You’ve gotten all of your content together, started organizing it into a cohesive structure, and thought about the visual design of your website. (Read about these steps in part 1 of this series.) You’re almost ready to finally put it up for the world to see. In this article, we’ll go over some key pieces of information that will help you understand the steps you need to take before signing up for a website hosting service.
How much does a website cost?
First things first: what’s this thing going to cost me? Although websites can vary greatly in price, you can assume that a simple, ad-free portfolio website will cost you about $115/year to maintain. This assumes you are using an all-inclusive website service and adding the content yourself.
This cost of maintaining a website is split between two primary expenses:
- Website hosting (~$100/year). Your website hosting service is like your landlord, and your website is yourself and all your belongings. In the same way that you need a place to live, your website needs a home where it can keep all its pictures, pages, and documents. Paying for website hosting is like paying for rent—you pay the service a fee so that you can keep your website and its belongings in its online apartment, as it were.
- Domain name registration (~$15/year). Your domain name is like the brass house number you buy and tack onto the exterior of your house. It tells people driving by whose house it is, and it makes it easy for your friends to find where you are. But before people can find you, you have to buy those brass numbers—or, register your domain name (e.g., janedoeplaywright.com) with a registration service.
The easiest way to get up and running with a website is to use a web-based service that manages hosting, domain registration, and site building in one package. These all-in-one services, such as Squarespace and Wordpress.com, feature a lot of great-looking design templates that you will be able to customize and fill with content without needing technical expertise. Most also offer a free trial, so you will be able to try out the different templates and see which one works for you.
Here is a list of the most popular website services, along with their pricing. And no, we’re not getting paid for this. These are simply three of the most popular website services that we’ve noticed a lot of playwrights using for their websites:
- Squarespace: $96/year (Emma and Christina used Squarespace to build their sites.)
- Wordpress: $99/year (Sam used Wordpress to create his website.)
- Weebly: $96/year
These prices do not include your domain name, which averages an additional $15-$20/year. If you don’t have a domain name, you can purchase it through any of these services. SquareSpace even gives you a free year of domain registration when you sign up for a full year of hosting. If you already have a domain name, each of these services will have detailed instructions on how to set it up to work with your new site.
Most of the services we’re discussing—WordPress.com, Weebly—also offer a free plan. The trade-off of these free plans is that you will be limited in your ability to customize how your website looks because there will be fewer themes to choose from. It’s also unlikely that you’ll be able to use your own domain name. Instead, you will have to settle for a subdomain name (e.g., yourname.weebly.com). Finally, these free options will display advertisements to some users.
Another option would be to utilize a service that you already use. For instance, you could use your profile on the Playwrights’ Center, New Play Exchange, or Dramatists Guild as your primary home on the internet. We designed the member profile page on the PWC website with this usage in mind. The link to your profile (usually pwcenter.org/profile/yourname) will stay constant, so you can use it on business cards, applications, and other printed materials. This would give you a professional looking online profile without any additional cost.
Finally, some playwrights make use of blog sites like Tumblr to craft their websites. Typically, Tumblr is used as a blog, or a rolling feed of content you post. However, some playwrights create additional pages much like you would on a service like SquareSpace or Weebly. The main difference is just that Tumblr is a social media blogging site, while SquareSpace and Weebly are specifically made to create websites. Check out this Tumblr as an example. [Please note that Tumblr is a free service, but you will still have to pay for a domain name registration with a hosting service. Otherwise, you will have a subdomain name (yourname.tumblr.com) , much like the free services provided by Weebly or SquareSpace.]
Congrats! You’ve considered what content you’d like to feature on your site. You’ve come up with a design and organizational structure for that content, and you’ve researched web-hosting and domain name registration. Now, you have the essential tools you need to build your own beautiful playwriting website.
Go forth, create spiffy websites, and enjoy!
Workspace image courtesy of Unsplash user Parker Byrd.