How to start a Blog

Last Update: 070416

A friend of mine asked me for some advice on starting a Blog so I’ve decided to write a technical piece on this subject.

But first a bit of a disclaimer. There are many types of Blogging software out there in the world and many ways to set them up. What I’m going to descibe here is just one way – and that’s the way that I’ve done it.

Before I began Blogging a year ago, I spent some time reading about the various types of Blogging software because I knew that once I’d decided on one and began to pour a lot of effort into it, it would be difficult and painful to change horses in mid-stream. Even so, I still made a false start and had to back things out and switch after a month to the software I’m using now.

I’m pretty confident that the software I’m using now, WordPress, is among the top two or three types of Blogging software out there but I remind you that I’m just giving you my experiences here – your mileage may vary.

So, with that fine disclaimer over, let’s get into things here. I’m going to assume here that while you may know your way around a PC or a MAC, you are not a computer professional. So,I’m going to talk a bit about Hosting, Domain Names, ISPs and such to get the newbies among you oriented.

For you to get to the Internet, you need an ISP (Internet Service Provider). I think we can assume that you have an ISP or you wouldn’t be here reading this. As a minimum, an ISP just provides you a pathway from your computer out onto the Internet. But, they can also optionally provide other services like E-mail accounts, DSL lines, Domain Registrations and Web Hosting. I’m stressing the ‘optional’ aspect here because you can get your E-mail, DSL lines, Domain Registrations, Web Hosting and other services elsewhere – separate from your ISP – though many folks don’t realize this. They buy a package of services from their ISP and they assume these services are always part of a unified package but it’s not so.

I use Seanet here in Seattle as my ISP. I get my DSL line from Verizon. I run my own E-mail server here at home on my computer. And I use BlueHost

based in Utah as my Domain Registrar and Web Host.

You might think it strange that I use a company in Utah for some of my Hosting services but you need to remember that physical distance is irrelevant on the Internet and if a company in Tasmania offered the best hosting services, I could use them just as easiliy.

So, my ISP gives me a path from my computer here out onto the Internet and I’ve contracted with BlueHost in Utah to Host my Website. What does it mean when they ‘Host’ my website? It means that they have a computer at their facility which is connected to the Internet and which is up and running 24/7 and my website lives on their computer. Whenever anyone in the world wants to visit my website, BlueHost’s computer ‘serves’ it to them via high speed links 24/7. This means, also, that I am free to turn my computers off here at home when ever I like. I only need to turn them on when I want to access and maintain my website at Bluehost or when I want to visit other websites on the Internet.

The website that BlueHost Hosts for me is a WordPress Blogging website. They could host many other types of websites for me but I choose to use them for my Blogging website.

This is where BlueHost really shines and why I use them. They charge $6.95 USD per month to host my site (or $166.80 for two years – which is how I paid them). There have never been any ‘extra’ surprise charges from these folks. The price quoted is the price used with them. Once you’ve joined BlueHost, they provide many many free options. Way more options than I could even begin to describe. One of the services they provide for free is setting up a WordPress Blog for you.

But, I’m jumping ahead. There’s one piece of this puzzle we’ve skipped that you need to be aware of before we can proceed. And that is that you need a domain name for your web site or Blog. As you are probably aware, I’m using the domain name, samadhisoft.com. I ‘own‘ this domain name. Or at least I can control and possess it so long as I pay a domain registrar to keep is registered for me.

There are many companies out on the web which serve as domain registrars. You can go to any of them and ask if the domain name you want (like, for example, diamondsbymail.com) is available. If it is, you can pay them a fee to register that domain name to you and then you pay them an additional fee every year or two to maintain that registration. So long as you pay to keep it registered, it is yours and no one else in the world can use that domain name.

I’ve chosen to use BlueHost as both my domain registrar and as my web hosting service because I find it easier to do both of these with the same vendor. I didn’t have to do this – but it is easier. Also, BlueHost gives you your first domain registration for free just for signing up with them so that’s a very nice perk.

So, to recap:

– You’ve already got an ISP service or you wouldn’t be here reading this piece on my Blog.

– You decide what domain name you want for your Blog.

– You go to any domain registrar on-line (including BlueHost) and ask them if that domain name is free. If it is, you proceed to the next step. If it is not, you try for another name until you find one that’s free that you like.

– You sign up with BlueHost and tell them you want to register you new domain name with them.

– They will provide you some IDs and passwords which you can use to go to their website and setup your website.

