Here are the absolute basics for starting a Web site or blog:

Hosted Blog

These are blogs that run on a Web domain owned by another company — E.g., blogspot.com, tumblr.com, wordpress.com, squarespace.com, etc. Accounts might be free, in which case they are very limited in features when it comes to trying to build your own brand. However, these types of blogs can be useful for driving traffic to your main blog/ site with lots of short posts, quotes, video embeds, images, etc. (The how of this is outside the scope of this post. I’ll cover it in my upcoming course on brand-building with WordPress.)

  • An account — Free or paid
  • Web browser or desktop/ mobile app (if available) — For posting/ editing content

This is the simpler approach, and well-suited to trying out blogging or if you are just expressing yourself and have no online business ambitions.

 

Self-Hosted Blog and/or Web Site

This option is essential if you are building a brand online and in particular if you will have services/ products for sale — even if that’s in the future. From a very general online marketing viewpoint, any original content that you publish will be exclusively yours, and links from other sites are to your online assets, not to assets owned by a blog host (even if you created them in the first place). (As mentioned above, I’ll get more into building an online presence for your brand/ business in an upcoming online course that focuses on using WordPress as a marketing tool.) Self-hosting is also the way to go if you are eventually going to build a Web app — which itself can drive a Mobile app. These advanced features and characteristics are generally not available if you use hosted platforms over self-hosted platforms.

  • Domain – Register a domain name through your favorite domain registrar — costs vary by registrar and are paid once per year or for multiple years at a time. I use both GoDaddy and Namecheap (Note: affiliate link), but if you use the tool Domai.nr, it’ll show you links to other registrars all over the world (some may not be available to North Americans). I also use IWantMyName to find domain names. Both of these tools are free, and make finding available domain names considerably easier.
  • Hosting plan — These are usually purchased monthly or multi-monthly, and there is a wide range of options — all of which include an online database and file storage space to store your images, video and text of published content. I’ve used a half-dozen hosts over time and currently use three — GoDaddy, Site5, DreamHost (affiliate link) and Namecheap (affiliate link). Some of my clients have used WP Engine (NOTE: affiliate link), which is great for sites that want to use WordPress and only WordPress in the most optimal way.
  • Web server security certificate — These are actually optional, unless you are collecting valuable user information (contact info, payment details) and/or selling products or services. However, Google has made clear that for ranking in Google Search (google.com) results, they are pushing site owners towards using security certificates. The key difference is that instead of using “http://” for Web page and image URLs, you’ll be using the secure equivalent “https://”.
  • Publishing platform — WordPress is available both as a hosted platform (wordpress.com), as mentioned above, or as self-hosted software. Many hosted blog platforms also have an option to use your own domain instead of theirs. However, feature limitations may still be in place. The better long-term choice is to use WordPress self-hosted software or its competitors (Drupal, Joomla, Expression Engine). I’ve used million-dollar CMSes (Content Management Systems) and free CMS, and I still feel WordPress is the optimum choice, both due to its relative simplicity and its ecosystem of free and paid resources such as themes, plugins, services, development and, most importantly, community.
  • Browser or app (desktop or mobile, as available) — For posting/ editing content.
Related Content

WP Engine
DreamHost


Subscribe to the post comments feeds or Leave a trackback