I want to remind you that I am not giving you all the options for building a blogging site or an e-commerce site. I am only narrating my experience as I go in building a website where I can provide some homeschooling and classical schooling resources and materials and some darn good advice on books, theology, and parenting. If you have similar modest goals, then this might be helpful information. If you have grander goals, then this still might be helpful, but it never hurts to do further research. So with those caveats out of the way, let us continue.
Domain Names Are Forever
If you have completed Step 1 and thought of a domain name, then you are just about ready to go to Step 2. But first I must warn you about something. There are many things you can change when you start a website, but your domain name is not really one of them. Settling on the domain name is like leasing a storefront space on Main Street. You can change your inventory in your store, you can change the décor, and you can even change ownership without disrupting your customer flow too much. But if you up and move your store to Fifth and Elm, you are going to confuse your customers (yes, there are redirect apps—and you can change your domain) but you want your domain to be the place your readers always know they can find you. So choose well, Grasshopper.
What is the Best Website Hosting Service?
Ok, if you have your domain name all checked out and ready to go, it’s time to find a place to host your website. Who has the best hosting service? I have no idea. I told you I was new to this, and so I have nothing with which to compare my service. I chose Blue Host because it was recommended by a friend and WordPress recommends it. I have since read an opinion by someone who looks like he knows what he is talking about that WordPress ought to stop recommending them, but he thinks they are so financially tied to Blue Host they can’t. If Blue Host will let me become financially tied to them, I will gladly remove the previous statement.
But as far as I can tell, Blue Host works perfectly fine for my purposes. The biggest issue I had in signing up was that I got offered a multitude of services, some free and some pricey, and I had no idea what I needed or didn’t. But I will tell you what I ended up buying and you can see what you think about that.
I decided to start out small so I went for the Bluehost Starter shared hosting option with a special introductory price of $2.95 per month. If the site gets some real traffic, say 5 or 6 people a day, I may have to upgrade (maybe the site will sustain a few more than that, but at some point, it won’t). When and if that happens, I will investigate my options. So if you want to investigate the options because you anticipate a lot of traffic, you can look up “shared hosting,” “VPS hosting,” and “dedicated hosting.” Here is Bluehost’s pricing structure.
Before we get started though you probably want to know what this whole website/blogging site is going to cost you? Here is my breakdown of costs for a domain so far:
Some Bluehost Options
The hosting costs will go up next year, but by then they will be such a minor expense in the whole scheme of things, right? The SiteLock Security keeps your site from getting malware and harmful visitors, and you pay for this as you go through the Bluehost setup.
During setup you pay to register your domain name. And along with that I paid for domain privacy protection. Anyone can lookup a domain and find who owns it. So with privacy protection, when people look up my site, Bluehost is listed as the owner.
I did find the sign up process intimidating, and I was so concentrating on what to pick next, I failed to do any screen captures. So, I don’t have a step-by-step to show you. It seemed like the process was fraught with multiple banner ads telling me to load this or load that—for example, Jetpack or Mojo Marketplace. I loaded them, and have not been charged for anything, but I think that once they are loaded, I will have plenty of opportunities to buy things from them. Oh, boy.
I did decline the SSL certificate even though I may want to sell items from my site in the future. If you use PayPal or some other third-party payment processor you don’t need an SSL certificate. This certificate is so you can get other people’s credit card information and ensure it is protected. If you don’t ever request a credit card, you won’t need the certificate.
Bluehost Options vs. WordPress Options
To jump ahead a bit, the next step is going to be to select website building software. WordPress is the tool of choice here. It is free (yippee) and is used by nearly a quarter of websites. The reason I am telling you this now is that Bluehost offers some things that WordPress offers. I think you are better off just using the WordPress features. So except for the SiteLock and Domain Privacy, you don’t have to purchase anything more now. (But there is more to purchase later.) Here are some things Bluehost will offer you:
Once you get the site bought and paid for, Bluehost offers you a lot of help. In fact you can pay to have the professionals at Bluehost set your site up for you.
But I declined and decided I would work through the process myself. So here with this Bluehost help screen is where I end this post today. I will tell you what I did with each of these in my next post.