Monday, March 22, 2010

Free Website Building (and why people give up)

A guest post by Doyle Dawkins from
From my years of promoting free website hosting, I have formulated a depressing statistic. Nearly 9 out of 10 people that build a free website, give up with their first attempt. I am not talking about Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or any other social network, but a "real" website. One that you have to come up with the complete content and layout like the free hosts Webstarts or The reasons for this abandonment vary considerably, but I can make the following assumptions. The first being the plain fact that it is "free". When someone just gives you something, there really is no value. You do not give it the respect (and effort) you would have, had you paid for it with your own hard-earned money.

Let me first explain how a website can really be "free". Web hosting companies can give away free websites because they are gambling that at some point you may upgrade your free website to a paid website. You may want to do this for 2 reasons. The first is to get a "real" top-level domain name (instead of a free sub-domain) with more web space (file size) and bandwidth (visitor traffic). The 2nd reason to upgrade would be to remove any advertising put on your free website by the web hosting provider.

So that being said, I would like to establish that there is actually a great "value" to your free website, though you may not initially realize the benefits. The more visitors your free website has, the more revenue you create both directly and indirectly for the free web hosting provider. Directly by your visitors clicking on advertising on your free website's pages. And indirectly, by someone visiting your free website, and deciding they would like a free website of their own and click the (free hosting provider's) link to start building a free website - viral marketing! So I hope I have proved that there is "value" to a free website, there is just not initially to the end user (you). The true value to you comes later; with the free education you have received learning the web builder interface, dealing with affiliates, finding web page add-ons, cool javascript effects etc.

Another reason people abandon their first free website after they sign up, is the difficulty figuring out the web building interface, and frustration by the lack of tech support. I will agree that unavailable tech support is a big downside of free web hosting, but with the millions of free websites on the internet, there is no way free web hosting companies could offer one-on-one tech as most free website customers are total beginners. The biggest hint I would have here, is to just not give up completely on your first attempt at building a free website if you hit a brick wall. Even though you may have failed at a certain free web host, that does not mean you will fail at another. If you gave it your best college try, believe me, you will have learned something that will come in handy at another free web host.

Each free webhosting provider has a different interface that you will use use to build your free website. Some are easier than others - some may require you to know a bit of HTML code, while others will have a drop-and-drag method. Still others may have a "web wizard" or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder. So since there are so many free web hosts out there, just choose another location and give it another shot.

Another reason people fail at building a free website is the reason they are building a free website in the first place. Some think they can build a quick website, fill it full of affiliate banners and money-making links, and they will be the next internet millionaire. A website (yes, even a free one) needs to have some viable content on it's pages. Your website needs to contribute to the internet by offering some interesting content, even if it is only interesting to a certain few that share your interests. I always recommend building your first free website about something you are passionate about. It is best to start with a content website instead of jumping right in and selling stuff on an e-commerce business website. It could be your favorite hobby or whatever you are best at, whatever it may be. It could be about fishing, billiards, car repair or cooking - you get the idea. Just think of your first free website as a learning experience, regardless of your ultimate goals.

And now to the biggest reason why people give up on their first free website - TIME. You may think you can build a free website today and tomorrow hundreds of people will automatically find it and visit. Well it doesn't work that way for the mere fact there are millions of free websites out there competing for a top spot on a search engine. Google does it's best to "crawl" all the new websites and pages created every day, but just for the reason of sheer numbers, it may take weeks or even months to get listed. And with no listing, that means no visitors. An no visitors means no reward for your hard work - being financial rewards or just some positive feedback.

So Doyle's helpful hint for this dilemma is BE PATIENT. Use this time to create another free website. Use the skills you have learned by prior free website building to improve the overall professional look and feel of your website. By having a "family" of free websites that link to each other, you may increase the popularity of all your sites (as seen by search engines), as well as speed up the time it takes listed on Google, Yahoo, MSN etc. Once again if you fail or are frustrated by the new free web host or have trouble with their web page building interface, move on to another! There is a list of over 100 free web hosting providers HERE.

My overall summary on this matter is to be persistent and stay focused on your ultimate goal. Free website building is a learning experience. It is a valuable tool to have in your internet arsenal. The great thing is you never know exactly where your journey may lead, but all knowledge is useful and the feeling you get for creating a content filled informative free website is an unmeasureable fulfilling accomplishment. The ultimate reward for your work is if and when you decide you need to create a top-level "real" website, you don't have to pay the geeky friend of your neighbor's aunt to do it for you. You will already have the skills needed - all obtained from what was given away as a free website!

