How to Start a Blog #2: Register Domain and Set up Hosting

How to Start a Blog #2: Register Domain and Set up Hosting
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This is a step-by-step beginner friendly guide to Start Your own Blog..

It’s the 2nd part in my 10-part series of How to Start a Blog with WordPress.

In part 1 we covered how to choose a profitable niche, how to define goals and purpose, how to do some basic keyword research, and define your ideal visitor.

In this part, I’ll show you how to:

  1. find the best WordPress domain name,
  2. register your WordPress domain,
  3. and set up hosting for your future WordPress site,

and will get you up and ready for the 3rd part: WordPress and plugin installation (COMING SOON).

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and I may recieve a small compensation, at no cost to you. Know that I also recommend only the best products that I’ve personally used and tested.

Is WordPress Still Popular?

Let’s look at the stats.

34.5% of Internet is Powered by WordPress, according to w3techs.

And it’s growing.

WordPress blogs have over 409 million montly viewers.

Bloggers produce about 70 million new posts each month using WordPress.

If this isn’t the best time to blog, I don’t know when is.

If you have a brand and not a blog/website for it, if you want to write about what you know and earn a side-income or live of it, if you have a product or service to promote but don’t know how to properly set up WordPress website – then you’ve come to the right place.

What is Domain Registration?

To have your own WordPress domain where your WordPress website will be accessed, you have to buy it (reserve it) for a few years.

Domain registration is the process in which you buy (reserve) a domain name for a yearly period of time, and pay a yearly set price.

This price is different from registrar to registrar, and it’s usually $9-14 for a free .com domain per year. Affordable. A free domain is the one that’s not being used by anyone and is free for sale.

Domains with other extensions are usually cheaper, and many can be bought for $1+ that have .online, .me, .xyz etc as an extension.

But, I don’t recommend these.

If you wanted to create a blog, I suggest .com domain.

Domain name registrar is the company that manages the reservation of Internet domain names.

They don’t actually “own” domain names they that you buy”, they just offer you the opportunity to reserve them for a period of time (maximum of 10 years). The companies that actually own domains are called registries which are different than registrars (but we won’t go into that right now).

Domain Registration

To have your website on domain, you must buy it. If it’s already owned by another person or business you can either buy it from that person or business, or just try a different combination (which is always recommended).

Namecheap Coupon Code

Take advantage of this Namecheap promo code: GET2DOMAINS and get discount on COM, NET, ORG, INFO and BIZ registration and transfers.

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is a service that allows you to post your website on the Internet.

It is the physical location of your website on the internet, an online storage that houses all the information your website uses, which is provided by web hosting service providers.

To create a blog you need to buy a domain, host it, then install WordPress on it.

Hosting service provides servers where all your data will be located, and technology to connect your website to the Internet.

Hosting what you’ll mostly be paying when creating a blog, and for bloggers and small businesses usually costs around $5 for shared hosting and around $30 for managed hosting.

Shared hosting is fine and usually enough for launching a blog.

If you already have higher traffic, you may want to consider managed hosting, usually $20-40. It offers faster speed, pre-installed WordPress and they manage many aspects for you so you can focus on your business.

There are other types of web hosting, such as VPS hosting and dedicated hosting, but this tutorial is for starting bloggers, and you probably don’t need that. I’ll create a different article for other hosting plans.

Now that you’re familiar with all this, you can set up your own WordPress domain.

Let’s do this!


STEP 1: Choose a Domain Name

Choose One or More Keywords That Describe Your Website

Think about what is your business about, or what kind of brand you’re building.

Which keyword to choose depends on what you’re going to do. If you’re going with travel blog try keywords such as “travel” or “journey” or simply google “travel synonims” and check merriam-webster.com and thesaurus.com.

Try to choose something that best describes your business, your message and what you do, what your business is about.

If you’re going with an authority niche site pick one strong keyword that describes it, and then try one or two of these words:

Central Tips World Planet
Only Insider Advice Best
School Academy Daily Authority
Magazine Mag Boss Lounge

However, if you’re a brand, or have a product to promote, you could skip these words and just focus solely on the keywords of your business. You could also use your own name. To get even more ideas how to choose a domain name check out this excellent SmartBlogger post.

Domain Name Generators

These domain name generators can help you to figure out which domains are free and will give you suggestions and some advice.

They’re easy to use. Just enter 1-3 keywords and look at suggestions.

You can also try sorting them by different criteria that you choose.

I suggest that you create an excel file or open google sheets and write down all the good suggestions. If you spend too much time on this, take a one day break. Then come back and read through your suggestions.

The one that describes your brand best is the winner.

How to Choose the Best Domain Name

Some of widely used rules for choosing domain name:

  • keep it short (if still not possible, try less than 15 characters)
  • make it easy to pronounce
  • use .com
  • make it brandable
  • use keywords that identify what your business is about

Which Domain Extension to Choose?

