Alternate Title: How To Create Your Own Website For Next to Nothing

For a long time, home ownership was a key indicator of fulfillment of the American Dream. We believe we’ve achieved a certain level of “success” when we can entertain the idea of taking down a wall or running a speaker system to every room in the house. To some degree, the online equivalent is to have our own address, or in web-speak, our own domain.

While no one ever had to take out a mortgage to have their own domain, a lot of people pay in the ballpark of $100/year for a decent hosting plan for their personal site or small business. As a technologist, I was paying nearly $30/month for a VPS with command-line access. Initially, I wanted the freedom to install whatever I wanted without the normal restrictions found in shared hosting environments, but it turned out that I was barely even updating my own content. I also wasn’t installing much of anything since I don’t really find system administration to be that much fun, and feared an install-gone-bad might jeopardize friends’ sites that I hosted and imprison me to a weekend of server reconstruction. While I know there are cheaper plans out there, the point is that I was paying way more than I needed. If you have your own domain, you probably are too.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to journal about my experiences and interests, which includes blogging anything I want to have an audience for. I have known about GitHub Pages for a while and have been trying to find the time, but mostly work up the courage, to migrate my personal site, sdellis.com, and my band site, highhearts.com off the VPS and over to GitHub Pages. I get my email through sdellis.com, and it is essentially my lifeline to the Internet. As a barely amateur sysadmin, I didn’t feel confident in debugging any problems with my DNS and risk not having access to my email for however long it takes me to stumble through my own ignorance by trial and error and Google-fu.

I finally gathered up the courage, and I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. It was so easy, but I have to attribute most of the ease to the four tools I used: Google Apps, GitHub Pages, Jekyll, and DNSimple. So, I am now running two of my own personal domain with website, email, blogging, calendar, etc. for $3/month plus domain registration costs (under $10/year each). All of these services are fairly well-documented, so I won’t go into detail about how to set them up unless I get lots of requests to do so. However, I will say that I attribute most of my courage to finally pull the trigger to DNSimple’s “One-Click Services” feature, which made all the DNS work painless. Well-played, DNSimple (and no, I’m not affiliated). golf clap

Now what was I going to do again? Oh yes, start blogging…