If you are a content creator, you need to stop using Facebook as your primary medium for distributing your content. I'm not saying give up Facebook! I'm just saying stop posting your content to Facebook first.
The problem with Facebook is that when you use Facebook to distribute your content you lose control over the distribution and availability of your content. When you post your content to Facebook, you're entirely dependent on Facebook's bots and algorithms to decide who gets to see your content and who doesn't. Even among your friends, Facebook's algorithms are constantly working behind the scenes to cherry pick which of your friends' content is shown to you!
More importantly though you give up sovereignty over your work, and your brand. What, you don't have a brand? Everybody has a brand. If you're known as the "quiet one," that's your brand. If you're the one people come to looking for advice or answers, that's also your brand.
Your brand is how you present yourself to the World, and how the World perceives you. Now, I don't know if that's the actual definition of a brand. I'm an IT guy, not a marketing guy, but that's what my brand means to me, and what I think of when I think of other people's brands.
When you use Facebook to publish and distribute your content, Facebook can decide at any given moment that your content is no fit for their site. If you're lucky, they may give you an opportunity to download your content before it's deleted. A lot of people aren't so lucky though.
Of course, the same arguments I'm making about Facebook here apply just as easily to DeviantArt, ArtStation, Tumblr, Blogger, Medium, Wix.com, SquareSpace, and any number of other "platforms" where people can publish content.
Publishing your content to one of those sites (even Facebook) is easy. Most of the times even free. But at what cost?
My mother used to tell me there ain't no such thing in life as a free lunch. Another way to look at things is if you're not paying for a product or a service, check the mirror to see what's being sold.
My point is, these sites let you post your content for free because they want to use your content usually so they can sell ads. More often than not though it's so they can sell information about you to other companies. Information like what high school you went to, or what your favorite bands are, or what books you're reading. Because that information is the most valuable.
So here's my recommendation. Not as a web developer (I'm not.) Not as a web marketer (I sure as hell am not one either.) And I can barely spell SEO (which I really have no clue about the current trends anyways). No, these are my recommendations as an IT consultant, and somebody that has been on the Internet since before Netscape Navigator came on the scene, and long before AOL.
Hosting your content requires three things:
- A domain name
- A website
A domain name is what cyberczar.org is.
Now, there are a TON of domain registrars out there. Who you go with it really doesn't matter. I can recommend namecheap.com or gandi.net. Those are main one's I use to register new domains (before I transfer them to my CloudFlare account.)
I should point out that both NameCheap and Gandi offer web-hosting services. I am not a fan of having my domain name hosted with the same company that hosts my website.
The reason for this is simple.
Sometimes business relationships go bad. Maybe a company gets bought out or there's a billing dispute. Or maybe they suddenly decide they don't like you as a customer.
Whatever. Shit happens. All the damn time.
By having your domain controlled by the same company that's hosting your website you run the risk of that company holding your site and your content hostage.
It happens all the damn time.
No matter who you go with, find the cheapest one. Domains are a commodity and domain registrars make their money by how much money they charge for a domain, and by upselling you on other servers (SSL certificates, email hosting, etc.)
Don't pay anybody for an SSL certificate. Certificates from Let's Encrypt are completely free.
I am a really huge fan of CloudFlare's Domain services. As of this writing you still can't register a new domain with them yet, you can only transfer an existing domain that you have. But CloudFlare doesn't upsell or charge any markup unlike every other domain registrar.
The downside is that you have to still register the domain first with another registrar, and then wait 60 days to transfer it to CloudFlare, and CloudFlare doesn't support some of the more obscure TLD's (top-level-domains).
Once you get a domain name, you'll need a website and there are a metric fuck-ton of web hosting providers.
You can spend as little as $0.50 per month and host your site with NearlyFreeSpeech.net, and only pay for the actual amount of disk space and bandwidth your site consumes (I've been a customer for 18 years) but it's not for the faint of heart. You really need to know what you're doing. You won't get the level of hand-holding at some other web hosting providers. But for geeks, there isn't a better value.
You could use a company like BlueHost. I've heard good things about them, and I've heard some horror stories. But I think if you're starting out, and aren't running an eCommerce site, I think BlueHost could provide a good value. Just remember my rule about not getting your domain name from them, and maybe even potentially not using them for DNS either! And remember, SSL certificates from Let's Encrypt are free.
HostGator is another one that's been around for a very long time.
Just remember, there are a ton of providers. National computer magazines like PC Mag and ZD Net sometimes publish reviews of web hosting providers.
Try to avoid web hosting review sites. They typically have affiliate links to web hosting providers, so there's a financial incentive for them to publish glowing reviews to drive traffic to sites so they earn more money. None of the links on this page are affiliate links. I earn no money from any link you click on or whoever you go with.
Whoever you decide to go with do read their terms and conditions to make sure they'll be okay with the content you plan to publish. 🙂 Most hosting providers are cool with adult artwork and erotica and some even allow outright porn, but your mileage may vary.
Most are not okay with pirating content or sharing others' copyrighted works that you don't have permission or a license to redistribute. Nothing will get your site shut down faster than a DMCA notice or two received by your web hosting provider, so don't share pirated content!
Now that you have a website, you need to tell the Internet how to find it and you do that through DNS. Most web hosting providers have DNS management built-in to their control panel software.
I'm also a really really huge fan of CloudFlare because even CloudFlare's free plans provide a lot of features that basically every website on the Internet should be using anyway:
- Content Caching & Acceleration
- Web Application Firewall
- SSL Encryption & Acceleration
- DDoS protection
- ... and more.
So, I use CloudFlare to manage all of my DNS.
All of my SSL certificates are through Let's Encrypt. My websites are hosted either at NearlyFreeSpeech.net, or on virtual-private-servers I run with Linode, and CloudFlare manages my DNS, handles the web application firewalls, and provides content caching and acceleration.
And all of this costs me about $8 per month. Excluding the cost of my domain ($8.25 per year).
So you can see, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to host your own content, and doing so is cheaper than a subscription to Spotify.
I didn't touch on it, but I'll write up something about WordPress next. Because in all honesty, WordPress is the simplest and most flexible way to publish your own website today.
I hope this was helpful. Feel free to leave me a comment below if you agree or disagree with anything I've posted, or have a question about something I haven't covered above.