I recently had a friend ask me how to set up a website. They wanted more than a blog – something to post their artwork on, put up a gallery, and perhaps sell some things.
There are a couple of options – it just depends on how ambitious you are!
At the most basic level, here are some free options:
There’s also Etsy – something like http://www.etsy.com/people/paintedcottages?ref=ls_profile. Etsy isn’t free - it’s about 7 cents per item per month that you have listed, plus 3% of an item when it sells. However, it does expose you to more potential customers, although I have no personal experience.
Now, if you don’t want the URL to say “wordpress.com” or “sites.google.com”, you can buy a domain name. They’re about $10 per year. Despite the internet domain name gold rush having long since passed, there are plenty of good ones still available. Once you’ve done that, you can set up your website (Google / WordPress / Microsoft) to work with it.
For the WordPress option, it’s about $12 to $17 per year: http://en.wordpress.com/products/. For the Google option, this costs about $50 per year, but comes with a lot of other stuff: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/features.html.
The major benefit of these three sites is that they are easy to get started with. To make that possible, though, they put a lot of limits on what you can do. For example, you won’t be able to add shopping carts or more advanced features like that.
If you need / want more advanced features, the next step is to go with a company that just gives you web space. This is called “Web hosting”. That costs about $60 per year, and you can do anything you want there. You don’t have to worry about this right away, though, since it is easy to move to a web host from any of these starter sites.
Web hosting is what this site uses - a custom domain, with web hosting done by Arvixe.
The big work is just going to be designing your site to look the way you want. Fortunately, starting with a template (like you do with those starter sites) gets you a bunch of the way there. After that - it’s tweaking colours, uploading images and whatever other kind of personalization you want to do. When it comes to getting high-quality images easily, you’re in luck. There are a lot of images on Flickr that are tagged with licenses that let you use them for commercial work. For example: http://www.flickr.com/search/?l=comm&mt=all&adv=1&w=all&q=furniture&m=text.
So here’s an open question – know of any other good starter sites that are both easy and powerful?