It’s time for week 2 of our Author Website Fridays – How to understand website hosting & domain names :)
This one is like an algebra problem for many people. Understanding how to host your website and get a domain name is no piece of cake. I’ll try to break it down in the simplest way here, but if you have further questions, leave a comment!
What is a hosting account?
Web hosting providers (such as Blue Host, Media Temple & WP Engine – our tried and trusted providers) literally host your site on the web. If you imagine the web as land, then a web hosting provider owns some of that land. You and I then rent some of this land through an account with them.
What is a domain name?
Your domain name then is like your address – it identifies your house on that land and allows others to find you. For 30 Day Books our domain name is www.30daybooks.com, for you it might be www.awesomelyawesomeauthorpreneur.com. (Mouthful much?)
How do I get a domain name?
When you sign up for a hosting account, you have the option to register a new domain with the hosting company that you choose. As long as the domain name is available (i.e. someone else doesn’t already own it), you can buy one for $10 – $15/ year.
What if I already have a domain name?
If you already have a domain that you own (and pay for each year), then you can point this existing domain name to your new hosting account. You would do this by logging in to your new hosting account. Each company has a different process, but it should be easily explained on their website.
What if I don’t know what domain name I want yet?
You can usually sign up for a hosting account and then register a domain later on once you’ve decided upon one. Most hosting companies offer a package that includes a domain name with your hosting, but you can also choose a la carte to suit your needs too.
How about getting an email address to match my website?
You can typically get an email address to match your domain name through your hosting company. For example laura @ 30daybooks.com is my email address. Check your hosting account.
I hear there are several types of hosting available. What are the differences and what do I need?
Free hosting ($0): Similar to shared hosting (see below) but loaded with ads. Usually very slow. I don’t recommend this kind of hosting – except for VERY small or private sites.
Shared hosting ($5 to $20/month): The most common kind of hosting. A very large server hosts websites for several different clients. Each client has their own account and is independent from the other clients. I recommend this type of hosting for most author websites.
VPS (Virtual Private Servers) ($30 to $40/month): Similar to shared hosting except that sites are strongly isolated from each other, almost as if they are on different servers. Good for high-security sites.
Dedicated Servers ($80 +/month): A whole server to yourself. Fast, secure, pricey!
Usually shared hosting is a good place to start and is sufficient for most authors’ needs. There is always the option to upgrade if you need to! (A good problem to have, popular!)
Can you recommend any hosting companies?
Absolutely. Between Brandon and I, we have 8 websites! Over the last 5 years we have tried and tested a variety of hosting companies, and believe me when I say it’s just not something you want to decide upon lightly. Not only does unreliable and slow hosting cost you traffic, it takes a lot of time and energy to fix a slow or broken site, not to mention the frustration.
It is also a huge headache having to transfer sites to another hosting company if you are really having trouble. I recommend the following hosting companies for speed, reliability and great customer service, based on our experience. These links are affiliate, meaning that if you click through them we will receive a small commission. We only endorse products or companies that will really serve and help our audience.
Blue Host provide basic features, at a low cost, with good customer service. Hosting plans start at $6.95 a month, and they offer one-click installation of WordPress.
Media Temple offers GREAT customer service and great speed. They also offer one-click installation of WordPress and the ability to host multiple sites.
WP Engine is certainly “premium” and I wouldn’t ordinarily recommend monthly hosting with such a high price-point. However, I mention them here for two main reasons:
– WP Engine only deal with WordPress sites, and hence everyone on the customer-support team is extremely well-versed in WordPress. The customer support is also above and beyond anything else out there.
– They also have super impressive loading times and speed – “My blog is 4x faster than yours” is their tagline!
How much will this all cost?
- WordPress.org installation = FREE
- Domain name: $10-$15/ year
- Hosting: $5- $20/ month
- Theme: FREE-$200 one-time cost
pssst… Looking for a new author website you can update and manage hassle free? Authorlicious is here!
What did I miss? Burning questions or additional thoughts? Leave a comment!
Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!
Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.