What is a URL or domain name?
A URL or domain name is the name or address of your website or blog. A domain name begins with www and ends with .com, .net, .org, etc. Domains are obtained from a domain registrar company. Many hosting companies are also domain registrars . A domain name usually costs about $10 to $12 per year and is purchased once and then renewed yearly. If you forget to renew, you can lose your domain name.
What is hosting?
Hosting or a hosting package is just the computer that stores your files and makes them available to the internet when they are needed. Hosting companies have massive computers that are connected directly to the internet with super-fast connections and are optimized to make your blog or web pages load extremely fast.
Your hosting company will also host email accounts in conjunction with your url or domain allowing you to have your own email address if desired. For example… firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most hosting companies require a minimum yearly contract with the fees being paid up front. Very few offer monthly payments and the few that do, charge almost double for that service. You should expect to pay around $6 to $12 per month of hosting service.
While good hosting companies have redundant systems in place, you should always keep a regular backup of your website and blog files.
If you forget to pay your hosting bill, your website will be temporarily taken off line.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System or CMS which is a fancy way of saying that WordPress is a special web software built just for blogging. WordPress is the #1 choice worldwide for a blogging. Not only is it free, but also the code that it is made up of is freely distributed which means that anyone who wants to can make improvements or additions to it. This is mostly done through themes (a template for the layout and the color scheme) and plugins (little add-on packages that make WordPress do certain extra features). Themes and plugins that are written by third parties can be given out for free or sold. Themes and plugins that are sold are called premium themes or premium plugins.
What are the parts of a blog?
A post is just the article that you write. It can receive comments that are written back to you and to other readers. You and others can then reply to or answer the comments.
What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is setting up a blog or a website in a way that will make it more likely to be found and ranked well by Google and other search engines. The names that come up on the first page of Google get over 90% of all of the views. SEO is done by researching keywords around the topic of your website or blog and then using these keywords strategically in the setup of the blog and in the domain name.
The added traffic or readers that come from ranking well on the search engines may make it worth the price to have an expert do your SEO setup for you. After the initial SEO work is done, the next best thing for search engine rankings is regular posts that are relevant to your topic and keywords.
Choosing a URL or Domain Name
Choosing the domain name is the most important part of starting a blog. If you want the blog to be found and ranked well by the search engines, the domain name should be very closely related to topic or theme of the blog. Very best is if the domain name is exactly the same as the name of the blog. If you are promoting your personal brand, the domain name should promote as closely as possible the name of the brand.
The second rule of choosing a domain name is to only use a .com, .net. or .org domain name. Google and other search engines don’t look kindly at the other kinds of names that are available such as .biz, .co, .info, etc.
Choosing a Hosting Company
There are many hosting companies. A hosting company has a computer that is connected directly to the internet. Your blog or website files are placed in special folders that make them available any time that someone types your url or domain name in to their browser. Most hosting companies have several computers running your files simultaneously in different geographical locations to be sure that your files are always on-line. They have super fast connections to the internet and also use special computers that help your files or pages to load quickly.
Most hosting companies require a minimum 1 year contract, paid in advance. They will usually offer better discounts for even longer term committments from you. Very few hosting companies offer monthly hosting packages and if they do, they can be as much as double the price per month that a longer term contract would cost.
There are many free blogging platforms out there. Just sign up and start blogging. Many people ask “Why not just use one of those?” The answer is that when using those services, you no longer have control of your files. You are putting them into someone else’s control and if they decide to go out of business, change their terms, get bought out, etc., you could potentially lose months or even years worth of your articles and work.
Some of those services may even have a claim on ownership on your work that will allow them to reuse or republish your articles or excerpts from them without your permission. If you have your own url and hosting, you own and control your work and have the ultimate say over what happens to it and where it gets used. As long as you keep your renewals paid up and have a backup of your files, even a hosting company going broke won’t lose or disrupt your blog for long.
Another reason to have your own blog is the added level of professionalism that comes from your own domain. If you use a free service, your blog name will be at the end of a long url that starts with their name. For example www.freeblogservice.com/users/myblog. Your readers will have to type in the whole address to find you. It makes you look much more professional to your potential readers or customers to see www.myblog.com.
It is important to OWN YOUR OWN BLOG! Personally, I would never use one of the “free” blogging platforms.