Most bloggers when they get started just go for the free blogging tools online. It certainly isn’t a bad thing, but eventually it comes time to take your adventure to the next level. If you want the ultimate in control and flexibility when it comes to blogging, then you must set up a self-hosted blog. I could give you several personal reasons at to why I would but that is not the focus of the article today.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is simply the place where your blog lives online. Using an analogy from Andy Traub, web hosting is the land and your domain is the address of your house. When you use a free blog from a place like blogspot you are really just renting much like you would renting a home. You do not own the space where your information (and hard work) resides. You are subject to whatever the landlord wants to do (even if it means shutting down the site!).
When I first started out one of my first blogs was a self-improvement/productivity blog and I started with a free blog service. I wrote some “pillar content” that really captured the essence of everything I had learned in the last ten years about time management, finding purpose in your career, and living a full life. I let those 5-10 blog posts site for about 9 months while I went on to build a career coaching blog on a self-hosted set up. Then came the time, that I was ready to put more energy and effort into a self productivity blog. I went back to the “free” blog only to discover the account had been closed due to “inactivity” on my part. I was crushed. I lost some foundational articles that really meant a lot to me. That day I determined that whatever I did online, I was going to have 100% control.
Steps to a Self Hosted Blog
My goal is to list the steps as simple as possible and not get too technical or try to define everything. I like to use Name Cheap for purchasing all of my domains and my favorite web host is Host Gator.
1. Buy a Domain Name. Go to NameCheap and check out available domains. Once you find one that you like go ahead and purchase the domain name. This is a pretty simple straightforward process. The next thing you will need to do is purchase hosting. Remember your domain name is your address to your property. Web Hosting is the land on which your house (Blog) will reside.
2. Purchase web hosting. Go to HostGator and select a web hosting package. I have a “resellers” package due to the fact that I have several blogs and in the past I have sold some of my blogs to other people. This costs me $24.95 a month, but if you are just starting out you will not need this level of service. Host Gator has beginner packages for around $3.95 a month. Once you purchase a web hosting package, you will be emailed your personal DNS (Domain Name Servers) settings. You will need these in order to connect your domain name to your web hosting.
3. Set-up your domain name servers (DNS). This may sound a bit technical but it really is not that complicated once you understand what to do. First you will need to go to your NameCheap account where you bought your domain and log into your account. Look for “domain name server setup” and click on it (see image below).
On the next screen you will need to insert the DNS settings that was given to you from HostGator in your welcome email. There will be two domain name servers and you will need to copy and paste both in order for things to be set up correctly. See the image below for where you will need to paste the DNS settings that were given to you.
Once you paste in your domain name servers click on “save changes.” It may take a few moments for everything to take so give it a few minutes. If you want to know if you have set everything up correctly, then type the domain name you purchased in a web browser and you should see something similar to the image below. This does not mean that your site is broken, you still need to set-up the framework of your house (blog) and you will do this with WordPress. We will discuss in a future post how to install WordPress and do it correctly.
Question: Do you still have a blog on a free network like Blogspot? If so, what are your biggest struggles to switching to self-hosting?