September 08, 2010

Get a Web Site and Cloud Computing for $10!

As a bootstrapper, I'm always on the hunt for ways to do more with less. Mashable has a great tutorial showing how any business can create a professional looking online presence with their own domain name for a mere $10 per year using free tools from Google. All you pay is the annual fee for a custom domain name, and you don't need to be an HTML guru to set it up.

Head over to Gmail and get a free account for your company. Use that account to set up a free blog on Blogger. Then, you can find a free custom template (which you can customize further) to make the site look any way you want and upload any content you want (including embedded content like YouTube videos). You can also have accounts for up to fifty employees to manage the site.

While the Mashable article is a good start, I think an even better alternative is to go for the free Standard Edition of Google Apps (which includes e-mail, document creation and editing, and collaboration tools for up to fifty employees) and combine it with Google Sites (a free WYSIWYG tool to make wikis and informational Web sites). Google Sites also supports custom domain names. The tight integration between Apps and Sites makes it a better solution for a lot of businesses than using Blogger as your main online presence, although you can still use Blogger along with these other tools if you want to maintain a separate blog for your business.

Also, Google Apps provides an upgrade path to the Premier Edition that makes it an inexpensive replacement for Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes as your organization's needs grow. This includes up to 25 GB of e-mail storage per user, access to e-mail and calendars with mobile devices, automated real-time data backup, custom spam filters, and more. Currently, the Premier version of Apps costs $50 annually per user. For small enterprises, I love the fact that it's a completely outsourced solution. You don't need any internal IT staff to maintain your data infrastructure, and it's a variable cost: You only pay for as many users as you need.

1 comment:

Brad Bentz said...

Of course, if these free or low-cost tools won't meet the needs of your business, then by all means go for a solution that will. I just wanted to clarify that.

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