How to Start a Travel Blog #2 – Blog Setup Basics

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In my previous post, I started with an introduction to starting a travel blog and I covered why you should start a travel blog, the free blog platforms and buying a domain. Today, I want to go over the blog setup basics including domain purchase and blog hosting.

What to Expect from this “Learning to Blog” Series

This is the second part of a series on the topic of starting a travel blog or really starting any type of blog for that matter.

Blog Setup Basics – Choosing and Purchasing a Domain

After looking over Part I, you have either decided to go the free route by signing up with a free hosting platform or you’ve chosen to go the paid route which means buying your own domain. Either way is fine. If you’re trying to save a few bucks while living the RV lifestyle then I can understand going the free route but this series if focused on buying your own domain and installing the WordPress platform to run your blog.

Buying a domain for the first time can be a COOL experience but it can also be very frustrating. For instance, maybe you have this great domain name in mind and when you go to purchase the domain, you find that it’s taken and your back to thinking of a name again. Believe me, it can be frustrating. I recently bought TroyWiedeman.com and was happy to find out that my name isn’t all that popular and the domain name was still available. 🙂

For domain purchases, I like to use NameCheap for two reasons. 1. Cheap Domains and 2. Free or cheap WhoisGuard. The WhoisGuard service hides your registration information (name, address, email and phone #) which will cut down on spam and telemarketers. Another popular site to buy domains from is GoDaddy.

Name Cheap

Name Cheap – where I buy my domains

Now comes the tough part, finding a domain that hasn’t already been registered. This is where you may have to get creative. Before I bought TravelingTroy.com, I had a long domain name that I wasn’t happy with at all, so I changed it. It’s important that you spend some time brainstorming for a few good domain name ideas as you may find out your first choice is taken. If it’s a travel site, maybe you could name it Tom’s Adventures or something similar, or you could come up with something that shows you put some thought into it like Glenn did with To Simplify.

As you come up with ideas, type them in the search bar at Namecheap.com or GoDaddy.com to see if the domains are available.

I typed in LivingLifeLivingFree to see if a domain would be available and the .com was available.

Searching for Domains

NameCheap Domain Search

Once you find a domain that you like which is also available, click the Add to Cart button and purchase your new domain.

NameCheap Domain Purchase

NameCheap Shopping Cart

In the image above, I would be buying the domain and free WhoIsGuard for a year for just over $10 which is a great deal and you don’t have to worry about your domain for 12 months. If you are serious about your blog, you may want to pay for multiple years as it would be a cheaper per year price.

Blog Setup Basics – Choosing a Hosting Service

Buying a domain is just purchasing a name and that’s about it. You now need to find someone to “Host” files for you on a server out on the internet. Basically, you pay for a service to “Host” the files for your blog and then you go back to the place you purchased the domain and have the domain name point to the server address where you’re hosting the files.

This process can be handled much easier if you buy the domain and pay for hosting with the same company but there may be restrictions and you limit your control when you purchase the domain and host the domain with the same company.

The most popular hosting companies:

All three of these hosting companies are great, have similar pricing packages and have excellent support.

In the examples below, I will be using Hostgator as they are the primary hosting company that I use.

Hostgator Hosting

Hostgator Hosting and Domains

In the image above, you can see that they have hosting for as little as $3.96/month which includes:

  • Unlimited Disk Space
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • 1-Click WordPress Install
  • Easy to use Control Panel
  • 24/7/365 Tech Support
  • 45 Day Money Back Guarantee

Their pricing structure is based on whether you plan to host 1 domain or more domains:

Hostgator Price Plans

The hosting plans at Hostgator

With Hostgator, you have:

  • the Hatchling Plan which is for a single domain
  • the Baby Plan which allows you to host unlimited domains
  • the Business Plan which has unlimited everything plus your own IP address and SSL.

At this point, you are ready to pick your hosting plan and whether you want to pay the cheaper yearly price or the slightly more expensive monthly price. So, click the Order Now button that corresponds with the plan you prefer which will take you through the payment process.

Notice below, that you can enter your domain name if you have already bought it from NameCheap or you could just buy it from Hostgator.

