For storytellers - and everybody else, these days - a web site is an essential
way to get your message out - at an unbelievably low price. After all, how
many brochures can you print and mail for $13.95-18.95?
Having a web site, though, isn't the whole battle. Your web site needs to get your message across to interested folks. In particular, if you are trying to advertise your storytelling services and products, you need at least three things—and, ideally, a fourth:
A professional-looking web site.
Integration between email and web. (These two electronic media work much better when your emails help people reach your website, and when people can use your website to give you their email addresses.
A web server that allows interactivity - especially, a way to let people easily contact you once they've been to your site.
Ideally, you will also have the ability to update your site easily and regularly. Please read about the Easy Web Update System™, below.
One dividing line between "serious" web sites and amateur ones is your domain name. Serious businesses generally have a web address like "www.yourbusinessname.com." This way, users can remember your web address more easily. They can type it in easily - no more hunting for the "~" key or having to type correctly a long string of meaningless letters.
Plus, it just looks more professional to have your own server. My first web address was "http://www.std.world.com/~loistalk/doug/index.html". Now, people can just go to "http://storydynamics.com"!
But the cost for monthly server charges can be pretty high. When I first got my own website, I was paying $30 a month - a good deal then for a full-strength virtual domain. But now I've upped the ante - and that could be good news for you.
You see, I have so many domains that I have leased my own web server. That means I pay a much higher monthly fee - but I can have as many domains as I want. (Well, I pay a few dollars extra for each additional one.).
At that time, I offered 10 people a chance at "sub-leases" to defray my costs. Now, I'm upgrading to a bigger, more powerful server. So, from time to time (when I'm willing to take time away from my storytelling work to form relationships with new web-hosting customers) I am offering a great deal to limited numbers of subscribers to my newsletter:
Professional Hosting - at an unbelievably low rate
I'll host your web site for $13.95 per month for a regular site. (My "Easy Web
Update System" puts additional demands on server resources and costs $18.95 per month). This is not a "basic" site.
Everything you need is included. There are no hidden fees, and I have no interest
in "upselling" you
to a more expensive service. Right out of the box, I'm throwing in all the disk
space you are ever likely to need, all the data transfer you are likely to ever
use, unlimited FTP access, unlimited email aliases, a permanent email address
that will work with your existing email account, access to this email via any
web browser - on and on.
You will have ALL the capabilities that I have at my own sites. (Except a secure server, of course - you can have one, but it costs extra. Secure servers, if you don't know, host order forms for online credit-card transactions.)
Here is what I offer you
A "true virtual domain" account. This is just like mine, "www.storydynamics.com", but with "www.yourbusinessname.com" or "www.yourname.com". Your visitors won't have to type in something like "http://www.aol.com/users/~yourname" anymore.
Unlimited mailboxes Your own mailbox is something that many folks with "pseudo virtual domains" can't have. (Many low-priced web servers only offer that limited form of site.) This feature is practically worth the price of your web server, all by itself. It means that you have a permanent email address. No more missing email inquiries because your email company went belly-up or got too expensive - or just because you moved! No more having to reprint brochures, stationery, and business cards because your email address changes!
You see, you can have me set the email on your new, permanent mailbox to forward automatically to your current email address (e.g., "
"). Then, if you change your email provider, I'll just change the forwarding address. You'll instantly get all that mail sent to "
" and your email will come to you without a hitch!
Free Web-Based Email Access But the most valuable ability may be this: You'll also be able to read your email on the web, if you want. You'll be able to read your email from someone else's computer. You'll have a special web address and password to go to, where you'll see all your email messages. You'll be able to send new mail from there, reply, etc.! In fact, you will be able to have email - with your own domain name and your own personalized email addresses - without even owning your own computer!
How is this different from an address at Yahoo or Hotmail? Those sites force you to advertise for them (that's how they can afford to be free). In particular, they force you to use your Yahoo or Hotmail address as your return address. But with this web-based email, your email will come from your own domain: e.g., "
" or "
". This creates a very professional impression and makes your email address easy for others to remember. Further, since you own your domain, you don't have to worry that the address you want is taken by someone else; say goodbye to addresses like "
Warning: The free email services like yahoo.com or hotmail.com have two hidden drawbacks, besides being less professional. (After all, what kind of a business uses a Hotmail return address?) 1. They offer you a relatively small mailbox, which tends to fill up easily; then your mail bounces. Who needs that? One bounced email from a potential customer could cost you hundreds of dollars in lost income. 2. Because of #1, many sites won't accept them for newsletters or purchases. The permanent email address you get with an account on my server, on the other hand, is professional, reliable, and honored everywhere.
Unlimited email aliases
This is one of the most important features! It means you can have me create instant email "addresses" that are automatically forwarded to your regular address. You can track which leads come from your business card address (e.g., "
") as opposed to which ones come from your brochure ("
"), etc. And the email messages themselves will come to your regular address - no bother to you, at all!
