Creating a simply website presence

A model on one of the photographer/model forums I use asked about creating a simple website for herself. I thought it would be useful to put a copy of my response on my own blog.

Most of the internet service provides and the social networking sites providers you with free webspace and tools to enable you to build websites. There are two key BUTs with this:

  • You are tied to using their web addresses in most case (e.g. www.myspace.com/yourid, www.youride.yourinternetprovider.co.uk, etc.)
  • The site may well include all sorts of additional services and adverts that detract from what you want to say.

Thus, it you are serious about it (don’t worry, it does not cost much), I would suggest you need to do the following:

  • Register an internet domain for yourself (e.g. www.yourname.co.uk if it is still available). This should not cost you more than £15 per year at most. This means that wherever you actually keep your images, store your "blog", etc, you will always keep this address and just have it pointed to the right place. This also gives you unlimited email address associated with that domain.
  • Buy some hosting space (or reserve some with one of your existing providers) but only from somewhere that lets you put your own pages up without adding anything major to it themselves. You can find space for a few pounds a month (even for just a few pounds for a year) – it is the free stuff that tends to compromise what you do (if a provider gives you space for free, they have to have someway of recovering their costs).
  • Find an easy way to create a webpage. There are lots of easy page creation tools for this. Remember though for a model’s website, keeping things very clean, simple and easy to use is really important.

Many companies on the internet can offer you any combination of the above three. I will not recommend any specific one to you. Combining 2. and 3. is often very good because the hosting provider will often provide a load of tools for you to make it easy to create a simply website and post a few pictures.

If you want to do anything more complex, then you will probably want to find someone to do the work for you as offering online portfolios involves using databases.

You might find an old blog entry of mine about building a website presence of some help as it explains a lot of the terminology although it was aimed at small business owners originally.

An alternative approach though might be for you to consider using one of the major blogging sites. If you go with something like www.wordpress.com – for free – (this will give you an address like yourid.wordpress.com BUT you can still register your own domain and point it at your blog). I set up one a while back. The great thing about WordPress is that it tends to be rather more conservitive and less promiscuos that say myspace. There are a couple of other great things about WordPress:

  • WordPress runs using software that is made freely available which can be used to run your own independent website in the future (i.e. you can migrate from the shared environment to your own space when and if you need to).
  • WordPress is so popular, there are thousands of layouts available for you to use and tweak.
  • WordPress is so popular, there are lots of addons available including things for managing photos, and lots of people know and support it.

You can host your photos on a free service like flickr (owned by Yahoo these days) and include them in your blog on WordPress.

I shall stop now as that is probably a much more detailed and complex answer than anyone wanted or expected, but hopefully it will help a few people.

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