Starting A Blog: More Than Meets the Eye

In the Beginning…

This blog is to help beginning bloggers set up a reliable and trouble-free website from scratch.

Never Underestimate

Underestimating has been the theme for me for the last two week during the launch of this blog.  

I wanted very badly to start my blog’s inauguration on April 13th, 2018, but many unforeseen obstacles got in the way.  

Oversight, lack of anticipation, just plain lack of knowledge kept slowing me down.

The steps to get oneself a presence on the web is much more involved than I first anticipated.

Choosing a Good ISP to Host Your Blog

This step is the most crucial of all the steps.  A bad ISP could very well ruin the future well-being of your blog.

There are a fairly large number of ISPs that can potentially host your website, but only a few are able to do so in a dependable way.  

Who Can We Trust To Host Our Site

A search on the net revealed a great number of the most popular web hosting providers as not trustworthy as one would hope. Many of the complaints revolved around hidden fees, misleading billing/cancellation/refunds policies, bad customer service, bad tech support, or all of the above combined.

Cheap Is Alluring But Doesn’t Always Save Money

Cheap pricing for web hosting is very alluring but it is a bad place to save.  

The ISPs that are more reliable tend to be somewhat more costly than super popular lower-cost ISPs.  This may not always be the case, but you’ll be the judge and you have been warned. There are horror stories about how the cheaper hosts start you off with a great price only for  “mysterious and unexplained problems” to surface later on such as bottleneck issues with bandwidth usage and your ISP “strongly recommending” that you upgrade even though you know your traffic is less than stellar, for instance.  The list of other problems go on and on that could end up eating away at your initial savings.

Before You Commit, Research, Research, and Research…

Try to do as much research as you can about the ISP of your choice before you commit.  Ask around a bit. Let price not be the first and only factor when choosing your host. A lot of the most highly recommended ISPs are “highly recommended and popular “ because they have a great affiliate program and they can buy a lot of advertisement – promoters get paid well for promoting them.  ISPs are not all created equal.

A Place Where My Blog Can Finally Nest

If you are thinking about hosting your blog, why not consider NamesPro for all your web hosting needs?  This blog is hosted by NamesPro.

NamesPro is the host for not just small websites but also for countless large companies.  Don’t take my word for it, click this link to find out what other companies and corporations trust NamesPro for all their web hosting needs and why.  Their prices are reasonable and the technical and customer support is top notch.  I do get paid if you click on the links, but not nearly as much as you think – promise.

Choosing a Good Domain Name

Choosing a good domain name is fairly crucial.  Your domain name needs to be catchy, easy to remember, and relevant to your theme or subject   – this is harder than it seems. The most frustrating aspect of this step is when you find out that the domain name you want is already taken.

Interesting Caveats With a Dot CA Domain

Registering my domain name with a .ca extension was cheaper with my current ISP than with a .com or any other dot extension.  On top of that, I found out that the .com version of my domain of choice was already claimed by GoDaddy.

Something Foul Is Afoot

At first, I wanted to purchase learningsimply.com as my blog domain name, but the next fact helped sealed the deal for me with learningsimply.ca.  According to the GoDaddy site, the purchase of the .com version of my domain name would cost merely $110 dollars. What???!@@!#$@#%$@ – I think you get my point.  Learningsimply.ca is the way to go. Time to move on to the next step.                                           

Private WHOIS and the SSL Conundrum

The topics of private WHOIS and SSL are not necessarily linked except for the fact that they are both related to site security.  Private WHOIS is usually an additional paid service with most ISPs, and it concerns the hiding of your personal information.

What is Private WHOIS?

Private WHOIS is a service that ISPs provide to hide all the personal info that you are required to tell about yourself or your business to be able to register your domain name of choice.  Once the registration takes place, all your info will be available for anyone doing a WHOIS query over the Internet.

Company/individual name, phone number, email, and your address/location are all exposed for anyone to see.  Is this going to be a problem? I did some research to help me decide whether it was worth getting this additional service and I could not find a definitive answer to help me decide.

Deciding if Private WHOIS Is Worth It

All I can say is that you must be the one to decide how much your privacy is worth to you.  Some argue that hiding your personal/company information might make you look shady.

