start your own blog, wordpress, hosting choices, domain

Start your Own Blog: Choosing a Domain and Host!

Volume 2 of 3 (Start your Own Blog: Domains and Hosting!)

What is WordPress?

WordPress is the Internet’s most popular open source “content management system”. It dominates the market supporting a whopping 43.4% of all websites on the world wide web, including this one. That means that more than 1/3rd of the websites you visit are powered by WordPress!

WordPress was created in 2003 and was originally a tool supporting blog creation instead of conventional web pages. This however has not been the case for a few years now. As of the day this article is posted, WordPress is a platform that supports any type of website.

Do you want to design an online store for an e-commerce business? How about designing a discussion board for a social network? Perhaps you want to showcase a talent or write engaging articles for a blog…

WordPress is the preferred option by majority of internet users!



WordPress supports all types of websites like blogs and e-commerce!

Why you should choose WordPress over similar platforms?

Based on the W3 Techs usage statistics, WordPress is a majority pick for website developers and designers. It dominates the market supporting a whopping 43.4% of all websites on the web, including STACK DAT BREAD!

As a result of this popularity, there is an abundance of tools and resources available to support you when its time to put together your own website! There is tons of online guides (YouTube helped me put together STACK DAT BREAD), plugins that make your vision a reality (wpFORO made designing a discussion board simple), and support networks to answer your questions (such as /r/WordPress)!



I was having devastating technical issues with my webpage…

As I was building STACK DAT BREAD, I tried Wix, GoDaddy Website Builder, and WordPress. If I could summarize my experience in one sentence, it would be the following:

Although Wix and GoDaddy Website Builder will most likely accomplish your design goal, WordPress is going to outperform them in customization, compatibility, and reliability eventually.



Why does WordPress outperform the competitors?

Wix and GoDaddy Website Builder is absolutely a newbie friendly platform. Anyone with a pulse can navigate their website builder. Unfortunately there are limitations to these services that you often cannot identify until they pose an issue. At least that is what happened to me.



I was frustrated with the technical issues I was facing with starting my own blog…

For instance, Wix gave me a headache with their multi-device compatibility. Getting my site optimized for tablet and mobile was something I could never successfully accomplish. I opted to move. I wasted about 10 hours on the platform.

GoDaddy Website Builder was shockingly bad for caching and website load speed. It was so bad I was embarrassed to push traffic to my site until it was fixed. Images wouldn’t load and there was no way to clear cache without speaking to GoDaddy support. I also opted to move. I wasted over 40 hours on the platform.



How was my problem resolved?

The only resolution to my issues were to change platforms each time, which was always a bitter decision to make because of the significant time already invested into my projects.

My decision to transition into WordPress was influenced by Reddit. I was confident that WordPress would alleviate my problems, but I was also skeptical to make the same mistake a third time. I risked it for the biscuit but was sidelined by the learning curve.

After two weeks of persistent reading accompanied by a lot of trial and error, I learned how to navigate WordPress enough to design and maintain my own webpage. It took conquering the initial 2-week learning curve to resolve all of the issues I faced with my website on Wix and GoDaddy. Worth it.



I had to buckle down and conquer the WordPress learning curve… it was worth it!

I want to power my website with WordPress! How do I get started?

Your first consideration when launching a WordPress website is choosing a domain, and acquiring a host. Based on personal experience, just the first step can be daunting. No stress! I am going to share with you the experience of a non-technically inclined dummy with a blog and hopefully that’ll be sufficiently helpful to help start your own blog!

You need a domain and a host to launch a webpage!

Domain: What is a domain?

If your website was a house, the domain would be your address. From a technical perspective, your domain is a string of text associated with an IP address that is used to access a web page through your internet browser.



Where do I get a domain?

Domains are managed by registries. Users can sign up to domain providers and purchase a domain for their website. The cost associated with a domain varies based on a variety of factors such as the search volume of a particular set of keywords. You can expect to spend anywhere from $0.99 to $100+ annually for a domain name.



Is purchasing a domain worth it, or should I roll with a temporary domain from my host?

It is an advisable expense. Managed WordPress Hosting may offer you a free domain like they did for me, but they are messy and unappealing. Here is what my free domain from managed WordPress hosting looked like:

stackdatbread-1-3c057a.ingress-earth.easywp.com

If you do not care where the domain name comes from, buy your domain with the hosting provider. You will likely get a discount on your domain and hosting.



Users are more likely to click your domain if it looks legitimate!

Hosting: Managed WordPress Hosting vs Shared Hosting

The web host is where the data from a website is stored. It is kinda like one of those storage units you can purchase for a monthly fee. The data from the website is stored on hardware called “web servers” which make the content accessible by users online.

There are a variety of hosting options all with their own pros and cons. Your choice of host is generally determined by the demand of your web site. Do you have a significant flow of traffic? Do you need larger storage? Are you looking for the highest level of security? The host you choose is going to be determined by the needs of your project.
If you want to save a buck, start with cheaper hosting and scale as required.

