Two (actually three) ways to start blogging with your own domain name, without having to pay for hosting. Just pay for a domain name and set up your professional-looking blog.
If you want to start a blog, you might be thinking whether you should start blogging on free platforms such as Blogger/BlogSpot and Wordpress, or you should set up your own blog.
A blog set up on a custom domain such as www.myblog.com has many advantages. It does not only set you apart from the crowd of bloggers using free services, also potrays you as a more serious blogger.
The biggest advantage of using your own domain is that you don't have to face problems shifting blogs to your own web space once it grows big. If you blog on any free service, you will lose quite a significant amount of traffic that comes to your blog with search engines pointing to old webpages. You may also lose a fraction of your readers who get your blog through your feeds.
Once you decide for using a custom domain for your blog, you have two options:
- Buy a domain and web space along with a database and set up your own blog using free blogging platforms such as Wordpress or Textpattern, or paid platforms such as Movable Type. This will require you to invest a decent amount in setting up your blog.
- But if you aren't sure enough to make a big investment, you can just get an inexpensive domain for a few dollars (or a few hundred rupees) and start blogging like a pro.
Have a domain? Set up a pro-looking blog free
When you decide to blog using your own domain name without investing in webspace and database, you have at least three options to choose from.
1.Use Wordpress' custom doman facility
2.Use some free, ad-free web-hosting service
Choose a free web-hosting service. Set up your own blog using Wordpress. Link your domain name with free host and start blogging. (I will discuss how you can set up your own blog with a free web host in my one of my next posts.)
3.Use Google's Blogger (BlogSpot)
Tapping Blogger's custom domain facility
1. Sign up with Blogger and create a blog.
2. Get a domain name of your choice.
You can purchase a domain name from a service provider of your choice or get it though Blogger. Getting it though Blogger will spare you one step on linking your domain name with your blog. (I prefer buying domain from a service provider of my choice. You can choose a local service provider which will allow you to pay in local currency. This will also be cheaper to call them for any help.)
3. From Blogger dashoard, choose settings option of your blog. Then go to publishing tab.
4. Click on “Custom Domain” option.
5. If you wish to purchase domain name through Blogger, search and get one.(In this case jump to the portion of the post that tells you how to customize your Blogger blog.)
If you have purchased your domain name from any registrar of your choice, select “Switch to advanced settings” and enter the domain name you wish to use.
If you have registered myownblog.com, enter www.myownblog.com as your domain. (Before doing that just check if your registrar has also activated www.myblogname.com for you. Normally, it should be.) Also remember to check the redirect myownblog.com to www.myownblog.com option.
What is a domain name?
If you purchased myownblog.com, then http://myownblog.com is the domain. Your registrar should also provide you http://www.myownblog.com without you having to ask for it. Here www.myownblog.com is an alias or sub domain of myownblog.com domain. These two are different addresses and can point to different places (webspace). For optimization and better search engine ranks, one should redirect one domain to the other so that both the domain and www sub domain ultimately take to one address. For example, you can choose to point myownblog.com to www.myownblog.com. This will take anyone typing http://myownblog.com in browser to http://www.myownblog.com. Normally, you may also opt to point your www alias to main domain but not if you want to use Blogger's custom domain facility.
Learn about domain names on Wikipedia.
6. After setting your domain name with Blogger, you will have to make some changes with your domain so that your domain points to Blogger servers, which will then take the visitor to your Blogger-hosted blog. You will have need to create a CNAME record for your domain, associating your domain with ghs.google.com.
What is CNAME?7. Don't forget to forward your main domain (myownblog.com) to its www sub domain (alias) (www.myownblog.com). For this you will have to use URL forwarding feature provided in your admin panel.
CNAME or canonical name is a record which points one sub domain (only) to another. In our case, our www sub domain will point to ghs.google.com, a sub domain used by Blogger.
Different domain registrars have different ways of getting it done. Log into your domain provider's site with your username and password to access your admin panel. Follow the instructions of your registrar to create a CNAME record. With some registrars, you might have to place a request for creating a CNAME entry.
Send this request to your registrar through email or their messaging service, as required. “Please create a CNAME entry for my domain www.myownblog.com pointing to (destination as) ghs.google.com”
Google's starter guide on search engine optimization says:At this point of time your blog should be available on your custom domain name. However, it might take some time for the changes to reflect globally. With your blog being set up with a custom domain, all that's left is customization.
“To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages.”
How to customize your Blogger blog?
One of the advantages of Blogger is the freedom to make changes to your blog layout. It allows you to add elements to any of the templates provided by Blogger. Alternatively, you can use any blogger template. There are several sites that provide Blogger templates for free.
Some resources for free blogger templates.
If you are familiar with the terms HTML (hyper text markup language) and CSS (cascading style sheet), you might want to customize any template to better suit your needs. Even if you do not have any knowledge of HTML and CSS, but desire to create one, you can learn it on the Internet. HTML Dog is a very good site to learn the basics of HTML and CSS.
Create a sandbox
You should create a sandbox blog for designing a template and not work on your real blog. Add at least five posts to this blog with sample text. Download test post and paste it in HTML compose box. Also add some labels. Now set the blog to display only two or three posts on home page. You have your sandbox ready for experimenting and creaing your own designs.
Use images from Blogger draft posts
If you wish to use images in your blog design, create draft posts with these images in your actual blog. Don't add all the images in one draft, nor post them to your sandbox blog. Go to HTML mode and get the address of the images. [You will learn about them when you go through HTML.] Even though Blogger saves your images in your Picasa account that is created automatically, do not upload images directly to Picasa and use the image location available through it. There are chances that images will not appear correctly, thanks to some Google policies.
Once you have a blog with desired layout, copy the HTML code from the sandbox blog and paste it in your actual blog.
Create a favicon
Now you need to add a favicon to your blog, the small icon that appears in browsers next to address bar, in tabs and on bookmark bars. This will remove the last prominent clue to your blog's platform.
To create a favourite icon, or favicons, use a square work area, say 100px * 100px, and design your own favicon in GIMP, a free image editor. Once you are done, resize the image to 25px*25px and save the file as favicon.ico. Remember to choose to save as .ico or windows icon file.
Upload the icon to the web and get its exact address. You can use the various free web-hosting services available such as Zymic, 110MB Hosting and 000WebHost.
Read more about free web hosting services.
Now add the following code just before tag. Of course, you replace the address with the actual address of your icon.
All set, start blogging like a pro.