It's Cheaper and Easier Than You Think
When dealing with technology, it seems like the less you know, the more you pay. But that doesn't mean you have to be a computer geek to avoid getting taken for a ride. Armed with a little knowledge about where to look and what to look for, you can avoid the high costs that the less-informed are forced to pay.
Let's take a look at personal web sites, for example. You've probably heard many Internet buzzwords flying around the last few years. Things like domain names, web hosting, and web design, to name a few. For some people, this techno-babble stops them in their tracks. They either throw in the towel early, or look for some hot shot (expensive!) web developer to handle it for them. But it's really not that difficult to figure out. Let's first define some key terms.
The domain name is the name of the site, like www.stellarrealestate.com. Domain names are purchased for one-year intervals, though you can purchase them for several years in advance. There are a few big names (and several smaller ones) that are authorized to sell domain names. The going price for a domain name for one year is less than $10. Personally, I recommend www.godaddy.com.
Web hosting is the service of placing your web site on a computer that is available to web surfers across the Internet. Although you live in one town, your website will probably be hosted on a computer in some far-off place like Kalamazoo, Michigan. The company that owns that computer charges you a monthly fee - generally around $10/month. My recommendation for affordable but reliable web hosting is www.godaddy.com or www.50megs.com.
Web design is probably the most expensive and involved step. There is an unlimited number of web design firms, and an equally high number of freelancers to choose from. If you have very particular features in mind, this is where you'll pay anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars to build the site you envisioned. But there is another solution.
Consider a template-style web hosting company. They typically have pre-designed templates that allow you to drop in your information, and it can be much cheaper than building a site from scratch. Most of these companies include the web hosting with the cost of the web design, and charge as little as $10/month.
Look for a company that specializes in your industry. Real estate professionals, for example, would want to consider www.blitzdevelopment.com or www.vertexsites.com. You'll often find a lot of extra features such as calendars, online calculators, information forms, live news feeds, and more, at no extra charge. These features add up fast if you hire someone to build custom versions just for you.