In my experience, the two most basic hosting options available to you are “Managed WordPress Hosting” and “Shared Hosting”. You can comfortably opt with either of the two and get your web page launched by the end of the day.



Do your research before whipping out your wallet and paying for hosting!

Managed WordPress Hosting

Technical jargain aside, “Managed WordPress Hosting” is optimized for web pages powered by WordPress. You may experience better WordPress performance on both frontend and backend. Servers generally have improved security for WordPress related threats, and features with providers may include exclusive WordPress support, and file back-ups.



Benefits and Drawbacks of Managed WordPress Hosting

Unfortunately, with every benefit comes a drawback. Managed WordPress Hosting tends to be pricey and the cost goes up as your site count and traffic increases. You will also experience plugin restrictions depending on your choice of host. Another major downside which influenced my move from managed hosting was NGINX (type of server). With no .htaccess compatibility, you may bump into problems that cannot be permanently resolved. For a guy like me with no technical experience in website design, none of these issues mattered until the plugin restriction bit me in the ass. Otherwise, the whole NGINX server type and the .htacess compatibility literally had no effect on my project.



How was my experience with Managed WordPress Hosting?

My first website was hosted on a managed WordPress hosting provider. I designed my project, launched, and was live for about a week before encountering the first devastating oversight. The dynamic data for the user login was not working at all. After entering account credentials correctly, the user would be refreshed into the homepage not logged in. With minimal WordPress experience, I tackled the problem over a couple of grueling days. After countless hours researching what could be causing the problem, I diagnosed it as a server-side caching plugin with no access to settings or exemptions. The server side plugin overrode all other caching plugins preventing me from resolving my dynamic data issues.

After extensive discussions with the support team at the managed WordPress hosting provider, I opted to transfer to a different style of host. This was because the solution with the managed WordPress host was only temporary and whenever server side changes occurred (such as updates or restarts), the fix would be reverted and my site would experience issues again. If the dynamic data problem was resolved permanently, I probably would have stuck with managed WordPress hosting.



Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting is an alternative hosting option you can enlist for your site. I currently use a shared hosting solution for this blog. As the name implies, shared hosting is a single server hosting multiple web pages at the same time. It is an entry level option for people who may not have web hosting experience or a large budget for operational costs, like myself.



What’s the difference?

Shared hosts provide you with a bare bones storage space for your server files. When you organize shared hosting for your site, you need to manually install WordPress onto the server. This is different than a Managed WordPress Hosting solution, where WordPress would be already installed. The process of installing WordPress onto your cPanel (server control panel) will be covered in another article.



Benefits and Drawbacks of Shared Hosting

The ideal demographic for shared hosting is smaller scale web pages. It is the most cost-effective and easy to navigate hosting solution. Most providers offer multi-domain hosting compatibility, and the server management and support is almost always professional and helpful. From personal experience, the support team with my provider is fantastic.

On the down side, if your page garners high traffic or you expect to garner high traffic, requires lots of processing power to host, or holds sensitive information, shared hosting is not your ideal option. You are better off finding a hosting solution more suitable to your needs.

Shared hosting also comes with drawbacks. Common disadvantages with shared hosting may include system crashes caused by neighboring web pages, performance problems due to high density servers, and lack of reliable security.



How am I assigned a server on a Shared Host?

Using a shared hosting solution is like moving into a random neighborhood. You might get lucky with cool, down to earth neighbors… or you may get the short end of the stick and get rowdy, disruptive neighbors. That is the best analogy for what happens when you purchase space on a shared host. Unfortunately, your “storage location” is something you have no control over. You need to assess your project and see if shared hosting is worth the risk.



Is Shared Hosting a viable option for my project?

If your intent is to host a basic web page like blogs or landing pages for a business, shared hosting is the move. Your wallet will thank you, and the functionality and reliability of most of the shared hosting providers will be sufficient for your needs. If you are against shared hosting, dedicated servers is an alternative you may want to look into.

I currently enlist a shared hosting solution for my blogs. It took a bit of research and some back and forth with support, but I learned how to navigate the hosting control panel (cPanel). With a lil dedication, your site will be live in no time. The setup for your hosting solution may be confusing, but as mentioned, the support teams at these hosting providers are excellent resources. When I struggled to migrate my web files from a managed WordPress hosting solution to a shared hosting solution, they helped me every step of the way.



You are ready to install WordPress after acquiring a domain and host!

With an active domain and hosting plan, you are ready to install WP!

Once you have acquired a domain and host for your web page, you are ready to install WordPress. If you opted with managed WordPress hosting, you already have WordPress installed. If you opted with shared hosting, or any other form of hosting, you will need to access your host control panel (cPanel) and install WordPress!

Article: Start Your Own Profitable Blog in 2022: Mindset, Routine, Niche
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