On a sidenote, if you know for sure absolutely positively that building and having a website is in your future, get your own "real" domain name and paid hosting as soon as possible. The traffic and Google listing you build up from a sub-domain (the free domain name on your free site) cannot be transferred to your "real" site. Google is going to hit on your domain name to create it's listing. Search for a domain name below.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant... Doyle Dawkins

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How To Make A Ring From A Silver Coin

Here is a step by step tutorial on how to make a ring out of a silver coin. In this lesson, I am using a Kennedy Half Dollar, but a silver quarter works just as well. In the United States, the U.S. Mint stopped making silver coins in 1965, so the coin must be 1964 or older. Generally, for a larger men's ring you would want to use a silver half dollar. And for a smaller women's ring, you can use a silver quarter. According to, the meltdown value of a 1964 silver half dollar is $6.28 as of March 5, 2010.

There is no perfect way to make a ring out of a silver coin, so practice will improve your skills, and if you don't have all the best tools, just use what you have. I was taught by my friend Dave Reader, who said he learned in prison using a tablespoon and the cement floor. But to make things a bit easier, you will need a few common household tools.
The most important tool is a small hammer, like a tack hammer or a baby hammer from a cheap tool kit. You want to use a light weight hammer so that you do not distort or warp the silver coin by striking it too hard.

Step 1 is to hold the silver coin on edge between your finger and thumb on a very hard surface like a benchtop vise, or yes you can still use the cement floor.

Take your tack hammer and lightly tap on the top edge of the silver coin as you are rolling the coin. You actually want to hit the top center of the coin, for example if where the bottom edge of the coin is touching the vise is 6 o'clock, you want to strike the coin at 12 o'clock. You want to tap lightly as not to warp the coin. It seems like you could get the job done quicker if you hit it harder, but the silver coin will start folding in half. Keep tapping and rolling the coin and the edge will start to roll over.

The above photo is after about 2 hours of rolling and tapping.

The above photo is after about 3 1/2 hours. I am making this ring for someone who wants a big ring, so I am nearly done with the hammering. If I was doing a men's pinkie ring, I would probably need to hammer for another hour.

When you are happy with the width and (approximate) size of your silver ring, clamp it a vice as shown above preferably using a soft metal or wood to clamp it into so that you do not smash the ring. The aluminum angle I am using is from an old screen door I found in the trash.

Drill a small hole in the center of the coin. Be careful not to let the drill bit slip and damage the inner ring of the silver coin. Part of the beauty of using a silver half dollar or a silver quarter is that you can still read the writing on the coin where the edge has rolled over.

You only need to drill a hole big enough to fit a rat tail file in the hole. Silver is pretty soft, so resist the temptation to enlarge the hole with the drill bit. Use the rat tail file to carefully file your way towards the edges of the silver coin.

Keep filing in all directions until you are about 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch from the edge.

You could probably file a bit closer than the above photo, but as you can see, the writing on the edge could be easily damaged.

Now you switch over to sandpaper to smooth out the inside. I like to use emery cloth, but using 80 grit sandpaper, then 120 grit would do the same thing.

Another trick I use is to wrap your emery cloth around a drill bit and use it for a dremel tool. Be sure to wrap your sandpaper around the bit in the direction the bit is spinning. Take your time and even out the inside lip to be about 1/16 all the way around. Then switch to a 240 grit sandpaper to smooth the inside. Be careful not to damage the writing inside the coin.

To start on the outside, depending on how deep your hammer blows are, start with about 120 grit sandpaper or emery cloth. If you have some deeper gouges, you may need to use an 80 grit paper to start. Work your way to up to a 180 or 240 grit until the outside is smooth, but not necessarily shiny. You can also lightly smooth over the outside edges a bit if they seem excessively sharp.

Now you are ready to start the final finish. I use a fingernail emery board or emery block. I like the 4 step system. Use the roughest surface first and graduate to the smoothest surface. Take your time with these steps and buff out all the scratches from the prior step before moving on.
Above is the final product. Total time about 6 hours. Polish with some automotive chrome polish and you are done. If the silver coin ring seems to have sharp edges, do not worry. In a short time, just by wearing the ring, all the edges will smooth out and it will wear comfortably.
Happy Birthday Arika!