Creating a website or blog for your business is crucial in our digital-first world. But just having a website isn’t enough, as it also needs to be engaging, intuitive and user-friendly in order to draw potential customers in and keep them on your page (instead of on your competitor’s). At the same time, with the right amount of focus and effort, your website or blog can quickly find itself ranking past the competition in the search results through the power of great content, marketing, and SEO.
So, how can you create a website that has all the bells and whistles while still keeping costs low? There are many affordable web builders out there that can simplify the process, whether you’re turning to a professional web designer through B12 or customizing your site with WordPress. For the most part, many of these low-cost solutions will provide you with everything you need to get started, such as hosting, a domain name, a user interface and sometimes even a drag-and-drop platform for having full control over the look and feel of your site.
We asked seven entrepreneurs from YEC to share the tools they rely on when building their websites. Bonus: Some of these tools are completely free.
Squarespace is by far my top recommendation. Its natively designed templates are very stable and meticulously engineered and can be adapted to suit almost any business need. The emphasis on great design removes the need to hire a separate web designer. Though there is a slight learning curve required to get the most out of the platform, once you master it you’ll use Squarespace for everything.-
2. Google Web Designer
Google Web Designer is good when you want to have animated elements on your website. It also integrates with other tools offered by Google.
“But that’s for e-commerce,” I hear you say. Not really. Shopify has some pretty amazing options, and it helps that they’re capable of taking potential customers’ financial details in case you ever want to expand your business and sell merchandise. You won’t pay the same bill as someone who actually sells products and everything is practically plug-and-play.
WordPress is extremely simple to use and there are free plugins available for virtually every function your business website will require. A business can essentially create a website without spending any money, outside of hosting, if it’s built using WordPress. There are free customizable themes available as well, and a business can opt for a custom design once the budget allows for it.
In my experience as a digital and advertising matchmaker, the most popular no/low cost website builder is Wix. I’ve seen many agencies and early-stage companies use Wix and benefit from it’s low-cost/high-value ratio. It’s not for everyone (you’re “leasing” a hosting website that is template-based), but it’s fast, cheap and good enough for many.
A website is your online storefront, so don’t skimp! B12 is a great service that creates beautiful professional websites for businesses. They pair you with an experienced web designer, and then use artificial intelligence to automate the tech. This keeps quality high and costs low. Basically agency quality at a fraction of the price.
7. Self-Hosted WordPress
WordPress is great because it’s free and easy to install from any web hosting company. It’s best to use self-hosted WordPress, not WordPress.com, which is the same company but hosts the site for you (so you have less control). What I like about WP is that it’s suitable for beginners but you can add many advanced features as well. You can choose among thousands of themes and plugins.
How to Start a Website in the Next 10 Minutes
If you still don’t have a website or blog of your own, there is simply no excuse out there that is good enough to back up not having one. With so many resources and tutorials on the internet today for how to start a website or blog of your own, it’s amazing how many people are still sitting on the sidelines. Follow our how to start a blog guide and discover how simple it is to go live with a site of your own in just the next few minutes, while also costing you just a few dollars per month in hosting costs.
Protecting Your Online Business with Cloud Access Security Brokers
No matter if you are a blogger just starting out, or have a full time business online, you need to make sure your site is up at all time ans that your data is also secure. This is something many individuals and brands think they have in place, until a new security leak and hack comes into play. One of the best ways to make sure your online business and customer data is safe, is to make sure you are hosting your site with a reliable solution. As ‘cloud computing’ also becomes more accessible and at cheaper prices, it’s yet another option for keeping your online brand and business safe at all times,
A cloud access security broker (CASB) assists with cloud-based security concerns. While you may have outstanding security measures in place both within your organization and with your cloud service provider, there is still a point of vulnerability between the two. A cloud access security broker helps you protect your data everywhere from the point of origination to its final storage place in the cloud. There are several options available for service providers in this area, so it’s important to know how to assess them and make a fair comparison across all your potential security brokers.
Data Security Measures
The primary purpose of a cloud access security broker is to enhance your data security as information moves between internal or external storage devices and the cloud. While the cloud itself may be safe and secure, the transmission of information can create a weak point where cybercriminals have the opportunity to snag sensitive data en route to its next destination.
When you’re comparing cloud access security brokers, you must assess the details of their security measures. How do they control access? What measures are in place to prevent data leakage? How do they handle encryption key management? Compare providers evenly at this point to see which offers the most comprehensive data security services.
Enhanced visibility is one of the key services offered by cloud access security brokers. Your broker should monitor all content moving in and out of the cloud, performing regular security audits. It’s important that you, as the consumer, have access to data and security logs and regular reports. Your CASB should also provide helpful alerts that will draw your attention to any potential weaknesses and guide you toward the best solutions. Find out how much visibility a CASB provider offers and what form it comes in.
How does your cloud access security provider handle threats? You will inevitably come across cybercriminals who are attempting to access your data. What measures are in place to analyze user and entity behavior and capture these criminals? How does your provider detect data theft, and what steps do they take to then block the criminal from accessing your information? Your CASB should not only protect you from potential threats but also aid in the investigation of suspicious activity.
