Now that you are aware of the prerequisites to start a successful blog, it is time to begin the process of creating the blog itself. The first step in making your blog available to others is picking a website host.
What you decide to do and how you host your website depends on how you plan to use your blog and who your target audience is.
If you are going through this process like I did, there is a high chance that you are going through the same questions that I had.
So these are the points I think are worth mentioning from my personal experience. Below were my lines of thought and the final choice I made to host this blog.
Free or Professional Hosting?
Generally speaking, if you start a free blog, you may face restrictions monetising your blog with advertisement networks or affiliate marketing. That means you will also be blogging for free! Additionally, your brand will tend to be tied directly to these websites, e.g. the domain name will be something like myblog.blogspot.com rather than something more snazzy.
If you’re thinking that you might start out free and then move to a paid service once your blog gains popularity, be careful! Moving your content once the blog is running is tricky for a few reasons.
First, you may not be able to simply shift your content, but rather have to repopulate it. Second, your web address (URL) will change and this means that you may lose some of your audience, as well as search engine hits and backlinks. So it’s better to start on the right foot from the beginning.
If you are serious about blogging, pay for the website hosting. It’s not very expensive and websites pay for themselves. All you need to do is drive sufficient traffic to your blog; then the advertisement income you generate on a professionally hosted platform will cover the hosting costs.
Choosing a Domain Name
One of the key advantage of professionally hosting your blog is that you can have your own domain name. And with all professional web host, it’s free when you sign up!
Many websites will let you check whether the name is already taken or not. If available, you will be able to buy the domain name as you sign up for your hosting account.
For your convenience, I have embedded the Bluehost widget below so you can check domain names availability without having to leave this page.
You should choose a unique name that is easy for people to remember, somehow relates to your website topic, and has aesthetic appeal. Try to use a .com address whenever possible; it tends to be more easily recognisable and thus inspires more confidence than other suffixes. It is also more memorable!
If you decide on another domain suffix such as .net or .org because the .com address is already taken, you need to be careful. There is a chance people looking for your website will end up on the .com website instead.
It’s not a major issue if you have a unique blog. But if you are writing about tourism in Sydney and there is already a sydney-guide.com, it could be counter-productive to call your website sydney-guide.net as you may lose traffic to your competitor’s site.
Finally, if your blog becomes very successful, you should even consider buying the other domain names with different suffixes to protect your “brand” and prevent sneaky individuals from squatting your domain.
Which Web Host to Choose?
For this blog, I chose to pay for professional hosting at Bluehost. I spent several days reading reviews on the web to find the best quality/price ratio possible and Bluehost came out as the clear winner.
You could spend days wondering what the best hosting company for you is, but I’m going to try to save you some time. The key information to know is that all of the main web hosting brands (Bluehost, HostGator, DreamHost, JustHost, etc…) belong to the exact same company: Endurance International Group.
That means there is relatively little variation in service. Why choose one over the other? I chose Bluehost because it has a strong reputation for professionalism.
Everything else being equal, I thus recommend Bluehost as a reliable choice with the best price/quality ratio. The customer service is great and I’ve never had any problems with the availability or performance of my website.
I started with the basic ‘shared hosting package’, which is definitely enough for the amount of traffic I am getting. Of course, if the blog really picks up, there is always the possibility to upgrade to a dedicated server hosting your website. However, you don’t need to worry about that until you have thousands of views a day.
Signing Up for Web Hosting (Bluehost)
If you want to try it out, you can use the following affiliate link to set up your account with Bluehost. By using this referral link, you will get a discounted price ($3.95) instead of the regular advertised price ($5.95).
After reaching the Bluehost website, you will be able to sign up in just a few clicks. Of course, if you don’t like Bluehost, there are a lot of other options and they also tend to run promotional offers.
For example, on HostGator you can also get 25% OFF using the code MONKEYISM25OFF. So make your choice based on personal preference!
The good news is that it doesn’t really matter which service you go with, the steps I outline in this Make Money Blogging series for Bluehost hosting apply to any hosting website. So, just follow my step-by-step guide, set up a blog, and start making money!
Choosing Additional Hosting Features
There are a couple of additional features you can choose as you sign up with Bluehost. From my perspective, the only option you actually need right now is “Domain Whois Privacy”. This hides your real identity from people looking at your domain name. For only $0.67 a month, it is a worthy investment as it shields you from spam and other online nuisance. If you choose this option, people searching for your site will only see Bluehost as the registered public owner.
There are other features, but there aren’t really needed when starting an amateur blog. For instance, unless you are setting up an online store, you don’t need the SiteLock Domain Security. Similarly, if you want to back up your blog (and you will want to back up your blog!!), you will have access to many free WordPress plugins that will do that for you.
That means you generally don’t need to jump into the more expensive “pro” packages quite yet. Start with the basics and upgrade later if need be. Fill in the other mandatory fields about who you are, enter your payment details, and you are all set! Often the payment is made upfront, sometimes for several years at a time.
You now own a domain name and are professionally hosted. Congratulations!