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There are often occasions – in fact, more often than NOT when you’re starting out with a business or blog or… well, *something* (but you’re not entirely sure what it is yet) – where setting up a full website might not be the best option for you. Perhaps you just want to test something out, or perhaps you frankly can’t be arsed to set up a sales page for a product you’re selling.

Maybe, just maybe, getting a full website would be a bit like overkill. 

Whatever your reason for not needing a WHOLE website, here are some COMPLETELY FREE options that are availble for you to get stuff up online in minutes.

I need: an online poster for my class or band or I have one product that I just want to sell or I have an announcement that needs some pizazz

Try: Tackk.com.

As soon as you land on the main homepage, you can start editing your page, and it takes no time at all to change the colours and fonts and add a header here, or stick an image there, or chuck a date here, or add a buy now button just there. All changes are saved automatically, and you don’t need to sign up for an account (although if you end up having more than one, it can be really beneficial to see all of your Tackk pages together).

You can even change the theme so it gives you an idea of how you should lay your design out. Not to mention the simple, non-distracting layout makes for the EASIEST GODDAMN SALES PAGE you ever did see.  Best of all, all the styles, colours, fonts and themes are so meticulously put together, it is almost physically impossible to make it look shit. How d’you like them apples?

I need:  an online business card or vanity page

Try: about.me.

Upload a picture of you, or a suitable background image, add a bit of information about who you are, what you do – hell, write your unabridged life story if you want and use that. A good selection of fonts and styles to look through, though the quality of your background image will seriously affect the overall look of your site, so make it a good one! Mine is here, if you’re interested, but you can randomly search through lots of people and get a feel for what looks hot and what looks like a hot turd.

I want: to build an online community

Try: a Facebook group.

Considering that there are over 1 billion accounts on Facebook, you can pretty much guarantee you can gather together a small corner of the type of people you want to target. Groups are different to pages as they’re much more contribution-based than a Facebook page (which can often just be page owners self-promoting their latest blog posts. Ahem…*notices a very interesting stain on shirt*… ). It’s not quite a traditional forum, but as all member posts are shown to the entire group, you can get some great conversation going. If it bombs, you can just shut the damn thing down, but if it takes off, you can start to plan where to go next.

I need: a blog (but I’m not sure I want to stick with it yet) or I need a blog (but I want to spend zero money getting it live)

Try: WordPress.com, Blogger.com or Tumblr.com

OK, these three options are quite different, and it very much depends on your audience and the flexibility you need.

First off, don’t assume that if you want to upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress website in the future that you should probably plump for WordPress. Not necessary. Why? Because self-hosted WordPress can import each of these formats into a site. You needn’t lose any of your information.

That said, WordPress.com websites do have the most flexible options and if you’re planning on using WordPress self-hosted in the future, this gives you a great starter-for-ten on the most prevalent fetaures. WP.com blogs work as standalone websites as well, and this is probably the main selling point here, and lest we forget the veritable smorgasbord of themes (many, many thousands that are free) living wild in the Google Jungle.

Blogger.com is another great platform, and better if you’re worried that one day, you’ll press a button on your computer and BOOM, Russia disappears. It’s a touch more beginner-friendly than WordPress and has a number of lovely themes to use, some free, some premium. To be honest, there isn’t a huge amount between this and WordPress, but some people just prefer Blogger. Best bet is to try one and see what you think.

Tumblr.com actually has a great youthful crowd. It’s quite foolproof to set up, simple to add posts, but it really is suited to scrapbook-style snippets, snaps, poetry, videos and some very clever animated gifs rather than epic tales of your life and times. Some examples for you to have a look at:
http://landscape.co.vu/http://realitytvgifs.tumblr.com/ and my personal favourite, http://jimllpaintit.tumblr.com/ (If you don’t look at anything else today, make this your priority. Actual wee will escape from laughing)

Have you used any of these? Do you use  any free resources to create your online presence? Let me know in the comments below, or come and say hello on the Jane&Philbert Facebook page

Until next week,

G x