Setting up your own website

I think this could be a useful in-between step worth mentioning since Moonfruit sites are (sorry!) often hideous and seem to be hard to make attractive, and amazing professional sites can be so expensive that they're not ideal for someone who might not have even done their first booking yet. But I think it's possible to get your own site up and running with minimal time & cash, while still having access to loads of easy but powerful options for customisation of features and appearance afterwards.

I'll start with the important bit: money! If you want to host your own site and have your own domain (yourname.com instead of yourname.othercompany.com), you'll need to pay maybe £5-10 per month for the hosting space and perhaps £5-10 per year for your domain name. You can buy both of these things from a domain registrar like Amberhosts.com* (see end for special note) – it should be quite a simple process but if you get confused about what's on offer with the different hosting price plans, it's a good idea to call or email the company. If you can't contact your hosting company for help quickly and easily then you really don't want to buy hosting space from them anyway, so it's a good idea to find this out early!

You'll need to pay for a year's worth of domain name registration (you own the domain for a year and will have to keep paying the same fee every year that you keep it) and a month's worth of hosting space (at least) upfront, so that could be around £10-20 outlay. That should be all your spending. It's not as cheap as a free site, obviously, but hosting your pages on your own server space will give you that much more control over the whole thing. You will be able to add plugins (like an availability calendar, a contact form, a swishy gallery), download or modify new themes (some are free and simple, some cost a little but should be more flexible) and so on, with a WordPress (or other CMS) install, too.

Since an average escort website needs things like an 'about' page (for lots of lovely info), a contact page, a gallery page, and maybe a blog, I do think WordPress (which is free) is a good option. But it's by no means the only option, so if anyone has had a good experience with any similar but different software they should definitely mention it on the forum! WordPress now comes with a really flexible free theme (you can check out a preview at WordPress.org/extend/themes/twentyeleven) included which you can customise with colours and pictures of your own, but which stays essentially professional-looking and clean in layout. You do not need to write any code to customise it – it all happens in the Admin Area once you've installed the software on your hosted server space.

WordPress has instructions on its site for installing it, but I think the best thing to do is check with your hosting company before buying hosting space whether they offer easy WordPress installation with their hosting (it should be a free and included service if so). They should be able to provide you with some really simple instructions to get going; once you have WordPress installed, it's simple to log in and start playing around – make sure you've got the TwentyEleven theme selected; change the content and graphics; add static pages including one for your blogposts to go on; etc etc.

The WordPress site has tons of information on everything from adding your first page and writing your first blogpost, to installing plugins and modifying the theme stylesheets to create a unique look, should you wish to rummage under the bonnet of your site. There are also other articles which suggests one easy method of installing WordPress if you're using a Windows computer, and there are probably dozens of other great articles like that so if you know of any or find any, please do add to that forum thread!

Overall, I'd say the positives and negatives of using this method to build a website are as follows:

  • Hosting your own website (with WordPress or another CMS installed) means you'll have access to plugins and other easy but powerful ways to customise your site.
  • WordPress is, of course, primarily blogging software so you'll always be able to quickly and easily pop a blog onto your site if you want one.
  • Owning your own domain name and hosting space means that you have more control over your website. If you want it taken down, you log into your hosting account and delete everything. If you want to move to a different hosting company, you can do that easily, too. Changing your domain name is as simple as buying a new one. And so on!
  • On the other hand, you will need to pay the monthly or yearly fees for your domain and host, which – although minimal and tax-deductible – might still be too much of an investment for someone brand-new to the industry.
  • It will also take a little time getting your domain and hosting registered and set up; it should easily be done in 24 hours (your hosting company will need to set up your WordPress database for you so you'll need to wait for them to do that) even though the actual work on your part is much quicker – there is still a smidge of waiting involved.
  • You will need to look after your site. For WordPress sites, never have a user called 'admin' even though the software suggests you do. Actually, it's because it suggests you do – because there are lots of WordPress-based sites out there, they're a target for hackers, and this is the account name most of them will try to break into first. WordPress gets updated several times a year, and while a properly set up site is easy to update, you have to remember to do it.

As always, head on over to the forums if you'd like to ask more about this!

*Special Note: Make sure your hosting company allows adult content! Again, it's best to ask this before purchasing.