Possibly the most daunting part of setting up a blog is starting. How do I make one? What is hosting? Where do I start? If you’re looking for the answer to these or any other beginning questions you’re in the right place!
To begin with, some definitions. I put some basic ones at the top here, but there will be more throughout so I’ll make them stand out in these little “testimonial” boxes so you can find them super easy if you just want to skim (because I know that’s what I would do. Also, note that all links are in green so they’re also easy to find).
Domain Name – The URL by which people find your site. Usually it is very close to your site’s name, with a .com or .net or such on the end. Mine is “VeggieHacked.com”. Domains have to be registered and purchased from an accredited website, but a lot of times you can get them free or cheap with hosting.
Hosting – A hosting service stores all the data and files associated with your site, usually for a fee. These files need to be stored someplace where they can be accessed all the time by people visiting your site, so rather than storing them on your computer and having your site go offline every time you turn off your computer, hosting services will store the files for you on their servers which are always on so users can always access your site.
Now before you can set any of these things up, you have to decide what kind of platform you want to run on. If you’re super tech savvy, you could write all the HTML and such yourself, but if that were the case you probably wouldn’t be reading this. Even so I wouldn’t recommend that. It takes a lot of time and patience for a lot less functionality. You could check out my music site if you want to get an idea, I probably spent the same amount of time setting that up as I did setting this site up.
A lot of bloggers use platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, or WordPress.com. WordPress.com and Blogger both offer free domains and hosting, but your domain will probably have something extra on the end such, like “veggiehacked.blogger.com”, and they offer a lot less functionality and customization. My recommendation is to take the extra step and start right off with WordPress (note there’s no “.com” at the end. WordPress.com and WordPress.org are very different things. The one we want is just plain WordPress, located at WordPress.org). It takes a little extra to get it set up but you’ll be so happy in the long run.
As such, most of this tutorial is geared towards making WordPress blog, but if you decide to go a different route, some of the information will still be relevant so don’t run away just yet!
Choosing hosting can be a tough decision. I did a lot of research before going with the hosting service I have now. Hosting can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be, but you definitely get what you pay for.
Originally I used a free hosing service called 5FreeHosting, which I actually still use for that music site I mentioned (because no one goes on there), but I started noticing a lot of lagging and downtime, especially when I tried to update a plugin or something, it just couldn’t handle the load. So I looked for something with a little more bandwidth.
Bandwidth – measured in bits per second, bandwidth is the rate at which your data can be transferred from the server where it’s hosted to the user who is visiting your site. The more bandwidth you have, the faster your site will respond and the more people can visit your site at once without noticing a drop in that response time.
Don’t bog yourself down too much with specific numbers for bandwidth. Start with a basic plan and if you consistently notice problems or start to have a lot of people on your site everyday, then think about upgrading. I also like to use a monitoring service to make sure I’m not experiencing downtime when I’m not paying attention. WHSR Uptime Monitor is a good, simple free one.
It’s hard to recommend one good hosting service because the prices are very competitive and sales happen so often, I would probably recommend a different one every day. I would recommend shopping around to see what the current prices are and what sales are going on now before making any decisions. I went with GoDaddy because they were having a $1/month sale for their WordPress optimized hosting. I’ve also heard very good things about Bluehost. Some other popular names are Host Gator and Dream Host although I don’t personally have any experience with them or know anyone who has so I’m not making any promises there.
You may notice that a lot of hosting services have WordPress optimized hosting. While it can be very nice and simple if the pricing is good, don’t feel like it’s your only option. I know the Bluehost WordPress hosting is more expensive than the regular, but most people just use the regular and install WordPress themselves, which I’ll also explain later on. Just go with what is cheapest, generally the most basic plan is perfect for starting out. You can always change or upgrade later on if you need to!
So now that you’ve got the basics down, do some looking and some thinking and decide whats right for you. Once you’ve got that figured out (or even if you don’t, maybe some more info will help you out) I’ve got 3 tutorials to check out next, depending on what route you took.
If you went with GoDaddy, or something similar, I have a step-by-step guide (with screenshots!) of the process on my GoDaddy Tutorial here. Even if you didn’t choose GoDaddy, it could be very helpful with other sites as well!
If you went with another site or non-WordPress optimized hosting, I have instructions on how to install WordPress via the standard cPanel here.
And lastly, if you found some super cheap hosting but it didn’t come with a domain name, don’t fret! I’ve got instructions on how to link your domain to your hosting site right here!
If you’ve got all that down and your site is up and running WordPress already, check out my First Steps tutorial. (Coming soon!)