Module-3: How To Start A Blog (Domain, Hosting & Theme Setup)
One of the most important things to keep in mind while learning digital marketing is to learn things practically. Practical knowledge is any day 100 times valuable compared to theoretical knowledge. To do so, the first and foremost step is to create a blog. Start it as soon as possible. The best part about creating a blog is that you get a firsthand experience as a budding digital marketing expert. With blog creation, you are also cultivating an amazing source of passive income. A creative blog on your resume helps you to stand out in the competition. Keep this in mind, if you want to become good at digital marketing you have to practice, and the best way to practice is to implement everything on your blog. Choose a topic you are passionate about, implement unique ideas and marketing strategies to get the best online marketing results through your blog. So, let’s discuss further how to create one blog, how to purchase a domain, how to start a website, naming a domain and so much more.
Many of you might have a vision of what you want to blog about. But the fact of the matter is, many of you have a very difficult time choosing a topic. You need to know and be sue when it comes to choosing a blog topic. Just pick whatever interests you. The best advice would be to select something you won’t get bored learning about.
Below is the list of broad topics to get you thinking:
- Products or service reviews
- Travel experiences
- Personal Stories
- Jokes and Humor
- Global warming
- Beginner’s guides to anything!
- Overcoming adversity or illness
- Life experiences
Maybe you just want to go on with something else entirely. As long as you are interested in learning more and you enjoy the topic, keep going.
Choosing Domain for your Blog
Whenever you are building a blog, the first thing you are supposed to know about is domain name. So, what is a domain name? A domain name is a unique address where users on the internet can access your website. In simple terms, you can also say that a domain name is your website name. For example, Facebook.com is a domain name for the company Facebook and Amazon.com is a domain name for the company Amazon. Isn’t it simple?
What are the Domains?
In the networking scheme of things, a domain refers to any group of users, devices, printers, workstations, computers, and database servers that share different types of data via network resources. There are also different types of subdomains.
A domain has a domain controller that determines all basic domain functions and manages network security. Therefore, a domain is used to take care of all user functions, including username/password, shared system resource, authentication, and access. Also, a domain is used to assign well-defined resource privileges, such as user accounts.
What are the different types of Domain Names?
Now, let’s make it clear that you don’t have to remember all of the below-mentioned domains as it can get a bit confusing. The point here is to make you aware as a registrar to distinguish between a domain name – the popular terms collectively used for second and third-level domains – and a subdomain.
TLD – Top Level Domains
In the DNS structure of the Internet, these are at the highest level. There are several different types of TLD’s, namely:
ccTLD – country code Top Level Domains
Two letter domains set for geographical locations; for example; .nz signifies New Zealand. When it was originally assigned, only the residents of a country could register their equivalent ccTLD. As years passed by, quite a few countries have authorized parties outside their shores to register website names. In the case of .nz domain names, there are some strict rules that has been set. For example .com.nz registrants must be residents of New Zealand or have a business registered in Australia.
gTLD – generic Top Level Domain
The well-known TLD’s include .com, .net, .biz, .org and .info- these can be registered anywhere, by anyone in the world.
IDN ccTLD – internationalised country code top-level domains
A top-level name with a specially encoded format that allows it to be displayed in a non-Latin character set or special characters.
Directly below a TLD in the DNS hierarchy, e.g. .com.nz
Directly below a second level in the DNS hierarchy. e.g. domainregistration.com.nz
The sole difference between second and third level can be a little confusing. For example, hotmail.com is considered a second level domain, but hotmail.com.nz would be classed as a third level.
Part of a higher ranked domain name in DNS hierarchy; e.g. example.domainregistration.com.nz
As mentioned, understanding the difference and acknowledging and applying for the same is you will need to know while registering a domain name.
- .COM (highly recommended)
If you are planning to target an Indian audience then you can opt for the extension .in and if you are target audience is across the globe then you can opt for the .COM extension. For example, www. digitalchandanthakur.com is targeted towards the global audience so that is why we have the extension of .COM. Now that we have an understanding of how to choose a domain name for your blog, we need a hosting.
