So you want to launch your own self hosted website but you’re not sure where to start. Fear not Auntie Ondo Lady is here to hold your hand right through it. Whether you are moving from Blogger or creating the website from scratch here are some tips to get you started.
How to register a domain name
This is the name of your website. You can register a domain name with numerous sites such as UK2Net, 123Reg, or Easily. The prices are relatively cheap – £10 per year for a .com and a lot cheaper for a .co.uk. You can get a few bargains but there is not a lot of difference between the companies when it comes to registering domain names as it all goes through Nominet anyway.
How to select a host
This is where your site will live so you need to select a reliable host. Your needs will depend on your own circumstances. Are you very technical? Do you have the know how to get your site back up when it crashes? If this is you then you can go for a company that has a dedicated host server. These companies will be the ones offering free hosting. However if you are a tech novice like me then you will require a company that has a technical team who can assist you when you site is not loading fast enough or has crashed. They will be able to tell you what has happened and when it will resolved. If it is an issue that does not concern them then they will be able to advise you on whose responsibility it is.
Here is a list of some reputable host companies.
The best way to find a decent host is by asking around, email bloggers to find out who hosts their sites and for references. You can also Google the company to find out what has been written about them. You pay for your hosting on a monthly or annually basis. Hosting starts from £14.99 a year. Monthly is good in case you want to try out a host. A lot of hosts do not charge you an exit fee either. Once you have registered your hosting you will be allocated a Control Panel which is the backbone of your site. Where your FTP server will be, back ups and email account are.
Register an account with WordPress.
This will be the area where you log in and update your blog. This is the back end of your site.
Purchase a theme
You do this by setting up an account with a theme company and purchasing a theme. You can obtain these from WooThemes, Headway themes and countless other sources. Companies like WooThemes offer deals where you can buy two themes for £45 which includes support and updates.
Ok you have your domain name, hosting, a WordPress account and selected a theme. How do you get your site live? You simply upload the theme into your WordPress account and voila your brand new site will be there. Now the real fun begins. Unlike Blogger, WordPress has a lot of functionality and you can amend the template so it looks exactly how you want it. The magic word is – Plugins.
Plugins are those cools widgets that sets your site out from the rest and allows you to stamp your look on blogsphere. So whether you want a widget for your Social Media activities, to display adverts, to track your stats or to organise your archive posts, there is a plugin for all of this. From there you can play around with your site, brand it up, re-arrange how and when you wish without having to fork our money or send numerous emails with amendments. Talk about empowering. The only downside is that plugins can be a bit temperamental at times so if something is not working on your site ie navigation not clicking then chances are that it could be a plugin clash. If you get into real trouble then try deactivating all your plugins and reactivating them one by one. The key thing is to make sure that you pick a host that is reliable and has a competent technical team. Keep all your plugins, themes and WordPress template updated so you are not left vulnerable to hacks. Oh and backup regularly. If you are transferring all your content from Blogger then all you need to do is select the import button under tools and it does it all for you.
If you are using another company who offer the full package (to register your url, design and host your site) then there are some things to bear in mind. First of all make sure that the domain name is registered in your name – Nominet will send you an email confirming that you have registered the domain name so make sure you receive this. Some scrupulous companies have been known to register client’s domain name in their own name and this keeping the client at ransom. Design – is the person actually designing the site from scratch or are they just adapting a theme made by another party? If it is the latter then you might want to re-examine your fee and find out exactly what you are paying for. More importantly if the designer is using a theme from another company then this will require maintenance as some themes are regularly updated. This is fine and easy to do as long as you are made aware of it so you need to have your own account. So the best thing would be for you to purchase the template and send it across to the designer to work on it. Hosting – Some companies throw in free hosting into the mix which is ever so lovely but it would be good to find out exactly what the free stands for. Does it include technical assistance, flexible billing and 24/7 hour support? If not then you are probably better off forking out an extra £15 for peace of mind.
If you get stuck then you can log into the forums for WordPress or your theme company. I use the support forums for WooThemes and they are really invaluable and always have an answer to your problems.
I think that’s all. If you have any queries then feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org