Discuss compliance requirements with your cloud access security broker. Are they knowledgeable about the latest requirements for legal compliance with data management within your industry? Do they have smart solutions to help you monitor and maintain compliance throughout the cloud? While compliance is an issue that will still ultimately fall on the shoulders of your company, a cloud access security broker should have the knowledge to assist you in this area, and they should always be on the alert for any compliance concerns that you need to be informed of.
Research your options carefully to make sure you’re working with a cloud access security broker that is well-equipped to assist with your industry-specific needs. The best option should suit both the size and scope of your company.
Five Free Web Hosting Providers for First-Time Webmasters
When you’re first getting ready to launch a website, the web hosting provider that you choose is one of the most important decisions that you make. After all, the web hosting company is in control of the infrastructure that powers your website and which serves it up to visitors from around the world.
The problem that many would-be webmasters come up against is that hosting can quickly become expensive, especially if you start to pay extra for optional addons. Not everyone has the money to pay for it all up front, especially if they’re just starting out. It’s usually easier to pay for your website when your website itself is up and running and making money.
That’s why free web hosting is such an attractive choice. Sure, it might not be powerful enough once your site starts to take off, but it can save you from hemorrhaging money when you’re starting out. And so with that in mind, we’ve taken a look at just five of the best free hosting providers and noted down everything you need to know.
Are you ready? Let’s go.
As you can probably guess from the name, FreeHostingEU is a European web host that offers up 200 MB of disk space and 4 GB of bandwidth for free, as well as additional features like email accounts and FTP access.
The venture itself is backed by FreeDomain.co.nr and AttractSoft GmbH, two well-established German companies which also offer paid hosting options for customers who want to upgrade to a more robust plan. True, their paid plans are potentially better suited to other German businesses just from an ease of use perspective and to avoid problems with the language barrier, but their free plans are an attractive choice for users from across the globe.
Better still, FreeHostingEU is one of a number of free hosts which offers powerful one-click installation tools for content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. That’s all you really need to get started, and they also offer support for PHP, MySQL, Perl, Flash and other technologies and programming languages.
All of this combines to make it an attractive choice for those who are looking for free web hosting, and for those who are targeting European markets in particular. At the same time, though, it’s up against some tough competition.
000webhost.com takes its name from the fact that it charges $0.00 for web hosting, and they’re trusted by over 16,000,000 users from across the world. They’ve been going strong for over ten years and promise to be free forever, which is probably why they rank consistently high both on search engine results pages and in lists like these.
000webhost offers a 99% uptime guarantee for their users and they even allow you to view historical logs to prove it. Openness is a theme at 000webhost, and it’s reflected by how open their platform is to different technologies and languages, with support for PHP, MySQL, Curl, GD2, Zend, XML, fopen(), PHP sockets, .htaccess and more.
And if their auto-installers and choice of over 50 popular scripts isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can also use their inbuilt website builder software to make whatever your heart desires with no coding or graphic design expertise required. They also offer near-unlimited disk space and bandwidth, which is good news if you’re looking for a heavy duty free hosting provider that you can rely on.
If you’re the kind of person who makes purchasing decisions based on user reviews then 000webhost is probably the best choice for you. They have an army of happy customers who are quick to sing their praises on third-party review sites.
Awardspace is another free web host that’s owned by two parent companies (this time it’s AttractSoft GmbH and Zetta Hosting Solutions Ltd). They offer “completely ad-free hosting” and also throw in a free .dx.am domain name, allowing their users to create up to three subdomains for blogs, forums or other areas.
As with FreeHostingEU, Awardspace will allow you to create an email account that’s associated with your website and you can install WordPress and Joomla with a single click. They also have a web-based file manager so you can download, edit and upload files, but you can also just use their free website builder if you prefer the point and click approach.
With 1 GB of SSD storage and up to 5 GB of monthly traffic, Awardspace gives you enough resources to run a small-to-medium-sized website, and they also back up their offering with a 99.9% network uptime guarantee and 24/7 customer service. Those are nice added bonuses from a free host that really has no obligation to guarantee anything.
Awardspace is a good choice if you’re looking for an overall all-rounder with pretty good resource limits and decent customer service. It really depends what you’re looking for, and while Awardspace isn’t about to win any awards for the amount of space it offers, storage space isn’t everything.
If you’re looking for heavy duty hosting then FreeHosting.com is the choice for you. That’s because it comes with a whopping 10 GB of disk space and 250 GB of bandwidth, and they don’t even compromise the integrity of your site by running advertisements. You’ll even have access to FTP uploads and more powerful tools like cPanel.
It does have its limits, though. You can only use it to host a single website and while you can create an email address that’s associated with your account, you’re limited to just the one. You’ll also need to purchase your own domain name unless you use a subdomain such as http://yourdomain.freehosting.com.
FreeHosting.com also offers paid upgrades for users who exceed the impressive resource limits and need unlimited disk space and bandwidth. Upgraded users also get access to unlimited email addresses, which makes it worth going for if you’re using it to host a business website or something similar where multiple people need an email account.
