Getting started with a web site of your own
A lot of people have been asking how to get a web site up and running and although there is a ton of info out there on how to do it, most of it being behind a membership site or spread over several sites with different interpretations, I thought I’d add my detailed ‘how to’ where everyone can find everything that they need in one place.
We’re told time and time again that we need a website of our own, our own domain name and a blog for us to tell the world what we’re doing. You may have noticed that Alex Jeffreys also uses his domain name (www.marketingwithalex.com) for a lot of his promotion pages, putting them into sub-folders from the main site but not linked from the home page. If it’s good enough for AJ, it’s going to be good for us too.
This is going to end up a pretty big document so chances are it’s going to be spread over 2 or 3 posts.
Right then. Let’s get started.
Get Your Domain Name
First thing we want is domain name. To get one of those we need to go to a domain registrar. The 2 best know registrars are GoDaddy and Namecheap. My personal preference is for Namecheap only because GoDaddy have been known to be a little trigger happy if someone complains to them about a domain. They’ll take it offline without telling you and it’s up to you to contact them and find out why. I’m not saying Namecheap wouldn’t but they’re not so quick about it. They’re not the only registrars but they’re certainly well known.
Registrar accounts are free and there is no harm in having an account at each one. If you start to buy other domains, you will need an account at the same registrar that the seller has the domain name registered at (or it will cost you more in domain transfer fees).
A domain name is made up of several parts. Taken from the right hand end first, the bit that ends ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’, ‘.us’ ‘.biz’ etc is known as the Top Level Domain. This used to identify the type of site or the country of origin – com & biz being commercial or business, org being charities or non-profit organisations, net being web hosts and registrars etc. These days anyone can grab almost everything except for a reserved few (.gov, .ac). Country specific domains are pretty much reserved for people or site based in that country, with a few notable exceptions (.tv is not specifically for TV stations who do use it, but for the country of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean).
Before you go to any domain registrar, have an idea in your head about what name you want to use. If it’s for a personal journey blog then try to have your full name or if it’s for a particular niche then try to involve a good keyword or something meaningful to that niche.
If possible, don’t use hyphens in the name and always stick to .com, .org or .biz unless your site is solely for a single region then you can for a country domain. Stay away from .info as it is seen as slightly ‘spammy’. There is a whole host of new top levels coming onto the market soon but as yet we can’t tell how they’ll be viewed by the market place and they will be more expensive. Personally speaking, I think ‘.guru’ & ‘.expert’ sound a bit pretentious.
So get to your domain registrar and try a few of the names to see if they’re available. Whilst you’re looking and checking, put ones you really like into your shopping cart. The reason for this is some less scrupulous registrars instantly register ‘searched for but unused’ names so that they can sell them to you later for a higher price or piggy back on your success should you choose something close. When you’ve made your final choice just delete the ones you don’t want from your trolley before purchasing.
To save a bit of money and before you actually hand over your credit card, do a search for ‘your registrar’ coupons along with the month and year. It may only be 10% but it’s still a price reduction so take what you can get. Example ‘Namecheap coupon July 2014’ (without the quotes).
Another tip is that Google likes sites that are going to be there for the long term, so if you can afford 2 or 3 years (or more) registration at once then go for it (10 years is the maximum).
Get Web Hosting
If the domain name is the bit people remember when they want to find you, then web hosting is the place where they will end up. It will cost you anything from free to hundreds of dollars per month. So what do you get for your money?
Well for free – you’ll get a slow connection, possibly adverts that favour the host and a very restricted space and bandwidth allowance. You probably also won’t get easy-to-install add ons like Softaculous or Fantastico which help you to install WordPress – the easiest way to put a blog up. You can install WordPress manually but if you’re not totally familiar with it, it can quite an ‘experience’.
The same as above could be said for web hosts for web hosts that charge only a few dollars ‘for life’.
Look for webhosts that offer the following:
CPanel – most of them do, but there are a few reliable and well liked suppliers who don’t and supply their own control panel. Stick with the herd and learn CPanel. It will be far easier to get help if you need it.
The ability to host multiple domains. Essential as sooner or later you are going to want a 2nd (20th, 30th) domain name. For the same reason you’ll need a good supply of databases. Don’t worry what for just yet. Just look for the right features.
Plenty of space – actually this is not too bad. The kind of websites we’re going to be building are not huge space hogs and by the time they do get large we will be able to afford more space anyway. One gigabyte (1Gb) is plenty although most will tell you unlimited is available.
Good bandwidth – This is more essential than space really. People these days will not tolerate a slow website. It’s difficult to gauge what is ‘good’ and figures quoted are meaningless without knowing how many people are sharing that bandwidth. Searching for complaints about a given hostname might reveal some clues, but even no complaints doesn’t necessarily mean no problems!
Installation apps – Known as Fantastico or Softaculous, these apps allow the easy installation of many well known web site foundations. The one we’ll be particularly interested in is WordPress, but there will be others of interest too, once we get some experience and learn what they’re for.
My own choice in this matter is http://www.hostgator.com They don’t have the reputation that they once had but they are still solid and reliable.Go for the ‘Baby’ plan as it offers all of the requirements above and has a good support system.
As with Namecheap their purchasing system is easy to follow. Put in the domain name you purchased when the hosting company ask for it and wait for the email from them which has some important details on. One of those details needs acting upon immediately, if not sooner.
Join the Two Together
On the email you receive from your new hosting company there will be your login details, perhaps some other server details and 2 very important lines. They will probably be labelled DNS1 & DNS2. DNS is short for Domain Name Server and is the translation between the name you type in and its location in the world. It is the postal service that stands between a letter and its delivery.
Go back to your domain registrar (Namecheap if you used them) and log in. One of the options will be domain management and within that section will a selection marked nameservers. Select ‘custom’ or ‘external’ name servers and fill in the top two boxes with the complete DNS server names you’ve been given. (They usually look like ns1.hostname.com & ns2.hostname.com). Press SAVE and wait, at least overnight but usually up to 24 hours. This is while the details are shared with nameservers around the world, so that anyone, anywhere can access your website.
And that’s it. After 24 hours you should be able to type your domain name into a browser and be taken to your very own website. At the moment it will either be a totally blank page or the web host’s default page, but it’s YOUR blank page. The next phase will be to put something there for people to see.
If for some reason you don’t get anywhere trying to reach your site… Check your spelling in the browser, check the domain name you actually bought (is it the one you think you bought?), check the DNS settings at the domain registrar. Give it another 24 hours before you complain to anyone (ask the web host first if everything is OK at their end, then try the registrar… So long as you are sure your spelling is correct).
Part 2 – HERE