September 25th, 2006
This mini guide briefly shows you how to get started with your own blog/dot com site. The process is a lot easier than most people think! As always, you are welcome to post any questions you have, here, and I will try to answer them.
STEP 1: get a domain
A domain is your identity on the internet. It’s how other people find your website. For example, this site’s domain is www.nsharp.org.
Having your own domain makes finding your site simpler, and makes it appear more professional. Your site can be personal, business related, or a mix of both. In fact, it can be whatever you want it to be!
To get started, you need to decide the name you want for your site. It could contain your name, for example, if your name is John Doe, you might want to have www.johndoe.com
Next, you need to register that domain at a domain registrar. I recommend GoDaddy* (www.godaddy.com) as their rates are reasonable. To register your domain, go there, and type in the name you chose, and see if it is available. If not, they will offer you lots of suggestions/recommendations.
You will need an international credit card to pay for the domain. Fees range from under $10 for a dot com domain upwards. This is less than Rs 1000, at current rates.
Step 2: Hosting
Now that you have your very own domain, you have to ‘host’ your website somewhere. i.e. your website has to be stored in a computer that is always connected to the internet, and ‘linked’ to your domain. Also known as a webserver.
GoDaddy’s rates are reasonable - around $4 a month (approx 400 rupees).
GoDaddy also offers the option to host your domain for free, with a few text advertiesments above.
Step 3: Content
CMS vs HTML
OK, you have now registered your web site domain and found a host. What’s the next step? Generating content of course. There are currently two main ways to add your content to your new web site:
- Using a web design software: you can write individual pages, using a software such as Frontpage, which converts them into HTML/XHTML (languages your web browser can read) and upload them to your hosting account. The advantage of this method is it is relatively simple, however it can be messy/troublesome over the long run, as maintaining content you upload is not very easy.
- Using a content management system (CMS): A content management system is a software, like wordpress (which powers this web site). You install it in your hosting account, and it presents a system whereby you can publish content (text, images, etc) easily. Wordpress manages the whole site, and generates HTML or whatever, so that you don’t have to worry about this. Setting up wordpress is a fairly simple task. Many web hosts (godaddy for example) allow you to accomplish this via a control panel, so you don’t have to do it manually.
I will try to write a separate post on getting started with Wordpress, soon.
Note: If you just need a blog, and don’t mind not having your own domain, www.wordpress.com offers free blogs. The blogs would have an address like (yoursite.wordpress.com) as opposed to www.yoursite.com. To get started, just visit www.wordpress.com.
Further reading (at Wikipedia)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- I don’t want to pay for the domain: If you want a free domain, you have two options: (a) A subdomain: Wordpress, for example, will offer you a free subdomain, so your site will be yoursite.wordpress.com, or (b) a domain from www.tk (Dot TK), who offer free domains (your site will be yoursite.tk)
- How complex is Wordpress? Wordpress is an extremely simple content management system. Aside from installation which requires some technical knowledge, usage is about as easy as using Hotmail or Yahoo email.
- I don’t want a blog: If you don’t want a blog, and prefer a more business oriented site, you can look to a content management system such as Mambo (http://www.mamboserver.com/)
- I want free hosting: If you don’t want to pay for hosting, you can get free ad supported hosting. Many companies offer this service. Note that wordpress.com offers free hosting without ads, however you have to use their url (yoursite.wordpress.com), and you may not be able to directly use your domain with them.
- What are COM, NET, ORG, etc I see at the end of all URL’s (Web addresses)? The last few characters in a domain after the dot are what are refered to as TLD’s (Top Level Domains). These TLD’s can be country based (e.g. Sri Lanka’s TLD is .lk so if you registered a domain in Sri Lanka you can get www.yourname.lk perhaps. TLD’s can also be generic (for a particular industry - e.g. aero for aviation, com for commercial).
- So.. I can have either COM, NET, ORG, LK, or whatever? Say, what do those stand for anyway?
Yes, as long as nobody else has registered the domain you want, you should usually be able to purchase it. COM stands for Commercial, Net stands for network, and ORG stands for organization (ORG Originally denoted non profits but now generally anyone can use this suffix, and lk is Sri Lanka)
- What’s with the WWW at the front of a domain? www is an acronym for world wide web. You can access some domains without the www, however that prefix is usually recommended for domains (the idea of a prefix is to denote the particular service: for example email.domain.com might lead to an email interface, ftp.domain.com might lead to file transfer protocol, and lastly, www leads to the basic browser viewable domain we know).
- Have another question? Post it below as a comment and I will try to answer..
*Godaddy is an excellent company, and I do recommend them. You can learn more about Godaddy at their main site, or at the CEO’s blog (www.bobparsons.com) which has many excellent articles such as this one on Starting a new business