It seems like every boating and sailing Instagram account these days has a website attached to it. Some of them are stellar, while others leave you a bit disappointed (I hope this one is the former). In a simple snapshot online, you’re able to learn and become inspired by those who have journeyed ahead, along with, or even behind you on the water. And now that the inspiration has come flooding in, you’re ready to take the steps to start a boat blog and begin sharing about your own adventure on the water.
Welcome aboard! This post will share the first step about how to get started.
Hosting and domain registration defined
Getting a website up and running first requires two things: (1) Web hosting and (2) domain name registration. You may already be confused, so here’s a few definitions:
- Web hosting: A Web host is an organization that sells or leases memory space on its servers that allows clients to publish websites on the Internet.
- Domain name registration: The reservation of a name on the Internet.
There are several companies out there that provide both web hosting and domain name registration for one price. BlueHost is one example of a company like this and is the company we use to host and register this site.
About Web Hosting
Web hosting is typically done in a data center with hardware and servers that allow individuals like you and me to make websites that we can publish to the Internet. The important thing to know about web hosting is that the web host you choose will affect your websites uptime and downtime. It’s standard to have an up time of over 99%, and you should not settle for anything less than this from your hosting provider. Hosting also can affect site speed so when choosing your package, you want to consider how large you plan to grow your website and how many visitors you expect to have coming to it at any given time. Most providers have different tiers you can purchase and the more expensive the package, the bigger the site the servers can usually handle successfully.
About Domain Registration
The domain name you reserve will remain yours, as long as you renew it regularly (usually annual). It is necessary for a website, an email or another web service. You don’t have to always register a new domain name, and can use companies that allow usage of subdomains of their domain names for a website (i.e. blogspot.com, blogger.com, wordpress.com, etc.) though you do not own subdomain names and they are difficult to monetize. More importantly, registering a domain name gives you personality and a recognized online identity.
Choosing which company to go with
There are countless choices when it comes to this, and my general rule of thumb is to find the consensus in the community and go with that. From personal experience, I can only speak to BlueHost, whereas others will be able to share information about other companies from their experience. When I started building this blog I did not know much at all about websites, let alone hosting providers. I chose BlueHost since their name kept coming up regularly as I did research and the price was affordable and with my limited knowledge, it seemed they had everything I wanted – integration with the WordPress.org platform, emails, and sufficient website space.
As my knowledge has expanded, BlueHost has been able to grow with my “wants,” for example adding several email accounts with my domain and a SSL certificate that they offer for free. Real quickly, about SSL: An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a standard security protocol for establishing encrypted links between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. In addition to having the capability to grow as I grow, all of my customer service needs have been able to get resolved using the chat functionality on their website with a representative.
Today, I host three other sites with BlueHost as well and haven’t had a problem with any of them. If you do your research by reading other blogs (gasp, did I just recommend you click away from my blog? That’s a sin in the blogging word!) – but really you should – you’ll get enough information and anecdotal stories to make the right decision for your blog at a price point you are comfortable with.
Choosing a name for your blog
Oh my are the possibilities endless when it comes to names, and you should explore all of them! As you mix and match words, there are a few things to keep in mind:
You want your name to be memorable
If one of your readers is telling a group about the great advice you gave about anchoring in the BVI’s, you want them to be able to easily share the name of your site and have it be memorable for everyone. Since most boaters associate individuals with their boat name, you’ll find that many boaters who start a boat blog incorporate the name of their boat into the URL in some way.
You want to be able to say and spell it easily
Many many many times you will be asked, “what’s your website?” and to answer this question, you don’t want to have to fumble over your words just to tell someone where to find your blog on the Internet.
It has to be available
Ah, of course. If you run into this problem, you can use domain name generators like Name Mesh to help with brainstorming your second choice. Remember you can also go with something other than a .com if necessary, and this becoming more common as more and more sites hit the Internet each day.
Pull the trigger and start a boat blog, officially!
You’ve done your research, you’ve chosen an available name, what are you waiting for! Purchase that site and get started. The fun (and work) is only just beginning. Your family and friends are waiting for your updates, and well… that boat work can wait another day. You’ve completed the very first step to start a boat blog and you’re on your way.