It’s possible to start a website for free, and you could also spend tens of thousands of dollars, or more. Ultimately the cost depends on your goals, your budget, and your skill stack. Most people can get up and running for $10-40 per month, depending on whether you just want an informational website about your business, or an ecommerce website where you can sell products.
How to Start an Informational Website or Blog on the Cheap
There are a few companies that offer free web hosting. Often, when you register a domain name, the registrar will offer a package that includes free hosting so long as your domain is hosted with them. Other hosting companies will let you put up your website in exchange for embedding their advertising on your pages. However, there are very affordable options that will produce a better result.
Register Your Domain Name
The first thing you need to do, whether you use a free or paid web hosting service is to register a domain name. This will cost you anywhere from a few dollars per month when there are ongoing promotions, to $30 or more per month for certain top-level domains, and expensive registrars like Network Solutions. Once you have your domain name registered, you can set up your hosting account. You then adjust the DNS entries on your domain name and point them at your web server, which contains the files that comprise your website. It may sound complicated, but it’s really not that hard once you understand the difference between a domain registrar and a web hosting company.
Choose a Web Hosting Company
There are many web hosting companies that offer affordable plans. Generally, you’ll be okay with almost any hosting plan if you’re just starting out. A good place to start is by picking a shared web hosting plan. You can host for less than $5 per month while you experiment with your account. Later, you can usually upgrade your hosting plan from shared to VPS, or to one with more resources.
There are lots of web builders available. WordPress is by far the most popular platform, and it’s easy to use. Oftentimes, your web hosting company will enable one-click installs, so that you don’t need any tech skills to get your website online. Once you get it set up, you can choose a WordPress theme to customize your website’s appearance.
How to Start an Ecommerce Website
Believe it or not, you can start an ecommerce website using WordPress and an ecommerce plugin like Woocommerce. This is a great option, but it may require a bit more technical know-how to setup than if you were to choose an out-of-the-box ecommerce solution like Shopify or Bigcommerce. These platforms cost more than basic WordPress hosting. However, they’ll save you lots of time, as you can generally just begin to add products to your store. Keep in mind that an ecommerce solution will not be as customizable as a WordPress website. This is generally not a major problem, unless you plan to use SEO to drive traffic to your website. If this is the case, then you may want to consider a more customizable solution like Woocommerce or Magento.