Here's how I use my email mailboxes: I use "
" as my main email address. I set it up as my main mailbox, which I check through my Earthlink dial-up account. I have several other addresses that I always want to read: "
", "firstname.lastname@example.org", etc. Those are aliases that go automatically to "email@example.com" - the only difference is that I can see which address someone wrote to, and know where they got my name. I can create a different alias for each ad or flier, if I want to track the effectiveness of my advertising!
Tired of spam coming from listserv addresses? I have an additional mailbox for the address I use on most listserv discussions, "
". That way, I can check my important, personal email (to "doug") without even getting my bulk email (to "coach"). And if too many spammers get my "coach" address, I can delete that mailbox and start a new one - with a fresh address.
Of course, I could also have all my email from "
" automatically forwarded to my Earthlink address. You can have me customize this system any way you want - or ignore it and never use it. It comes free with your use of my server!
You also have the option of an easy-to-use, powerful, spam and virus filtering service. Click here for more details.
Powerful, inexpensive Linux software. This new server runs on Linux, which is an "open-source" platform. This is great news for all those who want interactivity on our web sites without paying for expensive Windows-based software. Almost everything you could want your web site to do is available through free or low-cost software.
CGI script capability. PHP and MySQL. CGI scripts, PHP, and MySQL are pieces of the software puzzle that let you add interactivity to your web site, if you want to. Guest books, bulletin boards, chat rooms, password-protected areas of your web site, even shopping carts. And all these are available in free and low-cost versions!
Unlimited traffic to your site.
Unlimited storage space.
Well, there is a limit - but no one is likely to reach it. If you need hundreds of times more space than an ordinary web site, let me know and we'll work something out.
Unlimited free "parking."
You can have other domain names (you still have to pay the yearly registration fee for each one, of course) that "point" to your virtual domain. For example, I have also registered "douglipman.com" and have "parked" it pointing to my "storydynamics" site. If people type in "douglipman.com," they get to my same site - and suddenly, my site seems to be "douglipman.com" throughout. Try it: www.DougLipman.com.
Unlimited FTP access. You can upload your files to your own web site. Once you learn the commands and passwords, you'll have 24/7 access to your site. Update. Change. Experiment. Add. You won't have to wait weeks for someone else to change a few words or correct a typo!
Easy Web Update System—Professional ™ (EWUS-Pro™) option. You have the option to have me install the Easy Web Update System—Professional Version on your site. This solves one of the largest problems of web sites: how do you keep them up to date? To be sure, you can hire a web designer or learn to use Front Page or Dreamweaver software—at substantial expense in both money and time. But the EWUS-Pro™ system lets you update the text of your pages from any web browser, 24/7, from any web-connected computer in the world. You can even add a diary page (better known as a weblog or "blog"). (EWUS™ sites pay a higher monthly rate, due to the extra demands on the server.)
Free registration and free set-up
I'll set up your domain name registration for you. And I won't use one of the $35 registrars - I'll use the same $9.20 per year registrar that I use for my own domain names. You pay the $9.20, but I do the labor, free.
And, if your domain name is currently registered with one of the expensive, $35-a-year places, I'll transfer it to one that charges the same $9.20 per year for transfers!
Finally, unlike most web servers you'll find, you pay no set-up fees to establish this account.
Here are some of the sites currently on my server. Several of them have the EWUS-Pro™ system, allowing their owners to update them at will—but you can't tell by looking at their websites. Only they know that they can change their own sites whenever they want, as often as they want, without coding and without having to pay for (or wait for) a professional coder:
When I told someone - who rents web space for a living - that I was going to charge only $13.95 for this service ($18.95 for EWUS), he said, "You're crazy! You could charge much more than that. Please don't make my prices look bad."
It's true that since then, there have grown up a number of budget servers that are even cheaper. What I offer that they don't is my ability to "speak storyteller" or, more generally, to "speak non-techie." In other words, I don't make you learn a lot of web-programmer jargon just to get a website up; I explain things to you in ordinary language and will continue to do so until you feel comfortable!
I maintain a professional server, with all the latest in security and reliability. I also have a small stable of professional helpers who can usually turn around any problem in 24 hours or less.
To be sure I'm not swamped with more website work than I can handle, I take a very select number of website clients at any one time.
You could be one of them - and you could have a web presence that will help attract the right people to you - the people who are truly interested in what you have to offer.
Two Reasons You May Be Sorry If You Wait
I like to consider my decisions carefully. But this area is one where the dangers of waiting may be big:
I typically accept 12 new customers a year.
Domain names are going at the rate of thousands per day! When Jay O'Callahan looked for "ocallahan.com", it was available. But now, of course, anyone else named O'Callahan is too late! Believe me, it's no fun to realize that someone else registered your business name or even your own full name a few weeks or months before you did...and now it's gone forever.