Note: I’ve had several readers ask me about blogging – how to start, how to get traffic, and how to make some money from it, so I decided to write and publish a seven part series here at MDCreekmore.com to help anyone who is interested get started. After all one of the most important thing when it comes to self-reliance is being self-employed!
If blogging isn’t “your thing” then please read my article – 31 Simple Ways To Make Extra Money on The Homestead!
The first step toward creating a profitable website? Building the page and making it accessible to the public! This concept may sound intimidating to someone without experience in web development or coding, but the truth is that all it requires is a bit of hard work and willingness to learn . That’s why we’ve devoted this first day of our Starting a Profitable Blog series to helping beginners get started with one of the most important aspects of creating a website: choosing a web host and setting up your theme.
If you are serious about making money and achieving financial independence from the comfort of your own home or homestead, then read on to get started!
What is a Web Host?
In simple terms, your web host is where your website will physically live. Web hosting services such as Bluehost (to see Bluehost plans and prices click this link) operate and maintain a large number of powerful computers that store data for websites. When you contract a hosting service, the hosting company essentially agrees to “rent” you space on their system. All of the data you create for your website using software such as WordPress (which we will discuss briefly) will be kept on one of the host’s computers, and made accessible to the public through an IP address and a domain name.
What are Web Domains?
When you rent space on a server, you will be given an internet protocol (IP) address that visitors can use to access your website. Every IP address is expressed as unique string of numbers — for example, the IP address of the Google search engine is 126.96.36.199. If you type http://188.8.131.52 into your web browser, you will be taken straight to Google’s home page.
Unless you have a photographic memory, however, actually remembering the IP addresses of every site you want to visit just isn’t practical. For this reason, domain names are used as a more user-friendly intermediary. Website owners can pick a domain name (or even multiple domain names) to point at their IP address. The domain name Google.com, for example, is pointed at the aforementioned address 184.108.40.206, which is why all you have to do to access the search engine is type Google.com into your browser.
It is important to understand that, simply because your domain name points to your IP address, a domain is not the same thing as your internet protocol. One of the best analogies explaining this is to think of the difference between a store and a storefront. Let’s say you start a shoe store (we’ll call it Mr. Shoe) and rent a storefront in the mall. Business goes well — so well that you decide to move out of the mall and rent a bigger storefront downtown. Your location has changed; but your business is still called Mr. Shoe, so people can still find, recognize, and remember you.
In this analogy, the business Mr. Shoe would be your domain name, and your IP address would be your physical storefront. Your domain name identifies you to visitors and allows them to associate you with what you do — your IP address is simply the place that they visit. In the event that you ever decide to switch hosts, your IP address will change; however, your domain name can be pointed at the new IP address, and your online following will never know the difference.
Evaluating Your Web Hosting Requirements
If you visit any reputable web hosting site, you will likely see that company touting the strengths of their service by referring to a few specific metrics and features. Deciding which metrics and features are most relevant and important to your website will require a bit of learning and research. Here are a few of the most important terms that you should understand before deciding on a host.
Storage Capacity and Bandwidth.
These terms are closely related, but they do have slightly different meanings, and understanding this difference matters. Storage capacity refers to the total amount of data your host can store. The average HTML page will be about 50KB, so 2MB storage space would be enough for 200 pages. However, a page with video, images, or audio can easy take up a full 2MB on its own, so websites that will be featuring a diverse range of content formats might need more storage capacity.
Bandwidth measures the amount of traffic over time that your site can handle. The best way to calculate your monthly bandwidth needs? Multiple your average page size by your average number of monthly users, and multiply that number by the average number of pages visited per session. If you’re just starting out and you don’t have any data to work with, we recommend starting low — most new sites only use about half of their bandwidth allocation.
As the name implies, uptime is the measurement of how often your website is actually up and running. No technology is completely bug-proof, and therefore no server can guarantee 100% uptime. However, it is important to understand that every second in which your website is down could easily mean losing potential visitors forever. We recommend choosing a host with a minimum 99.94% uptime.
Losing your data with no backup could easily mean that your website ends up offline for weeks at a time as you scramble to reconstruct it. This will cost you dozens of valuable work hours and it will tarnish the reputation of your website for a long time to come. Do yourself a favor and choose a host that processes backup and recovery automatically!
Secure socket layers ensure that the data shared through a website is inaccessible to hackers and cyber criminals. If you accept credit card payments through your online portal, then you are legally obligated to utilize secure socket layering. Even if you don’t have ecommerce, however, SSL is still beneficial because it helps build trust from your visitors.
SSL helps keep your customers data safe. But, it is not the only way that cybercriminals could potentially harm your website. Quality hosting platforms offer a plethora of security features, such as SSO logins, two-step verification, account validation by token, and strong password pages.
Not only is WordPress the world’s most popular website building software; it is also one of the most intuitive for people without advanced coding knowledge. Moreover, it is completely open-source and free. This is why you should ensure that your hosting service offers easy WordPress installation. Bluehost, for example has an extremely easy to use one-click installation feature.
There are two factors that matter when considering the customer service of a web hosting service. The first is availability: a good hosting company should have a large online knowledge base, a wide span of customer service hours, and should have both telephone and email support. The second factor to take into consideration is quality of help — the best way to evaluate that is by searching for online reviews and recommendations.
Generally speaking, there are three different types of Hosting tiers available to anyone looking to rent space. The names of these hosting tiers may sound a bit technical and intimidating, but the difference between them is actually quite straightforward and is usually explained through the analogy of residential buildings.
● Shared Hosting is like subletting a room in a house. Your website data is hosted on a shared computer that other websites use as well. Shared hosting offers adequate levels of space, speed, and privacy for most new websites.
● VPS, or virtual private servers, is more like living in a duplex. Though your data is still stored on a shared computer, there is a virtual partition which allows for greater security, more space, and faster speed.
● Dedicated Hosting is like living in your own home. Your site is allocated its very own computer, which offers optimal speed, security, and storage space.
As we mentioned earlier, WordPress is the go-to website building software for most beginner and intermediate webmasters. The site allows for a great deal of coding-based customization, however, there are also a wide number of free and paid themes and plugins that you can utilize if you’re not technically inclined.
These are essentially pre-established templates for your WordPress site, which help regulate everything from fonts, to layouts, to heading sizes. There are more than 350 free themes available on WordPress, though if you’re looking for something very particular or very masterfully designed, paid themes are also available at reasonable prices.
Plugins are apps that help your website accomplish tasks such as collect email addresses, accept online payments, or improve your search engine rankings. The exact plugins you will use depend greatly on your individual goals; however, if you are looking to learn more then this list of 50 must use WordPress Plugins might be useful.
Good hosting services will allow you to register your domain while setting up your hosting platform — once again, Bluehost is an excellent example of this. WordPress, as we mentioned before, is free, and can be accessed through WordPress.com.
Once you have a domain, a host, and a theme, you’ll probably be excited to start filling your website with compelling content: the web copy, blogs, images, and videos that will keep visitors coming back.
But before we discuss content creation on day three, we want to give you the tools you need to ensure that your site is visible on major search engines. (After all, if no one can find you, it doesn’t matter how good your site is) Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on The Basics of SEO.