Free Hosting vs Paid Hosting
Now let’s dwell into Free Hosting. Free is something in India that is more preferred. Why pay hosting fees when you can get everything for free. Let’s accept the fact nothing good comes free in this world. Free hosting does exist and it has its own limitations when it comes to server resources. They have a lot of drawbacks and honestly, they are not worth it. If you are someone who is new to the digital marketing journey then you must consider investing in paid hosting because as mentioned earlier in this blog, digital marketing requires practical knowledge and free hosting has very limited resources due to which your website may come crashing down or show 404 error even with small traffic. The worst part is, there will be no technical support. Sooner or later, you are bound to face issues like installing WordPress or some plugins may fail to work. There are also scams when it comes to free hosting services as there are cases where they provide you free hosting for a couple of months and after 3 or 4 months, they come up with a huge renewal fee.
When it comes to Paid Blog Hosting, you get unlimited space, email accounts, and bandwidth. You also get 1 free click installation of WordPress with an assured money-back guarantee. All you have to do is just click a couple of icons and all of those will be installed automatically. The most important part when it comes to paid hosting is that you get an experienced support team for WordPress who is available 24×7. Compared to earlier days paid to host these days are very cheap and you can make 100 times more revenue than the hosting cost in a span of 1 year. So why paid hosting is recommended? Well, the point is rather than looking at it as an expense, you can look up to it as an investment that will be giving you benefits later.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a service that allows corporates, organizations, companies, and individuals to post a website or webpage on the internet. Just like you need a cupboard to store your stuff, similarly, your website also needs some space to store all the files and folders. A website is nothing but a directory of files and folders that are rendered over a server over a particular domain. So, whenever you are starting a new blog you need two things – a domain name and site hosting.
Speaking of hosting, they also come in different variety like:
- Shared Web Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
Types of Web Hosting
1. Shared Web Hosting:
Shared hosting is a Web hosting service that enables multiple websites to co-exist in a physical Web server and its resources among the hosted websites. That means whenever you are buying shared hosting you are actually buying the space of the various servers. There are different companies that sell web hosting like Siteground, GoDaddy, BlueHost, and Hostgator. So, whenever you are buying a shared hosting you are actually buying some space on the server of a company. Basically, you are taking a small part of the server, and taking the entire server will cost you a big hole in your pocket as it is damn expensive. So shared hosting is of great value for people who are just starting with their blogs at a cheaper price by taking just a small part of the server. These companies have massive servers and you are actually paying a monthly fee for some space on these servers. Multiple websites can utilize a single server through shared hosting. If you are someone who has limited traffic on your website or a beginner digital marketer, this is the best option for you. However, the amount of server resources is limited and it’s the cheapest option that is available.
2. Cloud Hosting:
Cloud Hosting services allot hosting on virtual servers which pull their computing resource from extensive underlying networks of physical web servers. It provides multiple connected servers and is relatively costlier. It is more often preferred by established websites that require more resources as it is reliable, accessible, scalable, and seamless. If you have a website that drives massive traffic then this hosting is of great value. People who are just starting their digital marketing career or are new to blogging then they shouldn’t be considering this as an option because you are paying nearly twice that of Shared Web Hosting. For example, if a Shared Web Hosting costs you around 3 dollars then Cloud Hosting will cost you more than 100 dollars.
3. Dedicated Hosting:
When a physical server (or servers) is directed towards a single business customer in an internet hosting it is called Dedicated hosting. As it is a complex server, you as a beginner digital marketer cannot manage it and you will need to hire a server person who will be handling the entire server. But being a dedicated server, you can customize as per your needs and requirements. Dedicated servers are extremely fast and can handle enormous traffic just because you are not sharing space with anybody. So, people who are just starting out as digital marketers or bloggers, this is not all the options for you. It is for big corporations like Facebook and Google who drive millions of traffic in a day.
