In this post I will try and take you through the very basic steps required to get you live and online with your very own personal academic website at the cost of one (probably starbucks) large latte per month.
Yes, you can technically do it for free
I just want to start with this quick caveat – nothing in life is free. Sure, you can get a website live and online at absolutely zero cost, but you will need to compromise on a number of things. If you’re still a student you may not have much cash to spare, and I will make sure the costs are as low as possible, but it’s really worth putting a few quid into this as it will really help in the long term.
The reason it’s going to cost is because you really want to use your own domain name. A domain name costs money, and any free website builder will require a fee to host your website on your own domain name.
In any case, it’s not going to cost an arm and a leg, and in reality you can get your personal academic website online for the price of a coffee per month.
Registering a domain name
I cover exactly what domain name you should picking in this article here. This is the first step for you and is the most important as this will stick with you for the rest of your career.
Head over to https://www.123-reg.co.uk/ (I recommend using them) and put your full name into the domain name search and see what domains are available. Most registars will have an offer on the first year of the domain, typical costs are:
.co.uk – 99p
.uk – 99p
.com – £2.99
Not that much, right? After the first year you’re looking at somewhere between £8 and £12 per year to renew and this will be the cost going forward.
Cost: Let’s say it’s £1 per month for your domain name.
Purchasing a hosting package
Be careful here. Upgrading a free website builder to allow you to use your own domain can often cost more than just opting for a basic paid package in the first place, and is often quite limited if further down the line you want to get more from your website. Make sure you know the costs to upgrade before you start building your personal academic website.
A few examples of free website builders and their cost to use your own domain:
Squarespace – £10 per month
Wix – £3 per month with Wix ads or £6 per month without ads
Weebly – £4 per month
WordPress.com – £3
Also be weary of accepting any “free domains” from these services. You’re only really saving a pound, as these will renew the following year at probably a higher rate than if you’d just bought one yourself.
I’m going to recommend WordPress.com for this, not only because it’s the cheapest but because as you get more confident down the line, WordPress gives you much more flexibility and it’s worth learning the platform now than it will be switching from another site builder. If you absolutely can’t get your head around WordPress, then opt for Weebly, as it’s as straightforward as building a few powerpoint slides.
Cost: We’re going with WordPress.com, so £3 per month
Overall cost of your personal academic website
Ok, I cheated slightly, It’s £4 per month, which is a bit pricier than a coffee. For the first year though it will cost you £3 a month so I think it counts.
So, for £4 per month, or £1 per week, or 15p per day, you will get you a highly customisable and unique personal academic website, with your own personal domain name, that will allow you to showcase yourself and your research to a wide audience. I think that’s worth it, don’t you?