February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 2

Step 5: Pick Your Domain Name And Register It

Now you should have a good idea of what topic you want to create your blog around. The next step on how to start a blog is picking a domain name that will match your blog and stick out in your reader’s minds.

If you are going to start a blog just for ranting or promoting yourself, then you can sign up to a free blogging site, such as blogger.com. All you have to do is sign up and follow the steps by plugging in the title you want and the web address you want (generally same as the title). Your domain will be a sub-domain on the site, which means you will have .blogspot behind your domain name. For instance, if you pick ‘bythebook’ it will look like ‘bythebook.blogspot.com’.

Everything is very self-explanatory on free blogs. You can create a new blog post and start blogging with minutes of signing up. The advantage of signing up to a site like Blogger is that you will get noticed quickly by other people on the free site. The disadvantage is that you have no control over your site. There are rules. You can’t put up certain ads and posts that you can on your own purchased domain name, and if you do, you can easily be reported as trying to spam other people, which will cause you to be taken down and all your hard work go to waste.

This guide is about how to start a blog by registering a domain name and getting your site hosted so that you can have the freedom to do what you want. So, let’s talk about how to do that.

Picking A Domain Name

Your domain name will be the web address that people find your blog at, like xxtxe.com. There are different sites that help you find and register your domain name, including Namecheap.com and Register.com, but I prefer GoDaddy.com, so that is what I will refer to in this guide.

Keep in mind that all domain name registration sites are very user-friendly, so if you decide to use another site to register your domain name, they will walk you through it step-by-step. And you can always contact their support system if you need help. But, generally, you won’t need to do that. It’s really easy.

You will notice that when you get to the homepage on GoDaddy.com, there is already a tool to help you search through the available domains. All you have to do is type is the domain name you want and click on ‘Search Domain’ to see if it is available. Type out the name you want all in one word (because that’s how domain names work). For example, ‘bythebook’ instead of ‘by the book’. You will be notified if the domain is available for purchase, how much it costs, and what alternatives you can choose.

When Your Domain Name Is Already Registered

If you type in something and find that it is taken, you can add a hyphen into the search to see if that is available. For instance, instead of ‘bythebook’ you can look for ‘bythe-book’, which as of this guide is available.

There is a lot of debate as to whether or not hyphens are appropriate. I’ve found that they don’t hurt the site too much in terms of SEO. I’ve been ranked quickly in Google with hyphenated domain names.

The only problem is that people don’t naturally put hyphens in their search, which means if they remember your blog title as ‘By The Book’ then they will search for that title, and if they see ‘bythebook.com’ they will likely click on it is opposed to ‘bythe-book.com’ until they get to know that your domain has a hyphen in it. But, once they know, or have your site bookmarked, it won’t matter anymore.

Should You Pick A .Com or .Net?

The last thing you will notice is that you can pick a bunch of extensions for your domain name. Extensions just help keep domain names organized on the Internet, so this is really just about preference and what you want to tell your readers.

For instance, if you are in Canada, you may want to pick the extension .ca to let your readers know that you are in Canada and resonate more with Canadians. However, you really only need to do that if you are a business in Canada. As a blogger, most people don’t care where you are from.

You can also pick .guru to let people know that you are an expert in your blog’s topic. Guru is a popular buzzword when people are looking for experts, so it could help you stand out.

And, if you can’t find the domain name you want with the extension .com, then you can pick .net.

However, I would recommend sticking with .com if you can find the domain name you want with it. People remember it, and it is the most widely recognized.

Rules For Picking A Domain Name

You know what you want to focus your blog around. You know what type of audience you want to cater to. So, pick a name that the audience will resonate with that describes what your blog is about.

Some experts will tell you to put a keyword in your domain name. For instance, if you are going to write about cooking, then they would recommend choosing something like ‘wildcooking.com’. But I have found that this is an old rule to go by, and it doesn’t help you get more readers or rank higher or anything else.

Therefore, pick a domain name that describes your blog and resonates with your readers. Something catchy. Something they will remember. Something that reminds them of what your blog is about.

I’ve found the best blogs have a catchy name that you can’t forget, such as pinchofyum.com, which is a blog that is all about cooking. The domain name indicates that it is a recipe site where you are going to learn how to make things that taste great. It’s hard to forget, easy to type in, and just sounds neat.

Remember, whatever domain name you choose can be your blog title too. It makes it easier for readers to find it later on.

And if you are trying to get yourself known, then create a domain name around your name. For instance, johndoe.com. This will guarantee that when people search for you, your website is the first one that comes up. This works well if you plan to create a business later on. For example, if you want to become a writer, then using your name for your domain name and blog title will ensure people can find you and your books.

But, for the most part, picking a unique domain name is important. Make sure it hits all the things on the following checklist.

– Easy to remember
– Relatable to your topic
– Unique
– Not too long

To Be Private Or Not

One thing to consider when registering your domain name is privacy. You will be asked if you want to add privacy to your domain, which will hide your contact information on whois.com. I highly recommend choosing to make your information private. It protects you from all the strange people out there who could use your information against you in some way, or even show up at your door.

