Luckily, setting up a website has gotten a lot easier than when I set up my first website. Back in 1997, I had to print a form downloaded from the Web, fill it out and mail it in with a check to retain my domain name. That domain name purchase was made from the agency that became Web giant Network Solutions, which today manages more than 7 million domain names.
After purchasing my domain name, I then had to find a company that could “host” my domain on the Web- basically make it “live” on the Web. For a Web host, I selected a company called Pair Networks, which ultimately became too expensive for me. The first recorded image of SDuros.com in the Internet Archive was in August of the year 2000. By then I had learned rudimentary HTML, was a member of the International Webmaster’s Association and was reporting on venture capital and technology. I had ambitions to set up my own domain registrar for NPOs. Didn’t succeed or I’d be a millionaire now.
Now that I’ve told you all that, forget it.
DIY for journalists
Setting up a site so you can retain an archive of your articles is 1000% simpler today. Although there are many ways to set up a portfolio online with live links, I believe the best approach for a journalist is to set up an archive just like I have here in my WordPress site. I learned fairly quickly that I am not a Web designer and WP, SquareSpace and others take care of that shortage of talent.
Here’s what you need to know. Buy your domain name from a registrar. Also know that you are not actually “buying” your domain name. You are “renting” it for a period of time. Mosts registrars give you a discount when you rent for a number of years so that is what I’d recommend if you can afford it. Here’s the list of the largest domain name registrars from WebHosting.info.
The largest on this list are GoDaddy, Enom, Network Solutions, Tucows and Schlund+Partner. This list says nothing about price or reliability. I have had personal experience with GoDaddy, Network Solutions and Tucows.
These days, the larger domain registrars are also hosts. And many of them offer an easy user interface with WordPress, which is basically what your “design” on the Web will look like – no hand woven bad html design for lucky you! You can have an interface that looks like this site you’re reading on, which I’ve set up on WordPress.org, the commercial imprint of Word Press. Here’s a sampling of what the bare bones designs look like.
The basic designs are free but many folks choose to jazz them up by hiring a great designer to assist. My feeling is that site design for us sole proprietor/journalists is less important because the quality of information is what is important. And with the way information is read and distributed on the Web, I think less and less about my site as a destination. In fact, many journalists are experimenting with site-less news models these days.
One-stop shops aplenty
It’s easy to find a one-stop shop that provides domain registration, Web Hosting and WordPress interface. But buyer beware. A company like GoDaddy seemingly makes it simple to buy your domain name and put it on the Web. But I ask at what cost. Me, I dislike GoDaddy. Their early marketing was offensive (it was like Hooters) and they nickel and dime you for every little service you need. As your use and sophistication grows you might find yourself disgusted pretty quickly .
A couple of years ago I moved to MediaTemple. The $250 per year fee plus the cost of my domain name rental seemed like a good deal for me since I “play” on the Web a lot with various domain names and often establish and run sites and social media for clients. I’ve been pretty happy with them and their services. But now that Media Temple has been purchased by GoDaddy, I am preparing to flee if the extra fees get onerous. One option I have been considering is Bluehost, which is often played off against GoDaddy in articles like this from a site called WebHostranking.com (which by the way offers lots of useful info for those of you getting started.)
The important thing for a journalist to get from one of these services is 1-click set up for WordPress, which MediaTemple, BlueHost and GoDaddy all have.
Added kudos for Bluehost
When I asked my friend, colleague and digital expert Courtney Hunt who she would recommend for Domain registration and hosting, she said she is leaning toward BlueHost. “I typically recommend Bluehost (one of 3 recommended specifically by WordPress). I have clients who use GoDaddy (trying hard, but not the best option) and InMotion (seems to be good) as well,” she said.
I hope this is helpful. Courtney and I are discussing doing a joint session for journalists moving to the Web. Let me know what you’d like to learn about at SallyDuros AT gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do for you.