If you’ve been following this blog, you should know how important it is to have an online portfolio if you want to live from your art. While you don’t have a website you simply don’t exist, and of course, people who don’t exist work very little.
In this post i’ll explain what you have to do to have your first website online. I wont talk about web design, for that there are thousands of tutorials and books.
Here you have the complete post index, if you want to skip some parts just click in the topic of your interest:
- Choose a domain name
- Hire web hosting
- Check if your domain is available
- Register your domain name
- Point your domain name servers to your hosting account
- Upload your website files to your server
A domain is a name used to redirect Internet users to your website. For example, my domain is www.sosnewbie.com. It seems obvious, but finding a good domain name is a very important step and for that we need to ask this questions:
- Who is our audience?
- What’s our website’s objective?
- I want short ot large term results?
- What’s the vision and mission of mi website?
It’d be ideal to create a list of possible names, since many of them wont be available. Here you have a few recommendations:
Names easy to remember Short names are easier to remember and to write, although there are also long names easy to remember like dividebycero.com or whatsgoingoninyouhome.com
Related to your activity… or not. There are two sides, the ones that consider that your domain name should be related to your activity (ie: webdesign.com) and the ones that think you should create a brand (ie: sosfactory.com). In the first case you’ll have an advantage at the time of google ranking for the words design and web, but there are two problems: normally these domains are hard to find and since they are so generic it’s difficult to put them personality.
If you want to create a portfolio where the quantity is more important than the quality, and what you need is many clients of low budget, probably webdesign.com would be the best choice. I’d go for the second option, the creation of an independent brand, it’s much better in a long term.
Local vs International sales. If you plan on selling your designs in your city you can use something like madridwebdesign.com which will give you almost instantly rank one in Google for searches like “madrid web design”. As i said, this depends on your sales strategy. I personally prefer selling internationally since there are many potencial clients.
Extensions. It’s best if you use .com although i wouldn’t be bad to register also the .net and your country extension (.es in Spain).
Careful with special characters. For example the letter Ñ if you’re spanish, or the letter ß if you’re german. If you decide for a local market there’s no problem, but if you want to sell you design internationally, you’re automaticaly discarded.
Careful with the numbers, hyphens, abbreviations. Careful with numbers, when you say it orally it might lead to confusions (ie: adsl4u.com , adslfouryou.com or adslforyou.com or adslfouru.com…). Don’t use hyphens or abbreviatures.
Careful with pronunciation. If you plan to have international clients research how your domain sounds at least in english, and if there are similar words that can be a problem.
Careful with coincidences. Inverstigate the market, you can’t use a name for your business that another company is using already which makes the same activities that you do. They can sue you, and even take your domain.
Register all the possibilities related with your domain. This can be more expensive but it’s a lot better in a long term, you try to register your domain and all the possible variations that someone can write by mistake (ie: google.com, gogle.com, gooogle.com, gugle.com…).
Web hosting is the physical place where your website is, every time someone visits your website, a server (a computer) will be in charge to show it. So imagine how important is to hire the services of a good hosting company.
If you look around the Internet, you’ll be crazy when you see the ammount of offers out there, thousands of companies fighting to sell their product. I have my websites netword hosted in Downtownhost.com and i love it, if you’re not very experienced, the most important at the time of hiring a good hosting is finding a company with a great customer service. If your website starts from zero, the cheapest hosting plan (5-8 US$ per year) will do for a while.
Don’t even think of going with mega-hosting-companies where you have to go through 4 different departments for anything. Also don’t use free hostings, they normally have lots of ads, are slow and barely professional.
If you decide to hire web hosting in Downtownhost.com
but you’re not an expert at english don’t worry, Jorge, the owner, also
speaks spanish and very kindly will help you through messenger.
Hiring your hosting isn’t too much of a mistery; you only need Paypal or a credit card and follow the instructions. At the end of the process you should recieve an email with your username and password to enter the control panel, and your name servers, we’ll see what they’re for later.
PS: Before hiring investigate in google about the company. You don’t want to end up with companies like HostingLMI o Fenixer that for a marital fight he left 4.000 clients for months (i was one of them) without tech service and without possibilities of recovering their domains… with sues, minors in the middle, ex-convicts… a spectacle worthy of a soap opera.
Ok, we’ve already hired our hosting and we have a list of possible domain names for our online portfolio, now we have to see which domains of that list are available. For that there are thousands of tools if you want to check if your domain is available… If it is, run to register it.
To register your domain there are two ways, one is to do it through your hosting company (not recommended, if you want to know why, read below) or through domain registering companies, i use Godaddy, if you don’t know english search for a domain registrar in your language in Google.
Registering a .com domain is about 10 US$ per year, the best is to buy it for several years, that way it’s cheaper… it also looks like Google takes that into account when ranking your website.
Registering a domain isn’t that complicated, you only need Paypal or a credit card and follow the indications. If everything goes well, you should recieve an email with your username and password to enter the administration panel of your domain (don’t confuse it with your hosting control panel, they’re different things).
***VERY IMPORTANT!!! many web hosting companies offer a free domain when hiring their services. Never use this domain for your business, Why?:
- Generally they don’t let you access to the control panel of the domain, so for anything you have to go through the customer care service of the company… which can be annoying in some cases.
- If it happens that you want to change the company because you’re not happy with their service, you’ll only have problems when trying to recover your domain name (ie: changing the name servers to your new hosting company).
You should take into account that registering a .com domain is only a few dollars, what is really expensive is the work that you’ll invest in it’s promotion. So it’s better to be the owner of your domain.
We already have a registered domain and a hosting account, next we have to tell the domain to point to our hosting account. This way, every time someone writes on the internet our domain name, they’ll see what we have in our server.
First we need to know the name servers of our hosting; generally they come in the confirmation email when you hire the service, they should be two, a primary and a secondary, something like ns1.domainname.com and ns2.domainname.com. If you have any doubts, you should contact your hosting company (that’s why the customer service is so important) and ask them directly.
Now we have to go to our domain’s control panel, depending on the registrar it may vary, what you have to do is looks how to change the domain name servers by default, y change them with yours ns1.domainname.com and ns2.domainname.com.
If everything went well, your domain should be pointing to your hosting account, now you have to upload your website to the server.
To upload your files to the server you can do it via the Cpanel of your hosting account or better, you can upload them via a FTP client, which is a software.
To connect to your server you’ll need some information that should appear in the email they sent you:
- IP Address: address of your website. Something like: 188.8.131.52 or you can also put your domain name.
After you put all this data you should be able to connect to the server. If you take a look, it’s like browsing through your hard drive, you have to go to the folder /public_html/ and there’s where you have to upload your website files.
It’s very important that the main page of your site is called index.html.
And that’s it, i’ve tried to explain in the best possible way and as detailed as i can, if you have any problem or doubt write a comment and i’ll try to explain it to you