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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hunting for the Right Website, Part 1

One of the first things established authors have told me is that I need to set up a personal business website, an The website needs to do three things:
  1. Tell visitors about me and my novel in an attractive way (publicity),
  2. Provide a way for them to purchase the book from my website,
  3. And provide a way for visitors to sign up for an electronic newsletter or an "e-zine." I'll send out periodic updates.
This prospect opens the door to considerations like domain registration and hosting fees. Then I have to think about programming the entire site and making lots of decisions about what goes on each page. Thankfully, I did lots of website programming and updating at Northland Baptist Bible College for their website. (I guess God had a reason for all that experience, huh?) I'm most familiar with Joomla, which is a website content management system (CMS). Once you have the website template in place, you pretty much just login and add pages and content. It's really pretty simple . . . well, once you know how to do it. But once you get into forms and the installation of more components and some of the more advanced features, then things can get more complicated. And I haven't even thought about how to sell the books online. PayPal? VirtueMart?

And who has the time for all of this? I have editing projects keeping me busy all day and a second novel to finish.

And that's not even taking the financial aspects into consideration. A business website means monthly expenses just to "keep the light on" for visitors. And I'm not exactly rolling in dough. Okay, I'll think about the financial demands later. But for now . . .

My first question is this: "Where do I go for domain registration and web hosting?" There are TONS of companies out there that do that, and I want Joomla to be my content management system (CMS). I Googled "Joomla hosting" and found several companies that provide specific hosting for Joomla and at cheap prices. Okay, that's a start. I also know a couple friends into web programming who have offered their services and can install Joomla for me, but their fees are actually higher than I expected.

Not sure yet about the right course of action. We'll see. Check back later to see what I decided.


  1. While Joomla is a nice enough CMS, the work it takes to make a theme that doesn't look like every other Joomla install in existence is incredible.

    It didn't take me long to figure out that and were running on Joomla, even after their most recent redesigns. Whenever possible, you want the user not to be able to tell what you're using as your CMS just by looking at it.

    I'd recommend checking out They have a number of easily tweeakable templates, as well as the ability to really dig down and completely change the CSS if you want to. They have a month long free trial so you can test it out. used to be hosted there with great success, and my church site, is hosted there.

    There are several advantages to this system:

    1. You don't have to worry about software updates and security, because that's all handled for you.

    2. You don't have to get a separate web host.

    3. Their hosting is cluster based, which makes it extremely robust with near 100% uptime, and very fast.

    4. The pricing is very inexpensive for hosting of this nature.

    There are a number of modules that you can enable for different things. You can have static pages, a blog, a podcast, pages of recommended links, photo galleries, and more. You can have areas of the site that require registration to access, and could even have multiple levels of user registration.

    As far as domain registration, I highly recommend I have been very satisfied with them, and am switching all my domains away from GoDaddy. Their standard price is even better than GoDaddy's standard price.

  2. Personally I would see just all that you want to do on the website, and all that you will do. Sure there may be things that you like about Joomla, but you might want to start out with a very basic website.
    As far as hosting, 1&1 has some decent prices. They also allow you to purchase your domain name through them and use it elsewhere, and it is the cheapest I have seen at 5.99/month for a There are a few others that are more expensive and a few that are cheaper.
    I have heard of but never looked at them. Id take fitz at his word that it is a decent way to go.
    Or if you did not want to deal with the whole layout and all that, I have a friend who runs a business of webdesign/hosting. It is probably a little more than you were looking at spending, though.