Setting Up Your Blog
Once you have chosen a niche market and you have already done your research, then you can now get down to business putting up your blog. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. There are a number of steps that you will have to complete before you can release your blog into the wilds of the Internet. While the process can seem like a daunting task, especially for the uninitiated, this chapter will provide you with the information that you need to set-up your blog. After going through all of the steps, you can finally call yourself the proud owner of a blog!
Free vs. Paid – Making the Right Choice
When starting your first blog, one of the most important choices that you have to make involves making a choice between free blogging services and paid ones. While many are quick to dismiss one option for a wide variety of reasons, it pays to have all the information you need to make to right choice when it comes to your blog. While both of these options have their own perks as well as pitfalls, you will need to select the option that suits your needs, technical know-how as well as your budget.
If you choose to go with free blogging services, then its main selling point is pretty obvious. This is by far the cheapest option available for would-be bloggers. After all, nothing is cheaper than a free service. Choosing free blogging services will save you a lot of money that would have otherwise been spent on paying for storage as well as bandwidth for your blog. With free blogging services, you can also get a domain name for free. However, this also comes with a huge disadvantage since you are not free to pick any domain name that you want. Think about it, which one of these domain names is catchier and easier to remember: yourblog.blogspot.com or yourblog.com? When using a free blog service, you will have to add the services own domain to your own. This makes your domain name harder to remember. In addition to this, it can also make your blog seem less credible and less professional.
Another downside to using a free blogging service is that there are millions of other people using the same service and finding a good sub domain that is still available can be a grueling process. Worse comes to worse, you may get stuck with a domain like yourblog1984.blogspot.com. Popular free blogging services like the free version of WordPress, blogspot and blogger may seem like a good choice, but things may turn out for the worst if you are not careful.
When it comes to the level of technical know-how required to run a blog, free blogging services are a lot easier to use. These services often come with easy to use interfaces that even a complete novice can easily use. However, this also means that you have a lot less control over the look and feel of your blog and chances are, you will have a hard time building a unique looking site using a free service. Since your blog will look similar to thousands of other blogs and sites out there, your blog may lack the necessary oomph it takes to make it memorable for first time visitors.
First of all, it is best to get the main disadvantage out of the way. Using a paid services means that you will need to pay for the services that you are using. You will need to pay for the hosting as well as the bandwidth and online storage space that you are using. In addition to this, you will also need to pay for registering your domain. These days, there are flexible payment terms when it comes to your hosting fees. This means that you can choose to pay monthly, twice per year, once per year or even once every two years. You will also need to pay yearly to renew your domain registration. While this means that you may incur extra costs in putting up and maintaining your blog, it does come with its own advantages.
The first advantage that you get from using paid hosting services is that you are given a lot of extra space compared to free blogging services. This means that you can post more content online like photos, audio clips or even videos. Having the ability to do this opens up a whole new world for your blog and you can easily keep your visitors coming back for more. In addition to this, you are also given access to more sophisticated and powerful tools that you can use to make a truly unique blog. This means that you can tweak every single aspect of your blog to your liking. Aside from tools to change the look and feel of your site, you can also access other tools that can provide you with information about the statistics of your site. These tools can tell you which sections of your blog people visit most often as well as the total number of visitors that you get each month.
Since you are now paying for your own domain name, this means that you can choose any name you want as long as it is still available. Now, you won’t have to deal with having an annoying blogpost.com at the end of your domain.
For blogger that are seriously going into this venture with the intent of earning revenues in the future, using paid services is still the best option. The benefits of using a paid service far outweigh the costs incurred.
Domain and Hosting
Choosing a good domain as well as a good host can make or break a blog. A good domain name can help in driving more traffic to a blog. In addition to this, domains that are easy to remember have a better track record for encouraging visitors to keep coming back. On the other hand, a host serves as the virtual home of a blog. All of the data contained in a blog are stored in a host’s servers. In addition to this, having a good host also means having good tools that can be used to efficiently manage a blog. Having a reliable host can also mean less downtime for a blog. These are just a few of the factors that should be considered when choosing a good domain as well as a good host.
. Choosing the Perfect Domain
While choosing the perfect domain seems like a fairly straightforward affair, there are certain conventions that need to be followed when choosing a domain name.
The first thing that you will have to do is to narrow down your list of keywords. Start by narrowing them down to ten. Pick the shortest and catchiest keywords in your list. Keep in mind that your keywords should be very easy to remember. Once you have completed your list, you may also add a few catchy words here and there to make your keywords more unique. If you have chosen to work with a keyword like powerdrill for example, you can choose to add extra words to make it more unique. You may end up with potential domain names like powerdrillHQ. Keep on trying until you come up with a domain that you like.
Once you have a list of potential domain names, you can check online to see if they are still available. While it is generally true that a lot of the really good domain names are taken, you can still find a great domain name that is still up for grabs. You can also tweak your domain name until you find one that is available. You can try using both the plural or singular forms of your keywords and see if they are still available.