According to moz.com the .com bias is still present.

I suggest that you stick with .com rather than .net or .co or .us or anything else.

Here’s 3 good reasons why you’d want to stick with .com:

  1. It’s more trustworthy and lends more credibility to your brand
  2. If people don’t remember, they’ll most likely type in “.com” when trying to search you
  3. 46% of websites use .com
46.7 percent of all global websites used a .com top-level domain
Source: Statista.com

And if you still want to go with .co, for example, try owning both .com and .co and then redirect it to your .co domain.

STEP 2: Register Your Domain and Host Your Website

Most registrars are also hosts.

Now that you’ve picked your domain it’s time to buy it and host it.

Popular and long-time trusted hosts such as Bluehost and Hostgator offer both hosting and domain registration. It’s only 3.75/month for the cheapest plan on Bluehost.

Bluehost SSL certificate is the Free Let’s Encrypt, the usual on most hosts, so you get some security.

The usual choices for bloggers and small businesses are: shared and managed WordPress hosting.

Hostgator and Bluehost offer both shared and managed hosting plans.

Shared hosting is totally fine for a starting blogger, is extremely cheap and just $2.75/month on Hostgator, and $3.75/month on Bluehost.

Managed hosting is for faster websites with higher traffic and requirements. If you’re going to have an ecommerce store, it’s also best to go with managed WordPress hosting.

For managed hosting I recommend WP Engine. A bit pricey, but totally worth it.

WP Engine - Best WordPress Hosting

It’s one of the best web managed WordPress hosting providers.

Alternatives to WP Engine are Liquid Web (also great and slightly cheaper), and the cheapest one: Cloudways.

Let’s do this!

Bluehost Tutorial for WordPress – Recommended

For this option, you either buy domain on Bluehost, and host it by there as well, or buy it somewhere else, and just host it on Bluehost.

Here are the steps for Bluehost shared hosting:

  1. Go to Bluehost and select your shared hosting plan. Their Choice Plus seems great because of free WHOIS privacy
Slect Bluehost Plan

2. Next, create new domain or enter the one you already own

Bluehost Input Domain

3. Enter your personal information

Bluehost Enter Personal Information

4. Select your package. 2 years sounds fine, and you get free SSL Certificate on Bluehost (the Let’s Encrypt) and you can uncheck SiteLock Security which you don’t really need

Bluehost Select Package Information

5. Enter card information, read and accept Terms of Service and hit Submit. Note: On the next screen you might get some additional offers (hit no thanks)

6. On the next screen you will Create a password and then log in.

At this point the WordPress is already being installed and you just go ahead and jump to my 3rd part in the series: Install WordPress and Plugins. Or check out my entire series here: How to Start a Blog Series.

(Optional) If you already have a domain, get DNS pointed to Bluehost.Copy the DNS nameservers from bluehost Domains(or if you got them in email):

Find Bluehost DNS Nameservers

to your domain registration site DNS settings (where you bought domain).

they look like this:
ns1.bluehost.com
ns2.bluehost.com

If it was Godaddy, go to My Domains > DNS Management, select Custom and enter the new nameservers.
If it was Namecheap, go to your Domains, click MANAGE, and under NAMESERVERS select Custom and enter your nameservers. Click the checkmark button to save.

DONE.


(Option 2) Hostgator Hosting and/or Registration

For this option, you either buy domain on Hostgator, and host it by there as well, or just host it there.

Here are the steps for Hostgator shared hosting:

  1. Go to Hostgator and select either plan. These are shared hosting plans, and will work for any business that’s just starting up, even after a few years they’ll be sufficient.
Hostgator Select Hosting Plan

2. Choose if you’re just hosting or both hosting and registering, and enter domain. The only difference here is whether you’ll need to point your DNS nameservers to HostGator if you’ve bought domain somewhere else:

Hostgator Domain Registration

3. Choose a hosting plan. The longer you commit the bigger the discount, I suggest choosing what you’re comfortable with, like 2 years

Hostgator - Choose Hosting Plan

4. enter your billing info and other required information – nothing new here

Hostgator Enter Billing Infro

5. add any additional services that you want (FREE SSL is already included)

Hostgator Free SSL

6. Checkout and go to your Hostgator panel. Familiarize yourself with it.

(Optional) If you already have a domain, get DNS pointed to Hostgator. Copy the DNS nameservers from Hostgator Domain settings (or if you got them in email)

to your domain registration site DNS settings (where you bought domain).

they look like this:
ns1.hostgator.com
ns2.hostgator.com

If it was Godaddy, go to My Domains > DNS Management and enter the new nameservers.
If it was Namecheap, go to your Domains, click MANAGE, and under NAMESERVERS select Custom and enter your nameservers. Click the checkmark button to save.