Why would one go to such an extent to hide info that could attest to the authenticity and legality of your business?

On the other hand, getting spammed and unsolicited phone calls from countless strangers isn’t very appealing either – this one is for you to decide. My decision was somewhat made for me with my next discovery.  

A Surprise Gift For All Canucks

One good thing that came out of all this domain name registration mambo jumbo is that if you are a Canadian citizen or Canadian resident, then registering a .ca domain with the CIRA (Canadian domain name registrar) automatically gives .ca domains protection against WHOIS lookup for free.  

Hooray! I finally get something free. It is part of the CIRA policy for all Canadian customers to have this protection by default free of charge, but the domain must be a .ca domain and “non-business” or “individual”. If you are Canadian and thinking about starting a website, then you are in luck!

Securing the traffic of your website is another possible concern when you start your blog.  

What a Secured SSL Site Can Do

If your blog is not an “individual” blog like mine, creating an SSL enabled site might be something to think about.  I was struggling with this one for a bit and then realized that I was getting a bit ahead of myself. I don’t have any significant amount of traffic worthwhile enough to consider distributing or selling anything at my site at this point that requiring private secure transactions to any customers, yet.

Hoping Some Day…

 It will be a great day for me if I ever need to do this on my site. It will mark a milestone in my site development growth from being merely an individual site to a real business site with some real earning power – until then.

To register your domain name, try a reputable ISP like Namespro.

Put this Item In Your Priority List

Update:  It seems my ISP may have downplayed the importance of setting up SSL for my website. I asked them at the very beginning whether I should do it, but they said that it could wait.

According to a recent blog I read, you should set up SSL as soon as possible.  Delaying this step will only complicate things – might even be very costly.  I guess I will find out in the near future.

It is probably a bit late for me.  If you are just starting your website, please make this a priority.  

Domain Name Registration

I was naive enough to think that registering my domain would be instant and that I would have a web address ready to test surf right away.  Boy, was I wrong! It takes a while for a newly registered domain to propagate (another big word for “your site name to be known on the net by the DNS”).

It Takes Long Than You Think: Have Patience

When I finally got through the 24 hour period, I eagerly typed my newly registered domain: learningsimply.ca.  My question about domain parking was answered at this point (I was going to ask my ISP, but changed my mind).

Parking Your Domain?

Domain parking just means that your ISP puts up the “Under Construction” page until you install some web presence.

It’s Alive: Website Finally Up

Browsing my own site after the 24 hour period made it self-evident.  My site is finally something I can name on the web. One down and 99 more steps to go – metaphorically speaking of course.

A Domain Name with WWW or Without?

Should your name be a “naked domain” or should it have a WWW in front of it?  This was another question I needed answering and my curiosity revealed something interesting.

What Is The Deal With WWW? (It’s Not Wrestling)

Some suggest that large sites with millions of more pages per view should use WWW with their domain names for technical reasons.  

One such technical reason is that some providers may have difficulty redirecting traffic from a failing server to a healthy server.  

Without a www in your domain name, some providers cannot update DNS record properly with a “naked” domain name. This will affect your site if you need to have some level of hosting redundancy.  

Example:

My domain name uses www, so this is = http://www.learningsimply.ca

“Naked” domain = http://learningsimply.ca

Did Someone Say Naked??!!!

You might say to yourself that your site will NEVER get that much traffic or ever grow to that extent.  Think again. Would you not want your site to grow to that level someday? Because IF and WHEN it does, you will not have to face the aforementioned problems.  Remember, it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

I keep this little morsel of advice tucked under my utility belt all the time. Always plan ahead and be ready as much as you can. It costs you nothing to name your site with a www – not as much as what you’ll face if you go without it. Another technical problem is the issue with cookies.  

What Is The Deal With Cookies And Naked Domains?

Cookies are usually used by sites to track users. This might not seem like an issue at first. Again, you might think that you’ll never grow big enough to need tracking people using cookies on your website. It seems that if a “naked” domain sets a cookie, it might not work with right with subdomains on other parts of your site; a cookie set on a subdomain might not work with a “naked” domain.  This issue can get pretty technical and pretty involved. Want to know more about this?