Statistics have consistently shown that people favor blogs with shorter and catchier domain compared to blogs with long and hard to remember names. After all, remembering a site named yourblog.com is a lot easier than trying to remember a site named yourfirsteverblog.com. you should also take note that people often prefer domains that end in .com as opposed to sites that end in .mobi, .info etc.
When choosing domain names, you should also keep in mind that you may be accused of copyright infringement if you choose the wrong domain name regardless of whether this was intentional or not. This is one of the main reasons why doing your research is so important.
You should also steer clear of using hyphens and numbers in your domain name since this can make things very confusing for potential visitors. After all, powerdrillHQ.com is a lot easier to remember compared to a domain name like powerdrill101.com or power-drillHQ.com.
Lastly, it may also pay to avoid using words that can be associated with current fads and trends. This is because trends and fads come and go and in time, your domain may seem dated to some visitors.
. Choosing a Reliable Host
Choosing a good host for your blog is a process that should be taken very seriously. A good host can make or break the success of a blog. Keeping this in mind, you can choose from a large number of reputable hosts online. As with most things on the Internet these days, the first thing that you have to do is to research.
Whether you are starting your blog from scratch of upgrading from a free blogging service, using a great paid hosting service can definitely get your blog started on the road to success. But before you go off looking for a new host for your blog, you will need to learn the language. For the uninitiated, the terms and concepts associated with choosing a host can seem like an alien language from another planet. Most of these terms may seem vaguely familiar but you will have to look up most of them so that you know what you are looking for. Familiarize yourself with the definitions of terms like bandwidth, VPN, SSL certificates and Total DNS control. While you may not need some of these things for setting up your blog, it pays to know the language when choosing a host or a hosting plan. Who knows? You may need some of these extra services in the future.
While there are many types of hosting services available these days, the most common ones that you will come across include dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, grid hosting and shared hosting. Each of these hosting services are designed for people with different needs so you should choose wisely. If you make the wrong choice, you may end up wasting a lot of money. In a worse case scenario, you may end up with a blog that people cannot access. Here is a brief description of each type of service.
i. Dedicated Hosting
With a dedicated hosting service, you are renting your own server. This means that you can access all of the functions of the server you are renting. However, this is also one of the most expensive options out there. However, this type of service is recommended for experienced web masters who work with large projects and can make full use of the server’s capabilities.
ii. VPS Hosting
A VPS hosting service, also known as a Virtual Private Server hosing service, is a type of hosting arrangement where a small number of people share space on a single server. While you are sharing a server with other people, you have your own administrator access privileges and you can install whatever extra features you want. This is because each person is given a dedicated share of the server independent of the others. This gives you the flexibility of a Dedicated hosting service with a smaller price tag. You should also keep in mind that a VPS hosting service shares a lot of similarities with dedicated hosting. While you get a significantly less powerful set up compared to dedicated hosting, this is the less expensive option of the two. Like using a dedicated hosting service, this type of hosting is also recommended for experience webmasters.
iii. Grid Hosting
Grid hosting is cheaper than both dedicated and VPS services but slightly more expensive than shared hosting. In this case you are sharing the space and resources of a server with a large number of people. However, the resources available to you are flexible. This means that if you experience incidents when the number of visitors to your site suddenly rises depending on the time of day or month, then your blog will be able to handle the increased traffic.
iv. Shared Hosting
Out of all the options discussed in this section, shared hosting is the most affordable option. However, expect that there are more than a hundred people sharing the server with you. In addition to that, you are also sharing the server’s resources with everybody else on the same server. If you don’t need the amount of resources available to people using dedicated hosting or VPS hosting, then this may be the perfect choice for you. This is also a significantly cheaper option compared to the first three hosting services described above. However, this type of service is also a lot less reliable. This is the perfect set-up for blogs that do not require a lot of power and storage space.
Once you have chosen the type of hosting service you need for your blog, then you will need to decide on your budget. While some hosting companies offer cheaper services than others, cheaper does not always mean better. You will need to factor in the company’s reputation as well as their reliability. Downtime is never good for a blog and choosing a company that can ensure that your site is always up and running is definitely a must.
When choosing a host, you can easily check reviews online. This will help you get a feel for the reputation of different hosting companies. The more positive reviews about a service you can find, the better. You should also pay attention to negative reviews since this will help give you an idea regarding the common problems that people face when dealing with certain hosting services. Even the most reliable and reputable hosting services will have a negative review here and there. In this industry, information is very important. The more you know about potential hosting services, the better your decisions will be.
You can also find a number of free services online that will allow you to test the capabilities of hosting services. Simply enter a domain name into these tools and they will be able to provide with a comprehensive report about the hosting service used by the website in question. You should also pay close attention to the hosting companies website. A hosting company’s website is a veritable treasure trove of information. Keep a close eye on the packages and services that they are offering. You can also opt to take with a customer service representative from a hosting
company if you want to dig deeper.