– You go to BlueHost using their IDs and passwords and you go into their Fantastico section and you tell it to create a WordPress Blog for you. It will setup a competely generic Blog ready to go for you.

– Then you use the owner’s ID and password for your new WordPress Blog to go in and begin to set it up as you like and begin to make posts on it.

Now, to many of you, all of this sounds new and complicated. Don’t worry – be happy! BlueHost has spectacular technical support all included in that original $6.95 price. They will be happy to help you understand and set all of this up. They will help you get your domain name, they will tell you how to access your new account on BlueHost, they will show you how to create your initial WordPress Blog on BlueHost. However, once you’ve created the WordPress Blog and they’ve given you the ID and password to maintain it, then you are on your own. They will NOT help you learn to Blog with your new WordPress Blogging software. You’ll have to noodle that out on your own.

But, then I have more good news. WordPress is very easy for novices to use right from the beginning. And, if you need technical support with WordPress, there’s lots of help available at the WordPress website (http://wordpress.org/).

The generic Blog BlueHost sets up for you is ready to go and if you don’t care to get technical, you don’t need to to use it.   But, if you have the technical bent and you want to play with your Blog and modify how things work, WordPress is very well suited for this and if you dig around on the  http://wordpress.org/ website, you will find a wealth of fun things to do.

So, one question you might have is, “After all of this is setup and I am using it on a day-to-day basis, what does it actually look like?

That’s easy – once all the pieces are in place. When ever I want to see my Blog, I simply go to www.samadhisoft.com just like I’d go to any other web site. And, if I want to make a new post on my Blog, I go to where it says, “Site Admin” along the right side of my website and I click there. It will ask me for my WordPress ID and password and if I know them, it let’s me into the administrative functions wherein I can make new posts, change how my blog looks and all the other things one might want to do with a Blog. Once I’ve made my changes, they are there for the world to see.

So another recap of the pieces you need:

1 A DSL Line or Dial up………………………….<- for me: Verizon DSL
2 An ISP so you can get to the Internet…<- for me: seanet.com
3 A Domain Name………………………………….<- for me: samadhisoft.com
4 A Domain Name Registrar………………….<- for me: BlueHost
5 A web hosting service…………………………<- for me: BlueHost
6 Blogging Software……………………………….<- for me: WordPress

By keeping these pieces separate, I can go into any Internet Cafe on the planet, pay a few dollars to access the Internet on their computers, I can then connect to my own web site, sign and and post new stuff to my Blog and then sign out. This means I can Blog from anywhere I can get to the Internet, world-wide.

Let me tell you more about BlueHost. They are a spectacular web hosting company. For the $6.95/month, this is what you get:

300 GB of hosting space
– this is how big your web site/s can get without incurring extra charges – it is huge.

Host unlimited domains
– this means you can run any number of web sites for the same $6.95/mo.

Up to 2500 E-mail accounts included
– Now that I own the samadhisoft.com domian, I can have up to 2500 e-mail accounts like dennis at samadhisoft.com and sharon at samadhisoft.com. one for everyone in your family and all your relatives and more left over.

3000 GB of transfer per month
– only really really busy web sites would ever exceed this amount of data transfer per month. This has to do with how much data is sent and received between the BlueHost computer and those folks viewing your web site/s.

One free Domain Name forever
– Your first domain name registration is free including the fees in future years to maintain the registration in your name. Other domain names are $10 to register and, I believe, free after that.

There are many other feature and freebies here but a lot of them are meaningful only to techno-types so I’ve skipped listing them.

In addition to setting up you WordPress Blog for free they will also do free Shopping Carts, MySQL Databases, Web E-mail, Spam Assasin Protection, Forums, Guestbooks, Image Galleries, Polling Software, Web Auction Software and on and on. They are truely an amazing company.

So, here’s an important part I want you to know up front. I like BlueHost and I use them and, yes, I am suggesting that you use them as well but, I have a vested interest here because if you use the BlueHost link here to access BlueHost:

and sign up with them, they are going to credit me $65 for sending the business their way.

I’d suggest them exactly the same even if they didn’t do this. I think they are really a great deal. What’s amazing about this is they will only charge you $166.80 for two years (or $6.95/monyth) and yet they’ll send me $65 of it and still provide all of these services. It is really amazing – but true.

Click the link, above to go to their site, have a good look around and then go off and research other Hosting companies and make sure you think it is as good a deal as I’m saying. If you decide ti sign up and you don’t mind sending $65 my way for free, then when you do sign up, access their web site through the link above and then they will know that you came from my site to their and thus I am responsible for forwarding the business to them.

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