I goofed up big time setting up this site the first time. Last week you probably deduced that I went with a WordPress “site”. I didn’t know then, nor am I still sure now, what that means but it’s what I have.
After some looking around and some serious head scratching I figured out that I needed a few accounts.
- A domain name, or, the address of your website;
- A platform to build it with (WordPress) and an account to work from;
- Somewhere to store the site’s content, an online “host”.
Like a fool, I had in my head that I wanted a WordPress hosted site, so I opened about 18 browser tabs and did some searching. The first one was, naturally, www.wordpress.com. Big. Mistake.
Two Types of WordPress
Through the great documentation over at WordPress.com I was set up and had an account in what felt like five minutes. The second browser tab I had open was reading about this WooCommerce plugin. A plugin is like an app for your website. You download it, activate it and it normally works with everything. I couldn’t get to the button that all of the tutorials said you had in your Admin panel to get new plugins. I thought, a-ha, this is typical of business practices, the snare trap. They get you hooked then start charging for the features you want.
I deduced that I needed to buy a Premium Account to “unlock” the plugin feature. In my head I was keeping a tally of the various costs weighed against all of the features you get. It appeared that the Premium account gave you a domain name (raumfurniture.com) and a year of the extra goodies and hosting for what I think was around $150. Heck of a deal. I bought it.
I didn’t get the plugin thingy that I was looking for.
I did some reading to determine what I was doing wrong, all the while a feeling of dread was building in my gut. I thought I had made my first blunder and it was a seriously rookie one. I kept seeing these “WordPress.org” self-hosted tutorials. I read about eCommerce sites only working with self-hosted sites.
I chatted with the WordPress.com help desk.
It turns out I had made a huge mistake. They were so nice and offered me three options: full refund and a do-over, partial refund and keep my domain name for a year or keep the domain, get me setup with WordPress.org and give me a credit towards some plugins that they offer.
I took door number 2.
Now I needed a host, a place to store all of my web content. Don”t keep it out on the street, it doesn’t like the crowds.
I picked BlueHost.com. They are “approved” by WordPress and I figured that I don’t need any more hassles. For about $20/year (I think) I got three years of hosting services. I figured I could cut ties at any time and migrate everything over if they sucked because it’s not a huge loss. It was pretty easy to get set up and install WordPress through their “One-Click” setup helper.
It is to be noted by the careful reader that I have no idea how to practically choose a great host or what features you need. Size, speed, security? I just wanted it done and for it to work and have upgrade options in the future. I will note that it does seem practical to separate the host and domain name vendors that you choose. This way if the host sucks, is down a lot (or worse) you can change and just be out some money. Seems that it would be harder to do if you bought the domain and hosting service from the same company.
Up and Running
You need a name, and for the record, choose a web address that has your “product” in it for search engine reasons. My company is actually Raum Industries but the website is raumfurniture.com to aid people and machines in finding the products that I intend to sell.
You need a place to store your content. If you intend on just generally blogging or updating content for info, I don’t see any reason why a managed WordPress.com Premium account wouldn’t pass muster – and you won’t need to source a hosting vendor. If you want full customization and options, get a host. Plan to spend around $50/year or less if you need something small.
Lastly, you need a content management platform, which for me, is WordPress. Just think of WordPress as some software that your host uses to display your website. It’s the visual editor like what you’d get if you went out and got a SquareSpace account (or similar). Out of the gate you’ll pretty much only be able to easily create a blog page. You’ll need some plugins, themes and widgets and I’ll definitely talk more about those later.
Keep following along next time to hear about my DNS (Domain Name Server) problems and hopefully you’ll be able to avoid them too.