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Fun With The Web

posted Dec 20, 2009, 8:12 AM by Jeff Wagner   [ updated Dec 20, 2009, 9:33 AM ]

For the last year or so, I've experimented with creating websites on a number of platforms. I always liked Google Sites, but they have no customer service & not quite as many features as some of the more advertised hosts. Because I was never quite satisfied with their quirks, I scoured the web for other ideas, but always seemed to find my way back.

I built my first website on VistaPrint (known for FREE Business Cards). As you work your way to checkout, they offer you first month free on a matching website. Since that was my first site, I thought it was a great idea. My website will match my business cards, and the price didn't seem so bad at $4.99 per month (climbed to $9.99 after I upgraded). As of today, VacationTax.com still resides with them. While they may have a lock on the cheapest & simplest printing, their websites are definitely for beginners, I would recommend them to get started, but you're going to eventually want to pull your domain as you learn more & see what's out there.

I was able to create similar sites for less with MSN Office Live. These sites would allow more customization, but the templates are very plain. Another downside: they don't rank very high on Google searches. It's hard to stay away from Google because that's how the vast majority of web surfers search. I've also used MSN's free sites to handle my contact forms. Check out my Complete Social Media Management site for a look at an Office Live site. You also can get Free Domain, Unlimited Disk Space, Unlimited Data Transfer and 25% off with Yahoo! Web Hosting.

I've tried the World's Largest Registrar - GoDaddy.com as well. They'll sell you a domain name & have a number of website options. This is handy for using a professional web designer because you will own the domain, and they can create the website. Once you have your domain, you'll need a place to host your site. Many just use site builders with Go Daddy Custom Web site DesignProNet offers cheap Web Hosting as well. I would recommend them as an option for someone a little more experience. 

Let's say you launch your site, what do you put on it? When people search the web, they're looking for information. The sites that make the most money are the ones that provide the most useful information. I collected lots of advice from Site Build It. They provide a free report to improve performance. Think about the things you've searched on the web. Were you looking for recipes, party ideas, travel destinations, weight loss tips and/or marketing ideas? Those sites make their money from advertising because someone with knowledge decided to share it.

All of this experimenting has brought me back to Google! I'll break down each of the issues I had with Google Sites: First I wanted a site that would let me use AdSense. About 8 months ago, Google Sites started allowing it. Then I wanted to place blog posts - well here you go! Then I wanted to include clickable photos - another recent change. The templates were beyond plain. Not only did they add new templates, they made them user friendly! The last hurdle was Twitter posts. Twitter gives a code to embed posts on your site, but they don't work on here. Thankfully someone finally created a widget that works on here!

For a look at my latest project, point your browser to VacationTaxPro.com. You'll find a Google Site with all the things I like & more. If you want a site like that, that's a good place to start. If you're not a tax pro, you may want to go back to Complete Social Media Management Service or just call me!

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