Setting up a blog under a domain name that you actually own and control is different from relying on a service that comes with its own list of terms and challenges your claim on the content you’re creating. The steps involved are also fairly simple.
- Decide on a scope.
- Pick a domain name.
- Find a hoster.
- Use cPanel to install a CMS.
Decide on a scope
This might not be that essential as a first step, depending on how you work. Your scope can be organic, and will grow and develop with the growth of your blog but having a clear idea of what your goals and aims are will make starting much easier. So, think about what kind of blog you want to have: What will you be writing about? What kind of audience do you want your blog to attract? How will that affect the tone you use?
My scope is pretty limited—this is primarily going to be a personal blog for me to document my processes and progress while exposing myself to tech areas that I’m not as knowledgeable about, as a way to motivate myself to undertake projects like building a PC or learning a programming language.
Pick a domain name
The domain name is going to be the most visible part of the website, so having a good idea of your scope and what you want to express on your blog will be really helpful for this. Aim for something unique, easy to remember, and recognisable. There are a number of website that let you check domain availability instantly (a quick Google search will bring up Instant Domain Search, GoDaddy, and Name.com), so use one of those and brainstorm for a while until you get something you’re satisfied with. The top-level domain extension you go for can be pretty broad nowadays, although a lot of people argue that .com remains the assumed web standard and that going for a slightly less desirable domain name to get the .com extension is worth it.
Because mine is a personal blog but I don’t want my full name to be easily available online, I played around with the letters in my name until I got something a little obscure, fairly short, easy to remember and that had a tech connotation in its phonetics.
Find a hoster
The next big decision to make is which web hosting service to go for. There are already a number of articles out comparing a few of the most widespread ones online: The Best Web Hosting of 2017, 2017’s Best Web Hosting Reviews (Overall Ratings), and The Best Web Hosting Services of 2017. The last one there is particularly overviewable with a table summary of the different features they offer. Consider what kind of content you’ll be hosting and go for a plan based on that (videos are much heavier than text, for example), and think about what your priorities are. If privacy is one, pick a hoster that also prioritises that.
My choice was Namecheap because I wanted something simple, affordable, and quick.
Use cPanel to install a CMS
cPanel is a great tool that allows you to manage and maintain your websites through a very accessible interface. The specific features you have access to depend on your hosting service but you’ll definitely have access to a number of Content Management Systems (CMS) to choose from, like WordPress, Drupal, Magento or Joomla. Business.com wrote an article comparing the most popular and well-known ones nowadays, with a summary of their features and any specific niches they occupy: Best Content Management System.
Because WordPress is particularly robust, its interface is incredibly easy to use, and it’s very low maintenance, that was my choice.
The great thing about how easy this process is is that, within an hour or so, it’s possible to claim ownership of a little corner of the internet to use freely. Claim your own hill!