Before you begin to start building your site, you have a few important decisions to make.
The domain name is a web address of your site so for example, lamarshall.com, is a domain. You pay an annual fee to use it. Authors should, in general, buy the use of a domain that closely matches the name you are publishing under. This is not always as simple as it may first seem particularly if you have a common name. Unless you are a main line author we do not recommend domain names related to a book title. When the title is no longer of interest, neither is anything else on the site.
If yourauthorname.com has already been taken, consider others like .net, .author or another version. Note that it is nice to have something matching your name but remember this is not generally how people find you. It's your sites content that really matters.
You can buy domain names from many providers but we like easyspace.com who we have been using since the mid 1990's. Their pricing is one of the best we have found, typically around 10 euro a year.
A host keeps your site up and running 24 hours a day and who offers help if you have trouble. Your options fall into one of three categories: free hosting, fee-based hosting, and premium or managed hosting.
Free hosting: Such as Blogger or WordPress, are free website hosting services. While these services are typically user-friendly and hassle-free, they have limitations, such as:
For self publishing authors, free hosting can often make the most sense, as you're not yet in need of the freedom, and complexity, that comes with a self-hosted site. But you must think of your e-commerce solution
Think of how you can transition later to self-hosting if you intend to build a large content site.
Fee-based hosting or self-hosting: Self-hosting means you have complete control over and access to your site environment, platform and files. Consider self-hosting as analogous to home ownership but think of what happens when you're responsible and something goes wrong.
Self-hosting is best for established authors, and can pay others to do it, or anyone who wants to monetise their site. The advantages of self-hosting include:
Remember with self-hosting you become responsible for your own sites security, you have to back up your site if your host provider doesn't; and if your site should go down, it's your problem to solve which usually starts with a call to your host. If that worries you, consider a managed or premium hosting service.
Managed or premium hosting: Many users find that with a bare-bones self-hosting arrangement, you get what you pay for. With managed or premium hosting, you pay a higher price, up to 30 euros a month, for services such as regular backups, site security and superior support. For authors with little technical background or experience, no time or inclination to get up to speed then managed hosting may be the right answer. One of the most popular managed hosting solutions for WordPress sites is WP Engine.