I promise none of this is hard and you can get it done in less than an hour. Excited? I hope so!
What you need to start a blog or website:
- A name for your site (hopefully one you’ll be happy with for the duration of its existence, but if not, no worries, you can in fact move at a later date!)
- Your URL
- A place to keep your site (aka hosting)
- $50-$200 (for your URL and hosting)
- An hour or less
Choosing a name for your blog or website
I’ve talked quite a bit about naming but a few things bear repeating:
- A great name sets you apart from the crowd
- A bad name forces you to work harder (but it is survivable-you CAN change it!)
- A .com is awesome but there are tons of new TLD (top level domain) name extensions available so be open to finding your perfect name with a different .ending (such as .guru, .coach, .life, etc)
What makes a good business or blog/website name?
There are a few things that are the hallmarks of a great business name (or blog name). They’re pretty simple and straightforward but it’s worth noting that sometimes you can break the rules and still have a successful name-it just takes more time + effort (aka marketing + awareness building)
- Easy to pronounce (and hopefully easy to spell so people can find you online)
- Non offensive (unless you intend to offend! Make sure it works for YOUR audience/ideal customer)
- Memorable! (So important, it’s on this list twice)
- Broad (won’t pigeonhole your growth so keep the industry and product out of it)
- Non-location specific (what happens if you move? You’re then forced to start over or accept answering the question “Why insertyournamehere?” a thousand times…)
In some industries it’s the norm to have your product as your business name but as a creative entrepreneur, that’s not the best path for you. I know you’ll find freedom in having a name that doesn’t require you to throw everything away if you change directions as your passions shift, knowledge grows, or as you move through life.
Through my own personal path, I can tell you that a name that doesn’t state what you do will serve you much longer. We’re creative, you and I, and we’ll be in business long after our first idea comes and goes. While sometimes you want that fresh break and clean start, it’s nicer if you get to choose that path rather than be forced down it.
Choose a name that represents the essence of what you do rather than what you specifically do
If you missed it or want to go deeper, you can catch up on my previous discussions about naming your business/blog/website with the following links: I’ve talked a bit about the naming game here, my lessons learned about naming here, and about the naming process here.
Once you’ve established a memorable name that hints at who you are and what you do, it’s time to confirm its availability.
How to choose the URL or website domain name
If you’re really good, the name you chose is unique enough that you can get the .com, something that’s quickly becoming harder to do as the prime .com real estate is purchased at a rapid pace.
The good news is that as long as your name is still available in your county and/or state (depending on your business formation + state/country laws), you can use that name, you might just have to be a little more creative.
Take advantage of the new internet “real estate” through TLD extensions
There are tons of new website domain extensions and more coming online all the time. Instead of searching mega registrars like GoDaddy with your specific “.com”, try simply searching with the name and see what extensions are available. There might be one that perfectly suits your niche or completes your name. Or, check out Domai.nr . Domain.nr is an awesome site that trys on different extensions to fill the end of your name so you can get a domain like lover.ly or this.life .
While this is new, they are rapidly gaining use. For more than a decade, you’ve been taking note of whether it was a .com, .net, .gov, .edu, or .org. The days of assuming a business has a “.com” never actually existed as the internet started with 7 extensions or TLD’s (Top Level Domain)
Did you know? .edu and .gov were established at the same time as .net and .com, all in 1985 as part of the first 7 TLDs created.
The first 7 TLD’s created were: .com, .net, .gov, .edu, .mil, .us, and .org
You’ve already been paying attention to what comes after the dot so it’s natural to simply take note of a new or different extension.
Use these new internet real estate options to expand your possibilities and get in while your perfect name is still available. As more people come online (currently 3.1 BILLION and expected to grow easily to 4.7 BILLION over the next 5-10 years with some estimates as high as 7 Billion by 2025), these domain names will be snapped up just as quickly (perhaps more so) than their original “.com” counterparts.
