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: 126.96.36.199. 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.
Gerhi (under review) Janse van Vuuren says
1. I wish I was getting the critique. But maybe not yet. I’m only 310 words into my first novel.
2. That’s the clearest, non geeky explanation I ever heard for explaining how the internet works. I think I’m understanding it for the first time myself.
Charlotte Babb says
I manage a number of small websites. I have used Godaddy for buying domain names, and recently bought a hosting package where I have several domain names and a blog. I find Godaddy’s site cluttered and hard to navigate, but their phone tech support is wonderful. The help desk people can often give you a discount if you call in rather than ordering online.
Another alternative is 1and1.com which has a half-price anniversary sale going on now for both domain names and hosting. I have used their hosting and it is somewhat less hard-sell than Godaddy. I have not used their tech support.
I also have used ACSite.net which is about the cheapest hosting out there: $10 a year for a 100MB site with lots of good, easy to install free software. But there is no phone support, and while they promise to deal with support tickets in six hours, the ticket software is down right now, and right now is when I need support.
It’s worth it to pay a little more (not $20 a month!!!) for phone support when there are problems.
Carrie Neuman says
Domain name, check.
Site design, not even sure how.
Content, not ready yet.
Oh Randy, I hope you’re right about this.
Karla Akins says
I have a domain name and a website (which I’m rebuilding right now) hosted by google. It’s free. All I had to pay for was my domain name and it’s $10.00 a year. Now, I have a question. Google and Blogger are partners. If you have a google account and you want to post on your blog, if you’re signed in for g-mail, you click on blogger in the menu and begin to blog.
My question is, what if you have a website and provide a link to your blog but your blog isn’t actually “on” the site? Would that be OK for us starving artists just starting out? Blogger is so easy to use. I also have blogs other places, and blogger seems to be the most user-friendly. (Homeschoolblogger.com is, too. But that limits your audience pretty much to homeschoolers.)
And what should go on our website? I think you’ve written about this in the past. I know that I should have a place for people to sign up for a monthly newsletter (or weekly, however you want to do it). I know it should include a short bio, market your books, and have the blog. Anything else?
Kristi Holl says
I will be eager to hear about the blogging software. I want to move my blog to my website, but I don’t want to lose lots of it in the process–or lose lots of the features. Thank you so much for discussing this!
Pamela Cosel says
To reply to Karla: I have a web site and then a separate blog as you seem to have, with Blogspot.com. The person who does my web site for me has put a link on my web site home page, and yes, when a reader clicks on “Read Pam’s Blog” they go directly to my blog hosted on Blogspot. So yes, it’s possible, as you ask, to do it that way. Good luck to you.
Pam Halter says
I never thought I would want to have my own blog. But I’m rethinking.
I have a website with Safe Pages and I’ve been satisfied with it. It was easy to build, since I did it myself with a little help from my DH, and I’ve been able to maintain it. The one time we called for help, we got it. It’s $14.95 a month and worth it.
I’m thinking ahead to WHEN (see, I’m hopeful) my middle grade fantasy gets published, and I think a blog on the site for that would be a good thing.
Thanks for ‘splaining all this techno stuff to us wannabe geeks. 😉
I have a website and a separate blog through WordPress. How difficult is it to host my blog with my website w/ a consistant design like your site?
I just launched my second writing blog and learned from my mistakes with the first one. As you say, buying a domain is important. I did this straight away with my new blog and avoided the hassel of transferring subscribers to a new domain, a pain indeed. I went with GoDaddy, too.
Paul D says
DreamHost, if paid 10 years in advance, is $5.95 a month. You can use WordPress blogging software on your site that’s hosted with them. See http://wordpress.org/hosting/ for lots of places that use WordPress software.
I had 1and1.com a couple years ago when I was moving away from GoDaddy, and their web email was absolutely awful. It was the slowest I’d ever seen and their email tech support response was slow too. I quickly moved to another host.