Now that you have your own domain name registered, it’s time to get a place to setup shop. Let’s start out with a simple, cheap hosting provider. We’re looking for something that’s a few bucks a month and good enough to get started with.
The beauty of owning your own domain name is that you can move it anywhere you like, so you can always upgrade to a better hosting service as your site grows. For now, we’ll be looking at the low end.
There are many services out there and lots of blog posts and reviews running comparisons. In spite of the sometimes heated/passionate posts, I’m not sure there’s a huge difference between many of the most popular ones. They all fall in the category of shared hosting where the name of the game is efficiency.
Essentially, you’re renting out a slot on a server that is shared with many others. The hosting provider crams as many as possible onto a machine and automates as many processes as they can – that’s how they can sell the service so cheaply. A common feature is the offering of cpanel, and this is the key. Cpanel is a tool that automates much of the mundane work of setting up and configuring a server to be a website (and more).
I’ll be demonstrating cpanel and the hosting configuration as it appears on Bluehost. That’s a provider I’ve used for several projects, and they’ve been “good enough” most of the time, though there have been some outages (particularly lately). Others to check out for your own needs include Hostgator and 1host – I’ve heard good things about both of these. Of course, there are tons more out there if you care to shop further. Again, the purpose of this series is to work through the concepts of setting up your own website, so I won’t go into any comparisons of these providers.
First things first
When you sign up with a provider, bluehost in this example, let them know that you already have a domain name registered.
Bluehost, like others, will offer to transfer your domain into them. Essentially, they’re offering the same domain name registration service as a site like GoDaddy.
Personally, I like to keep these two services separate. I do all domain name registrations in one spot, GoDaddy. This doesn’t limit where individual websites can be hosted. So, your website can be hosted at bluehost and easily moved later if needed while your domain name registration stays at Godaddy. This allows me to evaluate and manage the two services separately, and can provide some advantages in the event of prolonged outages (for instance if bluehost is down, you could login to GoDaddy and point your domain to a temporary site somewhere else).
This adds a few more steps to the setup process, but I think it’s worth it in the long run. Unfortunately, I can’t show all the screen shots for a first time setup with Bluehost, as I’m already setup there. Their instructions are pretty clear, though, so you shouldn’t have any problems following along.
Next up: installing WordPress and finally getting a site “live!”
Photo credit: skimaniac