Maybe you have a great idea....maybe you don't.
What you -do- know is that you want a website and you want to make money from it.
But where do you start?
If you are like many (myself included), you feel most logical thing to do is to use free space you get with your ISP, or one of many free website communities out there.
It gives you opportunity to learn how to make a website, upload it to a web server, promote it, and learn killer search engine strategies.
Then, when its making you some money, you can get your own domain name and move to a real website hosting company.
Besides if it doesn't work out...you aren't out any money.
You and other umpteen million people with websites on these places are thinking exact same thing.
Time for a reality check.
You are putting your business in middle of a community of millions. Its future now depends on ability to make money in a situation that can best be compared to buying a lottery ticket every week.
Your chances are about same. In fact, to save yourself a bundle of time, effort, and major disappointment you should give up this idea now and buy a lottery ticket every week instead.
I'm sure -some- people have managed to make money from free website hosts, and -some- have done so through legal means.
But vast majority don't.
There is possibility on some of these sites for you to get your own domain name and point it to your free site.
---Here are a few flaws with this option:
You still will typically have to post their banner rotation at top of your pages, or at least at top of main page.
Many of top search engines ban submissions entirely from these communities because of objectionable content and quality from many of members' sites.
Even though your visitors can type in www.yourname.com and make it to your site, they will typically still see redirect to free host in URL portion of their browser.
When you start getting visitors, and better yet, customers... reliability and uptime become a major part of your vocabulary. Even with major companies you will experience some downtime. And believe me its nerve-wracking to say least. But many of better ones will have 24/7 technical support to work on these issues and keep them to a minimum.
---End of gloom and doom
The only thing that I like about this approach (it worked for me) is that as you are learning html and graphics design, not many people will really see it :-)
The point I'm trying to make is don't put future of your business on -possibility- that you will make enough money to register your domain name, and moving up to a paid host.
With masses moving to Internet, you have to quickly find a way to put yourself in -smaller- percentage that will actually manage to make money.
---So, what -should- a beginner do?
Personally I like 'all or nothing' approach in which you find a good domain name (you better hurry on this one), pay someone to design your site for you (if you don't have skills), and open an account with a reputable hosting company.
You've probably heard old adage "it takes money to make money." This is true in this business as well...to an extent. I say "to an extent" because you don't have to have a million dollar advertising budget to have an Internet presence.
Spend every minute possible finding and utilizing free promotional opportunities. If you can afford it, set aside a specific amount of money and call it your advertising budget.
As you learn these things and start to make progress, you will start to see some income. Be very strict with that money. First, you pay yourself back for registration fees, hosting fees, web design fees, etc.
Get yourself a separate checking account that all business transactions are done from.