How To Set Up A Blog

I get a fair bit of traffic these days yet I’m not that prolific a writer.  My blog is only linked to a bit more than a handful of other blogs, some of which haven’t been updated in ages, and my stats say that most of that traffic comes not from links clicked on other referrers sites but from either organic search or simply someone has me bookmarked as a favourite.  Regardless of how folk find me it’s always nice to see that people are interested enough to pop in and have a look around.

I haven’t posted for around a week so I thought it was time to pen another exciting and entertaining piece for the masses but when push came to shove I was actually stuck for something to write about.  I have in the past regaled my readers with stories from my days in the RAF albeit with an eye on tying those stories in to betting or gambling.  After all this blog is supposed to be betting related and not Aviation Weekly.

I’ve sat for the best part of two hours trying to gain inspiration from skimming through what stories are trending right now out there in internet land but nothing really stood out except for a couple of sporting stories, the first of which is this massive howler from the Maccabi Haifa goalie shown here in glorious technicolour courtesy of Dirty Tackle.  There’s another story on the same site regarding a possible case of match fixing after Bahrain beat Indonesia 10-0 in their recent World Cup qualifier.  A convenient scoreline if you take into account Bahrain had to overcome a 9 goal deficit in order to have any chance of progressing further.  Unfortunately for them the other contest in Group E ended in a draw seeing to it that their immense efforts were all in vain.

So with nothing in particular to write about I thought it might be useful to share what little knowledge I have about setting up a blog with you.  There has to be someone out there wanting to have a crack at virtual fame (and possibly fortune) so I’ll share what I currently know and some of you may find it useful though I have to tell you that I’m in no way to be considered any kind of guru – I’m just a beginner myself.

Which platform to go for – WordPress or Blogger?

Judging by my own blogroll the majority of blogs that I link to are on the Blogger platform but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the better of the two.  I did a fair bit of research before I dived in and created this blog and for me it came down to where I intended to end up as opposed to where I wanted to begin.  After reading through a ton of info I settled for WordPress because the blogs/sites I was into at the time were pretty much all ‘self hosted’ domains powered by WordPress.

My thinking back then was rather than go to the trouble of spending money on registering a domain and then getting it hosted and then figuring out how to actually  go about creating a blog on my new site I would simply sign up for a free WordPress blog (this one) and start there to get a feel for what it was all about.  Everything is ready to go, the same as it is with a free Blogger blog, so I could crack on with the process of blogging and get to grips with how things all work before heading down the self hosted route (which is where I ultimately saw myself going if I took to it and it all worked out).  For those that might want a quick and really up to date comparison I found a post at pulsed.blogspot.com that may help sway you one way or the other.

So What’s A ‘Self Hosted’ Blog All About?

A self hosted blog is plainly and simply a blog on a website you own as opposed to a blog hosted by say Blogger or WordPress (there are many others but these two are the biggest out there right now I believe).  It’s a little bit more tricky to set up especially if you’re new to all this but you have way more scope to build a really good site.  It’s a little bit analagous to renting a house as opposed to having a mortgage.  I can’t speak about Blogger but the free version of WordPress has little in the way of plugins that make your life so much easier.  Take site stats for example.  WordPress currently has fairly adequate stats monitoring built in so all an Admin has to do is click a link in the control panel and the stats page appears.  Unfortunately that little gem is going to be taken away, or should I say relocated, very soon.  Instead of clicking a link on your own blog’s control panel you will in future be required to hop off over to WordPress.com to find out who’s been visiting.  Now that’s bollocks in my view but that’s how it’s going to be.  If your blog is self hosted but still powered by WordPress then restrictions like this simply don’t apply because of the many options available to you that aren’t available to the free WordPress bloggers.

Anyway, moving on. Basically you figure out what you want to blog about then try and come up with a suitable domain name and, if it’s not already taken, register it for a small fee.  For another small fee you then get it ‘hosted’ on someone’s server and you’re ready to go.  All you need to do now is make content appear on your website and then go about the tricky task of driving traffic to it so that people can see it, read it, and most importantly buy stuff from it (if you have stuff to sell).  You may not have a product to sell but you can still earn revenue from carefully placed ads on your site.  Internet millions await.

Give Us A Real World Example FFS‘ I Hear You Cry

OK then, here’s something I did earlier in the week.  I’ve been banging on about neural networks recently on here and there’s a reason for that.  It’s long been a goal of mine to resurrect my University project.  I created a bunch of neural networks and fed them horse racing data and ultimately got them to predict the winners of future races.  It was a very successful project.  My aim is to start again from scratch and document my progress.  Rather than write about it on this blog I’ve decided that it’s time to strike out and set up a website of my own and install WordPress on that site and start from the ground up.  Here’s what I’ve done so far as far as setting up the site goes.