DONE.

You’re ready to go to my 3rd part: WordPress and plugin installation.


(Option 3) Bluehost/WP Engine Tutorial for WordPress

For this option, you buy your domain on Bluehost, but host your site on WP Engine.

I recommend WP Engine because:

  • it’s one of the best hosting options for your WordPress blog/website,
  • you’re starting to get high traffic, and/or
  • you’re going to have traffic through e-commerce, and/or
  • you’re expecting high traffic soon,
  • want fast website, fast setup, pre-installed WP and premium support.

If you don’t mind a higher price, want an easy installation, no managing of technical stuff, have a better performing website and have WordPress pre-installed and high quality support then this is it – WP Engine.

It’s perfect for entrepreneurs and small business owners, who don’t want to be bothered with tedious technical aspects of managing a WordPress website.

WP Engine Best Managed WordPress Hosting

First, register domain on Bluehost:

  1. Go to Bluehost and select “Domains”
  2. Next, check domain availability
  3. If you don’t mind your name appearing on WHOIS results you can uncheck “Privacy Protection”, otherwise leave it
Bluehost Domain Registration

4. Fill in the billing information and purchase the domain

Now we need to set up hosting on WP Engine:

  1. Go to WP Engine and select “Pricing”
  2. Select your desired plan. Startup is fine for smaller blogs, but if you’re already getting a lot of traffic you might want to choose other plans
WP Engine Select Hosting Plan

3. Setup your plan and fill in your information. Note that if you select additional sites the price goes up. You can get some neat Google Analytics addons here.

WP Engine Fill In Info and addons

4. Click “Create my site”

5. Next, go to their official guide and either set up Cloudflare or scroll below and click on guide for Bluehost.

DONE.

You’re ready to go to my 3rd part: WordPress and plugin installation.

Excellent alternatives to WP Engine are Liquid Web, and the cheapest one: Cloudways.

WP Engine offers WordPress Managed Hosting primarily. Managed Hosting is different than Shared Hosting, and you can check the explanation above in “types of web hosting”.

Cheap Domain Registration

As I’ve mentioned before, most registrars also offer hosting as well. Depending on the type of registrar you choose, this may or may not be a good idea.

For some registration companies, it may be best to choose a different host, and to separate your registrar and hosting. For some, it’s the other way around.

Cheapest .com domain registration is probably on Namecheap.

It’s usually 8.88 for .com domain, + $0.18 ICANN Fee, for a registration.

Then you have the option to host at Namecheap, or to choose a different host. Since domains are paid only once yearly, and they aren’t that expensive, it’s much more important to choose a good hosting company.

Bluehost is completely fine for both domain and hosting when starting up, since it’s easy and quick to get it all set up to start writing or running your business. Later on, you can easily change hosts and get managed WordPress hosting. But, for beginners, shared hosting any almost any host is fine.

Best Cheap WordPress Hosting

When we talk about startup bloggers, most bloggers use shared hosting, the ones listed below (except Cloudways which is managed).

And although it’s very cheap, it’s usually enough to get you started.

Here are some of the most popular cheap domain hosting providers:

  1. Hostgator
  2. Bluehost
  3. Siteground
  4. DreamHost
  5. InMotion Hosting
  6. GreenGeeks
  7. Cloudways
  8. Kinsta
  9. HostPapa
  10. A2 Hosting
  11. Domain.com

Free Domain and Hosting?

This is also an option, but a bad one.

You may be thinking of getting free domain hosting but I don’t suggest it.

I’ll just mention a some of the risks you may be facing, and let you decide for yourself.

  1. You’ll probably have some hidden cost somewhere,
  2. If you don’t pay for a product, then you are the product,
  3. You’ll probably have extremely limited customization and functionality,
  4. Often times you’ll just get a subdomain and not an actual free domain,
  5. Lack of security is a huge risk,
  6. limited bandwidth and speed is crucial,
  7. Very limited support.

Usually, when a company offers a product or service for free, it is you who is the product. You are giving away something, either your personal information to be used in marketing purposes, or there is a hidden cost, or something else.

Rarely will you get anything 100% for free on the net.

If you still want to go with a free option for a domain, try .xyz or .me.

Try to avoid weird extensions. Also, WordPress offers a free registration but your domain will have also “.wordpress” in it. Decide if you like that.

You can also host with github.io.

Those are your options. I strongly suggest avoiding extensions other than .com.

You’ll want to cover as many unnecessary risks as possible while not over-paying at the same time.

But most importantly, you need to keep moving.

Check out my previous part 1 of How to Start a Blog: Choosing a Niche and Direction for Your Blog.

Or go to part 3 of my “How to Start a Blog” Guide: WordPress and plugin installation.

FREE 10-part series - How to Start a Blog

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Rada

    Very useful stuff. Thanks a lot and keep it up!

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