Website hosting is what’s needed once you’ve built your site. Free web space is provided by many Internet Service Providers, but you’ll be better off with professional services.<

Get Your Own Domain

Website hosting is now inexpensive, less than a dollar/month if you share a multiple domain hosting package among friends. Don’t use the free hosting provided by your ISP. It looks cheap and unprofessional. Traffic will be poor as the natural search engines won’t rank you well. And you’ll have difficulty in covering costs by placing Google AdSense ads on the site, by selling e-books of your poetry and/or by charging for access to pay-to-view sections.

Website Hosting: Steps

Website hosting begins with purchasing your own URL (uniform resource locator), and to do that you visit an online company offering domains for sale.

Next you have to upload the site to a web-hosting company that will display it on the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thousands of such web-hosting companies exist, and there are now web-hosting directories that enable you to select by cost, platform type, facilities, etc. — all of which are explained by on-site notes.

You make your choice of hosting company, click through to their site, pay their hosting fee, and can then upload your site to that company’s server. The hosting company will provide instructions. It’s very simple, but you’ll need a cheap or free piece of software called an ftp program. This you can obtain from any software supplier, and use it to maintain your site thereafter. Once uploaded, your site goes ‘live’. You’re on the Internet.

Making the Site Pay

You may simply want to display your work, perhaps providing an email link so that visitors can send you feedback. Or you may want to produce an anthology of work by your poetry group, changing content every month so that visitors regularly come back for more. No money changes hands, but you have absolute control over what appears. The better hosting companies also throw in chat-rooms and bulletin boards for free, though you’ll need a little programming skill to install them.

But if you want your site to pay its way, there are three things you can do.

One is to place Google AdSense adverts on the site. Just visit Google to see how. The conditions are not onerous, but you must have 20+ site pages and some 50-100 visitors/day.

Second is to sell collections of your poetry on the site, either in conventional book or electronic form. Payment is easiest arranged through PayPal or one of the many PSPs (Payment Service Providers).

Third is to charge for content. You can either create a member’s only area (password-protected directory) and take payment as before, or find an PSP that will do the whole job for you at an 15-20% commission.

Internet users are still loathe to pay for content, but $10 a year is cheaper than the average poetry magazine subscription when postage is included, and opinions are changing. US subscribers in fact paid $853 million for online content in the first half of 2004, and spent more time viewing that content than dealing with emails and instant messaging.

Website hosting is not difficult or expensive, and a popular site can earn sufficient to cover operating costs, and more.