Web hosting and what it’s all about
So you’ve made the sensible decision to open your business to the world and go online, amazing! A quick google search will make you realise there are a variety of ways to get online. Do I use a website builder, purchase a pre-built website template or go custom and let someone else worry about all of this?
There are many ways to get started, and one of the advantages of using a website builder such as the likes of squarespace or wix is they’ll sort out all of the behind the scenes complicated web stuff that only nerds know about. This is great, but it usually means you’re very restricted as far as design and website capabilities, plus it’s much more expensive! The short term win is usually a long term loss.
Going the ever-so slightly longer route of setting up your own hosting and having the design space that WordPress offer will give you future proofing, flexibility and enable you to have more optimized space to develop as your business does.
What is website hosting?
Website hosting is essentially another computer, somewhere in the world being kept on to keep your website live. The internet is not something you can shut down and is required to stay on 24/7/365 and so on. It’s very impractical to keep your computer on all of the time to keep your website live, and would also be very expensive.
There are a number of website hosting companies to choose from, personally I use GreenGeeks as they offer a fast, secure and eco friendly package which is very competitively priced. GreenGeeks also matches 3 times the amount of energy they consume from the grid in the form of renewable energy credits meaning your website will be 300% green when hosted on their platform.
Is website hosting different from building a website?
Website hosting and website building are different tools. Whilst the hosting is keeping your website alive all of the time, the builder, such as WordPress, is the place where you design your webpages. There are many website design companies out there, some are easy to use but can be restricted in their uses and performance, others require a degree in coding to even log onto. WordPress sits somewhere in between and allows great flexibility for trades website design and usage.
Why should I host and design my own website vs using a website builder?
The benefits of establishing your own website are often overlooked for the simple, restrictive, template sites out there. Having your own website isn’t just something to be proud of, it offers you more flexibility with your website, making it your own to have as you want. Custom built websites also offer better search results and SEO rankings, which means more website views and more customers. A custom built website will be more expensive initially, there’s no doubt about it, the benefits far outweigh the cost compared to a restrictive template site. The full benefits of custom designed vs templates will be covered in a future blog.
How do I host a website and how much does website hosting cost?
So you’ve decided you want an awesome website and that will require a little more design work than using a template and restricted designs. There are many hosting companies out there, and various methods on getting started, this is my easy 5 step method to getting started online with a website and web hosting.
- Get your domain (www.mybusinessname.com)
- SSL Certificate
- WordPress Installation
1. Get your domain
First you’ll need to buy your domain (the www.mydomain.com bit), this is usually your business name, I would usually pick .com or .co.uk. These are usually very cheap for the first year (£0.99-£1.99) then around £10-15 each year afterwards. Buy your domain from a reputable company such as 123reg.com (this is the platform I use throughout this guide)
Now you’ll want to sort out your hosting. A good hosting provider such as Green Geeks has a very easy to use interface and can be set up without any issues. Head over to Greengeeks and hit “Get Started” on their homepage.
Greengeeks offer the following hosting packages depending on your requirements. I would suggest the Lite version if you only need one website, you can always upgrade at a later date if you decide on more websites.
Now add the website domain that you purchased from 123reg.com here and hit next.
Fill in the following form, and pick how you’d like to pay, annually is usually the cheapest. You’re in! That’s the hosting part done, now it’s time to link your domain name and hosting together.
3. Domain Nameservers.
You’ll want to have Green Geeks and reg123 open at the same time for this one. Once on your Green Geeks dashboard, hit the manage button in the “Your Accounts” section.
It will take you to the following page, where you can see the 3 domain nameservers in the last box.I have blocked mine out for security reasons.
Now head over to reg123 and select “manage” for the domain on the control panel.
Which will take you through to the below page, find “Change nameservers” in the second section.
Now, simply copy and paste the 3 from green geeks into reg123.com, one at a time in the same order and hit update, done!
Note: This can take up to 48 hours to update before moving on, but in my experience usually only takes around 10 minutes.
Now to add the domain onto Green Geeks.
Head over to the “dashboard” and hit “cPanel”, this will take you over to the below page.
Now search for “domains” in the top right hand corner. You’ll be taken to the below, then simply hit “Create A New Domain” and follow the steps. You’re now ready to add the SSL!
4. SSL Certificate
The SSL certificate is an important part of the website set up as it gives your website the “s” in the https://, this demonstrates your website is secure, and it’s free, so why not.
Head back to greengeeks and select “Security” on the left bar, then “Add SSL Certificate” in the top right
Follow the steps with the dropdown, selecting your website’s name, and then select the last option “Let’s encrypt SSL”, it’s the second free option and should only take a minute or two. Now you have a secure website and you’re onto the final set up stage.
There are many website design builders out there, I personally use wordpress for it’s easy to use interface, flexibility and design abilities. WordPress is integrated into most hosting providers and makes it much easier to use.
Head over to Greengeeks “Dashboard” and select “cPanel”
Now in the top right, search “wordpress”. It will take you over to the wordpress manager “Softaculous”
Hit “Install” and follow the below steps
Select the 3rd option “https://”
Scroll down to see the below.
On the left, “Site Name” wants to be your business name, the description is just a short description of your services, such as “Electrician”.
On the right, “Admin Name” will be your login for WordPress, but will also be the author of your blogs, so I would just use your name, the password is also unique to WordPress.
“Admin email” will be used for your customers, so pick it now, this can be linked to outlook at a later date.
Before you install, I like to use the “Litespeed Cache” Plugin, now scroll to the bottom and hit Install!
If the set up says your SSL is not valid, you may need to wait 5 minutes for it to update, perfect time to grab a coffee, or if it’s past 5pm perhaps a beer.