This page covers all the issues I'm often asked about. You don't need to read through every answer, as most of these issues won't apply to you.
Google regularly "crawls" the Internet, and will find your site. It typically takes at least a few days for a new site to appear in Google. To find your site, search for your exact domain name in Google. Don't search for some phrase you think you should rank highly for. Your site will take time to rank well.
If you'd like to blog or write anonymously, such that no one can find out who you are, make sure you sign up for Domain Privacy when you sign up with FatCow.
Normally, anyone can check a domain name register, to see who owns a domain. With Domain Privacy, none of your details (name/phone number/address) will show up. FatCow's information will show up instead.
If you use Domain Privacy and use a pseudonym (or just your first name), no one will be able to find out who you are. (Obviously all this isn't going to work if you link to your Facebook page, use your real email address, or otherwise identify yourself on your site.)
If you're really paranoid, the only other thing you need to consider is geo-tagging. Cameras (and especially phones) these days will add your rough GPS location to photos you take. Turn this camera/phone feature off before taking and uploading any pictures to your site.
This is a reasonable attitude for things in the real world, but it doesn't apply to websites.
A businessperson opening a new restaurant on a main road needs to get everything perfect, or the business will instantly garner a bad reputation, and the capital investment will be lost. The same could be said of writing a book.
A website isn't like this. There's typically no real investment of money in a new site, and (as I've mentioned in my Making Money article), no one's going to come to your site on the first day. The Internet is so big, and so full of rubbish, that people have very low expectations, and will just leave your site if it's not adequate.
Every website starts out small and shabby. It's only through a constant iterative process, where you keep improving and expanding your site, and responding to feedback, that it gets better. No one cares about what your site was like when it began. No one had any expectations, and the people who visited it back then have forgotten it. The Internet is too big for you to have a reputation. The few people who came to your unfinished site will never be seen again, and they've long forgotten it, among the thousands of unfulfilling sites they've seen.
If you decide that your site is a huge project, and that you're only going to publish it once it's "done", you'll be wasting your time. Get any site out there, registered with Google, and start getting feedback on it from family and friends. Then, keep building the site, based on that feedback.
It's good to have a real presence on the Internet. People can see your work, and get to know you from it. Unless you're writing something you really don't want anyone you know to see (like a very controversial blog, for instance), you should use your real name, to add authority and an identity to your site. Adding a photo is even better. People don't tend to trust anonymous sites.
If you do want to keep your identity totally secret, sign up for Domain Privacy when you sign up with FatCow.
You really don't need to hide your site until it's finished. No one will visit it, and it will take time for it to appear in Google. Writing "Under Construction" on the front page is standard practice.
However, if you still want your site to be completely hidden, and require a password for anyone to see it, try WordPress's Absolute Privacy plugin (in the Plugins section). Install it, then activate it (in the Plugins section). Then in Settings > Absolute Privacy, choose Complete Lockdown. If you want to let other people see your site, you can give them your password, or make a new account for them, in the Users area.
While you're editing a page, look in the Publish box. Edit the Visibility.
If you set the same password for multiple pages, the visitor only needs to type the password once. (Not once for every page.)
WooCommerce and other popular plugins are relatively easy to use. These are installable inside WordPress, in the Plugins section. If you're just selling one thing, you might prefer to just put a PayPal link on your page. (Go to the PayPal website, sign up, and get a link from their system.)
A domain name must always be held at a registrar.
You have complete control and ownership of your domain name. You can sell it, cancel it, or transfer it to any other registrar at any time.
Technically, there is no copyright on the Internet. However, copying other people's material doesn't work. If it's worthwhile, you can file a DMCA takedown notice. This is a legal notice that will work if the site is in the US. Otherwise, the DMCA can be filed with Google, who will remove the site from their index, which will effectively mean that no one ever finds that site again.
For a new site, this is not really worth worrying about.
If you were selling some valuable, downloadable, large package of work, like an ebook or video lecture series, this might be more of an issue, as such a file could be shared on a file-sharing site. This might eat into your profit, but I still wouldn't worry about it too much.
Basically, you can do anything normal with your site, and there won't be any problems. Obviously don't plagiarise anyone's work, or slander anyone, or they'll definitely find you and pursue you.
Other than that, only the usual laws apply. In the case of FatCow, their company is bound by standard US law, so your site couldn't do anything that's illegal in the US, like selling fake pharmaceuticals or counterfeit merchandise, for instance.
