We had a great meeting of the Fredericton Designers Group in which I promised a number of the new members to post a little more details about web hosting, websites and web marketing. This tutorial is meant as a high level introduction to the concepts of hosting a website for artists.
First off, a successful website needs a domain name. In my case, my domain is thisismyurl.com and it’s broken into two parts. The actual name “thisismyurl” and the Top Level Domain (TLD) which is the “com” portion of my name. Many people confuse the “www” as part of the domain, but really it’s what is called a sub-domain and can be literally anything that I want it to be.
A TLD can be .com, .net, .org or literally dozens of other options including country specific such as .ca or .co.uk. Many people also like to use country specific domains for special purposes such as the .tv domain which is really for the country of Tuvalu but can be used (for a fee) by anybody. Selecting the right TLD is important for artists as it says a lot about your business for example, if you are located in Toronto Canada you may like to use the .to TLD but the .la TLD makes little sense unless you’re in LA. Whenever possible, the .com TLD is still the best to purchase.
The next step in picking your domain name is to pick the name itself. Most common names are taken, as are a lot of combinations that you’d love to have so you have to be creative when coming up with domain names but be careful some companies take part in what’s called Front-Running which is basically a scam where they register domain names that are searched for and then hold the names for random. I use GoDaddy for my searches, to the best of my knowledge they’re legit.
Once you’ve picked your domain name and your TLD it’s time to register your domain. As I said, I use GoDaddy but there are hundreds of options out there, price should be a deciding factor for you as there’s very little else to judge the services based upon.
Once you have a domain name, you need to start looking at web hosting. Web hosting is basically renting a small part of another computer that’s always connected to the Internet. Really there’s a lot more to it than that but basically … it’s a place for your website to live on the Internet.
For the past few years I have used Bluehost as my web host of choice. There’s a lot of reasons for this but basically, they’re fast, they’re friendly and they’re reliable. As an artist you should be focussed on your craft, not your hosting and Bluehost takes care of all the little problems for you.
Once you’ve signed up with Bluehost or your host of choice, you’ll have to tell GoDaddy where your website is located … think of it as forwarding your mail. Log into GoDaddy and click on the Domains option. Under “My Domains” you’ll find an option for Name Servers. You need to click the option for Custom Name Servers and replace the existing with “ns1.bluehost.com” and “ns2.bluehost.com”. This will tell GoDaddy that anybody coming to your domain should really go to Bluehost who will figure out what to do with you.
So now that you have a domain and hosting, you’re ready to have a website. There are literally thousands of ways to have a website and no one method is better than any other. In my opinion, the easiest way for a young artist to get on the website bandwagon is to install something called WordPress from the Bluehost control panel. Click Fantastico in your control panel to access the installer and walk though the steps to add WordPress to your base directory. In about a minute, you’ll have a world class, professional blog.
If you want something more custom, there are literally thousands of WordPress themes on the internet, you can hire a great (and local) web designer or you can learn to code your own. There are even companies who will turn your Photoshop artwork into WordPress themes for a small fee.
We’ve covered the technical matters of adding your website to the Internet in this post from the basics of registering a domain name to setting up a simple hosting and website account. Next time, I’ll introduce you to the secret art of self promotion on the web and how you can turn your simple website into easy cash.