How to Start Your Expat Blog

This is the second tutorial in the Blogging for Expats series. You can review the first one here.
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In the first tutorial in this series, you learned how to choose a domain name and a hosting company.

Today, we’ll review the process of purchasing the domain name and signing up for your web hosting service.

Buying Your Domain Name

Back in the early days of the internet, there was only one place to purchase domain names. Fortunately, that’s no longer true. There are many official domain registrars now, which is a good thing because prices have come way down with the increased competition. Service is also better.

Most hosting companies will help you buy your domain name when you purchase hosting with them. Some will even offer the domain name free when you sign on, so always check with your prospective host before you purchase a domain name.

Before you get started, you should know what information they’ll be asking for.

1. The domain name. My domain is futureexpats.com. The .com extension is the most popular and the one with the most professional connotation. If you can, you should get a name with a .com extension. There are others — .info, .org and .biz, for example. Each country also has a domain extension. If your site will appeal to a mostly local audience, that could be a good choice.
2. Registrant. That’s you. This is public information, and anyone can access it. I have an account with a private mailbox company, and that’s the address I use. If you don’t want your name and contact information out there for anyone to see, there are services you can purchase to “privatize” your information even more. (Do remember, though, that if you’re planning to sell anything through your blog, the FTC now requires certain disclosures. So unless you create a corporation, your identity will be out there.)
3. Administrative contact. That’s the person who administers your domain. In most cases, especially when you’re starting your blog, that would be you as well.
4. Technical contact. This could be you, or, if you’ve hired someone to design your site, you might list them as the technical contact.
5. Billing contact. This one is the person who’s responsible for paying the bills. Probably you.

If you decide to register your domain separately from buying hosting, these registrars do an excellent job at a reasonable price:

Registering the domain is pretty easy. Just go to the registrar’s website, and follow signup instructions. Both Go Daddy and Netfirms also offer hosting, but you can use them strictly to get your domain name.

I have personally used Go Daddy, and as a registrar they are very good. However, I absolutely do not recommend them for hosting, especially WordPress hosting.

You can find an official list of all accredited domain name registrars here.

Hosting Services

As I stated in the first tutorial, I recommend

DreamHost
Host Gator
Blue Host
Web Hosting Hub.

Let’s walk through a typical ordering process.

  • From the home page, click the Order button next to the plan you want. (Setup for each of them will be similar.)
  • Choose a username. This will be the name you sign in with.
  • If it’s not already selected, pick the plan you want.
  • Select a preinstalled script. Check Blog/WordPress from the dropdown menu on the right.
  • If offered a choice, select the data center location nearest you.
  • If you already have a domain name, click use my existing domain under Add a Domain Name to Host.
  • If you’re registering a new domain, click Register new/Transfer. Then type in your domain in the box, select the extension (default is .com) and click Go. Make sure you type absolutely accurately, because once it’s done, it’s done. If there is a problem with the name you’ve chosen, you’ll see a message pop up after a few seconds.
  • Once your chosen domain name is confirmed, scroll down and fill out your account owner details.
  • The last step is your payment information. You can usually choose PayPal, or any major credit or debit card.
  • Once all your information is entered, click the Continue button.
  • Fill out your appropriate PayPal, credit or debit card information on the next screen, and follow on-screen prompts to complete the process.
  • Check the confirmation email that you’ll receive shortly for other instructions.

That’s it — you’re up and running with a domain name and a hosting service. WordPress is already installed for you, although you’ll want to make some immediate tweaks.

We’ll talk about those in the next tutorial.

If all of this sounds too “techy” for you, take advantage of the free WordPress setup I’m offering for a limited time.

Comments

  1. I’m wondering why you do NOT recommend GoDaddy for hosting, especially with Word Press. We have registered domain names with them and they are hosting our music band site, non-income generating (originally built and hosted on Apple’s iWeb, and Mobile Me). We signed up for a package deal with the ability to host several sites for another 3 years. I thought I would use them for hosting a Word Press site to help us earn some passive income. Please let me know your experience before I make a possible mistake… Thanks

    • FutureExpat says:

      Hi Julienneq, that’s certainly a legitimate question.

      GoDaddy, until recently, hosted on Windows and Windows servers do not play well with WordPress. The one genuinely nightmare experience I had with WordPress was when a client insisted on hosting the site with GoDaddy.

      Recently they began offering hosting on Apache/Linux servers, a much better environment for WordPress. I still don’t recommend them. I am trying them right now for one client site, and in a few months I’ll have a much better idea of how they behave as a WordPress host. In the meantime, there are much better choices out there for hosting, although they’re fine for domain name registration.

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