Moreover, if you are planning on using a pseudo name behind your blog, you don’t want your real information showing up for everyone to see. You can choose to add privacy for 1 year, which costs about $12 USD, so it’s not that bad for the protection it gives you.

Registering Your Domain Name For 1 Year Or More

When you are registering your domain name on GoDaddy, you can choose how long you want to register it for. Because you are just starting out, I recommend registering it for one year. That will be your cheapest option, and it will give you enough time to decide if you want to continue blogging past the one year or let your domain name expire (you won’t be charged again).

If you choose to continue blogging, you will have to renew your domain name in one year’s time. GoDaddy will remind you that you need to renew it, so don’t worry about it just disappearing from you one day. You will be given plenty of notice.

Use Coupons If They Are Available

Lastly, a little tip that I love is using coupons. GoDaddy especially has a lot of coupons that can help you save big time on your domain and privacy. Just search Google for ‘GoDaddy coupons’ and copy the coupon code to plug in during checkout (stick it in the ‘Have a Promo Code’ section at the bottom of the screen just before checkout).

Usually, you can get your domain and private registration for your first blog for $4, which is pretty darn good! Many coupons are only good for one domain, so if you want another domain, you will have to find another coupon or, possibly, pay full price.

Step 6: Get Hosting For Your Domain

Now you have a domain name – a little piece of property on the Internet dedicated solely to you and whatever you want to do with it. Because this is a guide on how to start a blog, you will want to get hosting for it as soon as possible so that you can start your blog.

A place that offers web hosting is a place that offers you storage space so that you can create a blog. It’s like a room on the Internet where you can store all your files and keep all of your information. Furthermore, it helps you become visible online.

It’s not necessary to understand the ins and outs of web hosting in order to start your blog. Just know that you need to have it in order to publish your blog. As you grow your blog, you will need to learn more about bandwidth, speed, and more, but for now, you are not taking up very much room on the Internet, and every web hosting company will offer you something that is user-friendly and perfect for your needs.

Should You Buy Web Hosting Where You Bought Your Domain?

I used to be really worried about this, but after years of using GoDaddy for everything, I really don’t find it an issue. I can’t even find a good argument for registering your domain name in one place and buying your web hosting in another. The only argument that makes any sense is that it will be harder to transfer everything to another site later on, but it’s really not that complicated.

For me, having both my domain name and my web hosting at GoDaddy has worked out just fine. Every time I buy a new domain name, I can easily get it up and running through my hosting within a few hours.

Buying Web Hosting

No matter where you go, hosting sites want you to sign up with them, so they are going to make it as easy as possible for you to do so. It’s so user-friendly that it’s ridiculous!

An important thing is to make sure you can get WordPress through your hosting. WordPress is a content management system that is written in PHP, but you don’t need to worry about understanding that. All you need to know is that WordPress is the tool that will help you write your blog posts, put ads on your site, create pages, and allow other people to view your site.

In short, you want to be able to install WordPress because it is the easiest way to start a blog and make it look amazing. It’s easy to use. It comes with lots of options. And, it is trusted by some of the most popular bloggers around. As you move along with your blogging career, you may find another website creation tool that you want to use, but I doubt it. I’ve tried some complicated tools, and I’ve always come back to WordPress.

GoDaddy offers WordPress hosting, which means hosting and WordPress are integrated so that you can easily build and manage your blog. You can choose from a few different packages, and each package clearly explains what you can do with it. Because you are just starting a blog, choose the Basic option or the Deluxe option. Both are billed in monthly payments. If you plan on blogging for a while, you may just want to choose the Deluxe for a few more dollars because it will give you lots of room for growth and you don’t have to worry about it for a while.

© Embe2006 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Step 7: Install WordPress

Now that you have your domain and hosting, you need to install WordPress (assign it to your domain name) so that you create a specific room for all your blogging pages, pictures, and other files to go. I’ll share how to do it on GoDaddy, but if you chose a different place to host your blog, then there will be instructions to help you do it there.

1. Go to My Account and click on the + beside Web Hosting. Then, click on ‘Manage’ on the far right. You will be taken into your hosting dashboard where you can see what hosting plan you have, how many hosted domains you have, how much bandwidth you are using, and more.

2. Click on ‘Hosted Domains’ and then ‘Add Domain’. In the Domain section, type in the domain name you bought that you want to blog on, leave the folder section empty, and click OK. Note: The first domain you buy is going to be your primary domain, so you don’t need to put into a folder. However, if you buy more domains, you will need to label the folder with a name that applies to your new domain so that you can easily find and access the files. While your job only takes a few minutes, getting the domain set up can take a few extra minutes with GoDaddy. Check back in a bit to continue to the next step.

3. Under ‘Popular Apps’, click on ‘WordPress’. Once it comes up, click on ‘Install’. Choose your domain name, type in your admin name and password (this will be used to sign into WordPress). Put in your email and blog title and click on ‘OK’. It can take a few hours to install, so wait for an email to indicate you’ve successfully installed WordPress on your domain name.

4. Click on the link in the email, sign in using the admin name and password you plugged in, and you will see your dashboard for WordPress. You will become very familiar with this as this is where you do everything from, including writing posts, adding plugins, choosing themes, and much more.

Read the third part of How to Start A Blog below:

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 3

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