Saturday, May 14, 2005

Lesson #8 - To blog, or not to blog?

In Lesson #6 we discussed the process of picking an idea. There simply comes a time in your life when you decide to create a Web site, so you pick an idea and start down the road.

Once you have picked your idea, the next question you face is, "what sort of structure should I use to contain my site?" That depends on the type of site that you are creating. Look back at The different types of Web sites. The big categories are:
  • Content sites
  • Blogs
  • Brochure sites (primarily to advertise a business or organization)
  • Stores (retail sites)
  • Hyperblogs
  • Forum sites
  • Database sites
Most people, when they are thinking about their first web sites, are going to be thinking about the first four. Either you want to publish some sort of content, or you want to sell something.

Let's get the retail sites out of the way quickly. If you want to set up an online store, and if you have never done it before, I would recommend that you go to a place like Yahoo Small Business and use their toolset to create an online store quickly and easily. You will pay $50 to $100 per month for their tools, and it makes your life easy. You can focus more on selling and less on "technology".

If you have read lesson #6 and you know that you want to create a pretty straightforward blog, then I would go to a place like Blogger or LiveJournal and create a blog using their free tools. It only takes five minutes to get everything set up, and then you simply start writing. It is quick, painless, free and easy - what more could you ask for?

That leaves us with content. Let's say that you know you would like to create a content Web site, or a business brochure site, but the free/easy Blog structure does not work? For example, let's say that you want to start your own site like HowStuffWorks, or you are a dentist and you want to publish a brochure site to advertise your dental practice?

In that case, what you need to do is create a "normal web site". You need to sign up with a company that hosts web sites, create a URL for your site and start building your site. This is not quite as easy as creating a blog -- it might take you two to four hours instead of five minutes to get things set up. However, you have a lot more freedom and control with this approach. You can build almost anything you can imagine. You can add forums, create multiple email accounts, post images, let visitors look at video, etc. It does take a little more work to get going, but you can do a lot more down the road.

Let me give you two examples to make the difference more obvious:
  1. What is WebKEW? It is a "content web site". What I am doing here is publishing an online book, really. I have started WebKEW using a blog in order to demonstrate something -- If you do not want to go through the steps of creating a custom web site right now, you can actually do your publishing in a blog structure. I have created a Table of Contents page for WebKEW to make it a little easier for readers to get oriented, but otherwise I am using a blog framework to publish content. Admittedly this structure has its limitations, but you can see that it is possible.

  2. Now, let me show you another online book that has been published as a simple, custom web site: CarefulParents.com. This custom web site has its own URL and logo, it has a custom home page, it has a standard template for article pages and so on. If you are creating a brochure for your business, or if you are publishing non-blog content, this is most likely the road you will want to travel.
To set up a custom web site like this, you need to contact a web hosting company. There are a million places that offer Web hosting. I happen to use a place called ez-web-hosting.com. This is where MarshallBrain.com is hosted, for example. When it comes time to turn WebKEW into a "real web site", ez-web-hosting.com is where I will host it.

If you are getting ready to create a "real web site" for your content, or if you need to create a business brochure site, you can click here and look around. Whether you go with ez-web-hosting or somewhere else, the features and the price will be nearly identical -- this is a commodity business with thousands of companies providing approximately the same packages.

In Lesson #9 we will look at the steps that you need to take to get your "real web site" going once you sign up.

20 Comments:

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I just started my first blog:)
I am new to the hole thing, but I learn as I go:)
Check it out!
www.chriswhelan.blogspot.com

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Shock Carlos said...

Hello, you have a very interesting blog here. I really enjoyed reading it -- Keep up the great work.

I have a web hosting package related blog/site. When you get a chance, especially if you're looking for online-ISP services or web hosting package come on by and check it out.

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger Greg Duchesneau said...

Love the blog you've put together here... I hope you keep on going with it... definitely different and it makes me think.

In case you are interested in checking out my web hosting packages related site/blog, just pop over and visit us if you get a chance.

It's pretty much about Marketing, online services and web hosting packages type stuff... See ya!

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger srk said...

It is really nice "Book", I really impressed by it and have just started novice kind of blog, Blog to let people express their anger, it is
e-data-anger.blogpost.com

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Norm D said...

I just started my first blog:)
I am new to the hole thing, but I learn as I go:)
Check it out!

http://normsstory.blogspot.com

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Linda said...

Hi Marshall...learning a lot here but since I'm on a Mac and e-z does not support Macs, who would you suggest?

Keep up this book!

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous A classic gamer said...

My friend owns www.dosclassics.com, and uses www.hostdime.com. I also have a site there. I pay 9.00 a month for 3GB, and I have unlimited email addresses and sub-domains... e-z is not as reasonable as that!

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Livingston said...

Thanks to your site, I am now regularly updating my blog site on a topic I love (basketball) on a subject that I can't find any info on (all-star game in Vegas)
NBA All-Star Game News

I also am going to start updating my regular hosted site as soon as I can think of something useful for it. Thanks again!

 
At 6:52 PM, Blogger Brandon Bailey said...

http://robotfuturenews.blogspot.com

 
At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well here goes, kicked off my own blog site as well - CiscoGeek

 
At 5:55 AM, Blogger Ambrish said...

Hi

Thanks for the information
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At 4:36 PM, Blogger nicola arnett said...

hi check out my new blog,
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At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Pete Williams said...

Another great article - I'm really enjoying working through the series!

Just one comment - your link to carefulparents.com now just goes to an ad site, so I guess it's not such a great example any more... I know what you were saying though.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger cyn said...

Hi, just wanted to thank you for the interesting tips. Now I've just started my first blog! Check it out at www.ghostexperiencer.blogspot.com

 
At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your website all afternoon - great stuff!

Thanks for all the info.

Hopefully, I'll be posting comments soon about my new website &/or blog.

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger Joel Smith said...

I might be a late poster but I'd like to say thanks for excellent blog, keep it up.
I just started my first blog about web: my first blog

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting all this information together on a blog... it's really helpful. I started my own blog a little while back and hopefully it continues to grow.
http://www.superhumorteam.blogspot.com/

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous paula young said...

I just found your site through the Life Extension daily bulletin; I have bookmarked it. I like your simple style of putting forth lots of useful, practical information. Thanks! I'll be reading.
I have a 7 month old blog which is an offering to anyone who might be interested in what goes on in a psychotherapy office. If you aren't much for reading you can scroll back, just read the titles and look at the pictures---should be enjoyable to do just that.
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At 6:51 AM, Anonymous sbobet said...

thanks ysboou for arsbochive

 

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