So, you’re serious about starting a blog. Welcome to part two of the “Starting a Great Blog” series. Today we will cover the naming of your blog (and the purchasing of a domain), and we will cover hosting. Ready? Let’s go.
When naming your site, you have three options.
- Be funny/cool
- Be creative
- Be obvious
Sometimes you end up with a blend between them, but you get the general idea. If you want painfully obvious, check out this blog’s name. Webmaster-Source, obvious or what? Obvious, but informative, therefore a good name. Sometimes you can have a not-that-funny name, but a hilarious tagline (a tagline is a line of text generally shown underneath a title/logo. Webmaster-Source’s tagline is “Useful Resources for Webmasters”). Take a look at Smashing Magazine. Their tagline could be the funniest I’ve seen on the web to date. In case you were wondering about the “Be creative” bullet point, that should apply to all names. Here are some examples of really creative names:
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t quite as creative as the prior names…. Anyway, whatever you decide to name or blog, that’s your choice. I can’t help you much more with the naming process. It may take a few days of serious thinking to come up with a good one. For some inspiration, cruise around Technorati; especially look at the names of the top blogs (go deeper than the top 10, though).
So, you’ve picked a name for your blog already? What is it? Now, head over to www.WhoIs.net. We need to see if your blog name is available as a domain. Type your name, without spaces or punctuation, into the “Get your own Domain Name” field. Leave the select box to the right set to “.com” for now. Hit “Go!”, and we’ll see if www.yourblognamehere.com is available. It is? Great! Don’t try to buy it just, yet though. Why? You can get it cheaper elsewhere (www.1and1.com). $7/year is better than $10/year, isn’t it? Plus, 1and1 offers cheap hosting as well, which is great for starting blogs.
What if the www.yourblogname.com isn’t available? You have a couple options:
- Come up with a new name
- Try .net, .org, .info, or some other TLD. Be aware that a lot of newbie computer users immediately type “.com” for anything, expecting every website to be www.somethingobvious.com.
Anyway, once you’ve found an available domain you should buy it up as soon as possible. Otherwise, someone else could get it first.
To register a domain, head over to www.1and1.com. Click the “Domains” link at the top of the page. Their prices fluctuate, but they’re always in the $5-$7 yearly range. Just enter your domain and TLD into the “Domain Check” form. Proceed with the registration process. It will require a credit card, and some contact info, but it’s all through a secure connection.
Once you have your domain, you get something really cool…email at your domain. You read that right, you get email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org. What could be cooler than that? Your email address is beyond unique. Who cares if some guy has email@example.com? You can have whatever you want at your domain. How about firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com? The possibilities are endless. I’ve seen websites where the webmaster’s email was firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t remember what site it was on, though.
So, you’ve got your domain. Now what? A domain’s main purpose is to take a user to a website residing on a computer that’s semi-permanently connected to the internet. Another name for that is….drumroll please….a web host. You can’t have a blog until you have hosting. What do you have to consider when you choose a host?
- Pricing. You want cheap, but not unrealistically cheap. If someone claims to be offering a 500GB of storage and 780,000GB of bandwidth for $0.99/mo, just walk away. There’s now way they could offer all that for only $0.99 a month!
- Storage. You need space to store stuff. Text, images, etc. It all adds up. You want as much as you can afford.
- Bandwidth. If you want as much storage as you can afford, it’s doubly so for bandwidth. For the uninformed, bandwidth is how much your webhost allows you to transfer between the server and the internet.
- PHP. This all-powerful programming language is required to run WordPress, the ultimate blogging software. Make sure the host has it.
- MySQL Databases. Whatever host you choose, it must have at least one MySQL database, or “DB”, for WordPress to function.
- Reliability/Reputation. If you find a webhost you’ve never heard of before, it’s often a good idea to search the web for comments about it. If they scam people, you’d want to know about it before you hand over your credit card number. Find a reputable host. Also be aware that not everything you read about a host is true. If a lot of people are saying that a host’s servers have stability problems, it could just be that particularly annoying people are complaining, while others are getting along just fine.
If you’re getting started in blogging, I’d recommend 1and1 for hosting (WordPress’s website has some recommendations as well, though I haven’t tried any of the hosts, and therefore will not give any opinions). If you’ve already bought a domain from them, you can just log-in to your account, choose “update package”, and you’ll have your hosting set-up by the next day. They’ll even stop charging you for your domain separately, including it in your hosting bill (if you choose so). Take a look at their Hosting Plans page. Pretty cheap for web hosting, and it’s fairly stable (unlike smaller hosts, which often go offline frequently). Their “Beginner” plan should be sufficient. The rates often change for the plans, though the amounts are generally in the same area. If you already have a domain from 1and1, don’t buy from the hosting page. Log-in to your 1and1 account, and choose “update package”. Otherwise you’ll end up with two separate accounts, different bills, login trouble, and general mayhem (that said, you can have more than one account, if you need two totally separate hosting accounts).
Once you have hosting, you’re probably thinking “Now what?” You’ll see tomorrow, when we teach you how to install the WordPress blogging software.