If you are like many of us, you may have been toying with the idea to start your own blog for some time but could not get down to doing it. Most of the people we meet who have an idea of starting a blog feel that it requires a deep understanding of the technology involved. For others, the costs to hire a website designer/developer to develop and design a blog is a huge put off.
I have found, during numerous discussions with likeminded writers that the mere thought of getting a blog up and running is enough to make them procrastinate.
In this series of posts, I will discuss the technical requirements to get a blog registered and online. I will further consider ways of creating the blog and how to style it exactly the way we want without having to write a single bit of code in the process. We will thus look at:
- Selecting a proper blogging solution (software);
- Registering a domain (name of your blog/website);
- Registering a server on which your blog will be hosted;
- Selecting and creating a specific layout for your blog; and
- How to keep your blog up to date and safe.
In this first post we will focus on and introduce you to the first three considerations:
Selecting a proper blogging solution:
There are many blogging solutions/platforms available. Through trial, error, tears and experience I have found that WordPress is the ultimate solution to blogging. Although WordPress is much more than a blogging tool, its roots remains in the blogging arena. In fact, WordPress is responsible for powering 30% of all websites on the internet. That includes websites and blogs. A further look at statistics from various reputable sources show us that WordPress is the biggest Content Management System (CMS) with 59.9% of the CMS share. A Content Management System is a website and/or blog where the content can be managed by the owner itself in real time, thus no need to hire a developer to make changes to the website/blog. WordPress consists of two platforms, which are WordPress.com and WordPress.org. You can have a look at the differences between the two WordPress versions here. For this article we will only consider WordPress.org as it will give you complete freedom over your content, your blog’s URL as well as its layout.
WordPress.org is free software and is distributed under the GPL license. The biggest reason however, for using WordPress is its total commitment to blogging and its incredible ease of use. No other blogging platform are as easy to use as WordPress, whilst giving its users so much power to create dynamic content.
Registering a domain (name of your blog/website);
All websites need a domain name. The domain name of this blog is freelancewritingblog.com Your blog will obviously have a different domain name (also referred to as an URL). The registration of domain names is regulated and overseen by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). There are many domain name registrars accredited to ICANN. The registration is an easy process. Many hosting companies offer visitors an area where you can type in your preferred domain name to see whether it is already in use, and if not in use, affords you the opportunity to register it on your behalf. You can have a look here to see whether a specific domain is already taken or available. It is however advisable to register your domain with the same company that will host your website on its servers for ease of managing all in one account.
When you consider a domain name it is important to keep the following in mind:
- Keep the name as short as possible as it makes it easier for people to remember and type.
- Avoid words that are often misspelled such as “except”.
- Keep the name relevant to your product or brand.
- Use a search keyword in your domain name if possible.
- Use an appropriate domain name extension such as .com or .net. Use a relevant domain extension (also known as top level domains). Use .co for example when you register a company’s domain name. Other examples are .info for informational websites and .net for technical internet infrastructures. You can see a complete list of top level domains on here on ICANN’s website.
- Research the name to make sure you are not breaching a trademark or infringing a copyrighted name. To use an example, WordPress may not be used in a blog’s domain name. A domain name such as www.wordpresstutorials.com will thus be not allowed whilst www.wptutorials.com will be perfectly fine.
Registering a server:
As mentioned earlier, it is possible and often advisable to register the domain name and a server with the same service provider. A server is basically a computer on which space is allocated for your website. This server/computer is connected to the internet and people will therefore be able to visit and view your website on this server. Your WordPress software will be installed on the server space you purchase. When we consider purchasing a server or space on a server we should always take the following factors into account:
- How large will our website/blog be?
- Will it be scalable should we need to get a larger/faster server?
- How fast would we like the server to be?
- What is the guaranteed server uptime?
- Safety measures?
- Do they perform backups?
These are just basic questions to set you up to make an informed choice. There are several different types of servers to choose from. These will include:
- Shared servers where your website is hosted on a server together with other websites. Your website therefore shares the server’s resources with other websites.
- Cloud based Web Hosting refers to technology where many individual servers work together to serve a website to visitors. This ensures faster server speed and a surge in traffic will not hamper the website’s performance.
- Virtual Private Servers also allow for several websites on a server but differ to the extent that a dedicated slice of the resources is allocated to each website.
- Dedicated Web Servers are servers that host only a single website and all the resources of that server is allocated to the hosted website.
- Managed WordPress Hosting has become very popular due to the increasing popularity of WordPress. This hosting option focusses on WordPress based blogs and websites with a view to keeping them protected.
There are also services such as Colocation Web Hosting and Self-Service Web Hosting and. For the sake of this brief introduction it will not be necessary to discuss them. I recommend a shared server option for a new blog that is just starting out. A shared server is the most affordable option for a Start-Up which allows for scaling up when the need arise.
Through trial and error, I have found SiteGround to be a trustworthy and sound hosting service provider that also offers good support. At SiteGround you have several options when it comes to hosting servers. Through our partnership you can access a Special Offer at SiteGround which allows you to choose between three different shared hosting server options.
This was a quick overview to help you determine a good starting point if you are considering starting a blog. In the next part of this article we will look at registering a domain name, selecting a shared hosting server, and installing WordPress on that server.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do so below.
Take care and keep tuned.
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