The Best Blogging Platform in 2019
Starting your own blog? Figuring out the best blogging platform? Let’s find the right one for you.
We will compare the most popular blogging platforms in this article.
- Constant Contact Website Builder
Before jumping into the list, let’s get to know what you are looking for in a blogging platform. Being a beginner, you will be in need of a blogging platform that’s easy to set up, has an easy learning curve, and doesn’t require you to possess any coding skills. You should also think about what kind of blog you want to create, now and in the future. Make sure that the blogging platform that you choose is flexible and offers more room to grow as you may want to change the look of your website and some additional features when your audience grows. Starting off with a wrong platform will make it very difficult to switch back later on. Lastly, make sure you have the option to make money through your blog, even though you don’t have plans currently. Keep all that in mind, let’s compare the best blogging platforms for beginners.
Apart from being the most popular blogging software since 2003, WordPress currently powers more than 30% of all websites on the internet. However, do note: don’t confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com as the latter is a blog hosting service.
WordPress.org lets you build your website or blog within minutes as it is an open-source free blogging platform. It is a self-hosted solution that means you will have to sign up with a WordPress hosting provider. WordPress is a very good option if you wish to have full control over the future of your blog.
WordPress.Org lets you take control over every aspect of your website. You can always grow your blog by adding extra features like online stores, forums, and paid membership thereby making WordPress the best blogging platform to make money. You also get thousands of free themes for WordPress that let you stand out in the crowd. You can also get your hands on more than 54,000 free plugins. These plugins are like apps for your WordPress blog that allows you to add features like galleries, contact forms, etc. WordPress is search engine friendly and you can easily create SEO friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts. For additional features, there are a good number of great SEO plugins.
On the con side of things, managing your own website comes with its own set of challenges as you have to manage your security and backup.
As far as pricing goes, WordPress software is free. But you all need to have a domain name (about $14.99/year) and hosting (that starts usually from $7.99/month). For any type of website, you need a domain name and web hosting.
WPBeginner users can get started for a meager $2.75 per month with Bluehost, an official WordPress hosting provider that is highly recommended. They are providing users with a 60% discount on web hosting and a FREE domain name.
2. Constant Contact Website Builder
Constant Contact Website Builder is an A.I powered intelligent website builder that allows you to create a free blog, online store and a business website within minutes.
You can begin with their large templates collection and customize your website design using a simple drag and drop interface. You also get access to various helpful tools such as a professional stock photo library of over 550,000 images, custom logo makers and so much more.
The best part is you don’t need to possess any technical skills. The setup is quick and easy since your website will be hosted by Constant Contact. The free plan is so generous that it lets you try out the service and even build an online store before buying. Free SSL certificate and Free domain are inclusive with all paid plans.
Despite the aforementioned pros, there are some downsides as well. The ecosystem for developers is small since there aren’t many third-party plugins like WordPress. Integration with third-party platforms is also limited. Also, exporting your site to another platform from Constant Contact website builder is also quite difficult.
Upgrading to Starter Plan for $10 per month will fetch you access to a free SSL certificate. The free custom domain name and other powerful features on the platform. You also get phone-based support which is a big bonus as other website builders don’t offer phone support.
You also get access to advanced eCommerce related features with the business plan that costs $20 per month. If you are a small business and don’t want to use WordPress, then Constant Contact is the best option considering the price.
3. Gator by Host Gator
Created by HostGator, Gator is a website builder and blogging platform. Gator offers a drag & drop tool that helps you to create any type of website including blogs, business sites, and even an online store. Make sure, you don’t confuse Gator Builder with HostGator website hosting. To start a WordPress blog, you can use the HostGator hosting service. If you are looking for an all-in-one hosting solution and blog platform other than WordPress, then Gator is the apt option.
You get an easy drag and drop builder to customize your website and blog design. Setting up is quick with zero technical hassle. Performance, security, and backups are all handled by HostGator. Free SSL certificate and Domain are inclusive in all plans. With just a few clicks, you can easily add an online store to your blog.
