Every blogger has got two basic choices when building his own blog— Either he can sign up for a hosted solution, or he can install a serve-it-yourself solution and take care of it on your own. Signing up for a hosted solution is generally easier (especially if you don’t already have your own website and you’re not terribly interested in jumping through a hoop or two to get one), while installing a serve-it-yourself solution can be more powerful.
Popular hosted blogging CMS (Content Management Systems) include Blogger.com, Typepad.com, Vox.com, Squarespace.com, and others. With these services, you simply access the site, go through a registration process and, in some cases, enter your payment information to cover the monthly fee. (Some are free, some require payment.) These are hosted services – somebody else worries about the Internet server, setting up the Web addresses and all that sort of stuff. You’re given a URL for your site (mostly a sub-domain), some online tools for editing your blog (and, perhaps, for editing the template and making some minor changes to the functionality), and you’re ready to go. With a serve-it-yourself CMS (like WordPress) you’ll need to do a little legwork. First, you’ll need some sort of web hosting account from an Internet Service Provider. You might already have something along those lines from the Internet Service Provider that you use for Internet access, or you may need to shop for a web hosting account that will support the specifications of your blogging software.
In fact, there are a few things to look out for when you’ve chosen a CMS and you’re looking for an ISP to host it:
– Does it support the CMS’ scripting language? Most of the blogging CMSs we’ll discuss are written in a scripting language called PHP, so your web hosting account will need to offer support for PHP in order for them to run. You should read the fine print as well, because different web hosts support different versions of PHP (such as PHP 4 or PHP 5), and that can be important when you’re installing your CMS.
– Does your host offer database support? Again, many of the solutions we’ll discuss use MySQL databases for storing your blog entries, information about your users, and so on. If that’s true with the CMS that you choose, you’ll need to have a web hosting account that supports MySQL. In addition, you may want to check on how many databases you’re allowed to have, how large they can be, and so on. If you later decided to implement a wiki, a forum, or some other database-driven application your website, you may find that having support for just one or a few individual databases isn’t enough.
– Does the web hosting account offer enough storage space? Web hosting accounts will generally come with a fixed, assigned amount of storage space for your website’s files – anywhere from a few megabytes to tens or hundreds of gigabytes. Just like the hard disk in your computer, this storage space is necessary to store the documents, templates and images that you’ll use to display on your blog. So, it’s interesting to know not only how much space you have, but also whether or not that space is shared with other features offered by the web host, such as e-mail accounts, databases, and log files. You may find that a very inexpensive host gives you what sounds like an impressive amount of storage – say, 50 MB(megabytes) – but that you quickly fill it up if your website files, database, and e-mail accounts must all share that space.
– What is the allowed throughput? If your blog gets popular – or if you load it down with bells and whistles such as video and images that you serve up from your web hosting account – then it’s possible you’ll be sending a lot of data from your ISP to your visitors. If that’s the case, you’ll want to know what the limit it.
– Many web hosts offer features that will install popular blogging tools such as WordPress from within their control panels. This isn’t always advised, as the installations aren’t always the latest versions or can occasionally be a bit more difficult to customize. But, if you feel that you’re strongly allergic to the installation processes discussed for server side solutions (or if you want to try a number of different blogging tools that are offered by your host), that “one-click” install can be a convenient option.
As you’re blog shopping, you should consider other options such as the reputation of the hosting company, whether or not the hosting company offers the support options that you need, whether the host offers your favorite blogging package already installed or included, or whether the hosting company is actually specifically set up to host a particular blogging package (there generally are a few that specialize in a particular CMS). But just as you should plan to choose your CMS tool with an eye toward growth, it’s not a bad idea to do the same with your hosting company, just in case your blog really does take off in popularity!
I will recommend Hostgator as I have been hosting Blog Oh! Blog with them for a long time now and I have been satisfied 🙂