A friend of mine recently emailed me because he is interested in starting his own website and he writes:

Jeff,

This is Eric from WyldRyde. I was thinking about starting my own website and maybe getting involved with YouTube or UStream, but I have no idea what I would want to build my site, or sites, on. I was wondering if you had any suggestions as far as ideas, and I was curious how BestTechie came to be as well as the other sites you own. Would I want to find someone to partner with? etc. I was also thinking of using a free hosting service I found (gigacities.net) until the site got bigger and developed a solid user base – is that something you think would work okay in the beginning? (and yes, I watched your Web hosting video).

I would appreciate any ideas/advice you have. Thanks man!

-Eric

Alright, so lets break it down into two sections.

1. The best way to approach a website is to have an idea of what you want it to be about. You should make the website about a topic you have interest in as well as know something about, because it will allow you to share your knowledge and create worth while content for your visitors and if you’re interested in it you will not get bored of writing or talking about it. In terms of software to use to help create and manage the site I recommend WordPress or Drupal as your content management system (CMS). I use WordPress on BestTechie.net, however, I have used Drupal on another of my sites, Busy Bizness. Both are excellent choices, they both have large communities and great support as well as numerous add-ons/plugins/themes/etc. If you’re also looking to start forums, I recommend Invision Power Board, Vbulletin, phpbb, or Simple Machines Forum (SMF). I use Invision Power Board on BestTechie.net and I love it, it’s by far my favorite forum software. I have also used phpbb and Simple Machines Forum (which are free) – it’s decent and does the job, but IPB (Invision Power Board) is better, in my opinion.

2. Should you use free hosting? In my opinion, no, at least, if you’re serious about the website and want it to be done “right” the first time. The problem with most of the free hosting services is that they are very limiting and only allow so much. By that, I mean, you don’t always get PHP/MySQL (which you’ll need for the blog and forum software), the servers are usually slow because they are overloaded, sometimes you need to use ads, it might be a pain to move away from the free host when you choose to do so if you don’t have access to all the necessary files such as databases, etc which would be extremely bad. If you check out my other video on finding a good web host, you’ll see that I mention Godaddy which has super cheap hosting and will do the job, plus you can always upgrade it later if need be or even more to a different host with little or no problems.

Good luck Eric or anyone else who is thinking of starting a website, let me know how it goes – leave a comment!

About the author

— Jeff Weisbein

Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He loves to travel and listen to music.

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  1. If you are going with Drupal make sure you choose a host that meets the hosting requirements at: http://www.drupal.org/requirements – the free and cheap hosting services usually do not so your site won’t work.

    We’ve had issues with Godaddy and Drupal so make sure you choose the right plan if you do choose Godaddy.

    If you just want to Blog then WordPress is hands down the best open source blogging software. If you want to build a community driven website then Drupal is the way to go. Drupal has a nice video module that will allow you to publish videos from Youtube and other sources. http://www.sharkvideo.net shows an example of Drupal’s video module. Lime.com is an example of a full scale community site built in Drupal.

    Personally I would advise against the free hosting. Many free hosting sites “own” the content that you create on that site and any link popularity that you build up will go to waste.

    Best of wishes on your web venture!

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