The economic woes of the past 18 months have been cruel to many people, but the making of others. With the recession coming to an end and a bright new decade ahead, there's no better time to set up a professional-looking website and rake in the cash.

The economic woes of the past 18 months have been cruel to many people, but the making of others. There are many examples of erstwhile employees who, through necessity or because they've sensed an opportunity, have become their own boss.

With the recession coming to an end and a bright new decade ahead, 2010 seems a good time to consider doing the same. Perhaps the least costly way of doing so is to test the waters by setting up a website and giving yourself an instant shop front and means of marketing your embryonic business.

There are some excellent, user-friendly Web 2.0 tools around that can help you quickly set up a site. If you want to share your thoughts online, Blogger and WordPress allow push-button publishing. Third-party web-building software such as Moonfruit allows you to create a professional-looking site quickly and easily, while social networks provide all you need to connect with fellow users. What's more, nearly all these services are free.

Using sites such as Lycos Tripod, you can even enjoy free web space. But if you're serious about setting up a business using the web as a springboard, it's worth spending a modest amount for the additional freedom and flexibility it buys you. Free web space is paid for via onsite advertising over which you have no control; this can create the wrong impression for your site.

If your needs are limited, you can get a reasonable amount of web space and bandwidth for as little as £1.99 per month. The typical startup business, however, will probably be best served by the sort of bandwidth and web space that £5 to £10 will buy.

By creating your own site, rather than relying on third-party software, you're always in control of what appears on it. You can edit it, introduce new tools and, importantly, prevent anything undesirable appearing on your site.

With so many exciting but highly adaptable web tools at your disposal, you'll also be able to create a professional-looking site with little trouble. In fact, there has never been a better time to begin learning the skills needed to become your own webmaster.

Start a website and register a domain

Step 1. Decide between a dedicated web host and a virtual server. The latter costs roughly 10 times more but guarantees a certain memory allocation to your website, improving performance, while its separate OS means your site won't be brought down by another one crashing.

Set up site: Step 1

Step 2. Whichever format you choose to use, the two most important things to take into account after reliability are the amount of disk space available to you and, more significantly, bandwidth. If you run out of the latter you can expect costs to increase.

Set up site: Step 2

The economic woes of the past 18 months have been cruel to many people, but the making of others. With the recession coming to an end and a bright new decade ahead, there's no better time to set up a professional-looking website and rake in the cash.


Step 3.
Many packages will register a domain name for you; if you rent web space, it's worthwhile learning how to do so yourself. Internic.co.uk is the official domain name provider; most cost between £7 and £10 per year. Alternatively, using US service aletianic.com can work out slightly cheaper.

Set up site: Step 3

Step 4. A domain name registrar will park the domain name on its own domain name server (DNS); you need to redirect it to your ISP's DNS server. The registrar site will have a link letting you specify where your domain name redirects. You should have been sent this information when you registered with your ISP.

Set up site: Step 4

Step 5. Next, you'll need to add the domain name to your web host package. Most ISPs use one of two interfaces: cPanel or Plesk. With Plesk, go to Domains, Create Domain and type in your web address. With cPanel, use the Addon Domains button. In either package simply type in your domain name and click to confirm.

Set up site: Step 5

Step 6. The domain can take up to a day to become available. Once it is, enter your new web address and you'll see a very basic HTML page with links to a common gateway interface (CGI) folder where scripts can be stored, or the home page of the Apache or Microsoft IIS, depending on the software used to run your site.

Set up site: Step 6

>> NEXT PAGE: Create and customise your site

The economic woes of the past 18 months have been cruel to many people, but the making of others. With the recession coming to an end and a bright new decade ahead, there's no better time to set up a professional-looking website and rake in the cash.

Step 1. Next, you need to know how to back up your site and deal with any messages that may be sent to you from visitors or the server. In Plesk, mail server settings are found under the Server section; in cPanel, under Mail. Both can forward messages, deal with spam and assist with backups.

Customise your site: Step 1

Step 2. When you create a site from scratch, you'll need to transfer those files on to your server. If your ISP provides cPanel, use the services included with this. You'll find the File Manager in the Files section; in the browser window that appears, you can upload, move or delete files by clicking on the icons above.

Customise your site: Step 2

Step 3. Application server software usually handles the process of setting up a new database for you, but occasionally you'll need to do so yourself. To create one in Plesk, click Server, Database Servers, then select Add New Database. Several tools are available in cPanel, including the MySQL Database Wizard and phpMyAdmin.

Customise your site: Step 3

Step 4. It makes sense to take advantage of the built-in installers to add blogging and e-commerce functionality. cPanel uses Fantastico, while Plesk uses Application Vault. Rather than creating your own site from scratch, it's often simpler to use one of these to create a site on your domain that can then be customised.

Customise your site: Step 4

The economic woes of the past 18 months have been cruel to many people, but the making of others. With the recession coming to an end and a bright new decade ahead, there's no better time to set up a professional-looking website and rake in the cash.

Step 5. WordPress is an easy-to-use blogging program. To include it on your site using Fantastico, click the Fantastico Deluxe icon in the main cPanel interface and choose it from the list of apps on the left. Select New Installation. You will be asked where the software should be installed.

Customise your site: Step 5

Step 6. To customise your blog, first log in and, from the Dashboard menu, select Appearance. Click Themes, then Install Themes. You'll be taken to a search page where you can look for new or featured themes, or search for templates that match a certain element of your site. Once installed, click Activate.

Customise your site: Step 6

Step 7. Logs containing information on visitor numbers are stored on your server and can be monitored in Plesk via the Logs and Statistics section, or in cPanel via Logs. If you need to analyse information in more detail, set up a Google Analytics account and copy the relevant code to your pages.

Customise your site: Step 7

Step 8. If you use third-party open-source software, keep an eye out for any updates that may need to be installed. Likewise, each interface includes tools to control session time and access, as well as the ability to password-protect various folders or even prevent external sites from making use of your files.

Customise your site: Step 8