Websites for the Cost Conscious

Useful Information about Domains and Hosting Services
A fair amount of confusion seems to exist about Domains, Web Hosting Services, and Websites.  We get frequent questions about: What they are, what they cost, who pays what to whom, and other questions of this kind.  This seems like an appropriate place to address some of these questions.  If after reading this material you still have questions for us, feel free to use the form at the bottom of this page to contact us.  If you already understand the material we are covering here, and want to get on about the business of leasing your own domain name, just skip over this section, and proceed directly to "How to lease your own domain name" near the bottom of this page (just before the contact us form at the bottom of the page). 
So let's begin.  You will need to have three specific things in order to have a useful website.
  1. A Domain Name,
  2. Web Hosting, and
  3. Web Design
You have to have all three in order for your website to work properly.  Consider this.  Websites are quickly replacing landline telephones as a preferred method of communication with people around the world.  So let's compare the two.   You cannot just go out to the store, buy a landline telephone, set it on a table, and call someone.  You need three things to make your telephone work.  You need a contract with a telephone company that will provide phone service to your house.   This is similar to the service that a web hosting service would provide for your website.  And you need someone to wire your house with all the wires and jacks and signal splitters and filters and phone cords that you need in order for your phone to be connected to the service line that your phone company ran to your house.  This is similar to the work that a web designer does for your website.  And then you need a phone number so people can call you.  This is like your domain name for your website.  Without all three, both your telephone and your website are useless.  
Now let's consider some definitions:
  1. A Domain is your internet name.  It's a name given to a website that computers can use to find your website on the World Wide Web.  As one source put it, "The domain name is your identity online - as long as you keep renewing it, no one else can claim to have it."  People talk about buying a domain name, but renting it or leasing is probably a more accurate way to describe it, since you need to renew your claim on your domain name each year, or someone else could get it.  These domain names are usually chosen by and leased to a person or business and are fast becoming as essential to the recognition and success of a business as its logo and its business name.  For example, our domain name is websong.org, and we hope some day everyone who sees it or hears it will recognize it, and smile.  A domain name becomes a web address when it is placed after something that looks like this:  http://www.  A web address is sometimes referred to as a URL (which stands for Uniform Resource Locator).  A web address, or URL, can be placed in the address bar of your favorite web browser (like Internet Explorer, or Firefox, or Safari) to open a particular website.  To learn more about domains, check out these two useful sources:    webhostingchoice.com   and    Wikipedia.
  2. A web Host is a company that rents space and bandwidth to you on their big computers so you have some place to publish your website online.  When someone enters your domain name into a web browser, they are directed to the special place on your host's computer where your website is being stored, and the website opens up from there.  This means that no one ever has to connect with your computer to get information from your website, and it also means that your computer does not need to be turned on in order for people to see your website.  For a small fee a quality hosting company not only provides space on their computer for your website, but they also provide software to help you build your website, and serurity procedures to protect your website.  And hosting companies also provide support for their services, to help you when you have a problem.
  3. Web Design is the process of setting up all the different parts of your website so that people can navigate easily from one place to another.  It helps if the web design is also pleasant to the eye, and attractive to the visitor so they want to check out what you have to offer.  Through this Websong website we offer ways for people to build their own website online through a company called "WordPress."  We also are prepared to design a website for you, or help you design your own website using a free template and the software that your hosting company provides, as long as your hosting company offers some sort of visual HTML editor.  And we also are willing to design a custom website to meet your specific needs.  In addition to these options that we provide, there are software packages like Microsoft's FrontPage, and Adobe's Dreamweaver that can be purchased and used by an individual to create their own website.  And for those who are interested, HTML is not that hard a language to learn, and those who learn it can use it to write their own website.  
 Now, let's consider these web services from the standpoint of what they cost and how they are paid.  Normally, there are three different kinds of expenses associated with the creation and maintenance of a website.  
  1. First, there are Annual expenses, like the annual cost of purchasing and renewing your own domain name. 
  2. Second, there are Monthly expenses, like the costs that most Web Hosting services charge to host your domain on the World Wide Web, and the webmaster services that most webmasters offer to help keep your website current and up to date.
  3. And third, there are One Time expenses such as the fees that we, and many other web designers, charge to do the creative work associated with making your website look good and function well. 
It sounds rather straight forward, but it is not, because there are no industry standards. For example, webhosting companies are in fierce competition with each other for new clients, so they often offer enticements to get your business.  One company might offer a free domain name if you let them host your site, while another might offer deep discounts if you sign up for more than one year at a time, and pay it in advance.  One hosting company might offer great software to help you build your own website, while another might offer a discount if you let them build it for you.  And it is the same with website designers.  One might offer the best software in the world to make it easier than ever to build your own site, while another might use quality templates to build the site for you at a reasonable price.  One might charge a large fee to build a custom site that does exactly what you want it to do, while another might not charge much to build the site, but have a steep monthly fee they charge to maintain the site for you.  In other words, in shopping for a website, look at the cost of all three of these expenses, and do the math.  Getting a domain name for free may not mean that you got the best deal all around.  
Now let's get practical.  Suppose a company offers you a free domain name.  Is this a good deal?  It's hard to tell until you look at all three parts of the expenses related to having your own website.  In general, someone needs to pay an annual fee for a domain name to be registered.   So if someone is offering to pay for your domain name, they probably expect to make up the money in hosting fees or design fees or both.  Otherwise they are probably offering you a subdomain under their registered domain.  Please let us know if you want a websong sub-domain.  We got them for free, and we are glad to offer them to you for free.  For some individuals, churches, non-profit, and not for profit agencies, a sub-domain may suffice.  But sooner of later, most businesses find sub-domains to be inadequate, and they set out to lease their own domain name.  
As you will see as you explore this website, we offer free websites that are truly available at no expense to you.  They use a free sub-domain name, and a free  hosting service, and all the tools you need to design the site yourself so there won't be any design fees either.  But at any point, you can purchase a domain name of your own and use it with your otherwise free website.  And at any point you can also hire us to design your website, or parts of your website for you.  For the most part, you can purchase any of our services, and upgrade to any other services at a later date, once you have lived with a website for a while, and know what it is that you need to add or change.  This makes one of our free websites a great place to start when you first realize you need a website.  If you get in over your head, you can ask us for help.  And if you don't need our help, you won't need to pay for it.  In this way, you end up only paying for those things you really want or need.  
We hope you have found these explanations to be helpful.  Please let us know if we can be of service to you.   And please feel free to pass along any ideas, suggestions, or requests that you might have.  We look forward to hearing from you, and in addition to our contact page, there's a form at the bottom of this page to help you keep in touch with us.

