Friday, January 11, 2008

How expensive is it to go online ?

If you are running a small organization or a business that is looking for an online presence then it is really not that hard and expensive. Let me clarify what I mean by an online presence before we get into how to achieve it
  • A Website that people can visit (eg. mysmallbusiness.com)
  • An email address that has your website address as the suffix ( eg me@mysmallbusiness.com)
  • A common place to put all your documents (eg. docs.mysmallbusiness.com)
  • A calendar that all your employees can use to schedule their meetings (eg. calendar.mysmallbusiness.com)
Now how do we implement this and what are the costs involved.

Step 1 : Registering a website - Max 10 USD

After you have come up with a name for your website you have to register it. There are a lot of websites where this can be done and I have used 3 of them so far.
  • http://www.domaing8.com - Excellent user experience. If you make a mistake and they charge you for it then they promptly refund your money. They have excellent features that are a breeze to implement and use. Their support is excellent. I have been using them for the last 4 years and have had absolutely no issues. Currently if you buy your domain name from them they give you free ad sponsored web space to host your site.
  • http://www.1and1.com - A decent user experience. The charges are reasonable too. Its just that I am so used to using domaing8 that I don't have much experience with 1 and 1. Domaing8 has not given me a reason to check out anything else out there.
  • http://hosting.indiatimes.com - don't even bother checking them out unless you are looking for a .in domain name. If anyone knows who else in India offers .in domain names do let me know.
This registration will cost you a maximum of 10 USD (about 400 INR) per year. Domaing8 right now goes as low as 1.69 USD (they have conditions though).

Step 2 : Create an account with Google apps - Free


Now that you have registered your website you need to setup your mail accounts and calendars. Google Apps allows you to do that for free up to a 100 users. To create an account in Google apps click on this link. Depending on the features that you want you can choose the type of account you want. I would start of with the free account because you can always upgrade later on once you have all the pieces working. Google app helps you create email accounts with your website name, calendar, chat, web hosting and online document sharing.

Step 3 : Create content for the website - Free

Now you need to create some content to display to the visitors who come to your website. All the hosting services provide some basic WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) web page editors which you can use to do very small websites (max 10 pages). This would cost you nothing other than a few days of your effort. You can also use tools such as Frontpage, Netscape composer, etc to create the webpage. You can get templates for your website from Open Source Web Design. All you need to do is choose a template download it, edit it and upload it into your website. You will have to learn some basic html to do this and you can learn that by visiting W3 Schools that has some excellent tutorials on web site development.

If you want more involved websites (containing discussion boards, shopping carts, registration, etc) then you would need a web designer and developer to do it for you using a web based programming language (php, .Net, Java, etc). This will cost you based on the number of pages that you plan to have on your website and the kind of functionality that you intend to have.

Step 4 : Registering your website with Google - Free


Once you have the content for your website uploaded you will want people to find your website when they search for it in Google. You can do this by setting up an account in Google Webmaster Tools. You will have to create a site map of your website and then upload it to your website and inform the Google webmaster website that you have uploaded it and it will verify it. In order to create the Google site map there are 3rd party sites that do it. I have used XML-Sitemaps.com and it does a pretty good job. Uploading and getting your site map verified will ensure that the Google bot picks up your site for indexing. After that it is entirely based on the popularity of your website as to where you rank in the results on searches done in Google.

Step 5 : Make money from people visiting your website - Make money

Now that you have people visiting your website you may want to place adds on your website and make money from that. This is very easy to do. All you need to do is get a Google Adsense account and insert some code into your websites and you are all set to make money.

Step 6 : Monitoring people that visit your website - Free

You will very quickly become curious to know who visit your website, how long did they spend on your website, what did they read on your website, are they new visitors or returning visitors and so on. You can do this for free by getting a Google Analytics account. It will give you all this information and more about your visitors.

So if you want something basic then it costs you less than 500 INR to do it. With such a low setup cost I think it is essential that every business has an online presence.

1 comment:

Kiran Banda said...

It is amazing - for just about 10$ you can have your own website, an email that reads - yourname@yourcompany.com, no need to hire a sys administrator to maintain these stuff.. all that you have to worry about is to advertise your site :-) simply superb :-)