You may be impatient to get going with writing a blog – and this is easier than ever before to achieve. First, though, you’’ll need to get the technical services in place for your blog to run on. This is no longer so difficult, either, since there are many free or low-cost and relatively easy-to-use solutions. Here’s our Abolute Beginners’ guide to the first three steps in getting a blog online: choosing a CMS (Content Management System), choosing a domain name for your blog and choosing a hosting provider.
- The first steps for getting your blog online
- Options for choosing the right domain name for your blog
- About hosting options
CMS Or Static Pages?
To start a blog or a website, you have to choose between various options. First, you need to decide between a Content Management System (CMS) and a static site. A CMS is a system that enables you to create a website without having to learn how to program or code it.
CMS-based websites enable you to update content and make layout changes quickly and easily, without the need to touch the website code. CMS-based sites use an underlying database to store your content. Static pages are websites that you code yourself, using HTML, CSS and other web technologies. Simple examples of these sites usually don’t require a database.
However, making changes to these sites can become very complex and time-consuming, especially when a site’s layout needs to be changed. It’s fair to say that if you want to start a blog, then unless you have web-coding experience, CMS solutions are the better option – they’re secure and futureproof.
Which Content Management System?
However, there are many CMS options, including Joomla, Drupal or the most popular, WordPress. Feel free to research each one and see if it meets your requirements; however, Amazon Associates strongly recommends WordPress for beginners.
WordPress started as a pure blog system, but can now be used to create any kind of website, as it’s relatively easy to use, is well established and has a vast community of developers offering plug-ins for extra functionality – free layouts, add-ons for your site and the like.
There’s a lot of support online for WordPress, too, including instructional videos and forums to help you get up and running.
Choose The Right Domain
Once you have a CMS installed, you’ll need a domain so that visitors can find your site: such as www.myincredibleblog.co.uk.
When choosing a domain, you’ll need to make sure that the domain fits the content of your blog, so that potential visitors can work out if your content is what they’re looking for. You can, of course, follow a different path and try to build a brand for your business or blog – in which case, the domain can be the brandname. Bear in mind, however, it takes a long time to establish a brand identity online.
Ideally, you should try to choose a domain which indicates what your site’s subject matter is about and which can also later develop into a brand in its own right. With blogging, the domain you choose will most often derive from your blog’s name – so choose a name for your blog wisely.
The Right Hosting
The third requirement for a website or a blog is hosting. This is a service in which your CMS is installed and your content is hosted on a server, which can be accessed on the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Many bloggers buy their domain, CMS and hosting from the same company as a package, making it easier to administer. Generally, it’s a good idea to use a hosting provider from the same country that your main target audience resides in. So if you want to reach primarily UK-based audience, you should use a UK hosting company and so on.
It can be hard to differentiate between the offerings of various hosting companies when you compare them side-by-side, but one very important aspect is their reputation for high-quality, fast support. Another thing to consider at the outset is the flexibility of the hosting company’s service – ensure that the hosting plan can be changed quickly and easily.
All these decisions should be carefully considered, because together, the three elements of domain, hosting and CMS are the technical foundation for your future site. No decision you make now will be set in stone, and you can change domains or hosting companies in future – but be aware that this can be a long-winded and tiresome process, so the more research you do at the beginning, the less potential trouble you’ll have further down the line.