Beginner blogging

Beginner blogging

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

August 2017 update: 1and1.com is now my one-stop shop for hosting (HostGator dropped the ball too many times, with me spending hours and hours with tech support this month alone) and there’s a good chance I will move my domains there too. Nothing wrong with 10dollar.ca, just I like having all my web stuff in one, trusted place. Theme-wise, Noteblog is perfect, along with the following plugins: Akismet, Dynamic To Top, Jetpack, Print, PDF & Email, TinyMCE Advanced, Ultimate Tag Cloud Widget, Cerber Security, Piwik, and WPForms Lite. Tesseract didn’t have much documentation online and I couldn’t even find it for a simple download when I wanted to install it here. That Tesseract Plus emerged as well and was generally hailed as sketchy just completely turned me off of the whole experience.

October 2015 update: Just watch this (more here : ):

A quick tutorial on how I set up this blog quickly and easily, and how you can too. Two things you need: a domain name people can type into their browser to find your site and somewhere to host all the files that comprise it. All told, I had this site up and running from scratch within an hour; playing with WordPress to tweak it took another two days. This involved finding a nice theme, installing some necessary plugins, and arranging the basic settings — in that order.

For the former, I created an account with Toronto-based 10Dollar.ca where, for less than $10/year, I bought the domain name you now see up in the address bar. For the latter I had two options: either set up my own server or pay for the hosting of my files somewhere reputable. Setting up your own server is neat but with how quickly technology is changing these days — especially with all the malicious software out there just waiting to unleash itself on anything unprotected — I decided to go with the latter. I just don’t have the time to spend weekends worrying about security or Googling answers to technical problems a professional can fix for just cents a day. I went with Texas-based HostGator.com: three years of hosting cost me $150. I chose these two companies on the advice of a trustworthy web designer friend. He recommended both for their great prices and even greater customer service. Yes, you will have to call these people from time to time so caring, knowledgeable customer service reps available promptly 24/7 are even more important than a good deal. Because you never know when you’ll be on holiday, 12 time zones away from home, when your site gets hacked and you need backups like right now.

However, with the recent government spying that’s been in the news since the Edward Snowden affair, it would be prudent not to host your site on American servers nor to use an American domain name if you are dealing with sensitive material (eg: “.com”). Financial details, client information, personal stuff you wouldn’t want copied or deleted without notice… if none of this applies to you, then go with HostGator. If you are afraid of something like the Lavabit affair coming between you and your data, make sure you host offshore. Another good friend of mine, this one with an undergraduate thesis in cryptography and currently wrapping up a PhD in computer science, recommends Iceland’s 1984.is as an alternative hosting service if you need the added security.

All the above said, here are the four simple steps to get your blog running today:

  1. Get a domain name, it should not cost more than $12/year. You might have to wait a few hours for your request to go through.
  2. Get hosting, it should not cost more than $75/year. This is immediate. You’ll need to provide them with your domain name from above and they will give you your nameservers. These are the locations of where your site will be housed on their computers. There are usually two (one for use and one for back-up, though some give more) and they tend to follow the pattern “ns####.hostingservice.com” (eg: “ns1234.hostgator.com”). They are what connects your domain name to the physical location of your site’s files on your host’s computers.
  3. Copy those nameservers into the appropriate field in your domain name provider account. With 10Dollar you log into your account and then go to “My Domains” → select your domain → “DNS Information”. Here make sure all radio buttons are deselected and enter your nameservers into the fields provided, one per field. It’s perfectly alright if some fields are left empty. It may take a few hours for these changes to come into effect.
  4. Start making your site! Either upload your files on there via FTP (Filezilla Client is awesome and free) or — and this is the better option if you know nothing about web design — install WordPress. HostGator makes this super easy.

You’re done! All the above should take maybe one hour to set up, and then up to a day for your site to actually be up at the address you pointed to it. From there you will have to learn to play with WordPress to make your site do your bidding, but with all the plugins and themes available for this platform, this is definitely the best initial foray into setting up your first website. Everything else is a matter of spending a few weekends Googling, trying things out, making mistakes and, above all, having fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *