Getting Your Site Ready to Go Live: Setting Up a Blog
- 1 You've Got an Idea For a Blog Keep Going!
- 2 What Will Your Domain Name Be?
- 3 What Platform is Right For You?
- 4 Deciding on the Best Web Host For You
- 4.1 1. Price Points: What Should I Expect?
- 4.2 2. Usability: What Works Best for My Skill Set?
- 4.3 3. Tech Specs: Bandwidth, Storage, and Processing Power
- 4.4 4. Types of Hosting: Deciding Between Shared, Dedicated, and VPS Cloud Hosting
- 4.5 5. Additional Services and Costs: All the Extras and What They’re Worth
- 4.6 6. Customer Service: Getting the Help You Need
- 4.7 7. Reputation: Getting to Know Your Host
- 5 How to Install Your Platform
- 6 Your Site is Ready to Go
You've Got an Idea For a Blog Keep Going!
You're about to start setting up your blog, but before you do that make sure you have:
• Discovered your purpose for your blog
• Identified your target audience and a problem you can solve for them.
• Thought about your niche and picked one that’s best suited to your blogging needs and skill level.
• Considered the factors that lead to a successful blog. These elements include: dynamic writing skills, SEO practices, coding and graphic design basics, and having a social media presence.
If you have all those things covered, that's awesome! You’ve come a long way and should be proud of yourself!
For those of you that haven't quite got all your bases covered, take a step back and check out our first guide ” 7 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog” and our blog on “How to Choose Your Niche”. They will get you all set up and ready for this step.
Okay for those of you that are ready to get started. Let's go!
Setting up a blog is easier said than done. It can be challenging and the process will test your patience and ability to focus and prioritize your needs for your blog. But rest assured, we’re here to help you every step of the way.
We’ve developed a guide to help you get organized for setting up a blog and getting your site live.
You’re almost there fellow blogger! Put on a pot of tea, have a seat, plug into your favorite tunes and let's get to it.
What Will Your Domain Name Be?
Let’s get right into what a domain name actually is. If you were to look at the definition on Wikipedia you’ll get a complicated and extremely technical answer.
We are going to give it to you in short form: It’s the website name you type in the address bar of your browser. It’s Google.com, 30dayblogchallenge.com, Unicef.org… you get the point.
In order to register your domain name after you’ve selected it, you will have to decide upon one registrar. Your registrar allows you to own the domain name. They manage its registration in relation to its respective registry based on the TLD (.com, .org, .net, .ca, and so on). Above the registrar you have the registry, they are the governing body of that specific TLD for your domain.
Huh? Was that all a little confusing?
Let us break it down for you: registrant = you, registrar = your domain guardians, registry = the domain gods that set up all the rules and govern your domain.
How to Play the Domain Name Game
When it comes to setting up a blog, whether it’s your first, second, or hundredth, you’re going to want to put a lot of thoughtful consideration into the name you pick. Your domain name, should be simple, to the point, and act as a reflection of what your blog is about.
Selecting a domain name can be difficult. Especially, if you’re not quite sure what will work best for your blog and the longevity of your blog.
If you’re completely lost on what your domain name should be, focus on the niche you’ve selected. Do some research on other bloggers in your desired community so you can get a feel for what your audience will respond to. Then start brainstorming your options.
Having a domain name that is memorable, simple, and ideally not too long is key.
You not only want it to make sense for you and your readers, but you also want it to be related to the topic of your blog. For more tips on how to choose a domain name that’s right for you and you're, visit our article on “How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Blog”.
Is There a TLD Out There for Me?
A TLD is what comes after the dot in your domain name, such as .com, .org, .net, etc…. There are hundreds of different options out there to choose from.
You're probably wondering: Which one is best for you?
The tried and true .com is the what we suggest going after if you can get it. Readers are familiar with .com and they feel like they can trust it more than other TLDs.
The next best options are .org and .net, as they are used fairly frequently and are also well known. However, things are starting to change and other TLDs are starting to become more accepted.
So, if you can’t find the .com or one of the more well known TLDs, you could try thinking outside of the box and going for a bit of a different domain extension. It’s possible that you can use this to your advantage, to make you more noticeable in your blogging community.
For example: If you’re setting up a blog related to the world of photography, then why not select a .photography TLD? Or, if your blog is geared towards something more business-oriented like marketing you can use a .events, .careers, .agency, .solutions, or a .marketing TLD.
Another interesting option could be: If you’ve decided that your blog will be named after you, try to use a relevant TLD. One that is related to you and your blog, like “yourname.guru” or “yourname.expert” for example.
There is the perfect extension out there for your blogging site, you just have to find it, so start digging!
Pick a Name That is SEO and User Friendly
We can’t stress enough the importance of picking a domain name that is both user-friendly and SEO-friendly. Having a clever domain name means nothing if it’s not easy for your audience to tie to your blog. You want it to be straightforward and easily established by your readers. You also want it to be easily marketable.
The terrible too's: If your domain name is too complex, too general, too long or too obscure you will have a heck of a time applying SEO tactics to your blog.
Remember: When you’re selecting your domain name for your blog, try and think to yourself “Am I being friendly or pushing people away?”
Register for Success
So, you’ve finally settled on a perfect name for your blog. That’s great news! The next step is to go online and check to see if it’s actually available for registration.
A simple way to check a domain’s registration status is: Type it into the WHO.IS search engine. Another easy way to see if your domain name is available is to type in your desired domain name in your address bar to see if anything comes up.
If something does…then, bummer it’s taken.
If you’re dead set on that domain name you can try to contact the owner to see if they’d be willing to sell it to you. To find the owner’s contact information simply check the registrant/owner name shown in the WHO.IS description.
If you do send them a purchase inquiry or even just a request for information regarding the domain’s availability, the domain name will likely not be priced at the standard registration or even renewal fee.
When there is a demand for a domain name the price jumps up to a premium, as you can see in this example below. The .com is way higher than the other TLDs.
At this point may be a good idea to just let it go and think of something else, or go with a different TLD.
Beware There’s Almost Always a Catch
If your domain name is available for registration, it might be a good idea to shop around for a good price. A lot of registrars have promotions for new customers. They’ll give you a great deal for the first year or even make the registration free for your domain…
You could be tied to a contract with them for multiple years. Better yet, you could be subscribed to a payable monthly hosting service that you may or may not want.
Read the fine print!
And if you’re still not sure it doesn’t hurt to contact their support team to get more information.
Want to know what sites are best for buying cheap domain names? Check out Shout Me Loud's recent article on “5 Popular Website to Buy Cheap Domain Names”.
What Platform is Right For You?
There are several different blogging platforms available that offer a diverse range of services and features. Not every blogger will have the same skill-level or will require the exact same functionality from their blogging platform.
We’re all different and have a broad range of requirements, styles, budgets, time-frames, and tech-skills we expect from a blogging platform.Your choices will be based on those needs and skills.
The important thing to note is: There really is no wrong choice, at the end of the day you’re simply trying to figure out what works and makes the most sense for you and your blog.
What Are My Best Options?
We’ll briefly take you through the top 5 blogging platforms currently on the market. The reason why they’re in the top 5 is simply because they’re the most popular with today's bloggers and our staff as well.
What makes them so popular?
It's how well they stack up against other platforms based on cost, functionality, user-interface, compatibility, features, and customer-support. Here are some of your best options for setting up a blog in today's market:
WordPress.org gives you the option to self-host with their downloadable software script that is available directly from their website to your computer. They do not have a login portal for you to start building your site through them online. What you need instead is their software and a subscription with a web hosting company.
You will need to make sure your host is compatible with the WordPress software. They give you a list of requirements on their website:
A list of hosting companies that they directly approve based on the requirements is also available.
You can customize your blog site through their management system once you get it uploaded and installed on a hosting platform.
With WordPress.org, you and you alone are the sole owner of your blog. This is because you have downloaded their script and are running it through your own host. WordPress then doesn’t have any rights to turn off the lights on your blog.
WordPress.com is your quick and easy to use online alternative from it’s brother, WordPress.org. This option will give you the ability to login to their website and start building your blog directly through them online.
All you need to do is create a free account, pick your plan and start building, no software download/upload/installation required.
The most significant differences are that you don't have the ability to customize your blog and you do not own your blog, WordPress.com will have the rights to it and they can shut it down at any time as outlined in their terms and conditions.
Wix is extremely user-friendly and is an easily mastered platform. It's best suited for the individual that needs speed, functionality, and aesthetic.
With Wix, you can get a free one page blog. All you need to do is login, create a free account and pick your platform to start building your blog. However, this means that you blog will be owned by Wix and they can do with it as they see fit.
Signing up for one of their premium packages may be the way to go. Packages start at $4 a month and go up from there. Wix is a subscription-based platform, you will be responsible for making monthly payments to your account with them for as long as you intend to keep your site up and running.
Squarespace is like Wix's hotter alternative. It just looks better and offers you a vast array of stunning templates, all easily downloadable at the touch of a button. It's also an online hosted website building platform that provides all-in-one services. No advanced skills or previous website building knowledge is required for working with these services.
Wix and Squarespace share similar features: They are both intuitive, simple, user-friendly and a great option for the first-time blogger.
The one downfall would be that Squarespace is quite expensive for a new blogger. The cheapest package starts at $12.
Blogger keeps it traditional as Google’s oldest free blogging platform. To get started you just need to have a Google account, no software or previous skills needed. Setting up a blog couldn't be easier, just type and publish quickly with Blogger.
For an in-depth comparison with more details and our take on these top blogging platforms, take a look at our article on the “Top 5 Blogging Platforms: Choose the Best One For You”.
Free vs. Paid, What Should You Do?
When comparing blogging platforms you might start to consider simply choosing the free page that some of these companies offer.
That’s completely up to you!
It may be a potentially good idea to go this route in the beginning especially if you’re new to creating a blog. Testing out a free blogging platform first could possibly help you get you in the mindset of upgrading later. Which is something you can do, if you end up liking their services and want more out of what they have to offer.
That being said, we don’t really recommend it. It is extremely important to realize that there are risk factors to consider before choosing a free site.
Sure, it’s free so who’s to complain…..
It’s free, also means you get very limited design options, services and tools. Plus there are some very serious ownership issues, meaning you do not have any ownership rights over your blog or its content.
Warning: Before getting started using a free platform, take a look at their terms and conditions regarding their rights to shut down your blog at any time without your consent. It’s a good idea to contact their support team for more information about your ownership rights to you build a blog for free.
Is “Free” Really That Risky?
In short, the answer is yes, yes it is!
Sure, you could go your whole career with a free package from one of these blogging platforms without having it shut down or interrupted, but is the risk of losing your site really worth it in the end?
Answer this one simple question: Do you want to have ownership rights over your blog and all of its content?
If your answer is “no” then a free blogging platform may be the best choice for you especially if you’re okay with its limited functionality and tools.
However, if you’re like the rest of us and want to own your blog and not risk having it shut down in the middle of the night, day, month, or even years down the road, then getting a free blogging site may not be best suited for you or you.
You have to look at your blog as an investment.
The benefits of getting a paid platform far outweigh having a free service. Trust us, it’s worth the investment if you’re serious about your blog and want to ensure the risk factors are kept to a minimum.
Deciding on the Best Web Host For You
When setting up a blog, you need to decide on a web host. There are 7 factors that you should consider before finalizing your web host purchase.
Knowing what it is you’re looking for and understating how you can use the host to work for you is very important.
Ultimately, you’re the client! Yet, you need to realize that you are also at the mercy of the products and services offered by the host you choose.
Think of this as a union between your blog and host.
The host you use will be the means to your blogging potential and success, so making sure you pick the right one with the best qualities you desire is extremely important.
1. Price Points: What Should I Expect?
If you do a little bit of research between competing hosting companies you’ll quickly find that various packages offer different services, features, compatibility, and additional perks. They usually start off with an extremely basic package that increases to more high-end or premium packages with lots of “extras” or extended features offered.
These differences mean that the prices per package will vary. You could be looking at spending peanuts per month to hundreds or maybe even thousands per year.
For daily updates on pricing for some of the most popular hosting sites, you can head to b2elovlution's page on the “Best Cheap Web Hosting Companies”.
What you’ll need to remember is that these prices are often introductory.
This means is that you’ll be presented with an excellent deal for your first subscription, but the renewal will jump up in price.
Some introductory deals are ideal for more long-term goals. Just make sure you’re not getting roped into an unwanted contract, read the fine print.
Don't forget to watch out for those cancellation fees since these can be quite pricey.
Your task: To determine what is worth the cost and what isn’t. It’s important to understand early on in your journey that starting a blog is an investment, and with that investment comes products and services you’ll have to fork out some cash for.
2. Usability: What Works Best for My Skill Set?
If you are a newbie when it comes to hosting, unfamiliar with coding or are in need of customization and extra hosting options for your site the usability of the services offered by the host will affect all of this.
When it comes to usability, you'll want to look at these two things:
- The Control Panel: You’ll notice that each hosting provider will offer various control panels that will allow you to manage your website. Check to see if they offer Plesk, cPanel, ispCP or ISPConfig. If you are new to hosting these programs will aid in configuring and customizing your blogging site.
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol): Make sure your host offers FTP access. It's a must, if you are going to be uploading files ( logos, images, videos, etc..) from your computer to your blog.
3. Tech Specs: Bandwidth, Storage, and Processing Power
Bandwidth: When we discuss bandwidth we’re referring to the traffic your site can handle on a monthly scale. It’s the overall usage of data that is transmitted from your server to your viewer’s browser.
Your hosting company will provide you with your allotted bandwidth allowance for the month via one of their plans. It is recommended to choose a plan that exceeds your monthly bandwidth usage just to be on the safe-side.
To calculate how much bandwidth you’ll require from your host, follow this formula: Estimated visitors per month x page size x pages per visit = The amount of bandwidth you need.
Storage: This is fairly self-explanatory; it refers to your server's ability to store all of your websites data, files, and content. Typically you won’t need that much storage for your site unless you’re posting a lot of videos or large-scale photos.
In today’s market, there are two different variations of hard drives available for your hosting needs:
- Standard Hard Drives were the norm for a while, but they offer pretty basic capability for today’s website.
- Solid State Drives are much faster, more reliable and possess a better overall performance than the standard option.
Processing Power: In terms of dedicated or VPS( Virtual Private Server) hosting capabilities, you’ll want to ensure that your host's processing power performs at a higher level than it’s competitors.
You can find out the number of CPUs(Central Processing Unit) your host uses for each of their varying hosting packages simply by reviewing their website or contacting their support. This information will be no secret so don’t be afraid to ask them about it.
Shared: Choosing shared hosting is a cheap and simple option best suited for blogging sites that have about 30,000 monthly visitors. You’ll typically only pay as low as $1 per month with unlimited bandwidth but this can vary.
Dedicated: A dedicated hosting platform is ideal for blogging sites that have about 300,000 monthly visitors. It’s secure, fairly simple to configure, has dedicated IPs (typically around 3 or 4 are included), and offers a hefty amount of processing power.
VPS (Cloud-Based): Deciding on a cloud-based platform like VPS is a great option for any blogging site with any number of monthly visitors. Though it’s more advanced in terms of configuration and user-interface, it’s excellent if you’re looking to get something that will give you:
- The exact amount of processing you need
- Something that’s scale-able
- A dedicated IP
- A amount decent RAM
- All the space and storage you could ask for
It’s worth considering even if you’re not a developer or programmer.
5. Additional Services and Costs: All the Extras and What They’re Worth
Email: A good host will present you with the ability to create an email address that is tied to your domain name. Let’s say your blogging site is called iloveblogging.com, they should be able to give the option to create a certain amount of emails related to that domain name like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and so on.
Your host should make the possibilities for your email hosting setup known. If you’ve got questions about it don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.
E Commerce: Are you running an eCommerce blog?
If yes, it’s vital that you pick a web host with e-commerce features and support. Make sure you can get a SSL certificate, a dedicated IP address, and shopping cart software.
