Welcome back to How To Start A Blog. This is step 2, URL and Hosting. If you missed step 1, you can find it here; How To Start A Blog – Step 1 – Theme. To recap, here are the steps you need to have completed before you move on:
- Think about your subject
- Decide on your overall theme
- Compile a list of 25+ specific blog topics you want to write about
- Start writing a few posts in a text editor or word processor
Ready to start a blog? Good. Let’s get started
Selecting a URL
Selecting a URL and hosting is a big decision. Let’s start with the URL. A web address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is one of the most important parts of your blog. It should convey the main focus of your site, not be too long or difficult to spell, and be memorable. Most importantly, it must be available.
One bit of advice I try to follow is from Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg: You need to be able to tell someone what your domain is, in a loud room, without having to spend 5 minutes trying to explain it. Take for example his site Digg. Simply a word with an extra letter. Easy. Now, consider SCVNGR which is a really cool app and site but difficult to explain quickly.
This advice came from an episode of the Random Show (not sure which one) where he and Tim Ferriss talks about … well… random stuff. Great series with a lot of info.
Personally, it took a long time to get to the URLs I use today. Take for instance this site, BlueCapra.com. This particular URL took a month or so to settle upon. After considering a ton of different options, I settled on using my favorite color, blue (which just happens to be the most common favorite color of men) and capra, which is the genus for the domestic goat (my wife and I raise Tennessee fainting goats). The URL I really wanted was BlueArmadillo. It was taken and when searched, I found about 5 businesses that had blue armadillo in the name and URL. Just when you think you have a novel idea, someone else has already claimed it.
Create a URL list
So, if you are still having problems, don’t get discouraged. I searched for 6+ months before I settled on Book Worm Laser & Design (BookWormLaser.com) for my business name. Try these simple steps:
- On a piece of paper, spreadsheet, or word processor program, setup 3 columns
- In the first column, write what words you want your site or business to represent
- In the second column, write words that express your personality, hobbies, interests, etc
- In the third column, write domains you really like, even if they don’t apply to your business. An example of this would be ViperChill.com by Glen Allsopp. It is a site about online marketing and has a ton of great information. The URL doesn’t tell you what the site is about, but it is a great domain.
After you have a list with about 5 or more items in each column, it’s time to get to work. Begin creating a list of domain names that include those words, in any order you want, and use the third column (interesting domains) for inspiration. Don’t stop until you have 25, but 50+ is better. Devote at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted time. You don’t need a huge list, but you want the list to be long enough that you exhaust the normal or expected domains and let your creative side kick in to come up with something better.
Now that you have chosen a URL, the next step to start a blot is selecting a hosting company. Choosing a hosting company is an important decision. There are many quality providers that offer inexpensive plans, great support, and One-Click installation of software. I personally use GoDaddy and have for years. On a few occasions, I have spoken to tech support and they have been great. I have been very happy with them although the website seems very busy. They do offer a lot of options and are very inexpensive in my opinion; about $70 per year for hosting and a domain.
Another great hosting company is BlueHost. I don’t have any personal experience with BlueHost but a friend is in the process of starting a site and is using them. The BlueHost site looks pretty easy to navigate and the prices are within $5 or so of GoDaddy’s prices. Either company will do great and both offer One-Click installation of WordPress making it just that much easier to get going.
With either site, I would recommend paying for hosting and registering your domain at the same time. At least through GoDaddy, you can register your domain and get free hosting, but I don’t recommend that due to the banner that is placed on your site saying that this site is hosted free on GoDaddy.
Along with your hosting, you should get a number of email addresses. Even if you are not going to regularly use that email, go ahead and set it up. It looks much better to people when they see your email address matching your domain instead of a GMail, Yahoo, or Hotmail address. Personally, I have all of my email accounts forwarding to a GMail account so I can check them easily. Even if Google decides to get rid of GMail, I still have the email accounts from my domain that will follow me for as long as I want.
Do a little thinking about your main email address. It can be anything you want, just be sure it is something that you will potentially want forever. You can always change, but consider how much easier it will be if you choose something you like from the beginning. I recommend using your name in some way. Some options include just your first name, your first initial and last name, or you first and last name. I would not recommend using numbers, nicknames, or any other stuff because in 5 years, those things may be meaningless but your name will likely not change.
Start a blog – Action items
Every journey begins with a single step. You have already taken step 1 so use these action items for step 2:
- Create a URL list using the 3 column format described above
- Generate a list of 25 – 50 possible URL ideas
- Check your list of URLs to see what is available, generating more ideas if needed
- Decided on a domain
- Select a hosting company
- Register your domain and setup an email account
This is the second in a seven part series on starting a blog. The next topic will cover installing and setting up WordPress. Other topics I will cover will include customizing WordPress with plugins, launching your blog, coming up with post ideas, and more. Now go and get started.
What are some good blog themes or post ideas you have? Leave me a comment
(photo by photostock)