If you already have a Yahoo Mail account, Yahoo 360 is the fastest way to blog -- no additional setup required. The service's editor lacks the ability to post audio and video clips, among other features, but you can add reader polls. Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces is fine if you don't need high-end features. Its basic editor lets you add photos and embed videos, but you can't upload videos directly from your computer.
The WordPress service provides handy editing tools, including a word counter, and the option to open links in a separate window. For US$15 a year, you can access the site's CSS Stylesheet Editor to modify your blog's template.
Get help for a business or workgroup
You have a business to run, and you don't have the time or skills to build a Web site from scratch. Let these services do the heavy lifting for you, allowing you to focus on more important management matters.
The Homestead hosting service has a great tool kit for building a professional site, even if you can't tell "HTML" from "BYOB." The Design Gallery has more than 2000 templates, so chances are good that your site won't be a clone of your competitors'. Homestead's drag-and-drop tools let you easily add your company's logo and other brands. Homestead's least-expensive hosting service for businesses costs US$20 a month, plus a US$25 setup fee (skip the "Starter" package, which is too limited to be useful). For more-affordable hosting, try Yahoo Small Business: Prices start at US$9 a month, and when we signed up the startup fee was waived. The page-design tools are serviceable, although they can't match Homestead's. Constructing an e-commerce site is easy, and you get plenty of tips to help your site succeed.
Google Custom Search is a free, Google-hosted search window that you place on your business's site. You choose the pages that are searched when your visitors enter a query. For professional sites, the fee-based Business Edition is worth the cost (rates start at US$100 a year). Business Edition removes the Google logo from the search window and Google ads from the search results, while adding more tools and support.
The Microsoft Small Business Center supplies free technical support for the company's popular business-oriented apps, including Windows XP Professional, Live Meeting, and Small Business Accounting. The Startup Center provides advice for entrepreneurs as well as an eclectic mix of business essays, such as the always-popular "5 rules for on-the-job romance."
The EarthLink Business Resource Center provides Web hosting, e-commerce, and other business services. Its Traffic Builder optimizes ad copy and search terms to boost your visibility on search sites.
Become a music sensation
Maybe you don't need a major label to make it big in the music biz. These sites help you promote and sell your tunes.
The eye-bleedingly ugly page designs on MySpace haven't stopped the site from becoming the top promotional resource for fledgling musicians. Sign-up is free, and the site's music-related content runs deep, including dedicated classifieds and forums. One drawback: You can upload only four songs total. Competing sites let you post more.
You may know GarageBand as the Mac software for creating music, but a Web site by that name -- unaffiliated with Apple, apparently -- also exists. Musicians get a generous 200MB of free storage for their songs. To have your tunes rated by other members, you first must review 30 songs from other artists, or pay US$20. If you're not a starving artist, a Gold membership (US$100) buys ad placements on the site, a contest entry, and other perks.