At first, you need to know how to make webpages. That would mean using pure HTML or software like Macromedia Fireworks or Dreamweaver. I will not cover that here, but just in case you don't know, starting a website without knowledge of these would get you into some trouble. Of course, there are some sites that enable you to create websites using their simple creation tool, but most of the time, that alone is not enough.
Assuming you have everything ready and need to upload your site, you need to find a webhost. Webhosting is a crucial part in running your website. You need to find a webhost that gives you sufficient bandwidth, disk space and server-side scripting control if you need them (php, asp, cgi). You can look for webhosting by looking up "webhosting directories". Some directories have advanced search so that reduces your trouble by a lot. Some free webshoting plans are really good, but paid hosting is often better and sometimes very cheap. You just have to search for them, and the searching part is up to you! There are other options like buying your own server and hosting directly from your own server, or using your friend's server if s/he allows it. Who knows?
The next step is to determine your website URL. This is closely related to the above (webhosting). Different webhosts give you different options for your URL. Some will make your URL longer and your username would appear as a separate folder, like http://example.com/yoursite . Some would give you a subdomain, like http://yoursite.example.com . Some would even give you http://users123.example.com/users/yoursite . If you really want a short and more trendy URL, try looking for the subdomains. But to tell you the truth, the shortness of your URL would only benefit you when it comes to telling you friends about your site by mouth. More on this later.
Then you would ask yourself. Should I stick to the long URL or get a shorter one? If you are really going to tell your friends by mouth a lot, then getting a short and easy URL would be the best option. You can achieve this by:
-- signing up with a webhost that allows you to have a subdomain URL
-- signing up with any webhost and then use a redirector to redirect to your site.
-- registering a domain name and link it to your site.
Option 1 is already explained earlier. What about Option 2? Using a redirector. Using a redirector maybe good at first, but in the end, it has a lot of disadvantages. At least for me, it has. Redirectors are URL's that will redirect to your actual site. So if you have http://users123.example.com/users/yoursite and then sign up for a redirector URL like http://yoursite.is.here , people can access http://users123.example.com/users/yoursite just by typing http://yoursite.is.here . That was an example. Pretty neat. But then again, just because it redirects, sometimes, search engines cannot obtain data from your current page and can only obtain data from the redirector, which is not much. This makes it harder for your site to be searched. Even worse, some redirectors will create a webpage with a frame and that frame will display your original page. Search engines will almost never look at your page then.
The best option is to register a domain name. You need to pay as low as US$1 or US$2 for some domain names but some are US$8 because you can pay via paypal. And you pay that fee only once a year. You need to check if your webhost would allow you to link a domain name to your current site. If it does, then all is good. Are there free domain names? Yes there are, but if you want a dot.tk domain name, it will open a framed page for you and maybe you do not want that. It is another redirector. But the rest, I think there are not many free domain names, and if there are, maybe they are try-outs for one or two years and then you still have to pay.
Choosing the right domain name is also quite crucial cause it will determine what type of traffic you will get. For this, the Domain Suggestion Tool does a perfect job.
Promoting your site. The best way is via search engines or your productions. Productions mean your work. If your write articles, make software or make flash games or movies, always add your site URL so people will come to your site for more. Search engines also work if your site has a lot of text. You will have a lot of keywords for people to search for. You just need to get the search engines to cache your site. This means your site's pages are inside the search engine database.
But how do you do that? There are a few ways. One way is to submit your site to google's search engine. There is a submit page if you go to google.com , I forgot the URL but you can go find it yourself. It is somewhere there. Same goes for Ask.com or Yahoo.com . But by doing so, you need to wait quite a long time. 2 weeks minimum. And there is no guarantee.
Another way is to exchange links with other sites. They will put a link to your site and you will put a link on your site to theirs. It does not matter where they put your link. Maybe where someone would not bother to glance at, but the thing is that the search engine bots who browse websites click on almost every link anywhere. Including yours. And when it does, it will go to your site and perhaps cache every page. This way works very well, especially when there are lots of sites linking to you. Of course, you need to link back to them to be fair.
But if the promotion of your site is by using search engines, there are a few things to bear in mind:
-- Do not use a lot of Flash animations. Especially flash menus. Use all text, so that search engine bots can read them.
-- Do not use a redirector as mentioned earlier in the article. Perhaps the bots would stop at the redirector and NOT access your true page to capture the text that you have.
Sometimes search engines take long to do that, but if you want to do it fast, there are some ways, like the Linktator
There are lots of other tips but I really think one webpage can explain them all. Anyways, good luck with your mission to start and run your website!