How to get Started Blog Writing: Website Development, Hosting, and Domains (Part 2 in a Series)
As discussed in my previous article, I explained that I would be performing an experiment to determine the viability of making money writing blogs on the internet. The first step was to create the website, www.everythingsexperimental.com. To accomplish this, I spent some time reviewing how to start my website. Additionally, to create a website, a few things must be present, the site itself, a host, and a domain name. Therefore, I will attempt to describe this process in as much detail as possible.
First, the website itself must be built. There are essentially two options to accomplish this:
Building the site from scratch, or using some form of computer language to build out the site. While there are numerous languages used to build websites, unless you are an experienced coder, this is probably not the option you will want to pursue.
Using another piece of software to write the code for you in a graphical environment. This option allows you to select templates for your site. That is, you select pre-designed sites and customize portions of that site to meet your needs. This can be accomplished with software like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or a host of other options. A recurring theme present among many bloggers, was the use of WordPress to manage the site. Because of its ease of use and more importantly because it is free I chose this option.
Second, the website must be hosted, that is, it must exist someplace where people can access your site from their computer. Additionally, I found that many of the how to blogs contained affiliate links to web hosting services ranging from around $2 a month to in excess of $10 a month. (Affiliate linking is one way blogs create a portion of their income. While not the subject of this article, we will discuss affiliate linking in more detail in another article.) This is where I deviated greatly from many of the how to blogs. Because my goal was to experiment and create a website for as close to free as possible I chose Amazon Web Services.
Amazon AWS offers free web hosting for small websites for 12 months, it’s all based on the amount of traffic to and from this site, this gives me the ability to experiment without paying for hosting for one year. However, here’s the biggest benefit of AWS. It scales, that is, if traffic expands drastically, so does the hosting service. Let’s say that this experiment does work and that it is super easy to create a blog and drive traffic. If the site begins receiving thousands of visitors a day, the elastic cloud (an Amazon term) would scale up to accommodate the increased traffic and scale back down as the traffic alleviates. Here’s the caveat, if the amount of traffic exceeds a certain number in a month, Amazon will charge me as it scales up. It like paying for electric, you only pay for what you use. However, if the site never exceeds the allotted monthly traffic, it remains free for the 12 month period. Additionally, Amazon is a huge company, I expect that they won’t close their doors anytime soon and delete my site, which would be an issue if the experiment becomes successful.
Furthermore, Amazon AWS has WordPress available to upload for use with your website right within the setup console. Keep in mind, Amazon AWS might be a little more intimidating at first compared to other hosting services, but I will walk you through this process in detail. It’s actually pretty simple, as there is basically a wizard that does most of the work for you.
Here was my first expense for creating this experiment. A domain name, in my case, is the web address: www.everythingsexperimental.com, domain names that are not currently registered can be purchased at many places on the web. There are many different prices surrounding registration and even the possibility of purchasing names that may be registered to someone else. The best advice I have is to brain storm for a unique name and see if its available. Finding and unregistered name will probably be the cheapest route.
While there are a few cheaper options for purchasing domains, I stuck with Amazon’s Route 53 within Amazon AWS. For simplicity of site creation and to limit issues, I purchased www.everythingsexperimental.com for $12.00 for one year through Amazon. In less than an hour, the domain was registered and ready to be setup.
I know that this is a lot to absorb, especially if you are new to getting a website setup. Because I don’t want to overload anyone, and because this article is getting rather long, I will stop here. In the next article, I will describe in detail how to get started with Amazon AWS.