In last week's tutorial I described some of the many ways of sharing your photos online, including image hosting sites, web galleries and social networking sites. All of these are fine, but they can be a bit impersonal. By far the most satisfying way to share your photos online is by creating your very own website. It's a lot easier than you probably think.
While creating and managing a large professionally-run website, such as TrustedReviews for example, requires a huge amount of time and expertise and a staff of dedicated programmers, creating a simple personal website such as an online photo album is something that almost anyone can do, without the need for specialist knowledge or expensive software. In fact, you can get everything you need to get started for free.
If you have an Internet service account - and if you're reading this at home then you almost certainly do - then that account will normally include a small amount of free web space in which to make your own website. This is storage space on a remote server (a special hard drive at your Internet Service Provider that is permanently connected to the Internet) which you can use to store the files and code that make a website work. If you're not sure if you have this or not, look in the welcome pack that you received when your Internet connection was installed, or check on your Internet Service Provider's website. You may need to fill in a short sign-up form on the website, but it should be simple enough.
For this tutorial I'm using the free webspace from my own broadband account with Virgin Media, although this should in no way be taken as an endorsement or promotion of Virgin; I only use them because they're the only cable broadband provider in my area. Almost any ISP would have been equally as good for this purpose. My account is a fairly typical consumer package and comes with 55MB of free website space, which isn't very much but should be more than enough for a simple photo gallery.
To actually create the gallery I'm going to use a program that I mentioned last week, Picasa from Google. Picasa is a very good photo organising and editing program which you can download for free. It also includes a function which enables it to export your photo albums in a format that can be uploaded to a website, providing a quick and easy way to create an online gallery without having to learn how to write HTML code.
Once we've created our gallery, we'll need a means to copy it onto the ISP's server. The best way to do this is via something called FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol. It's simply a way of logging on to the company's server with a username and password, and then copying files from your own hard drive to special folders on the server. The software used to do this is called an FTP Client, and again there are several good ones available for free. The one I use is called AceFTP from Visicom Media. It's very quick and easy to use, and you can download it here.