However, there is no such thing as a free account. They do have a 45-day money-back guarantee though. The number of apps and extensions are limited and Ecommerce features are restricted to higher plans only.
WPBeginner users get 55% off with each and every Gator Builder plan. The starter plan comes with all the features you would need to start a successful blog including a free domain and SSL certificate. The Starter plan could cost you $3.46/month.
WordPress.com is a blog hosting service by Automattic. It is a company created by WordPress.org cofounder Matt Mullenweg. You are offered a basic blog hosting service for free by WordPress.com. Additional options can be purchased with options like custom domain name, additional storage, and other premium services.
Started in 2005 with an aim to deliver WordPress experience to a larger audience. WordPress.com is perfect for bloggers who don’t want the advanced features of self-hosted WordPress.
It is very easy to use and manage. You don’t need any setup. If you are happy with a website that looks like https://example.wordpress.com then don’t look elsewhere. It’s absolutely free.
On the flip side, there are limited options to extend your site. You can’t use custom plugins and themes for further blog customization. You can’t run advertisements on your blog either. Rather, WordPress.com will showcase its ads on your free website. Also, you don’t own your blog.
Despite the basic plan being free, in order to remove the WordPress.com logo and advertising from your website. you can upgrade to their Personal plan for $4/month (billed yearly). You also get a custom domain, for example, www.yourwebsite.com.
You can get additional design tools and extra storage for 8$ month (billed yearly). Beginners have to keep in mind to not confuse WordPress.com with WordPress.org software.
A free blogging service by Google, Blogger offers an easy and quick way to create a blog for non-technical users. It is one of the oldest blogging platforms that was first launched in 1999 by Pyra Labs. Google acquired Blogger in 2003 and redesigned the product that we know today. You just need a Google account to start a free blog on Blogger.
You have an advantage in Google’s robust secure platform and reliability. However, as your blog grows in popularity you can’t add new features. You are limited to basic blogging tools. You get limited design options along with fewer templates. Third-party templates for Blogger are mostly below average. You don’t get frequent updates or the latest features with Blogger. There is also a lurking risk of Google abandoning your blog at any time, or probably cancel the Blogger service completely.
Just because Blogger is free some users opt for it, but as and when their blog grows, they switch to WordPress for additional features and control over their website.
Blogger is absolutely free with a Blogger subdomain like https://webname.blogspot.com. You need to buy from a third-party domain registrar, for a custom domain experience.
Tumblr is slightly different than other blogging platforms. It is a microblogging platform with social networking features like built-in sharing tools, following other blogs, reblogging, and more.
Tumblr comes with a Tumblr subdomain like https://sitename.tumblr.com and is free. Connecting a premium custom domain name is always welcome. Its clutter-free, easy to set up and use. There is an integrated social media component. Tumblr is a microblogging tool, makes it effortless to quickly blog videos, images, audio, and GIFS, etc.
You cannot extend as your blog grows as Tumblr comes with a limited set of features. Despite there being a plethora of themes available for Tumblr, they don’t offer additional features. When it comes to importing or backing up your Tumblr blog, it is quite difficult.
There is no cost for Tumblr, and you can use a custom domain (purchased separately) for your Tumblr blog. You can also purchase third-party themes and apps for your Tumblr blog.
Medium has evolved into a community of bloggers, journalists, writers, and experts. Just like a social networking site, you can start publishing your articles by creating an account. After you are done with the signup, you have a profile address like this https://medium.com/@yourname. However, social networking features are limited despite the platform is so easy to use. Also, you can’t use your own domain.
The platform lets you focus solely on writing, instead of designing a website. You don’t have to be a technical expert or a coder as there is no setup required. If you wish to reach an existing online community of people with similar interests, Medium makes it possible.
Like any other blogging platform, features that come with Medium are very limited in terms of building or designing a brand. If you lose your blogs, you lose your followers too! Yes, Medium owns your audience. You cannot run your own ads to make money and use your own domain name. What you get is a profile page like Facebook, for example, https://medium.com/@yourname.
