This post is part of the Starting a Blog series.
Part 2: Choosing your host
For people familiar with blogs or blogging Part 2 of starting a blog will be a fairly easy choice, but if your are new to blogging this is going to be a difficult choice, mainly because in having an active marketplace of blog hosting, whilst a good thing for consumer choice, also makes the decision on which form and provider of hosting to chose that much more difficult.
The type of hosting
Before you consider where you want to host your blog (where you want it to live, so to speak), its wise to understand the three different type of blog hosting.
Free: free hosting is whether you get a blog from a free service provider, who sometimes may display ads on your blog, and fully hosts the blog themselves.
Paid: Paid hosting is where you pay for a company to host your blog using their blogware (blog software), on their machine, and often with direct support from the company
DIY: You use your own web hosting company and a load a standalone blogging platfrom to blog from, sometimes a free piece of software (open source) or paid software, with your own domain name (www.yourname.com)
Considering your first time
In considering your first blog its important to consider the reasons why you are setting up your blog. Are you doing it for fun, because your friends are doing it? are you doing it because your part of a community with a particular interest?, or are you seeking fame and fortune, and want to maximise the potential to have large numbers of people reading your blog.
Fun for starters
If you fall into the first category I’d recommend using a free blogging provider, and there are plenty about. The most common service providers are MSN Spaces (from Microsoft) and Blogger (from Google). For a long time I’ve been recommending people start out on Blogger, because the ability to grow within the platform is greater than many other free service providers out there, but MSN Spaces has continued to improve and whilst the flexibility of the service isn’t as great as Blogger, the service now has more users and is extremely popular. Choose one or the other, or even play around with other services. The best thing about free services is that in being free you can experiment, and if its not to your liking walk away.
Even if you do only start for fun, this is still good advice, because for many the blogging bug does tend to bite. If you want to do anything more than muck around and have some fun, I’d recommend persuing the DIY path. The are a large variety of free and paid blogging platforms available for you to use, some of which can be found in this post, but the leaders in the DIY sphere are WordPress and MovableType.
What you didn’t read here
People will tell you that it’s difficult to set up a DIY blog, that you’ve got to stuff around with domain names, FTP and what not, but there is a secret to easy DIY blog hosting: look for a hosting company like Dreamhost that offers one click installation of WordPress and inhouse domain registration as well. You can set it all up from the same control panel and there is no ftp/ uploading or similar involved. Other companies also offer a installation package called “Fanstastico” which also provides quick installation without the technical knowledge being required.
WP v MT
MT was once king of the castle but recent survey’s indicate that WP is now more widely used that the MT payware. Personally I’ve used both and to assure that you never have to pay for it, I’d recommend WordPress. They’ve got a great community who are always willing to help, a huge range of plugins and extra’s, and you cant really beat free.
At the end of the day….
Don’t over do your research here. By all means take a look around but the important thing in considering how you are going to host your blog is to NOT be overwhelmed by the variety of choice but to make a choice then start learning how to get started.