This host is without a doubt the best choice for those who require large amounts of storage space and bandwidth. In fact, some people even use FreeHosting.com purely as a tool to store backups thanks to their generous resource allocations and the fact that they have no limit when it comes to individual file sizes. If you want to upload a 10 GB zip file, you can do.
Freehostia will give you 6 GB of bandwidth and 250 MB of disk space, but unlike FreeHosting.com they’ll also throw in three email accounts. Better still, like Awardspace, they guarantee 99.9% server uptime and offer 24/7 customer service.
They’re able to do this because they also offer paid hosting plans, which is good news if you run out of resources and want to upgrade without jumping to a different provider. Better still, because they provide paid services as well, they take customer service pretty seriously. They even promise to respond to any support tickets within an hour, which you’ll be glad of if you run into any problems or if your site goes down unexpectedly.
When it comes to actually getting started with your website, Freehostia offers a tool called the Elefante Installer which enables you to set up WordPress, Joomla and other CMS software in just a couple of minutes. They’ll even allow you to run a phpBB discussion forum if you’re creating a community site as opposed to one with a commercial focus.
Freehostia is another pretty good all-rounder, and it’s particularly good for non-profits, community organizations and other small teams thanks to the ability to create up to three different email addresses. Plus it’s always nice to have the option to upgrade if you need to.
When you’re first starting out with your website, free web hosting can be a godsend. It allows you to get your site up and running and to start growing it way before you ever need to pay for extra resources. If nothing else, it’s a great way to buy some time so that you can launch with your minimum viable product and test the waters. And honestly, for 90% of websites, free hosting is good enough. People often start out with free hosting and then never upgrade because they never need to.
Perhaps one day you’ll want to upgrade to paid hosting and maybe even a dedicated server all of your own. By that time, though, it’s likely that you’re already making money from your website and so it’ll pay for itself.
In the meantime, you can still get yourself off to a good start with one of these free web hosting providers. It’ll be enough to get your site up and running and to launch it to the world and then you can see how it goes from there. You might even find that free hosting is good enough to power your site indefinitely. Only time will tell.
How Beneficial is Web Hosting to Your Blog and Business Website?
With so many websites and blogs on the internet today, it’s likely that you will come across various businesses and brands that have old sites and content online. Unfortunately, with web hosting costs being so cheap these days, many site owners will leave old content up and just forget it even exists. This can lead to poor customer engagement, low quality in branding and also just a lot more junk cluttering up the internet.
Such website owners that are ignorant about the importance of content and are far away from experiencing the reality “Content is King” oftentimes fail to yield the benefits of blogging. But not all of them are ignorant.
Next question is whether or not you must host the blog on your very business website?
In this write-up, let us discuss why doing so is the best option you can avail and how it benefits your online business too. So, delve deeper into the subject.
What difference does it make to have a blog and not have one?
Experts have stated and many business owners have also experienced firsthand that online business benefited immensely from blogging while the ones that did not opt for this marketing tool were left behind in the rat race.
The successful businesses have the following characteristic features that make them enjoy an edge over their counterparts or competitors. These aspects are as follows-
- These businesses invest hugely in content strategies, experimenting throughout with ideas and tools for the best outcome.
- They regularly update content
- Do not use black hat SEO strategies. Instead bank heavily upon White Hat SEO strategies since they target audiences (prospective clients) for the long term so that they are able to retain their existing clients as well as convert visitors into prospective leads.
- Develop content that is mobile indexed too. In other words, the content that they develop also caters to the mobile-friendly audience.
- Select topics (sub topics) after careful analysis and research pertaining to the type of business they offer.
- Most importantly, the content developer is able to identify its target audience, which is one of the prerequisites because unless you identify your audience, you will not know for whom you are writing.
- The content is relevant, crisp, to the point, and useful and informative. Most importantly, it adds value to the reader’s knowledge.
Such is the blogging technique of the businesses that have yielded benefits from blogging on their business websites.
The fact that these days, blogging has become easier due to the presence of apps has allowed many to turn bloggers. Also, you can exploit or tap the potential of many CMS or Content Management Systems that are user-friendly and easy to use.
Just as investment apps allow you to explore options in investing, similarly, writing apps allow you to explore your options as far as blogging is concerned. So, it will not be wrong to say investment and writing apps have made life much easier for all.
What are the benefits of blogging?
The benefits are many and these can be summarized in short as follows-
- Increases visibility
Many experts are of the opinion that “blogging is like fishing”. Through blogging, you can lure your visitors and make them return to your website again and again. More digital footfall means your website gains visibility.
- Brand promotion
With the help of your blog, you can promote your brand virtually. Once your brand becomes popular, you will not have to exert much for your brand to be known. Eventually, you will get more web traffic by default.
- Social media visibility
These days every website debuts on social media platforms. Through this media, you are in a better position to reach out to your clients and connect with them.
Basically, there are 3 Ps that will determine your success online and these include Patience, Perseverance, and Promoting policies. It’s up to you to decide which of the three you focus your efforts on — though it should be your personal and business mission to go after all three.
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