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Looking for affordable web hosting? Do your research. The lowest price isn't the only consideration.

Unless you have considerable expertise in website design, or have previously set up and managed another website, when you're looking for affordable web hosting plans, you'll want to do some research to determine what features you need for your specific web hosting requirements. If you think that a low price is your only criteria, you may end up signing on to a deal which doesn't fulfill your needs. Once you set up your site, you might well find that your affordable web hosting doesn't provide what you need to conduct business, run certain programs, capture data in a suitable database format, or adequately track statistics which are essential to your success.

You may have an excellent business model and marketing strategy, but if that affordable web hosting provider doesn't perform, you'll eventually find that you're forced to change to another provider, which can have you back at square one as far as your marketing strategies, links, advertising and traffic are concerned. This is why you want to do your homework before you set out to find affordable web hosting that has what it takes to launch your site successfully the first time.

Here are the steps you need to take before signing up with a web hosting service.

1.If you're starting a blog, search out some of the blogging expert's sites. These are chock full of articles that give you tips on every aspect of blogging, from the types of postings you should develop, how to attract readers – and retain them – to setting up a blog and choosing blogging software. You'll learn what makes a successful blog, as well as some of the pitfalls, from someone who's been there, done that. Download a blogging tutorial to familiarize yourself with the terminology and installation of the software and widgets.

2.If you're setting up a product and/or service related website, you'd do well to look at the W3C website for guidance on design, features and software which best suit your purpose. The W3C site also has online classes and tutorials to get you up to speed on some tasks you may want to manage yourself, as well as HTML, XML and a number of other web page coding devices.

Again, bloggers whose area of expertise is in web page design can be invaluable resources, with tips and tricks to help you succeed in finding an affordable web hosting provider which gives you what you need for a smooth site launch. Compare the advantages of C-panel in a hosting plan. Look into RSS feeds and podcasting, if the suit your objectives and marketing strategies.

3.Once you feel you've got a handle on what your site requires, you may want to contact a web designer for advice on your specific plan. Let the designer know what you've assessed to be the necessities, plus any bells and whistles you'd like to add. (Take a look at the designer's portfolio to be sure you've found a good match.) If you can afford to hire a web designer to make it all happen, this may be the best way to go. There's a lot that goes into a good website design and if the response to your initial query seems well thought out – which you'll be able to ascertain from having done your homework – it may be cost effective to hire that designer. The process will go more smoothly when you can speak the same 'language'.

4.Ask the web designer for recommendations of affordable web hosting services that meet your criteria. While some web designers offer free consultations, remember that they are trying to make a living too. If you're now tech-savvy enough on the logistics and artistically inclined, you may want to do the site yourself. However, it's just good business to offer to pay for their advice if they respond with solid information and leads.

5. Now you're ready to compare prices of different hosting services. If a designer or web page blogging expert has made suggestions, check all of them out. You've now got the knowledge to make an intelligent decision on a truly affordable web hosting provider with which you'll be happy over the long haul. Go for it! To your success!

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