Medium is free. People switch to WordPress from Medium due to the lack of monetization and control.
Started in 2003, Squarespace is a website building service that helps you to create stunning websites back by easy drag and drop tools. The platform is targeted towards small business owners who are looking for an easy way to create an online presence. Currently, Squarespace powers a million of websites online.
If you are a beginner or someone who isn’t tech-savvy, fret not! It’s simple and easy. With beautiful and professionally designed templates, it also offers domain name with SSL/HTTPs and eCommerce stores separately.
Squarespace is confined to the features built into its proprietary platform. Integrations are restricted to a select few tools and services.
The pricing plans for websites and online stores on Squarespace is different. For a Personal website, the plan starts at $16/month. If you wish to settle the payment in advance for a year then it will cost you $12/month.
The Business plan starts at $26/month. The annual payment will cost you up to $18/month.
In order to add more features and minimize their expenses on their websites, users often switch to WordPress from Squarespace.
Wix.com is a hosted platform founded in 2006 where anybody with no coding skills can create their own stunning website. It is a one-stop solution for small businesses that want to build a website by using drag and drop tools. By adding the Wix Blog app you can also add a blog to your website. Currently, it has over 110 million users across the globe.
To begin with the positives, you can alter and modify your site using dozens of templates and third-party apps. You don’t have to be a coder to build your own website and the set up is swift and easy.
Talking of cons, the free account is limited. It displays Wix ads and branding on your site. There is a limit when it comes to free third-party apps. A template once chosen by you cannot be changed. Ecommerce features are restricted to paid plans, and even those features are limited. Unlike other platforms in the list, blog features don’t match up.
The basic Wix website builder is free and you get a Wix subdomain that looks like this: https://username.wixsite.com/example.
Nonetheless, you can add a custom domain for $4.50/month. Premium plans start at $8.50/month and go up to $24.50/month
Started in 2013, Ghost is a minimalist blogging platform with features entirely focusing on writing blog posts. It is accessible as a hosted platform and as a software that you can install or host yourself. Let’s take a look at both options.
Still and all, it’s difficult to customize with apps. The simpler user interface has very limited options. Changing the appearance of your website is restricted due to a lack of themes. Setup is complicated if you install it yourself.
The self-hosted version requires a custom domain (at $14.99/year) and web hosting (starting at about $7.99/month).
The hosted version is priced at $29/month for 2 staff users with a 100k page view limit. Your blog will be a Ghost subdomain that ends with ghost.io unless you buy a custom domain from a third-party domain registrar.
Hosting Your Blog
Get a host
A web host is a place where your website lives. Though you own it, you pay a small fee to keep it online (kind of like paying property rent or tax to the government). Bluehost, A2 Hosting, GoDaddy, Host Gator are the names you would find on the internet.
Register a domain
You can get a domain name (e.g. yourbrandname.com) through your hosting company. We recommend you things this way, so you can keep everything streamlined. With Bluehost, this service is free with a hosting plan in contrast to paying extra through a service like Godaddy.com. In case you’ve already registered a domain through another service and need to host it, you’ll either have to transfer your domain registration or point your name servers to the host.
Blogging requires software. The best one right now is WordPress. It’s easy, quick, and best of all, free. You can set up WordPress through a host (Bluehost does this for you for free). Or else, you have to go through WordPress.org to download the software and then upload it to a host. Note: Using WordPress.org is different from signing up for a free blog at WordPress.com.
Get a theme
When you start using WordPress, you get access to a plethora of beautiful blog themes, many of which are free. For beginners, Twenty Sixteen – a simple yet elegant theme is highly recommended.
Log in and start blogging
The URL for your dashboard (which redirects to the login page if you’re not logged in) is yourblogname.com/wp-admin/. Once you are logged in, click “Posts” on the left-hand side, and then select “Add New.” Write a title and create some content for your new blog and off you go!