I frequently receive emails from readers who are curious to know more about how to go about setting up a blog. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this for a while to help answer those questions, and finally, here it is: a guide to the logistics of setting up a blog!
There are two things you need in order to have a website:
- A domain name. (e.g., colorinmypiano.wordpress.com, or colorinmypiano.com)
- A place to store your website on the internet; i.e., a web hosting service.
Both of these things are available free, or you can pay for them.
You can get a free domain name with a free blogging service such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com — but it will have their name also tagged onto the end of it (e.g., colorinmypiano.wordpress.com). If you would rather have the whole name yourself, you can buy annual rights to a domain name at a site such as Name.com (owned by Google). This makes it a little easier for followers of your blog to remember your url.
If you decide to purchase your own domain name, try to choose something that is not too long and is easy to remember in connection to your blog’s name and topic.
Sometimes I get asked about which free blogging service is best, after all, there are so many and they all basically do the same thing. Most people use Blogger or WordPress. I personally prefer WordPress because I think it’s more user friendly, but you can try them all out for free so there’s no reason not to.
You can also get web hosting for free if you wish. If you are using a free domain name through Blogger or WordPress, you are also getting free web hosting. To access your site on their servers, you simply go to the Blogger/Wordpress website and login. Blogger and WordPress do allow you to use your own domain name, if you’ve bought one – so by using their free hosting services you are not forced to use their domain name.
Now arises the question: if anyone can get web hosting for free, why would anyone pay for it? Here’s why many bloggers choose to do so: it allows you to access a more advanced version of WordPress (and other services) so you can customize your blog further. The basic version of WordPress that can be accessed at wordpress.COM is practically a demo version in comparison to everything that a full installed version of wordpress (read more at wordpress.ORG) can do. Having a full WordPress installation on your paid web hosting allows you to have access to tons of free themes and plugins which people create for free.
What if you aren’t sure if you need all this advanced stuff, though? I would suggest starting with a basic WordPress.com blog to see if it suits your needs. Later, if over time you begin to wish you could customize your blog further and offer more things, you can go about transferring your blog to a full WordPress installation.
So, to further clarify what we’ve established so far:
- You can use a free domain name and have free web hosting.
- OR you can buy your own domain name and use free web hosting.
- OR you can buy your own domain name AND pay for your own web hosting.
If you decide to go with #3, here is more information to consider:
You’ve perhaps heard of companies just as GoDaddy.com and JustHost.com. I recommend avoiding large companies because they generally don’t have as good customer service if you need help with your website. I use a small company called HawkHost.com which had good reviews online, and I’ve been really happy with them over the past two years.
I also recommend paying for your domain name and web hosting services from two separate companies. Many large companies (such as GoDaddy.com and JustHost.com mentioned above) offer deals for a free domain name for one year with the purchase of a year of web hosting. However, the problem is that if you for some reason are unhappy with a web hosting service and want to switch to another company, the old company still has your domain name in a sense even though you’ve paid for it and it’s “yours”. It gets complicated to transfer your domain name to another company, and there is always the slight chance you might lose it and be forced to choose a new one (which means you will probably lose all your fans/followers because they would no longer be able to find you at your old domain name). For this reason, I think it’s easier to have buy your domain name and hosting through separate services from the beginning. I recommend Name.com for buying domain names because they are owned by Google and aren’t likely to go anywhere for a long time.
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So there it is…a crash course to the logistics to getting your blog set up. I hope that all was clear enough — feel free to leave comments if you have more questions. You are going to love blogging — good luck!