Welcome to the second post in our “Build Your Own Freelancing Website” series. In the first post, we talked about choosing and reserving a domain name. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for the second step – choosing a company to host your website and purchasing a hosting package.
Step 2 – Choose a web host and purchase a hosting package.
Two basic options: Hosted blog service or self-hosted.
There are two basic ways to publish a blog-based website: (1) use a hosted blog service, such as www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com; or (2) use a self-hosted blog. What’s the difference? The main thing you need to know is that with a hosted blog service, you have a lot less control over your website. Different services have different rules about what you can and cannot do, and you should review those rules carefully if you’re considering using a hosted service.
If you really want your site to look professional and business-like, I recommend against using a service such as Blogger or WordPress.com. They may be easier to set up (and free), but you’re sacrificing the ability to completely customize your site.
Note: WordPress.com is a hosted blog service; WordPress.org offers WordPress blog software for free download, which you can then install on your self-hosted blog.
Setting up a self-hosted website.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and set up a self-hosted website, congratulations! You’re on your way. I think you’ve made a good decision. Now it’s time to choose a hosting company.
There are literally hundreds of web hosts to choose from, and there’s no way I could list them all. Here are 3 web hosting companies that I believe to be reliable and user-friendly. I’m an affiliate of ReliableWebs, but not the other two:
All three of these companies will install WordPress for you (one less thing to worry about). I recommend that you visit their websites, read about their offerings and pricing, and select the one that you think will work best for you.
You could also choose another company – I’m just trying to keep things simple. The important thing is just to select a company and purchase a basic hosting package (it should be less than $10/month).
One other option: Squarespace.
Just in case any of you are freaking out or feeling overwhelmed by the idea of a self-hosted site, I want to mention one other option: Squarespace. Squarespace is a hosted blog service, but it gives you far more control over your website than services like Blogger or WordPress.com. It has a lot of built-in options that make it easy to get your site up and running, and the learning curve is much shorter than with a self-hosted blog.
Unlike Blogger or WordPress.com, Squarespace isn’t free. After the 14-day free trial, you’ll have to pay $14/month for the version allowing custom domain names (meaning you can post your website to your own domain name, instead of on a domain name such as www.yourname.squarespace.com). But if you’ve ruled out self-hosted blogs because you think they’re beyond your technical ability, I strongly recommend Squarespace over the other hosted services. I built my first website (The Breadwinner Mom) with Squarespace and have been happy with it so far.
I put together this extremely brief video to show you what it’s like to set up a new site with Squarespace. It’s my first foray into the world of video so please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement. Hope you find it useful.
(note to the curious: I don’t work for Squarespace and I don’t benefit financially if you use Squarespace. I just think it’s a good option for people who don’t have the time or inclination to learn about self-hosted blogs)
photo credit: KristianD
COMING FRIDAY: Step 3 – To Blog Or Not To Blog?