There are a number of ways to have your own little piece of the Internet, even if you're unwilling to give up any hard-earned cash. I've tried many of them, including Blogger, Google Sites, Wordpress, Wix, and Weebly. Some keep bothering you to buy "extras", which you actually need; some just don't look good; some display banners, watermarks, or their own ads; for whatever reason, I found all of them less than completely satisfactory. "Drag and drop" website builders generally produce websites which look like they've been dragged through some mud and dropped off a cliff.
But this does not mean that you have to install your own Apache server and build a website from scratch.
Here's how to build a simple, sleek, and absolutely free website, with no ads, a good-looking domain, and nothing needed but a working knowledge of HTML. Sounds good? Let's go.
We'll be using three different sites, one each for the site itself, the hosting, and the domain. So let's break it down into three steps
Head over to html5up.net, choose any one of the beautiful templates and download the .zip of it. Edit index.html and other .html pages you need to suit your needs. Rezip the file. Yes, this step is fairly involved considering the instructions are two lines, but if you've ever used HTML before, it shouldn't be that difficult to work out what to delete and what to edit from the source of the template files.
Go to dot.tk, create an account, and register a free domain (e.g. yourname.tk). Don't forward it anywhere for now, as you'll only get the details in the next step.
Now visit 000webhost.com. In spite of their unconventional name, they provide an unbelievable free package (at the time of writing, 1.5 GB space for website, plus 100 GB/month bandwidth). Register an account, and place an order for free web hosting, using the domain name you registered in Step 2 (hint: you don't have to like their Facebook page to do this, though they make it seem like you do as part of the sign-up process). Now go back to the dot.tk control panel and point the domain to the IP address which 000webhost gave you. Then head to 000freehost web uploader and upload the .zip file of your website from Step 1 (I had issues using their Java uploader, and connecting through FTP using FileZilla, but these are supposedly also options).
(Or, if you decide to go for a paid option at 000webhost, why not use my referral link: http://www.000webhost.com/736578.html, and they'll give me something in return.)
TaDa! You have a website. A website which is completely free, over which you have full control. Wasn't that fun and simple.
If all this seems like too much effort, take a look at Websited, where I offer to organize it all for you (including all the template editing) for a nominal fee.
You can read about what Google Analytics can do for you and how to add it to your site in my later post, here.