This blog post is a part of the “Start Your Own Blog” series.
Other posts covered in this series are
- Part 1: WordPress.Com Vs WordPress.Org: Which One To Choose
- Part 2:<<You are now reading this>>
- Part 3: Beginners Guide: How To Install WordPress
- Part 4: Beginners Guide: How To Install A WordPress Theme
- Part 5: Beginners Guide: How To Install A WordPress Plugin
- Part 6: Beginners Guide: 19 Essential WordPress Settings
In the previous tutorial, we have seen the difference between WordPress.org and a self-hosted WordPress site. So now that we have decided to start our own self hosted WordPress blog let us see all the essential requirements for achieving this. Basically, we need to buy a domain & WordPress hosting account for setting up our blog. Firstly, we can understand the significance of each of these.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is actually an address for our site in the World Wide Web. An example of the domain name is google.com.We can purchase domain names separately from providers like GoDaddy or utilize the free domain names that come with our hosting plan. First, we have to decide what our domain name should be. There are no thumb rules for selecting domain names but the following points would be helpful
a) It should be easy to remember
b) It should not be lengthy
c) It should be pronounceable(Avoid complicated words with difficult spelling)
d) Avoid using names synonymous with popular brands to avoid confusion.
e) Prefer a .com extension if we are focusing on an international audience
The last point might be a bit confusing to newbie bloggers. Let me clarify this before proceeding with the steps to acquire a domain. The part that comes after our domain name in the web browser is known as Top-Level Domain(TLD). There are many TLD’s available on the internet such as .com, .org .edu, etc. Also, there are country-specific TLDs such as .au for Australia .ca for Canada and so on.
There is no need to know in detail about TLD’s and their significance for a blogger. All we need to know is that if we are focusing on an international audience across different geographies we have to opt for .com extension while buying our domain. Again this is not an essential requirement as one can very well use .ca extension for the blog and people from all over the world can visit our blog without issues.
If we are setting up the blog for a local business such as for example a flower shop in Australia, then we can opt for .au extension. These suggestions will ensure that our blog has an advantage when it comes to SEO.
How to purchase a domain?
I have bought the domain blogtriangle from GoDaddy for about $45 and I am going to show you the procedure for doing the same. Let me search for a sample domain name bloggingpursuits with a .com extension. Go to the GoDaddy website and type this domain name and hit search.
As we can see this domain name is available for sale. Add this domain to our cart and then proceed to checkout. In the next page, we have some options for domain privacy protection.
Opt for at least the basic level of privacy protection to ensure that the name and address that we use to register the domain does not appear in the WHOIS directory. This is basically a record of domain ownership that is open for access. So if we opt for privacy protection feature, instead of our name GoDaddy’s name and address will appear in this directory and hence our privacy is protected. We also have an option to create an email address that matches our domain.
For example, using this option we can generate an email address like [email protected] which looks more professional than our regular personal email address.
On the next page, we have options to select the tenure for which we have to register the domain. It is better to go with long tenures like 5 or 10 years if we are pretty sure that we are going to build a brand out of our blog. There is no need to worry if we do not have the money to opt for a longer tenure. We can opt for 1 year and later renew it anytime within our tenure. Now we have to create an account to complete the purchase.
After successfully creating the account we have to make the payment to complete the domain purchase. A confirmation mail will be sent to our registered account containing the details of our purchase.
One thing to keep in mind while searching for a domain name is that most of the commonly available domain names might be already taken. So we have to try common variations of popular words or create a name of our own. For example, blogtriangle is one such name. This word is not available in the dictionary. Some of the commonly used words might be available as domain names but the price might be quite high. It is not at all required for a newbie blogger to spent a large sum of money on the domain name. Our focus should be always on building a brand out of our name. Now that we are the proud owner of a domain name let us see what we have to do next for creating our blog.
What is Hosting?
