As a custom blog designer, I design blogs and websites for clients who want to make an impression on the web.  Be it a personal blog for sharing fashion or food (or whatever!) or a site to promote and grow your business, everyone who’s anyone has a blog or website these days (not to mention a social media account!).  No one expects you to fully understand the back end of blog and website structure, in fact, that’s one reason why you would hire a blog designer.  However, it helps to grasp the basics of domain registration and hosting, so I wanted to offer a quick tutorial on what each of these things are, and how they work.

At Little Blue Deer, we request that each client purchase their own hosting and domain name.  I can’t tell you the number of times a client has come to me with their blog or website being held “hostage” by the previous site designer, meaning that the designer won’t share the login info for their hosting so they really can’t make any big changes to their site or blog.  At Little Blue Deer, you own everything!  So you are always in control and can do whatever you want with your site or blog.

The first thing most people do when they decide to start a website or blog is to purchase a domain name.  This is a must do.  You’ve seen the commercials for Godaddy, so a lot of people choose Godaddy because they are so popular, and this is perfectly fine, there’s no real degree of quality with domain registration like there is with hosting, so you can register your domain where you wish.  However, I always prefer to have the domain and the hosting with the same provider.

What is a domain name?  A domain name is www.yoursite.com or www.yourblog.com.  My domain is www.littlebluedeerdesign.com.  A domain is like the street address where your blog or site is going to live.  So, if you were to register your domain at Godaddy, you would just go to www.godaddy.com and search for and then register your domain:

Domain registration runs about $15 per year.  You can also then have email addresses set up using your domain name (cost and setup varies per your domain registrar).  And you own your street address on the web!  There aren’t a ton of options for purchasing a domain name minus extensions like .net, .co or .org, but you will have the option to select Domain Privacy upon checkout.  This means that when someone searches for your domain in a site like whois.com, they will not be able to see your name and address. This also cuts down on spam emails when you register your new domain which can be a problem.

So most people think that once they have their domain name registered, they are set! Not the case. In order to run a self-hosted WordPress, or wordpress.org website you can read about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org here, you also need to have hosting.

What is hosting? Hosting is like the actual plot of land, or house, where your blog or website lives. A WordPress blog or website is just a collection of files: css, php, html and javascript. They all come together to render your WordPress site. So you need a place, in the cloud, for the files that make your site run to live. For example, this is my website, on the front end:

And this is my website, a self-hosted WordPress site, on the back end, after I log into my WordPress dashboard:

So that’s it, right? I have WordPress and I don’t need to worry about it. Well, no. This is the front-end rendering of my website. The actual files that make this site happen live with my site host. You can choose from many site hosts, some of the most popular are Hostgator, Godaddy and Bluehost (my personal favorite and the one that I use most myself, Bluehost offers a free SSL certificate and I have
a quick and easy tutorial on how to set up your Bluehost account here. So, this is a screenshot of what the REAL WordPress installation looks like, in your actual site or blog host:

Can you see that it’s a collection of files and folders? As explained above, what makes WordPress render on the front end of things is this group of files, that include all of the executable files that make your site run, as well as all of your content. So these files need a place to live. This is what hosting is.

So to run a WordPress website or blog, you just need a domain, or the address where your blog or site will live (eg. your street name or house number) and then you need the actual land, or real estate, where you can build your house (the hosting).

Sometimes things seem really mysterious I know but there’s not a lot to domains and hosting at all when you think of it like this. Sometimes people get confused if they are coming from Blogger or WordPress.com, which provides free hosting and does not give you file access, which is why there are often restrictions to blogging at Blogger or WordPress. You also can’t access your files of course. This is why most people choose self-hosted WordPress: you own your domain, you own your hosting, you own your site!

Another note: while it is often easier to have your domain registration and hosting at the same company, it is not imperative. So if your domain is registered at Godaddy but you want to use Bluehost to host your blog or website, all you have to do is to point your domain’s nameservers to your site host of choice. This is a quick and simple one step process and if Little Blue Deer is your site or web designer we are delighted to take care of it for you.

This is just a brief overview if you have any questions on how it all works feel free to check out my video above or leave me a comment!