Once you have settled on a hosting company, it is preferable that you choose a shorter contract. This way, you will be able to move your blog to a new host in case you are not satisfied with the services being provided by your host. If you are satisfied with your current host, then you can simply sign up for a longer contract once your current contract ends. You should also keep a backup list of reputable alternatives to your current host so you will know where to move your site in short order in case you want to switch web hosts for some reason.
For many bloggers, WordPress is probably the best thing ever invented since sliced bread. This is because it allows bloggers to tweak almost every little detail in their blogs. This gives bloggers tremendous power and flexibility in managing their blogs and websites. Simply put, WordPress is a CMS or content management system and blogging tool that makes it easy to manage, modify and maintain blogs. It is powered using MySQL as well as PHP giving it unprecedented flexibility over other options available in the market. In addition to this, WordPress is also open source which means many of its features are available free of charge. Among its notable features include a highly regarded plug-in system that allows users to install plug-ins at will; but more on plug-ins later. While there are other content management systems out there, WordPress is undeniable the most popular and for a lot of good reasons.
Aside from its obvious popularity, why are millions of people using WordPress and why should you use it for your own blog? Here are a few of the best reasons:
. It’s Open Source and it’s free
For the most powerful and flexible CMS available to be free may seem like a dream come true for some but this is one of the best things about WordPress. If you are asking why such a wonderful system is free, this is because WordPress is open source. It is developed by a wonderful community of talented individuals who are simply doing it to help the entire online community as a whole.
. WordPress’ Plug-in Offers Unprecedented Flexibility
While there are a lot of other blog management systems out there that also allow the use of plug-ins, no other system out there can match WordPress when it comes to the sheer number of plug-ins available. In addition to this, the plug-in architecture used in WordPress is the most stable and functional system of its kind. You can add almost any feature to your blog using WordPress plug-ins. You can add interactive photo galleries or you can add and manage a forum for your blog. In addition to this, you can also add shopping cart functionalities to your blog using WordPress plug-ins if you happen to be selling stuff online. Due to the way WordPress was designed, plug-in developers can add numerous functions to the system without the need to modify the core functionalities of WordPress itself. In addition to this, there are literally hundreds of thousands of developers out there who make new WordPress plug-ins each day. If you are thinking of adding a new feature to your blog, then chances are, there is a plug-in out there somewhere that can help you do just that.
. The Best Blogging Tool on the Planet
Simply, put WordPress is by far the best blogging tool available for any blogger. If you are planning on pursuing blogging seriously, then you simply cannot ignore the things that WordPress has to offer. If you already have a website and you are thinking of adding a blog to your homepage, then using WordPress is the easiest way to do this.
. All the Themes You Could Ever Want
In this day and age, the average Netizen has the attention span of a goldfish. This is the main reason why it is important for your blog to be eye catching. And one way to do this is to use themes. There are a myriad of themes available in the market today. While many are free, you will have to pay for some of the better themes out there. However, you can easily make a theme yourself if you want. If you want a professionally done theme, then you can hire a graphic artist to make a custom made theme for you. Using WordPress, applying themes is a very easy and straightforward process. You can also change the theme of your blog as often as you want.
. Ease of Installation
WordPress is also known for how easy it is to install. In fact, it can be done in as little as five minutes. Aside from that, WordPress is also very secure and easy to upgrade. Once a new version comes up, you can update WordPress with the click of a button.
How to Set Up WordPress
WordPress is very easy to set up and install. However, some planning will go a long way in getting your blog up and running. You will need to decide whether you are going to install WordPress in a sub-directory or the root directory. If you are not sure yet, you can work with a trial site while you learn the ropes. You also need to list down the categories you will use in your site so that organizing things will be a lot easier for you. After deciding on the categories, you will also need to plan the specific pages that you are going to put up. These are fairly standard stuff but setting up WordPress will be a lot easier if you already have these details planned out in advance.
Once you have completed the short process of installing WordPress, you will now have to set it up to make sure that it works exactly the way you want it to work. You will first have to familiarize yourself with the Administration Panels of the system. One of the first things that you need to do is to set up your User Information. Simply fill out the required fields and save your progress. Depending on your preferences, the information on your User Profile will be displayed on your WordPress Theme. You will then need to go to the Administration Settings to set your site’s name as well as fill out other information fields.
Once you have your site up and running, you can try posting a few test pages. After you have posted a few entries, you can manage your posts by going into Administration and entering the Posts section. You can also add new pages by going into the Pages section of the Administration panel. If you want to change the look and feel of your site, you can add your change themes by going into the Themes section under Appearance in the Administration panel. It’s that easy. If you want to learn more advanced techniques when using WordPress, you can expand your knowledge by learning about CSS, XHTML, HTML and PHP.