Site Backup: Your site can crash at any moment for a number of reasons, such as being hacked. If you have site backup this isn’t a problem. Your host should be able to restore and get your site running again. We highly recommend making sure this comes in a package or you purchase it separately if necessary.
6. Customer Service: Getting the Help You Need
Having access to forums or online documents is great, but you’ll really want to make sure you can reach your host's support team quickly, efficiently, and easily. Make sure their number is clearly available on their site or check to see if they offer live chat support.
Think about it this way: “Are you skilled enough to manage this all on your own?”
If the answer to this is “no” or “not really” or “probably?” then stop right there. Before committing to a hosting platform, check out how their support team operates and see if they’re helpful, friendly, eager, and patient with you.
What you’re looking for is the quality and availability of your potential support team.
7. Reputation: Getting to Know Your Host
Let’s just put it this way, if there are no testimonials or feedback forums easily accessible on their website then they’re probably hiding something.
You should be able to know what you should expect from your hosting platform. Things like their attitude towards customers and how well their products and services work will play a huge role in how you make your final decision.
How to Install Your Platform
When setting up a blog, there are a ton benefits to opt for with self-hosted platforms. However, if you do decide to go that route, make sure the platform you have chosen has easy installation.
Before you settle on a blogging platform, check to see if they have a beginner’s guide or online tutorial on how to use their products and services. Knowing this will help determine how capable you are at utilizing their platform and whether it’s worth your time. Additionally, if they have omitted this information from their website you’ll soon come to the realization that this is a huge red flag.
What kind of hosting platform doesn’t offer some kind of online guide right of the bat for a new customer?
The wrong kind of course!
If they don’t have this information readily available to you, kick them to the curb and move on until you find on that does.
Why WordPress Does It Better
It’s no surprise that as one of the best blogging platforms available, WordPress is unanimously the most highly recommended choice. It's the leader in customization, variety, monetization, and of course it's free. This is why it unofficially holds the highest merit by any type of blogger.
Over 28% of websites you see today across the globe are WordPress powered.
To start self-hosting with WordPress it's quick and easy with their software script being readily available for free directly on their website. Simply click to download a copy directly to your computer. Theoretically, you can have your blog site go live within minutes! However, that does require some previous tech skills like knowing how to connect your domain, hosting service and WordPress script together.
Are you lacking said skills? Don't worry!
Another benefit to choosing WordPress is that they typically have a one-click installation option on most hosting platforms.
You won't have to worry about downloading their software, uploading it to the hosting platform and then having to go through the tedious and time-consuming process of installing it correctly the first time. Instead you simply install WordPress directly through their hosting platform.
The installation process should be quick and painless. Then you'll be able to focus on actually creating a blog, and let's be honest, that’s the where the fun begins. You will find that everything is just a little bit easier with WordPress.
Set up WordPress With Our Help!
We wanted to make your life easier when setting up your blog with WordPress, so we created 3 simple step by step guides for you to follow. Click on the guide of your choice below and get started!
Your Site is Ready to Go
In the end, getting your blog ready to go live has a lot of preparation and thoughtful consideration required. With all that preparation there comes a lot of decision-making based on your personal requirements and what you expect to get out of your blogging career or hobby.
You may find yourself spending too much time dwelling on your choices, but you don’t want move too fast either!
When it comes to your domain name, platform, and host, be sure to do your research. Compare the pros and cons of your top picks, focus on your priorities and not just the extras. Most importantly, make an educated decision based on your skill level, needs, wants, and preference.
One of your last steps is to:
Review the work you’ve done and go through your checklist of what, if anything, you think you could do to make starting a blog easier for yourself. You will be able to make any edits and changes to your blogging site down the road. Yet, the feeling of doing it right the first time is unrivaled in the blogging world.
Setting up a blog takes a lot of hard work, dedication, patience and most of all, confidence in yourself. You can do it, don’t doubt it for a second.
Now, get out there and do what you do best…..blog!
Let us guide you through setting up a blog. Try the 30 Day Blog Challenge now and we will take you through all the the steps of starting a blog. Check out the challenge here!
If you have any questions or comments about setting up a blog, please feel free to leave them below. We will be sure to read them and get back to you!