So you want to start a website...

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How to Start a Website for Your Business or Side Hustle  

When Kim Handcock started Treat U Boutique a year ago, she made sure the name wasn’t registered with the State of South Dakota. She also verified that the domain was available. 
 
“You want to pick something that’s not already taken,” Handcock said. 
 
The domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser’s URL bar to visit your website. In Handcock’s case, the domain or web address for her online women’s clothing boutique based in Wall is treatuboutique.com.
 
A website is like an online business card, brochure or yellow page ad for your business. It can be browsed any time of day or night and can help expand the reach and customer base for your business beyond your local community.  
A domain name is one thing you need to have a website. You also need a hosting service or server space for storing your website files, and the site must be created or designed. Here’s an overview: 
 
Domain 
This is the web address or URL for your website. Domain registrars essentially rent
domains for a small annual fee starting around $15/year. Handcock registered her domain through GoDaddy; other examples of registrars include Network Solutions, Domain.com and BlueHost. Golden West recommends and provides instructions for registering a domain using GKG.net. Visit a domain registrar site anytime to see if a domain is available with no obligation to purchase. 
 
Web Hosting 
This is the place where all the files that make up your website live. If the domain is the address of your house, web hosting is the actual house to which the address points.
 
Hosting prices vary depending on the amount of storage your website requires, the number of visitors you anticipate and the features you desire. Fees start at around $100/year to host a basic website. Golden West also offers web hosting services, as do many domain registrars. 
 
Web Design 
This is the process of taking the text, photos and other content you want to use and building a website. Think of it as the contents or décor in the house. 
 
There are many choices of software or online solutions to design or build a website, such as Wix, Weebly or WordPress. Golden West offers a website creation service called Building Blocks which works well for basic sites. 
 
One-Stop Solutions 
Many providers combine the domain, hosting and design into one service. Jim and Peggy Woehl of Hot Springs went with this type of one-stop solution 10 years ago when they first set up a website at highpinesdexters.com for their small cattle breeding program. 
 
"I just did a web search to see what our options were," said Jim Woehl. "WebStarts popped out to us. It was the most user-friendly opion, and the one that we could understand."
 
The Woehls picked a package, a domain and a template and began populating the site. They continue to maintain it themselves today.
 
Handcock also uses more of a one-stop solution for her site. Due to her needs for online shopping, she selected Shopify, which in addition to providing web hosting and site creation tools also tracks her inventory, accepts online payments and manages shipments. 
 
“Setting up my website wasn’t difficult at all,” Handcock said. “It went much smoother than I anticipated.”
 
Consider Ownership & Portability 
Whatever domain registrar, web hosting or website creation service you select, be sure to consider ownership and portability. Your domain name is an important part of your business identity. Not only do you want to ensure you can keep your domain if you select a different hosting or site creation provider, you also want the option to transfer your domain to a different registrar. Domains can also be used for custom email addresses, but that’s a topic for a future article. 
 
Golden West does not endorse any products or services in this article that it does not provide.