How to lease your own Domain Name

The first two steps in getting your own website are: (1.) getting your own domain name or sub-domain name, and (2.) getting someone to host your new website.  Designing your website comes later, and information about web design can be found elsewhere in our Websong website.  This article concerns domains and hosting services, and what is written here is our effort to walk you through the maze of options to a satisfactory conclusion.  We believe it is worth it to read this section all the way through so you have a better idea of the options before you.  This should help you make a more informed decision.
  1. Free Websites:  If you are interested in a truly free website, you will not need to lease your own domain name.  They cost money.  Instead, just use one of the free sub-domains that WordPress offers when you sign up for one of their free blogs (that's what they call their free websites).  You can always upgrade to your own domain later.  To get started on the path to a completely free website, click here.
  2. Plan A:  If you believe a basic WordPress website will meet your needs, but you want to lease your own domain name to use with it, then you only want to lease the domain name by itself.  You do not want to purchase any hosting services to go with your domain name.  [If you do decide to purchase hosting services to go with your new domain name, that's fine, (many people do), but you will have moved from our Plan A services to our Plan B services, so you might as well skip down to the next section on Plans B and C services, and continue reading how to lease your own domain name from there.]  When you place an order for a domain name, most hosting services will try to get you to buy extra domain names, and to buy them for more years into the future, and to hire them to host your new domain name.  These are all great options, but you need to ask yourself whether the extra expense is worth it to you.  It is OK to say no to offers that don't interest you.  And when it comes to our Plan A websites, hosting is most cost effective when the free WordPress website is hosted by WordPress [$10 a year], and not by the company who sells you your domain name.  And we at Websong are willing to help you connect your new domain name to your free WordPress Website for a one time transaction fee of $10.  So you can see that the expense for this is minimal.  To proceed with leasing your domain name to use with your free WordPress website, just follow the instructions below in the section on Plans B and C, but remember that leasing a domain without hosting services is the cost effective way to go, so you will have to mentally adjust what is in the next section to apply only toward the leasing of your domain name and not leasing services. With that in mind, read on.  
  3. Plans B and C:  If you want to purchase a domain name and hosting services from one of our recommended hosting services (links to these can be found in the sidebar on the right hand side of this page), or if you want to consider some other Webhost that provides you with free quality website design software, and competent support services, then read on.  There are a few things you need to know as you enter this process.  First, decide in advance what your first and second choices are for a domain name, so you get a name you like.  It never feels good to settle for something just because you felt pressured or hurried.  Second, shop for a webhosting company.  It doesn't take long to discover what each webhost charges for their services, so do some comparative shopping.  Third, as you shop, look at what they charge for all their services and decide which of those are most important to you, and then buy from the company that best meets your needs.  And finally, here are some choices you will face.  What do they charge for the domain name and their hosting services combined?  Do they give discounts if you pay in advance for two or three years?  Do you want to lease any additional domains with similar names or with different top level domains like .com or .net or .org?  Most hosting services will ask you to make choices like these as you negotiate through their website in your effort to lease a domain name.  And how you answer questions like these will have a direct impact on how much your domain name(s) and hosting services will cost you.  It is for reasons like these that it is impossible to state definitively what any particular company charges for domains and hosting.  However, once you have done your shopping, and chosen a webhosting service, making the acutal purchase is rather simple.  They will move you rather painlessly through their purchase process in a secure section of their website so your financial information is kept safe.  You will need a credit card to make the purchase, and you will need to establish an account with them that will include a username and a password.  If you plan ahead, you can probably think of a good username and password.  And if they are approved (if someone else doesn't have your preferred username), then remember to write the information down somewhere, and keep the email they send you safe as well.  It is always a bother to contact a company and get the username and password changed if you lose them.  

  • So once again, what do you need to do to lease your own domain name?   1. Settle on a couple of choices for your domain name in advance.  2. Shop for a hosting company.  3. Decide what services you want to buy and only purchase the services you really want.  4. Get a credit card handy.  5. Decide on a username and password in advance.  Then all you have to do is go to the website for the hosting service of your choice and follow the prompts that they offer.   They will guide you through their process, and in a matter of a few minutes, you will have your own domain name registered to you, and you will be ready to build a website, or have us build a website for you.  Congratulations.
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    Websong     (505) 918-7250