I had quit my dead-end job in September of 2007 and had no idea what I was going to do. I had read many “self help” books that all advised to do something I enjoyed so I started this site YoRapper to review hip hop albums. Since then this site has grown tremendously and has been a life changing experience, teaching me a whole bunch of stuff. I thought it would be cool if I share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that could hopefully help you start your own blog or whatever website you’re starting. Keep in mind there are many options nowadays to make your own blog, I’m only going to speak on my experience since that’s what I know about duh!
Getting a website name
When I first started I had no idea how to get a website name, in fact I was calling it a “website name”, when it’s really called a domain name. You also don’t “get” a domain name, you “register a domain”. So if I want a site called MyGirlIsCrazy.com I would have to register that domain with a company that handles that sort of thing (they’re called domain registrar btw).
The company I was referred to when I asked the geekiest person I knew was Godaddy. Later I would find out that Godaddy is the most popular domain registrar and also the most hated. In my experience with them I would recommend them for purchasing domain names since I have been using them for the last 6 years without a problem. I will advise you not to use their hosting as I foolishly used them when I first started and my site was extremely slow and dealing with their customer service isn’t fun (If you don’t know what hosting is, I will get to that in a second).
The awesome thing about Godaddy is that they always have promo codes available to get cheaper domain names. Right now you can get a $7.99 domain, instead of paying $12.99 when you click here. If that doesn’t work, on the payment page enter the promo code: SCOTTCOM
Pro tip: Keep in mind in 2012, the majority of domain names are already taken, so you are going to want to spend some time thinking of a creative name that is short, usually two or three syllables, easy to remember and with no hypens. The goal of your site is to get more people to visit it and they’re not going to come back if they can’t remember the name.
Pro Tip: The domain name fee is an annual fee. You can choose to renew a site for multiple years say 2, 3, 5 or 10 years.
Hooking up Hosting
Every website needs hosting. What’s hosting? Think of hosting as a virtual hard drive stored somewhere where all the pages, images and whatever else on your website are stored. As I mentioned I originally hosted this site with Godaddy but because they store your site along with others for their Economy, Deluxe and and Ultimate hosting plans your site’s loading speed is insanely slow. Remember in 2012, web pages have to load in under a second for anyone to even bother with your site. Also because your site is hosted with other sites, it puts your site at greater risk of being hacked as if one of the sites on your server is hacked your website could be at risk. You also don’t want to deal Godaddy’s customer service. unless you want to go prematurely bald.
So which hosting company should you go with? For the person that’s just starting out I recommend Hostgator. They’re the cheaper, have faster site loading time and have much better service than Godaddy. Their Hatchling plan costs just $3.96 per month and offers unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth.
Pro tip: Keep in mind just like GoDaddy does and pretty much all cheap hosting plans you will be on what is called “shared hosting” which as the name implies your site will be on the same servers as other sites which as mentioned could slow them down and put them at greater risk of being hacked.
For the above reasons and because this site gets a lot of traffic I’m hosting with Knownhost on their Managed VPS plan (VPS stands for Virtual Private Server btw). It’s quite expensive at $35 a month but worth it because the site loads a lot faster and the customer service is amazing. They are available 24 hours a day and will do almost anything you tell them to. My site crashed one time which was completely my fault and I had no idea how to fix it and I told them and they got right to it. They will do things such as install scripts to speed up your site, install wordpress, install your mySQL databases, heck they will pretty much do whatever you tell them to do (believe me I’ve asked them to do some crazy things). Remember though always be polite with your requests.
The easiest way and the most popular way (every hip hop blog uses it) nowadays to add content or posts or blogs or whatever your want to call it to your site is by using WordPress. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily update your site as well as change the look of your site quickly. The software is free to use and you have three ways of getting it on to your server, (1) you email your hosting company and ask them to install it for you (Godaddy will only tell you how to do it, they wont do it for you) or (2) your hosting company will allow you to install yourself by going to your website’s hosting panel and selecting the wordpress app or (3) You can download and install it yourself by going here.
How to Change Look of Website?
The great thing about WordPress is that you can change the design of your site by simply downloading what they call “themes”. Their are tons of free wordpress themes to search for on Google as well as premium themes. I recommend you buy a theme though as the free themes are notorious for containing hidden viruses, malware and link spam (nasty stuff). The site I use for purchasing themes is ThemeForest. You can get a decent theme for as low as $30.
Content is King
The main thing with any website is content. Sure the look of your site matters, but what’s the point of having a good looking site with little content or content that isn’t very helpful to anyone. If you want to start a blog and be successful at it, it’s going to take consistency and persistence. The only way to get good at blogging is to start blogging and keep blogging. On the bright side, you don’t have to be the best writer, in fact, I’m a pretty crappy writer, but as long as you’re able to get your point across to your audience you’ll do just fine.
If you need any help with anything feel free to contact me.