How to purchase your domain name and hosting
Technically you can do these two things separately but many hosts will include one domain in your yearly hosting fee. That means you can save a little cash every year by simply registering your name with your hosting.
It’s important to note that some hosts don’t have access to the new extensions so if your chosen host doesn’t offer the dot extension you want, you’ll need to purchase it where it is available. That likely means GoDaddy.com and that’s okay. They’ve come a long way over the past couple of years and while I wouldn’t recommend hosting your site with them, it is an option.
How to choose hosting
There are so many hosting options out there, I could write an entire blog post just on that. For this post, I’m just going to share the most popular options to get you started.
- Self Hosted
- Service Hosted
Service Hosted Options
What I’m talking about here is using a service such as Squarespace, WordPress.COM, or Blogger.com to not only design your site but also host it. Those are your three main options, by the way.
Here’s quick rundown of which option is best for what:
- Great for non-technical creatives who want something super clean
- Not so great for custom unless you want to pay for the developer option (and learn code)
- Also great for the non-technical but offers way more in terms of customization
- Can be overwhelming
- Is limited compared to self hosting wordpress (that’s wordpress.ORG)
- Great if you want your blog to live forever, even if you’re no longer blogging
- Super limited customization and dated templates that look like every other site out there
Self Hosted Options
There are other options out there but none is so widely used and supported as WordPress. This is different that wordpress.COM which can be confusing at first. All you need to know is if you want control and for your site to be unique, you want self hosted so you’ll set that up on your server (usually 1 click install so no tech knowledge needed).
Why only mention wordpress? In my experience, you need a blog and wordpress is the simplest, most supported way to do that while still having your site act like a website, not just a blog. You can certainly set it up to be a blog but this way, you have the option for either. Wordpress is far superior to website building sites such as wix and weebly in terms of both customization and support. If you have a question, you can bet someone has already asked it so you can lean on the strength of those who have gone before you when it comes to wordpress.
How to choose hosting for your starter website or blog
Hosting is a big industry with a ton of players and it would be impossible to cover them all here. I’m just going to give you a rundown of a few to get you started.
There are two main categories of web hosting these days:
- Shared Hosting
- WordPress specific hosting
Since you’re just getting started, I recommend simply going with shared hosting. If you’re really afraid of technical stuff and have the budget, you can absolutely consider wordpress specific hosting such as Flywheel which is a managed wordpress host.
It’s not a good business idea to invest much into overhead until you know you’re making more than enough to cover it. Keeping an eye on your bottom line is the main reason I’m recommending you start with shared hosting before considering something more powerful.
I love A Small Orange because they’re not only friendly, but their hosting is incredibly fast. At last check, independent speed tests and uptime tests showed A Small Orange is faster and had 100% uptime-better than the big guys out there. Those numbers do fluctuate but A Small Orange is always near the top.
Add to the awesome service and friendliness the fact that they start at just $35 per year (perfect for just getting started!) and it’s the perfect place to get started on the web.
$35 for your hosting (including a domain with A Small Orange) and it’s just $35 a year to own your own special place on the web. Most other hosting services charge at least $60 per year and don’t deliver the awesome service that A Small Orange does.
How to set up your hosting
I love making my articles as in-depth as possible so you can hit the ground running. While I’m not going to walk you through every little step, getting started with A Small Orange is pretty simple.
Here’s your action plan and it should only take 15-30 minutes:
- Head to ASmallOrange.com
- Click “Start Now”
- Click “Shared Hosting”
- Choose the “Tiny Plan” (you can always upgrade if you run out of space or bandwidth)
- Follow the sign up instructions (including getting your free domain name)
- Pay + get your welcome email!
- Install wordpress in 1 click from the CPanel (take advantage of the knowledge base and search for cpanel if you don’t know where to find it)
- Have fun!
Once you’ve installed wordpress, you can have fun installing themes and writing blog posts. Remember, anything you want to know is only a google search away!
If all of this is overwhelming, you can always work with someone like me to get you up and running. I love seeing people step into their brilliance with just a little help!