Unless you're doing something obviously dodgy, you can pretty much say and do whatever you like.
The Akismet plugin does a good job of blocking spammers from posting comments to your website. Full instructions for installing it are on Step 5 of this site.
Yes. Whether you're interested in paying for FatCow hosting, or you plan on selling things on your site, it's all safe. There may have been some issues when online payment was just starting, in the late 90's, but that time has long passed. Huge amounts of online payment occur these days.
Internet transactions are heavily encrypted, and banks typically provide guarantees that if a customer's money is ever stolen, the bank will reimburse all of it.
Online transactions are extremely safe – much safer than the money in your pocket, or the money in a credit card you hand to a waiter at a restaurant. There's just no need to worry any more.
While you're editing a page or post, just drag the file into the text area, and it will automatically be uploaded. Then click Insert into Page.
For most YouTube videos, you can now just paste a link to the video into the text of your page, and it will magically transform into a video when you look at your site. This is very useful for large videos.
You can't just directly paste things from Word documents, pdf's or other file systems straight into your site, and keep the formatting. Websites and documents are completely different. You'll need to paste the text and pictures into your web page/post manually.
Are you thinking about charging people to read or download content from your site?
People expect (and can usually get) lots of high-quality information from the Internet for free, and therefore have no need or desire to pay for it.
Like other business sites, a site that sells its content isn't going to rank highly on Google, and isn't going to get many free visitors. People won't link to it from forums, or recommend it on their sites.
If you want to go the paid content route (and you don't already have a significant real-life platform or network), you'll need to pay for advertising, to get visitors. Your site is a business site. See the Business Site articles, on the Extra Information page of this site.
In order to succeed as a purveyor of paid content, your work is going to have to be of the highest quality, and you're going to have to create a site that really convinces people to buy it.
Some types of content can only really be sold. E-books are one example. Other types of content are almost impossible to sell. Charging people to read your blog, for instance.
If at all possible, just make your content free to read, and then put advertising on your site. It's likely to be far more successful than trying to sell content, especially at first. Much later on, you can always switch to the fairly effective "freemium" model, where you give away lots of good free content that leads people to your paid content. An example would be to create a foreign language course with ten free basic lessons, but with the next twenty being for sale.
If you want any visitor to be able to create their own account and contribute posts to the site, go to Settings, General. Tick Anyone can register. Set the New User Default Role to Contributor. All a Contributor can do is write posts. The posts won't be published until you approve them.
You can also manually create accounts for people, in the Users section.
Also, consider just using a forum, or allowing comments on a page.
Yes, you can easily add these. The affiliate place will give you a piece of code to paste into your page. While you're editing a page in WordPress, click the HTML tab, and paste the code in there.
Want to make a social networking site like facebook?
WordPress has a plugin called BuddyPress. It turns your website into a social networking site. It's obviously not exactly the same as facebook, but it does the same things. It's very popular, and has 300+ plugins of its own.
It requires a bit more work to set it up than the average plugin, but it shouldn't be too hard. I haven't personally used this plugin.
Please be aware that setting up a social networking site isn't going to make you a millionaire. As funny as it sounds, some people do have precisely this idea.
I used to recommend WordPress as an alternative to using a web page editor program. However, I’ve never seen a beginner design a good (or even acceptable) site in a web page editor. Even when supplied with a pre-made template to edit, the end result is usually very poor. These days, I only recommend WordPress.
If you have any ideas about a graphical layout for your site, or that you want to design a site yourself in a web page editor program, I’d recommend abandoning them. Even if you’ve already created a site, I’d recommend not using it. WordPress is far easier to use, and its default layout is far better than anything a beginner can design.
WordPress allows you to choose a pre-made theme, and allows the changing of header pictures and background colours, but intentionally prohibits other forms of editing. This is for the best. I often get emails from people wanting to change font sizes and colours in WordPress. However, my experience is that whenever people can change font settings, they start centring, bolding, and italicising. They create a rainbow of font styles, sizes, and colours, and the site begins to look very unprofessional.
You might have a great design idea in your head, but trying to get it onto a website is difficult, and is not time well spent.
Yes, you can use FatCow and WordPress to set up a website from anywhere, and anyone from anywhere can view your website.
Install the Wordpress Language plugin, in the Plugins section of WordPress's control panel. It will create its own "Language" page in the Settings menu, from where you can very easily change your site's language, by selecting your language from a list. This plugin will change the language of almost everything on your site. A few very small things like "Posted on" or "5 Comments" will remain in English.