Hosting and Domain Names, Ahoy!
Congratulations! You’ve decided to create a website using WordPress. That was an excellent choice. Still, it can be a daunting prospect if you’ve never created a website. There are new tools to learn, buttons to push, layouts to consider, and more. It’s a little bit scary and a little bit exciting. But before you start learning how to use WordPress itself, there are some important first steps to take.
The first steps in getting your website online are:
- Find a good web host, and
- Register a domain name.
I’m going to focus on showing how to get started with WordPress, but the basic first steps to getting any site online are the same.
Hosting and Domain Registration Basics
Before you host your site, you’ll need to register a domain name. That’s the URL visitors will use to find your site, like peanutbuttercookies.com or whatever. Mmm, cookies.
While it’s possible to register a domain name with one company and host your site with another, I highly recommend using one company for both. It’s just easier having everything in one place. Sometimes you can also get package deals, which makes it a little cheaper, too. Most web hosts these days offer the ability to register your domain, host your site and will even install WordPress for you.
All of those hosts allow you to register your domain name and host. Easy squeezy.
How to Register a Domain Name
Every host is a little different, but the good ones make it easy to register a domain name. Some even offer complete hosting packages where they include a domain name. This is really what you want, because the simpler you can make this stuff, the better.
Your host will have a section for domains, or they’ll walk you through it when you sign up. There’s likely a handy search tool to help you find a domain name that’s available to use. If it’s taken, they’ll tell you.
Typically, registrations last between 1-3 years before you have to renew. Unfortunately, you can’t register a domain name forever.
Tips on Domain Names
Choosing a domain for your site may be the hardest part of getting started. Thinking of a name for your site may not be difficult for you, but what happens if someone else already has a similarly named site or URL?
Thankfully, anywhere you register a domain name will start by doing a search for you. If the domain name you want is available, that’s it. Grab it while you can. If it’s already taken, they will let you know in a few seconds.
As you think about a domain name for your site, it’s helpful to keep a few things in mind:
- Keep it as short as possible. No one wants to type http://thisisthatsiteitoldyouaboutlastweekwhenwehadcoffee.com into their browser. It’s also kind of hard to fit on business cards, if that’s your thing.
- If your preferred name isn’t available, don’t just jump on the closest alternative. For example, if tastyhotdogs.com is already taken, don’t just grab tastyhotdogs.net or even tasty-hotdogs.com. Come up with something unique that clearly separates you from the other site. You could lose traffic if people keep typing in the wrong URL.
- For the same reasons above, you might want to grab similar names if you can. You don’t have to go nuts and buy a hundred domains, just get a few of the closest ones. For example, if you get jonahgold.com, you might want to also buy jonahgold.net and jonah-gold.com at the same time. I prefer honey crisp, but it’s all a matter of taste.
Hosting is similar to domain names in that you’ll pay a monthly or yearly subscription to keep it going. But what does hosting give you, anyway? What does it all mean???? I’ll explain.
When you buy a hosting package, you’re paying for space on the hosting company’s server. They do all the work of setting up the server with the right software to serve up your website. They also keep it maintained and secure for you. Believe it or not, there are geeks who do all this on their own without using a web host. Can you even imagine?
Using WordPress on Your Host
All the hosts I listed above offer packages that specialize in WordPress sites like yours. Their tech support people know all about WordPress, too.