If you’re new to Internet marketing, you’re probably somewhere in the middle of a seemingly unending learning curve. With this article, I want to demystify three basic things so that you can make faster progress.
It’s Like Building a House
I don’t envy anyone who is new to Internet marketing. Back in 2008, when I started out, it was confusing enough—so much information and seemingly complex technology. Today, there’s even more of it.
It can seem overwhelming and I think one of the biggest reasons is because so much of it is intangible; for instance, “hosting.” What does that look like? Where can I see it?
So to make this as easy as possible, I am going to liken it to building a house, where domain is the address, hosting is the actual land, and WordPress is the building material.
Have you ever shopped online at eBay or Amazon? Streamed a movie on Netflix or Hulu? Searched for something on Google? If you said “yes,” then you have at least some experience with domain.
The name of a website—including its “.com” or “.net” or whatever—is that website’s domain. It’s also called a “domain name.”
If you look up the word “domain” in a dictionary, you will see that one of its meanings is “the territory governed by a single ruler or government.” Now, eBay or Netflix or any other business or person isn’t a ruler or government, but they are the owner of that domain name and the website that has the name. So in a way, it is their territory. They are the “ruler” of the website, deciding how it looks, deciding on the content, etc. (More on that below.)
If you want to have a website for your business, the first thing you would do is get a domain. It’s actually a three-step process:
Step 1. Choose a domain name.
Keep it simple and easy to understand. You want a name that people can understand immediately and remember. To accomplish this, use no more than four words. Shorter is always better. Be aware of things like hyphens or underscores, double letters (Ss, Ts, etc.), or unusual words. Try out your domain name on your friends or family. If you have many people asking you to clarify anything about the name, perhaps it may not be a good choice. Simplify the name further or try a different one.
Step 2. Verify that the domain name and extension is available (i.e., no one else is already using it.)
There are websites, such as Go Daddy where you can search domain availability. When you search your name, you may see that several variations of your name are available, including “.com,” “.net,” among many others. Although “.com” is the most desirable domain extension (since it’s the most common), it may not always be readily available—meaning that someone else already owns it.
So if you find that your name is not available as a “.com,” you might want to either select a different domain extension, or modify your name slightly. You may get the name you want on the first try or you may have to play with the process a bit. It’s best to have a few different choices, in case your first choice isn’t available.
Step 3. Purchase the domain name.
When you’ve confirmed that the name you want is available, you can purchase it. Go Daddy charges less than $15 for a domain name. However, you will have to re-register the name annually for a small fee to maintain ownership.
The domain is the name of your website and it’s also the address of the website. People can type it into the address bar of their web browser, hit “enter” and go visit your website from anywhere in the world. It’s like telling a taxicab driver the address of where you want to go and having him drive you there.
While surfing the web, have you ever wondered “Where are websites actually located?” It’s a good question. Every website has an actual physical location somewhere in the world.
There are companies that own many high-performance computers—large rooms or even entire floors of an office building full of these computers. They rent disc space on these computers to people who own websites. You upload all of the files for your website—text, photo, video, etc.—onto one of their computers. So the company is the host and your files are the “guests.”
There are many hosting companies, including Blue Host, Host Gator and others (Google “website hosting”.) For someone just starting out, hosting typically costs between $6 and $15 per month. Some companies give a discount if you buy one or two years in advance.
Very large companies, like eBay or YouTube, don’t use web hosting services. Their websites contain thousands of pages and are visited by so many users per day that they need to maintain control of their own hosting computers (called “servers,” because they can serve many website visitors at once). As your company grows, your web hosting needs will change. They will cost more and eventually, you might even bring it all in-house.
So, think of web hosting like “land” for you to build your website on. Now, you just need some building materials.
There is a website called WordPress.com, which advertises “Create a free website or blog.” It really is free. And their websites and blogs look pretty good, too (for something that’s free.)
My main problem with WordPress is that your domain name (which you would search and select on the WordPress.com site, rather than on an outside domain provider like Go Daddy) will include the word “wordpress” in it. For a business, that screams “amateur!” So, for that reason, I don’t recommend building a free site for your business on WordPress.
However, there is a lot more to WordPress than free blogs and websites. WordPress is also a content management system (CMS). This is a kind of computer program that makes it easy for non-computer geeks to create and maintain websites.
Years ago, you had to know various computer languages and know how to write computer code if you wanted to build a website. With a CMS, all the code has been written and you get the basic structure of the website to work with. You can add, remove or change the content—colors, text styles, photos, additional pages, etc. CMS programs are very visual, “drag and drop” affairs—much easier than coding from scratch.
Some web hosting companies make a basic version of WordPress available. You would just download it from the host to your website and then begin adding your files. If your hosting company doesn’t provide it, you could buy it from WordPress.net (not .com) and upload it to your website.
Though it will make your life much easier in the long run, WordPress does have a little bit of a learning curve to follow—to upload it to your site and to work with it.
But it’s still much easier than learning code. I would recommend that you go to YouTube.com and type in “How to install WordPress” and then “How to use WordPress” or “How to build a website with WordPress.” It would probably only take a few hours of video-watching to get a pretty good grip on how to use it.
On the other hand, if you can’t spare the time, there are plenty of WordPress experts out there. For $50 or $100 (maybe less), you can hire a freelancer on a website like Upwork.com to upload WordPress to your hosting and create the basic site.
But I would still recommend that you develop some basic WordPress skills so that you can update your website or change parts of it when you need to. If you’re just started out in business, hiring someone every time you need website changes or updates can become expensive and can also create delays.
WordPress is the basic material you use to build your website.
So now you have an address, a piece of land and building materials. I trust that this analogy has helped you to better understand these three things and how they work together. Continue to expose yourself to it. The more you do, the quicker it will become like second nature.
Put these tips into action. Energize your content marketing strategy by understanding domain, hosting and WordPress. If you’d like to have access to even more powerful marketing tips, website help or a way to set up a side hustle or own your own on-line business, click here to learn about my Done-For-You System.
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