Hostgator Payment

Hostgator Payment Process

Blog Setup Basics – Changing Name Servers

If you purchased your domain and blogging from the same company, then you don’t need to worry about this step and can move on. But, if you purchased your domain from another domain provider like NameCheap, then you need to tell NameCheap where to point your domain.

Hostgator Cpanel

Hostgator Cpanel Acct Info

First we need to log into our Hostgator account. You will have received an email by now from Hostgator explaining how to log into your control panel. The address will look something like this:
https://gatorXXXX.hostgator.com/cpanel

After logging in, scroll down to the bottom of the left side column and look for a section called Account Information. You will see Name Servers listed there. This is what we need to input in the fields provided in your NameCheap account.

Name Servers (Example only)
XXXXXX.hostgator.com
XXXXXX.hostgator.com

Now, log into your NameCheap account and let’s put this info where it goes:

After logging in, go to My Account –> Manange Domains –> then select your domain. In the left hand column, click on Domain Name Server Setup and you will see this below:

Name Servers Change

Changing Name Servers in NameCheap control panel

Click on the Radio button next to Specify Custom DNS Servers, then type or cut and paste the info you got from your hosting account into the 1st and 2nd spots in this form. It doesn’t matter which one you put in which location.

Finally, click on Save Changes and you can log out of NameCheap.

You have just bought a domain, setup hosting and transferred the name servers to the new host. Congratulations!!

Start a Blog That Matters

Anyone can start a blog, so if you want your blog to catch on a build an audience, then you need to Start a Blog That Matters. This means you should strive to help others with your blog, whether you’re explaining how to get discounts on travel or showing how to fix a leaking propane tank. Make your content great and make your blog matter.

After you have completed my 8-part series on starting a blog, you should try Corbett Barr’s blogging course.
Start a Blog That Matters
<--Start a Blog That Matters-->

    What’s included in Corbett’s course?

  • 13 Weekly Lessons and Action Plans
  • Over 8 hours of video
  • FAQ full of previously asked questions from 800+ students
  • 60-Day Money Back Guarantee (No Questions Asked)
  • The 90-Day Action Plan to turn nothing to a Blog That Matters

What Are Your Thoughts?

I hope you are enjoying this Learning to Blog series thus far. Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

Next Up: Installing WordPress

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Feature photo credit – Christine Zenino


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6 Responses to How to Start a Travel Blog #2 – Blog Setup Basics

  1. Mason Holgate September 23, 2013 at 1:09 PM #

    Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

  2. Troy Wiedeman September 24, 2013 at 7:33 AM #

    Excellent! Give it a shot Mason. Blogging can be very rewarding, whether you’re just in it to just put your ideas out there or maybe you want to form some new friendships with others online.

    Blogging is Fun, and so is WordPress.

    Good Luck!

  3. Jed Groupe September 27, 2013 at 2:08 PM #

    Hey, great blog post.

  4. Dan Palmer October 15, 2016 at 12:20 PM #

    Great info. Nice job.
    Would like a little clarity please. What are the pros and cons on publishing domain name with one company then hosting with another company verses getting domain name and hosting service with same company.
    Thank you for great content.

    • Troy Wiedeman October 17, 2016 at 7:35 AM #

      Hi Dan. Yearly domain name prices are very close among all domain selling companies which should range between $8 and $12 per year for a dot com. You could very easily buy a domain and have it hosted from the same company like Hostgator to make it easy.

      Since pricing is virtually the same with all domain name companies, you could buy your one domain or multiple domains from one company without the need to ever change. If you only plan to have one website, then having both domain and hosting services with one company would be a good idea.

      Domain hosting, on the other hand, is much like cable tv or internet service. You can shop for the best pricing, up-time reliability and speed. If you buy the domain name and hosting from the same company initially but are not satisfied with the service, then you could change hosting to a company you feel is more reliable or has a cheaper monthly or yearly price.

      Bottom line: You can get both services from one company, but don’t consider yourself locked in on a hosting company if they raise the price or have poor tech support. You can always change hosting, even if you bought your domain with them. Hope this helps.

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