How to Get Started With Web Hosting

So you want to make your own website?  It’s actually quite easy to do and you can probably complete all the steps to get a basic site going in less than an hour.

There are four steps you’ll need to do in order to get strted.

  1. Choose a domain name and register it
  2. Select a place to host your site
  3. Point your domain name to your web host
  4. Design your website content

1. Choosing and registering a domain name

First off you need to determine what your going to use for a domain name.   A domain name uniquely identifies your site on the internet.  Domain names can end in .com, .net, .org, etc.  By far the most recognized is .com, which also means that it may be harder to find a domain ending in .com that is not already in use.

The easiest way to find out if a domain name is available for purchase is by visiting Go Daddy’s homepage.  On their site you’ll see a search box like the one in the picture below.

Type in the domain name your thinking of using and hit search.  You’ll see a green check mark if the domain you entered is available or a red ‘X’ if someone already owns the domain.  You’ll also see how much it would cost you to register the domain name.  Most domains are around 12$ a year.

Once you’ve found a domain name to use you’ll need to register it.  Through Go Daddy you can register your domain for anywhere from 1 to 10 years at a time.  You’ll need to renew your domain name before it expires to ensure it remains yours.  Go Daddy offers the option to auto renew the domain for your if you like.

There are many other places out there to register a domain name but Go Daddy makes it very easy, has great support , and they have been around for a while so you can trust them.

2. Selecting a place to host your web site

There are hundreds of different places on the internet willing to host your website which can make choosing a good host difficult. I would recommend against using a free web host, here are a few reasons why.

  • Less flexibility to design your site the way you want
  • Little or no support
  • Your website could be taken off the internet at any time without notice
  • Unwanted add banners

The web host I’ve found that I really like is HostGatorHostGator offers a lot of great features for a low price.  Below are some of the features of their Baby Croc plan which is only $9.95 a month with no contract.

  • Unlimited Domains
  • Unlimited Disk Space
  • Unlimited Bandwidth

The great thing about these features is they are unlimited! You can start as many web sites as you want and put as much content on them without any extra costs.  I also found a coupon code I’ll share with you to get your first month of the Baby Croc plan for one penny.

I’m the kind of person who always tries to find a coupon code when buying something online.  I’m not cheap I just like getting free things or special discounts.

HostGator Coupon Code: CROCSAVER1

Just enter this code during step 1 of the sign-up process and you’ll get the discount.

3. Point your domain name to your web host

At this point you should have a domain name and a web host so basically you need to link the two together in order to make your web site work.  To do this you’ll need to log back into the account you created with Go Daddy or the registrar you have chosen and enter the DNS servers provided by your web host, in my example I’ll be explaining how to do this through Go Daddy but the basic process is the same for other registrar’s.

Once you’ve logged into your Go Daddy account you’ll see an option below your domain that says ‘Manage Domain’

On the next page look for where it says ‘Nameservers’, click on the link that says ‘Set Nameservers’.  You’ll need to enter the name server addresses that your web host provided  you.  If you signed up for HostGator it should be in the email they sent you after you created your account.

Once you’ve entered your name servers you have completed this step.  It can take up to 72 hours for your domain name to become fully active on the internet but in most cases it will start working much sooner then that, sometimes within minutes.

HostGator has a great video tutorial of this process on their website.

4. Designing the content for your web site

At this point your ready to get started with the fun part, deciding what to put on your site.  There are lots of different approaches to add content to your website.  You could use your own HTML editor like Microsoft SharePoint Designer (the 2007 version is now free) or Adobe Dreamweaver to design  your own completely custom site.

But if your like me and graphics design isn’t one of your better skills you might want to consider installing blog software (like WordPress) or a content management system to your site.  The main advantage of leveraging software is that you can focus more on adding content to your web site instead of designing the inner workings.

HostGator has a great feature called QuickInstall to automatically install a large variety of popular Blog and Forum applications with a couple clicks.  The best part of this feature is if you try a package and find out you don’t like it you can easily remove it and try another one without having to waste hours installing software manual

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has shed some light on the process of starting your own web site.  Usually the hardest part of anything is getting started.  Once you have your site up and running you can move on to other things like installing plug-ins, search engine optimization (SEO) and promoting your site.

Comments or questions are welcome.

Sam Kear

Sam graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City with a bachelors degree in Information Technology. Currently he works as a network analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. Sam enjoys the challenge of troubleshooting complex problems and is constantly experimenting with new technologies.

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