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Lost in Cyberspace

Want to build a web site but short on cash? Not to worry

This article was originally published on August 4, 1998 by SignOn San Diego and Copley News Service.

All right, it's finally time to create your own web page. All your co-workers have personal web pages, the woman who cuts your hair just put her advertising online – even Uncle Murray, who's 92 and thinks Harry Truman is still president, has his own site dedicated to support hose.

Or you may have a hobby or interest you want to share – genealogical web pages are springing up all over as people put their family trees on the Internet. Collectors, too, are posting their collections online – from old arcade games to hot rods to beer cans to Hummels.

Whatever the reason, you want to build a web page – you just don't want to spend any money.

And that may not be a problem. There are a lot of different ways of getting a web page up without paying a dime.

For instance, if you are already paying for an Internet account, you may get a web page as part of your subscription. America Online, Netcom, @Home and many local Internet service providers offer a free personal web page with your Internet subscription. Others offer a web page for a small additional fee or by upgrading your subscription plan.

Now, many of these free web pages will have limits on them – only 1 to 5 megabytes of storage space, for instance, or traffic charges if your site gets a lot of hits, or they may prohibit promoting your business on your personal page.

But for starting out building your own web page and learning html>, the coding language of the web, the price is hard to beat.

If you are attending or teaching at a college or university, you may get free web space, too. Most schools allow their faculty to host web pages on their systems, and more and more are making the same offer to their students. Some even offer low-cost Internet services to alumni – check with the system administrator at your school.

And some companies offer free web sites as a way of attracting visitors and selling advertising. Companies such as GeoCities, Tripod and Homestead offer free web sites by linking their web guides off of your pages and selling ads on their sites.

The three companies above and others like them (which keep sprouting up) also offer free web-building tools so you don't have to learn html>. With their web-based interfaces, you can build your personal web page using easy-to-master tools.

In fact, you don't even have to own a computer or have an Internet account to have your own web page anymore – and you don't have to pay an exorbitant rate to have someone else build and host it for you. All you need is access to a computer on the Internet – available at most public libraries, and to students and faculty at most colleges.

The above three companies require only that you have an e-mail address in order to get a free personal web page. And Yahoo and Netscape offer free e-mail accounts that you can access through a web browser (they use the e-mail accounts as a way of luring visitors to their lucrative web guides, which depend on high traffic figures to keep their advertisers happy). So anyone whose local library has Internet terminals can now have free e-mail and a web page.