Whether in your job or for your own business, you might have had the advice “You should start a blog!” or “You need your own website!”.
But it can be very daunting if you don’t know exactly what that entails.
Here I break it down into an overview of the four basic elements you need to have your own website and/or blog set up.
I don’t want to overwhelm you; I’m not going to go into any depth or a how-to for each one just now – but will do so in future posts.
I’m just want to keep it simple and give you a basic idea of what’s needed.
The Domain Name is the website name you type into your internet browser when you want to go to a specific site (e.g. facebook.com or youtube.com).
It consists of two parts:
- the name you want to represent your business/brand online (the “facebook” part)
- the Top Level Domain extension (the “.com” part)
You don’t buy a Domain Name (like you would, say, a car number plate). You rent it on an annual basis from a Domain Registrar (a company who registers Domain Names for you).
Usually, they cost around £10-£15 a year.
I get mine from Name.com
Web Hosting effectively refers to the place where your website is actually located.
Imagine your Domain Name is like your business’ address in a phone book (if anyone ever remembers those?!), then your Web Hosting is like the actual plot of land where your business is located.
And just like Domain Names, you rent Web Hosting on an annual basis, from a Web Hosting company.
In practical terms; when someone types your Domain Name into a browser (e.g. facebook.com) the browser looks up where that website is actually located (i.e. where all the files are that run the website; located on a computer server at a Web Host) and sends you to that place.
If you don’t have Web Hosting, there is no-where for the browser to send people – which means when they type in your Domain Name they don’t go anywhere but a blank/error page!
There are two main types of Web Hosting;
- Web Hosting as part of an all-in-one package/service (e.g. wix.com)
- Self-hosted Web Hosting
The easiest is the first; part of an all-in-one website building package.
Although this can be a very tempting route at the beginning (the website building tools are usually fairly easy to use and lots of “technical” things are taken care of for you) it may not be the best solution for you, due to a lack of flexibility and future website expansion (often for things you don’t realise you need…until you need them! By which point it’s too late)
The second option – self-hosted – is the option of choice for anyone, or any company, serious about their business.
Self-hosted simply means that you have to find the Web Hosting company and set up your website yourself.
Although this sounds very complicated, there are few tools (e.g. WordPress, see below) that make it pretty straightforward.
The benefit of self-hosting is you have all the flexibility in the world to do what you like with your website. You may not appreciate that now, but as you grow your site online, you’ll discover things you want to do that you really wouldn’t know about at this point. And you’ll be very glad you can do them!
Costs for Web Hosting can vary, depending on your needs, and sometimes you really do get what you pay for (so beware of really cheap/free Web Hosts!).
Usually, it’s best to start low and then upgrade to a higher package if you need to (i.e. if your website gets a lot of visitors, it will need more resources to run from the Web Host, so they’ll likely want to move you up the pricing ladder).
In general, you can get decent hosting for around £7 a month.
I use WebHostingHub for my hosting; I find their support documentation and live chat support absolutely first-class – and particularly useful if you are a beginner.
Website / Blog Software
The Website or Blog Software refers to the actual program that runs your website; i.e. the files that comprise your website, once someone visits it at your Web Host.
If you bought an all-in-one Website Building package then you don’t really need to worry about this too much; each company/package has their own software.
However, if you are building a self-hosted website, then choosing the software that runs it is up to you.
As with anything, there are quite a few options out there, but there is one in particular that is the clear global leader.
And it’s free.
It’s called WordPress and over 25% of the world’s websites run on it.
This is great news because it means:
- It’s very stable
- There is a LOT of support and help out there for it
One of its major plus points is that it takes a couple of minutes to set up (it kind of does it itself) and, after a pretty brief learning curve, you can be posting and blogging very quickly.
It’s also extremely flexible; there isn’t much you can think of that you’ll want to do with your website that WordPress won’t be able to do.
There are two types of WordPress;
- all-in-one – where they host your website for you – at WordPress.com (which has limited functionality)
- self-hosted – that you download and install yourself – downloadable from WordPress.org (which has full functionality)
You’ll want the second one.
But don’t worry; as it is so popular you’ll often find that your Web Host will have built-in free tools that are almost one-button ways of installing WordPress for you (e.g. Softaculous), so you don’t even have to download/install it yourself.
When you buy (or, rather, rent) a Domain Name, it means that you have exclusive right to use it (e.g. only facebook.com can use anything that ends facebook.com)
But it isn’t just the website that would use the Domain Name; also email addresses use the Domain Name.
So once you have your Domain Name you’ll be able tou have your own email address (e.g. “[email protected]”).
But first, you’ll need to find an Email service that will send, receive and store your email for you.
Instead, you may need to pay extra for an email account (this is usually paid for monthly).
Almost all Web Hosts will also offer this add-on service. But they aren’t your only option.
I like to use Gmail for all my email – including my own Domain Name emails.
You can configure your Gmail to also send, receive and store your Domain Name emails, but you will need a “business” account with them, which currently costs $5 per user, per month.
Although I’ve never used it, I believe Zoho offer a single-user free email service for your own Domain Name emails.
And you’re now online!
So there you have it!
You’ve got your Domain Name, Web Hosting, Website Software and Email sorted, which means you now have your own little corner of the online world.
You are in complete control of your online business.
You can choose what goes on there.
You can connect with people from every corner of the world, every minute of every day.
You can make money from it.
And all for about £12-£15 a month all-in.
Question is; what will YOU do with it?
Questions, thoughts or comments? Share them below:
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