In part 1 we talked about WordPress, domain names, hosting and content. In this post, I’ll show you how to actually start your $70 a year website. Remember, as per our calculations, this comes to around $6 a month and includes both domain name renewal and hosting, which is quite affordable for a website.
Buying a domain name
If you already know what you want to blog about, chances are you already have a domain name idea floating in your head. For example, if you want to blog about food, you might think of food.com. The truth of the matter is that such a simple, extremely marketable name already belongs to someone else.
So before buying a domain name, the first thing you should do is ensure that the name you want is available
However, there are some websites that also provide you with more tools to help you come up with a suitable domain name. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want, you can enter some keywords and it will give you some domain name suggestions. A good example of such a website is bustaname.com, though there are many others like it.
Once you decide on a name, you’ll need to pay for it. For you to do this you’ll need to log in to the domain registrar’s account, so if you don’t already have an account you should open one. Most just require you to have an email address. There are many domain registrars around, with most doubling as web hosts. Some of the most famous are Bluehost, Hostgator, Godaddy, Siteground and InMotion.
However, you shouldn’t always buy your domain and host with the same company. There are some that provide affordable domains with terrible hosting, or quality hosting with expensive domain name registration and/or renewal fees. That’s another thing you’ll need to be careful about when buying a domain name; the renewal fee.
Registrar A might sell you a domain for even $1 dollar for the first year, with its annual renewal fee pegged at $14. Over a 10 year period, you’ll pay $1 + $126 ($14 X 9) = $127. Over the same period, registrar B might sell you the domain name for a flat fee of $10, including yearly renewal, which will translate to a total of $100 over 10 years. So even though registrar A is offering you a “cheap” $1 domain name, in the long term it’s more expensive.
There are many domain name registrars, but I personally use Namecheap.com. As you can tell from the name, they generally have very affordable domain names. Their .com domain names generally cost $10.98 a year. The good thing is this amount includes free WHOIS guard forever.
If you don’t know what WHOIS is, it is a service that makes your domain name details private. If you didn’t have it, anyone on the internet could search your domain name and see all your details, including your address and phone number. Some registrars like Godaddy charge a separate fee of around $8 dollars a year, which makes their domain names very expensive.
So on Namecheap.com, you get your domain name at $10.98, plus free privacy protection. Add a standard $0.18 ICANN fee that is charged by ALL domain name registrars per domain name and the total amount comes to $11.16.
Edit: I have found an even more affordable domain name seller, Namesilo.com. Their domains go for $8.99, sometimes hitting $6.99 during special offers. The price is inclusive of privacy, and doesn’t have any hidden charges. I’ve already bought two domain names with them and so far so good.
Now that we have a domain name, let’s move to hosting.
Purchasing affordable quality hosting
As with domain name registrars, web hosting companies are also all over the place. Each provides the best service, depending on who you ask. Amid all this confusion, it can be pretty hard to make a decision. You might find yourself getting hosting from the company that advertises hardest. I used to do the same.
I once had accounts with Hostgator and Godaddy, both industry leading web hosting companies. They usually had cheap first month offers, but I quickly realized that from the second month things would get substantially more expensive. By that time they had already locked me in and it would be a real hassle to move to another host, so I had no choice but to pay the higher amounts.
Add to that the fact that they were always trying to up-sell me more expensive “solutions” to mostly imagined threats and you can understand how frustrating the experience was.
I did a little digging and found out that there’s not much difference between the tens, even hundreds of webhosts on the market. A small web host can do a better, higher quality job than one that hosts tens of millions of companies. Because I wanted to build a website with as little money as possible, I spent time researching the different hosting providers out there.
I first came across a Canadian one known as Hawkhost and even set up an account with them, but I had a nasty customer care experience that made me ask for a refund. Their IT department allegedly thought I was a fraudster because my IP address didn’t match the country I said I was from.
Since I was using Mauritius based Zuku as my ISP, they (Zuku) saw it fit to give me a Mauritius IP address, while I had stated I was from Kenya. I can understand how that would look suspicious, but Hawkhost didn’t seem to believe me, so I had to move on.
I then considered hosting on Namecheap, my domain name registrar. While their packages are cheap, I read about some limitations they might have. Plus, I didn’t really want to have my website hosted on the same platform as my domain name registrar.
I finally settled on Interserver.net. I googled their reviews and most gave the company more than 4.5 stars out of 5, which is really good. The only thing I find a little irritating about them is their bland and sometimes confusing dashboard, but that’s a minor issue.
The important thing is that everything works like it’s supposed to.
Time to do the math
Their shared hosting package costs $5 per month, which is already quite affordable. On signing up, I was offered an introductory price of $23.76 if I bought the 6 month package. That works to $3.96 per month, which is very very affordable.
On renewing the package for another six months, I paid $28.5, which is $4.75 per month. So moving forward, I’ll be paying $28.5 every 6 months, which translates to $57 per year. Remember you’re paying this amount for unlimited number of websites.
If you add the $11.16 that we used to buy our domain name to the $57 for annual hosting, you pay $68.16, which is just shy of $70!! This amounts to only $5.68 per month, or around 600 Kenya shillings. This to me is a very small amount to pay for your website. Unlike a brick and mortar store, nothing limits you with a website. It is visible to everyone all over the world, so if you ask me that’s a pretty good deal.
Now that you know how to start an affordable website, in my next blog post I’ll talk about WordPress, the simplest and most intuitive blogging platform for a newbie webmaster.
Thanks for reading!!