This quick guide will help you get to grips with starting your own self hosted blog. It is the second part of my series looking at resources for setting up a blog or website – check out the first part here – it looks at free blogs.
For a total newbie all of this can be very intimidating at first. All the new terminology and the range of different ways to go about getting your first web property up and running can be confusing. Let’s start with the most important elements for going the self hosted way.
Basic Elements of a Blog Setup
These are the 3 things you will need:
A Domain Name
Your website / blog needs a name! The domain name basically provides you with a unique address on the internet. It is made up of two parts – the name “Mygreatblog” and the extension “.com” or “.org” etc. Don’t get to worried about the extensions; just know that in most cases people use the .com version.
To purchase a domain name you will need to visit a Domain Registrar such as Namecheap.com or Godaddy – just do a Google search for many others. At the registrars website you get to search if the name you want is available and then you simply buy it and register it as your website address.
Costs vary but expect to pay around $12 and don’t forget to look for discount coupon codes! Your new domain name will need to be renewed each year for a similar amount or you can register for several years at a time. Next up …
You have your name, now it needs to be hosted somewhere that people can go and see it. There are loads of hosting companies catering to all sizes of businesses and blogs and offering different types of hosting.
For starting out I recommend a basic shared hosting account with one of the well known companies – Hostgator, Bluehost or Stablehost are all good.
Hosting costs can vary widely depending on your needs but for starting out a basic shared hosting plan will cost about $4 – $9 per month. Again you can save a bit by paying for a year or two upfront.
That is it for your basic costs – all you need to get started – domain plus hosting. Most people are shocked at how little it costs to get a website online.
Now you are not quite ready to start writing that epic blog. First you need to connect your domain name to your hosting account. Don’t worry this is very easy and the hosting companies can walk you through it. No real technical expertise is required.
So domain name and hosting are ready, now you need a way to publish your article onto the website. This is usually called a Content Management System (CMS) OR Blogging Platform.
Blogging Platforms and CMS
There are several to choose from and some are free whilst others are paid. Some include:
- WordPress (.org) – easy blogging platform
- Drupal – CMS used for websites
- Joomla – CMS like Drupal
- Movable Type – used by very large websites
For most people the choice is easy – WordPress.
It is the most commonly used blog platform, especially for non tech people.
You can install WordPress for free on to your hosting account. Again the hosting company provides simple installation instructions which usually involves just clicking a few buttons. It really is that easy to set up.
Think of WordPress as the back-end of your website where all of the management takes place. It is very easy to use and requires no real technical ability.
This is the basic outline to getting started but of course you are going to need to do some more research. Don’t be afraid of the technology, just get started.
Learning to use WordPress can be done as you go along, just learn the basics and get started then when you need to do something new you can research that subject. The great thing about all of this is that the web can help you.
There are loads of great, free resources online to help you – from the most basic to more complex techniques. Remember, just get started and have fun learning as you go.