For more info visit www.yes-www.org/why-use-www/ and find out for yourself.

Adventures in Software Installation

The amount and variety of web software for building websites is quite amazing.  Until this point in time, I had no idea about how many other types of web publishing software really existed.  

I will assume that other ISPs also offer a wealth of website authoring applications made available to their customer’s disposal like my ISP does, but this is just an assumption. 

The Beauty Of Cpanel

The Cpanel tool from my ISP showcased a variety of tools ranging from packages that can build you a Youtube-like site all the way to several blog building packages like WordPress (Joomla, Drupal, and a few others come to mind), and other exotic packages for other web needs in-between.  

Playing With WordPress

I remember seeing a package for installing a shopping cart, complete with support for many of the popular online payment systems as well as direct online credit card payment support – need inquiring about the latter with my ISP.

It took me about two re-installs and quite a bit of playing around before I got the hang of WordPress and the most crucial features to get a blog set up.  

I’ll probably write a blog about my setup experience with WordPress focusing on what features and setup procedures to master first to get a site up and running.

Some Plugins You Need Without Exception

I figured out that I needed about 3 plugins to get my site started safely.  These 3 plugins should cover a lot of ground in getting you up and running with some protection and a lot of features to keep you busy and ready.  

The 3 musketeers you need to get started are:

  • Akismet spam protection
  • Jetpack (this one is jam-packed with features – almost an all in one plugin)
  • MailChimp – an email subscription management program – this feature is crucial to the growth of your site.  

Here Are The Contestants

Akismet is essential because you WILL get spam as soon as your blog starts to get any kind of notoriety.  It is better to get this plugin set up and stop this nuisance from the start than to have to clean up each blog later.  Get your free key to activate the plugin.

Jetpack the “swiss army knife” of plugins has tons of features for the starting blogger.  It really covers a lot of ground.  I have yet to explore and understand all the features available.  I’m very certain that many of the features offered in this one plugin will come really handy in the very near future.

MailChimp comes to mind as another example.  There are many others. You need email management program of some kind.  I also installed a plugin called “email manager”.  For now, MailChimp is doing its job.  

UPDATE: I just found out that Jetpack has email management/subscription features.  I’m not sure how well Jetpack does it, but I will look into this and see how I can implement my email subscription and email list maintenance.

Install What You Need

My advice to you is that you find what you need first and not get distracted by all the other eye-candy to get you started – which is not what I did at first.  However, my time exploring and studying up the other software has given me some ideas on how to plan my next steps and what I might need to set up my site in the near future.  

Your main goal is getting your site up and running in a time-efficient manner.

To Be Naked Or Not To Be Naked (a domain name confession)

Remember the previous section of this blog about whether to use www or a “naked” domain?  Since we are talking about software installations, make a note to install your WordPress with the choice of http://www plus your domain name instead of the “naked” version of your site name – the option without the www.  

Do yourself a favor and avoid a lot of potential headaches in the future if you intend to grow your website to a better and brighter financial future.

In The End…

I tried very hard to communicate the few but very important steps to keep in mind when trying to set up your own web presence from scratch.  I really had no idea that it would actually take me nearly 2 weeks to set up everything up from the day I planned on having everything up and running.  

Use this blog as your To-Do list and get yourself started as quickly and as soon as possible. Time is of the essence here. As with any business endeavor, remember that “time is money” because you only have a limited quantity of it – time to make up for lost time.

Note:

Namespro ended up being the ISP I picked to host my blog.  It had the least number of complaints (very few compared to the others), is reasonably priced, and it is fairly upfront about fees.  It is a well-established ISP and it hosts many websites for large companies that are well-known. They are also quite good with their response time (1.5 hours between your inquiry and their response). They will answer any questions you might have within a few hours – usually in less time than that. I had a few people asking me about this, so I posted this info at the end.  See for yourself, don’t take my word for it. U.S customers might be in luck because of Namespro charges in Canadian dollars.  The exchange rate might work in favor of U.S customers signing up.]     

 

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