Currently I have my websites hosted on a friend's server. He does it for free, but I'm limited in what I can do and I want to seriously expand, so it's time to see what's out there. I'm discovering terms I'm aware of (like bandwidth, etc.), but don't really have any basis to know what's good and what isn't, or what I need. I have three sites currently that I wish to develop:
1.) Expand my writing services site with downloadable or browser-viewable samples (these will be scanned images of printed works), and possibly audio/video files. Also a contact form page for new clients/project requests. May also want to include a secure client section where clients can log in to upload information for me or download/view the same. Possibly have a function where clients can pay for services electronically. Obviously, this needs to be extremely secure.
2.) Expand my writer/reader info site where I discuss books and other personal writing projects. Perhaps add a forum for reader discussion, an "ask the author" form. Need filter services for these, as the site will be targeted to children and teens. A long term goal is to add individualized sites based on specific books to allow readers to "explore" the books through interactive maps and book-themed "puzzle" hunts. These sites would be somewhat graphics intensive. Might embed video "book trailers" as well.
As part of being a writer is doing school visits and workshops, I'll also want to include a contact form for this as well.
3.) A site to promote and sell downloadable game products and possibly related tangible accessories (things I would ship). Obvious needs are secure shopping carts, secure online payment, download storage, password access, fan forums, etc.
So, in terms of hosting, what do I need to look for? I want to understand my needs as I get into discussions with providers and developers.