We’re in the middle of a discussion on blogging for writers. In previous days, I’ve talked about the importance of putting your blog on your own domain and how to get a domain. We also took a few days to brainstorm up some ideas for the name Gerhi should write under. Looks like Debbie Thorkildsen is the winner. Debbie, email me privately with a Word document containing a page of your novel, and I’ll critique it.
OK, on to web site hosting. How do you do it?
I realize that with a title like today’s, I am in for a storm of comment spam from every hosting company in the world. I think my spam filter is up to it, but if not, I’ll delete any pesky posts that get through.
In order to put a blog on your web site, you need to have two things:
1) A web site
2) Blogging software
You have a ton of options for each of these. Today we’ll talk about how to get a web site. This may take a few days, but once we get through that, we’ll talk about blogging software.
So how do you get a web site?
A web site needs to be “hosted” somewhere. That just means that the files for your web site have to exist on some computer somewhere in the world, and then you need to inform the internet authorities of where that is.
A little techie talk is in order, and I’ll dumb it down to the level that I understand it: Every computer in the world that’s connected to the internet has something called an “IP address.” Computers on the internet can talk to each other if they each know the other’s IP address. An IP address is typically 4 numbers separated by periods. Something like this is a valid IP address: 18.104.22.168. Each of the four numbers needs to be between 0 and 255.
Humans, however, don’t like IP addresses. They’re hard to remember and boring. Humans prefer to work with addresses that contain words. So the web works by having a giant “phone book” that converts human-readable addresses such as “www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com” into computer-lovable IP addresses.
We talked a few days ago about the fact that you have to “register your domain” with a registration service (such as GoDaddy or one of the many others). When you do that, the registration service inserts your human-readable address into the “phone book” along with the IP address of the computer where your web site lives. The registrar then passes that information all around the world so that all the internet service providers can get the translation information. Once that’s done, anybody with a web browser can get to your web site.
Here’s roughly how the process works when you want to look at a web page:
1) You type in a domain name (such as “www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com”) into your web browser.
2) The web browser sends that domain name to the Internet Service Provider (ISP).
3) The ISP looks in the “phone book” and finds the IP address corresponding to the domain.
4) The ISP transmits the request for the web site to the appropriate computer on the internet (called the “web site server”) that holds that web site.
5) The web site server sends the requested page back to the ISP which forwards it to your web browser.
6) Your web browser translates that page into words and pictures and displays them on your screen.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and I’m sure it’s more complicated that this, but that’s very approximately what happens.
When you “host a site,” you need to put the files for the site on some particular web site server and then inform your registrar of the IP address for that server.
In principle, you could do this yourself, but most people choose to pay a small fee to somebody else to do it for them. I use GoDaddy to do this, since they are inexpensive and have not given me much trouble. (GoDaddy handles BOTH domain registration AND web hosting, as well as many other services.) There are many hosting services, and you can scout around to see which is best for you.
So the first step in hosting a web site is to identify a web hosting service and sign up with them. In my next post, I’ll talk about what happens next–putting the web site on the web site server.