
So how much bandwidth might your site require? Most individuals will never get the scale of traffic required to need 500 GB of bandwidth in a single month-- unless perhaps they're offering some massive video files or tons of high res images on their site. Music files can consume bandwidth too, but video and gigantic still pics are the main bandwidth hogs.
I personally own some pretty large and sprawling sites today. But they consist only of HTML files rarely exceeding 200K in size, and a sprinkling of relatively small GIF and JPEG images. So although I've gotten respectable traffic over many years now, over almost all of that time I could usually have made do with a total of just 10 GB a month in bandwidth. Occasional spikes might have breached that number a few times. But on average 10 GB would have served me well.
FREE sites usually or often cater to beginners, and so may be considerably easier and faster to set up if you know little or nothing about creating a web site.
A few major candidates in this field today include Yahoo! GeoCities or Tripod. Want more choices? Then try clicking here.
Note that you'll typically have far less choice in what domain name your site goes by at a free site. And far less allowable web traffic. That is, if too many people were to visit your free site at one time, your free site host will shut your site down: turn it off completely. This can happen at not-free sites too, but it's much less likely there, as not-free sites usually can take lots more traffic than free sites before reaching their limits.
Of course, most folks no matter what sort of site they have may never ever get this many visits.
Free sites often stay that way by displaying ads from the host on everyone's web site there. That means you'll likely have ads accompanying your own content at such sites. Sometimes LOTS and LOTS of ads. Sometimes VERY annoying and distracting. Such free hosts will sometimes offer to remove such ads (and allow you more visitor traffic) if you CONVERT your site with them to a NOT-FREE site (i.e., start paying them a monthly fee or something). But if you're going to start paying for it you might as well go with the NOT-FREE options listed previously on this page, to begin with!
Note that you're more likely to have to self-censor your content on a FREE site too, than the other kind.
Want more info on getting your content web-ready, or creating your own site? Then try Help with HTML editing and file uploading