So, you've created the graphics and written the HTML for your web site, now what do you do with all the files?
You need to find a computer to "host" your web site. Also called a "server", a host computer stays connected to the internet 24 hours a day and "serves" your web page to anyone who asks for it. With some server software and a dedicated phone line it is possible to use your own home computer as a server, however, this is usually too expensive and complicated for most artists and crafts people. Besides, there are many options for "free" or low cost hosting on the internet.
If you are a member of an online service like AOL or Prodigy you already have web space available to you on their server as a part of your regular membership. All you need to do is learn how to upload your files from your computer to your personal FTP space. ( Click here for instructions on uploading to AOL) Likewise, If you are connected to the internet by an Internet Service Provider like Earthlink, you may have FTP space already available to you. (Although some may want to charge you extra for hosting a "business" web site.)
There are also a few other places that offer free web space to anyone although they may want to put advertising banners on your page unless you pay a small fee-
For a beginning arts and crafts web site it's not a bad idea to go with the lowest cost hosting you can find to start out with. Again, the tales of huge profits on the web are greatly exaggerated, best to test the waters before putting in a huge investment.
However, there are some drawbacks to using "free" web space. In most cases they are very limited in the amount of CGI you can use though most do at least offer a guestbook. The other problem is that your web address (URL) will include the Domain Name of the server, for example, www.geocities.com/yourname or http://members.aol.com/yourname. One of the big problems with this is that many search engines won't list a site from one of these "free" places because to many of them are fly-by-night. So, you are better off to have own Domain name like www.yourname.com.
A Domain Name is a name assigned to the numerical IP address of the host computer. In order to use your own domain name you would either have to be running your own server or you can pay for "Virtual Hosting". For The Crafts Fair Online I have virtual hosting at Interland. There are many other similar sevices, most charge from $20 to $50 per month depending on the service you want.
If you feel you can afford it, there are many advantages to going with this type of hosting service. Since all they do is web hosting they tend to have better customer service. Most allow full use of CGI and may offer shopping cart sevices, and you can use your own domain name. In fact most of them will register your domain name for you when you sign up. You should know that domain registration is usually a separate fee, usually about $40 for the first two years.)
We recommend Earthlink-
Here are a few other services that offer Virtual Hosting, best to check them out and compare prices and services.