I've been blogging on and off since 2003. Started out using services like LiveJournal, as well as other clones of LJ. Anyway, blogging is a rather common activity nowadays. Back then people were asked to give invite codes before they could create their accounts. We have it easy these days, I swear. ;) And these days, web hosting and domain names are relatively cheaper! I used to share webspace with 3 other folks. It was that expensive back in the day. Even just registering the domain name was expensive. I think it used to cost a couple of thousands per year.
Now that I think about it, I have a friend who asked me about this topic a couple of weeks ago. Here it goes:
1. Think of the domain name you really think is appropriate for your blog or website.
2. Check it if it is still available. Most domain registrars have a tool to check if the domain name you like is still available. Commonly used registrars include the following: GoDaddy, Dreamhost, etc. Locally, I use Ploghost.com because I've registered craftyneko.com with them for quite a while now. Also, I could pay them without even having a credit card because they have an option of paying through bank deposits.
3. Once you already have your chosen domain name, you could use it now. But it depends on what you're using. Some webhosting services actually just ask you for the domain name and do everything for you. If not, it depends on the tool you're provided with. The important things to learn are the following: CNAME and ANAME. These are the two things that you will definitely need, whatever tool you have. If you're using Blogger too, check out this guide from GoDaddy.
So, in this day and age, you've got an idea for a website and you're not sure how to go about it? There are many options that even newbies can try and have fun with. Let me write down several options that I think you could use when you want to create a website or a blog.
1. Start out by using a blogging service.
Why do I suggest using a blogging service? Blogging services have really easy to use features. If this is your first time to write a blog or create a website, you don't have to worry a lot about the format. You could focus on the content that you want to put on it. If you want to post content about cats, then feel free to do so and you could select from the many services like Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, WordPress.com, etc. You could even remove the comments section from such blogs if you mainly want to share information and you don't really feel like managing comments. (But, trust me. Comments can be quite good because you could learn from your readers too!)
Another nice thing about blogging services is that they also sometimes give you the option of registering your custom domain through them. If you have a credit card or PayPal account, it should be easy. Within a few clicks and a form to fill up, you have your own site and a custom domain to go with it. And you just have to pay a certain amount (it varies from one service to another). Everything's quite convenient.
2. Use a website builder.
If you don't want to have a very bloggish format, and you want it to be more customized, you could opt to try a website builder like Weebly. Or if you already have a Google account, why not try Google Sites? Both give you a lot of control without having to learn so much technical details just yet. You could still do drag and drop of stuff to create your website on these two services. Not bad at all, right? And not too geeky yet.
More often than not, website builders already have themes included so you don't have to think about the colors much unless there's a very specific branding you want to achieve and if you have enough time to do some tweaks.
3. For the more technically-inclined, get your own webhost and domain name.
This is something I've also tried. I paid for a webhost and I registered my domain. In this case, you need to learn quite a bit, depending on how customized you want things to be. You might also need to familiarize yourself with things like PHP, WordPress, Joomla, Apache, etc. The good thing though is that there are usually people who are available to help you. If you want to try this one, I suggest that you really ask a friend to guide you through the steps and that you shouldn't rush it. After all, you will seriously be the one to maintain everything including making sure that your data has backups. For a time, Dreamhost was pretty popular among my friends. Some webhosting providers bundle domain registration with the webhosting service. They make it easy for their users to just start submitting their preferred .com or .org (etc.) and for the users to start setting up their website.
Among the three, I am currently more into blogging rather than having my own focused website. For one thing, most of my content is written from a personal perspective and so Blogger was something that I easily gravitated to when I got lazy and stopped my old WordPress setup. As much as I loved WordPress so much, it also took my time to manage it. So what I did was basically keep the domain name I registered before and set it up in Blogger so that it will now be pointing to this blog. It makes sense to me.
What about you? Have you been thinking about having your own blog or website lately? Share with me the options you've looked at. I am definitely curious.