Domain and Hosting Essentials
These are the two pre-requisites you need to have in place before the MeetUp on Tuesday, 10th January. Your web host will include a free domain name in the deal.
The MeetUp is hosted by the Bank of Ireland, 70, Patrick Street, Cork. Thank you Ita O’Sullivan.
The Bank of Ireland has created a coworking space on the ground floor to the rear of the Patrick Street branch. It is spacious and has free tea and coffee for users, as well as mains sockets to charge laptops, tablets and phones. The free wifi is first class. This is where the ‘Build a Business Blog in 2 Hours’ MeetUp will be happeneing.
Pop in and suss the Workbench area out in advance. You never know who you’ll meet. Just walk through the main banking hall and you are in it, or enter the Workbench area directly from the Paul Street entrance to the bank.
The Free Option
The free option is a business killer.
Why would any company give you a valuable website address and computer space for nothing?
Computers use electricity, so any company that offers you a free website must make its money from your site, or charge you in some other devious way.
You can get free web addresses, but they lack credibility. MaXXers.com is easier to remember than maxxers.wordpress.com or maxxers.weebly.com. If I am unwilling to spend $10 on a domain name, what does that say about my business?
Free sites are usually slow, have too little storage space and are crowded together with too many on one server. The hosting company will also put ads on your site. Every ad distracts your visitors and slows down your site.
Buying a Domain Name
You need an easy to pronounce .com domain, but don’t search for it in advance.
You can buy a .com domain name for $10, but it will cost $15 to renew it every year. Most web hosting companies include the initial $10 domain name for free.
Start thinking about a domain name for your business, but NEVER search for it. When you search for a domain name without buying it, there are systems that alert domain buying parasites that this is a web address that someone wants. One of these parasites will buy ‘your’ domain name for $10 and try to sell it to you for $300.
Think about how easy your site address is to pronounce, avoid numbers, dashes and underscore characters. Avoid unfortunate letter combinations such as domainshit.com, even if it reads as ‘domains hit . com’ to you. Avoid triple letters such as ‘addreSSSitter . com’ because they will confuse people.
Two word combinations work well, as long as are available. Failing that, you can try inventing a word such as maxxers, or change the spelling of a word such as tinder to give tindrr.com. Avoid 3-word combinations because they look amateurish, or worse still, spammy.
Make a list of possible word combinations that would be meaningful in your niche, perhaps listing possible words in adjacent columns of a spreadsheet to see how they work out.
You need a .com domain. This gives you maximum credibility in a crowded marketplace. The only other good alternative is a country level domain such as .ie or co.uk, but there are complications to buying these.
Buy SiteGround’s cheapest shared hosting plan before the Meetup on Tuesday 10th January.
You need to pay a hosting company so you can build your site on their computers. Computers cost money and fast computers cost more, so expect to pay a fair price for the job. A cheap host may put a thousand or more websites onto one hard drive, meaning your users will have to cope with a slow and unreliable site.
Finding accurate information to help you decide on the best web host for your site is almost impossible. Every hosting recommendation online is an affiliate link, which pays the site owner a commission if you go on to buy hosting through that link. My recommended hosts are based on my own experiences, but links on this site are nevertheless affiliate links.
Hosting Factors to Consider
Factors to think about include:
- Number of sites you can have
- Customer happiness
Most people choose the cheapest hosting they can find and are then surprised when that host has a policy of deliberately slowing down websites so owners have to ‘upgrade’.
It’s just like buying a car, a house, or anything else; you get what you pay for.
Cheap hosts cannot afford to pay support staff or to replace out-dated computers, so they will be slow and unsuitable for a new site owner who is likely to need support.
Yes, costs matter but should be only one factor in your decision.
Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Customer satisfaction is a measure of support quality, uptime, reliability and costs.
This is the best way to decide on your web hosting. The problem is to find the data. Ignore the customer reviews you will see on the likes of Hostgator and Bluehost websites. They are worthless because any company will only post favourable reviews on its own site.
If you were given a choice of two hosting companies, one of which (Siteground) has a 91% customer favourability rating and the other (Hostgator) with 42%, which would you choose? Data source.
I have used Blacknight.ie, Bluehost.com and Hostgator.com and have moved away from all of these for reasons varying from unintelligible interfaces (Blacknight) to deliberate slowing down of my sites (Bluehost and Hostgator). I now use InMotion and SiteGround, though Siteground is simpler to use and has other advantages.
I will walk attendees through setting up a brand new site on the cheapest Siteground hosting plan at the 10th January 2017 Meetup in Cork. This will be held at the Bank of Ireland Workbench on Patrick Street in Cork.
SiteGround’s cheapest (one site) plan is €3.95 +VAT per month. You can always upgrade your hosting if you want extra sites later. This price compares well with what other hosting companies charge.
If you want to follow along with me and build your blog exactly as I build my new site on the big screen, I advise you to buy your SiteGround hosting with your free domain name before the MeetUp. If you use a different web host the interface will be different, which could make building your blog that much harder.
When I set up my SiteGround’s hosting in December 2016 it included:
- Free WhoIs privacy protection (keeps your name and address private)
- Free SSL cert (https:// site address)
- Free premium restore service (just in case you mess everything up totally)
- Free HackAlert monitoring service (sends you an email if your site is ever hacked – It happens to the best of us.)
Any one of these unadvertised freebies would make this the best offer around, but all four? It puts the SiteGround deal head & shoulders above the rest.
Please use the comment box below to ask any questions you may have. If your question is sensitive (eg my thoughts on your proposed domain name), it will not be shown here and I will respond privately.
I will also be at the Bank of Ireland Workbench for an informal Meetup from 4pm on Tuesday 10th January, if you prefer to talk face-to-face.
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