Bean Musing

How to Run a Website for Only $8 a Year

2020-05-17web-dev

Building a website using Netlify, Gatsbyjs and Github.

The world of computers is a scary place, particularly for the uninitiated.

One day, I decided to venture into this realm, that of the free hosting and that of the ‘static site’. After a lot of whining, head-scratching and I-Don’t-Know-What-Else, this website has come to fruition!

To self-host (i.e. the site is owned by you, not wordpress.com or Google) a website, the typical steps go like this:

  • Choose a Content Management System (“CMS”) - the most popular one being Wordpress.com
  • Select a Hosting Service Provider - you will pay monthly fees for this service
  • Purchase a Domain Name from a Domain Registrar (sometimes you can buy it off the host)
  • Decide on a Website Theme (maybe pay for one too)

and ta-daa, you get a website! Fast and easy!

Operating Cost: USD 100 / year, estimated

However, if you want to do it my way (the low-cost way), the entry barrier is slightly higher.

You can read the step-by-step guide here: How to Host Your Website for FREE:

The tools I used to build this site:

  • Netlify (Hosting)
  • Netlify CMS (Content Management System - what I use to publish the posts)
  • Gatsbyjs (Static Site Generator - React based, GraphQL powered)
  • GitHub (Version Control, Backend)
  • Namesilo (Domain Registrar)
  • Inkscape (Logo Design - I drew the image by hand and used Inkscape to generate SVG)
  • Mailchimp (Email Manager)
  • Disqus (Comment System)

Operating Cost: USD 8 (I only paid for the domain name!)

While tools such as Mailchimp and Disqus have paid tiers, the free tiers are sufficient for my purpose, for now.

Time Cost: Well… It took me 2 days (maybe 20 hours?) to get it up and running, which isn’t too bad considering it was my first time doing everything.

The best thing about building a site this way is customization. You have a lot of control over the site, as well as your content. It is also the worst thing (internal screaming) because what you can do will be limited by your technical knowledge.

Thank god for Documentation, and thank god my boyfriend is a software developer.

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