A domain name is just an address to identify our site. We need some server space to host our data. These include our themes, plugins, images and also our blog content. There are many hosting providers available in the market that provides us space from as low 4 dollars per month. The most confusing part for a newbie blogger is the selection of hosting provider. Also, these hosting providers mention a number of confusing terms such as Shared Hosting and Dedicated Hosting in their plan details. These words might confuse bloggers. Let us first see each of these options in detail before deciding which provider to choose.
1) Dedicated Hosting
If we buy a dedicated hosting plan then we are the only owner utilizing the resources of that server. This ensures that we get better performance and speed for our site. Dedicated hosting plans are essentially required for sites handling a large volume of visitors.
2) Shared Hosting
There will be other site owners sharing the server resources on a shared hosting plan. The amount of disk space and bandwidth is limited for each of the users. It is quite obvious that a dedicated hosting plan is better as compared to shared plans. But do we really need a dedicated hosting plan?
The answer for a newbie blogger is a definitive NO. Shared hosting plans are capable of handling up to tens of thousands of visits per month without any issue. A new blog will certainly not be exceeding such user volumes. So shared hosting is more than enough for a brand new blog. Dedicated hosting plans start at about $79.99 per month. Therefore it is quite an unwanted expense to buy a dedicated hosting plan for a newbie blogger.
Once we have decided to buy a hosting plan the next confusion is the selection of the hosting provider. There are many popular providers like BlueHost, SiteGround, and InMotion that provide hosting services at fairly low prices. Go through our guide to get a detailed understanding of the top shared WordPress hosting providers.
How to select our hosting provider?
I have made the selection based on real user reviews available across the internet from multiple sources. As a newbie blogger, we might not be knowledgeable about the different technical aspects of hosting and hence a dedicated support team is an essential parameter for the selection of a hosting provider. SiteGround has an excellent support team to help us resolve the common issues that come up during setting up our site. I have found their live chat support extremely helpful in many cases. The price of their plans is also on par with other hosting providers. Therefore I have selected SiteGround as my hosting provider and I highly recommend the same to my readers.
This does not mean that other providers like Bluehost and InMotion are inferior to SiteGround. Spend about 30 minutes to read reviews about different hosting providers. Understand the pros and cons of each hosting provider and finally make your choice. Here I am going to use SiteGround for demo purpose.
How to purchase hosting?
Go to SiteGround Website. We can see that there are three options available for shared hosting.
For blogtriangle I am using the GoGeek plan .If we have a limited budget then go for Startup plan. In the initial stages of our blog, we might not be having too many visitors and hence the startup plan would be enough to meet our purpose. Click the GetPlan button. In the next page select the option “I already have a Domain” and enter our already bought domain name in the available textbox.
Enter all the required details and click the Pay Now button.
Once the payment is successful a confirmation page will appear. A confirmation mail will also be sent to our registered email address mentioning the details of our purchase.
Now we have successfully completed the second phase of our blog setup. We now own a domain name and a hosting server. Let us now connect our domain name to our hosting.
Map Hosting Server to Domain Name
First, we have to log in to SiteGround account and go to My Accounts Section. Click the Go to cPanel button.
Once we are inside the cPanel section we can see two values under Name Servers on the left pane.
Copy these values to a notepad.
Now login to GoDaddy account and click the My Products link.
Within this section click the DNS button next to our domain name.
In the DNS settings go to NameServers section and click the Change button.
Select Custom as the drop down value for name server type. Then add the values that we have copied before as two separate rows.
Click the Save button to confirm Name Server addition.
We have now successfully connected our domain name and hosting account. In the next part of this blog series, we can see how to set up a WordPress blog.
Note: Some hands-on experience in WordPress is an added advantage while we start working on a live server. I have already covered in detail about setting up WordPress locally on our computer using XAMPP or DesktopServer or InstantWordPress.Follow these tutorials to set up a local WordPress installation to have a learning environment ready on our personal computer.