1.  Register A Domain – I figured out what I think is a suitable domain name and went over to GoDaddy.com to see about registering it.  Right at the top of the page there’s a search box that you enter your chosen domain name into and you’ll see in an instant if it’s available or not.  It can be a bit hit and miss depending on what your chosen niche is but you can play away to your hearts content until you find a name that you’re happy with and is available.  Word of warning though – if you are going to focus on something that’s quite specific you’ll want to really think hard about your domain name.  You really do want the web site name to leave the rest of internet land under no illusion as to what your site is about.  It’s no good registering tomatoes.com if you’re going to be writing about potatoes but I think you get my drift.

The registration process is fairly painless but Go Daddy does try to sell you all sorts of extras so be careful all the way to the checkout.  It’s worth mentioning that Go Daddy isn’t the only domain registration site out there.  There are literally hundreds.  I did try one other place (namecheap.com) after hearing about it in an online webinar but they were a lot more expensive than Go Daddy.  I paid $6.54 for 2 years which is practically giving it away.  2 years should be enough time to see if my neural net product will fly or not.

2.  Get The Site Hosted – Nearly two years ago I went through this very same process and got myself a website up and running with a view to trying to sell some stuff via affiliate sales.  Going back to the previous paragraph I’ll reiterate what I said – MAKE SURE YOU THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE DOMAIN NAME YOU REGISTER.  I was all gung ho and couldn’t wait to get my own site up and running but I fucked up.  Without going through the whole story I wrote one piece of content for that site plus an About Me page and then realised that I’d made a huge mistake with the domain name.  When it’s lease runs out in June it’s back on the shelf as it’s no use to me.

The preceding paragraph was my way of introducing the fact that I already have a hosting account with HostGator.com .  I could have simply had Go Daddy host my site and some would find that kind of arrangement suitable having your site registered and hosted at the same place but I did my homework.  I listened to a lot of internet marketers who were out there earning money and picked out what I thought were the best snippets of info.  One of those snippets was a recommendation to go with HostGator and buy their ‘Baby Plan’ hosting package.  Again this is very cheap – I pay $9.95 per month for web hosting.  The good thing with the Baby Plan is that you get UNLIMITED domains, diskspace and bandwidth all on the same hosting account.  So for $9.95 I can have them host 1 website for me or 100 websites, the price remains the same.  After registering my site at Go Daddy I simply logged in to my HostGator account and added my new site to my account.  The only tweak required to now make this website appear to the public is to let Go Daddy know which NAMESERVERS to use, in other words the details of the server which would be serving up my website when a user requests to view it.  In this case I had to let Go Daddy know that HostGator was hosting my site.   By default Go Daddy inserts it’s own nameserver info in your domain account so it’s a simple case of entering the HostGator info in it’s place.  Done.

3.  Install WordPress – Now, if you’re a web developer then you’ll probably be designing your site from the ground up using HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and all that good stuff but if you aren’t and you want to get up and running TODAY then this is the way to go.  You simply install WordPress on your site and just as soon as the install is done you have a fully functioning website that you can run either as a blog or as a website because WordPress lets you create pages just like you would on a regular site.

To do this here’s what I did.  I logged in to my HostGator account and navigated to the Software Services section.  In there there is an icon called Fantastico De Luxe.  Clicking on this icon takes you to another page that lists a whole bunch of scripts that can be automatically installed on your site.  I simply chose WordPress and clicked on the link to do a new installation.  As I have more than one website in my hosting account I choose which site I want to install WordPress on and it automatically does the rest.  There are a few boxes to fill in, namely where you want the WordPress install files to go (choose the default location), give it a username and password so you can login to your WordPress admin panel on your new site and you’re pretty much done.  Within seconds of hitting the Finish button your new site is live and showing the ‘Hello World’ blog post that is automatically generated by every new WordPress install.

I had thought of actually going through the motions of creating a real time video version of how to do all this but that’s for another time.  There are tons of sites out there with some really great walkthroughs of how to do all this stuff so if you’re inclined to give this a go for yourself take the time to look for these great resources.

The only thing I have left to do now is start to create content for my new site but first there are some tweaks to do like installing a couple of must have plugins, and getting a nice theme so that the look and feel of the site is to my liking.  The key to being successful in the future is to have a good plan and a good framework from the start.  I think I’ve got that though I still have a few more bits to do before I actually start writing.  Of course the greatest test of this site’s long term success rests on whether or not my neural net application does what I’m hoping it will.   I know some people are interested because I see in my stats what people have searched for in search engines that ultimately lead them to my blog so hopefully you find a little of what you seek here.

Hope that wasn’t too boring a read because it’s took me a while to write.   More details on my new site will follow once I start writing to it.  See ya soon.

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