I bought my first domain name in 2008 through Dreamhost. I have been spending some of my own money to sit on internet real estate ever since. I have joybuchanan.com and nicodemusstory.com and economnomnomics.com and a few others. It’s fairly cheap – we are talking coffee money – simply to maintain control over those domain names.
Today I started this blog, so I bought economistwritingeveryday.com through Dreamhost, just in case this every becomes A Thing (TM). Have I mentioned that I am a hoarder? You can tell if you come to my house.
To save myself a lot of time and money, I do not build my websites from scratch. I redirect people to the places where my material is hosted for free in near-zero-work websites. My professional website joybuchanan.com redirects to a Google Site. If you click and look at the URL bar, you’ll see what I mean. I designed the site using the free tools in Google Sites. If I personally ever become A Thing (TM) then I could pay for a custom website and I wouldn’t have to worry about whether the domain name that I really want is available. If you just want to get a page of information out to the public immediately, Google Sites is the easiest tool that I know of. There is no programming or advanced knowledge of the internet required.
WordPress and another product called Blogger (owned by Google) are the easiest ways that I know of to start a blog. I set up this blog today using WordPress. I’m not paying WordPress, but I could advance up to a paid tier easily if I wanted more features or support. It took me two hours to get started, including editing my own first blog post several times. Now, I can publish new blog posts with just a few clicks. In my case, I want the words to be the focus of the site. If you wanted pictures to be the focus of your site, then even with the help of WordPress templates, it would probably take you longer to get started and develop an eye-catching aesthetic.
I wrote the HTML code for nicodemusstory.com myself in a text editor. I took a community college class in HTML when I was in middle school (thank you to my Dad for encouraging me to do it). HTML is not a real programming language, but it is a great introduction to writing for machines. If you can get a middle schooler to play around with HTML, you might be setting them up for lifetime professional success.