So, you want to start blogging. Congratulations! Blogging is one of the greatest things you can do to promote your business online…

But where to begin?

Do you register your own dot com or do  you use a free platform like Blogger or tumbler? Do you get a custom-built website or build something based on a theme? Do you use a free theme or a paid theme?

These are all questions that you’ll have to answer before you can begin your blogging journey. Luckily, you don’t have to do this alone.

While there are a myriad of choices in almost every step of the way, I’m about to share with you some common questions and answers so you can get from here to blogging much faster.

Should I register my own domain name?

First, we should just make sure you understand what a domain name is. Your domain name is the “dot com” web address. For example, the domain name for my website is Http://Cloud–

When you register for a free blog from Blogger or, they give you a free domain name. The catch? It always ends in … or …

There’s nothing that screams unprofessional like one of these domain names. So the short answer is: Yes, you do need to register your own domain name.

Can I use a free blogging platform?

See my answer above. If that free blogging platform doesn’t allow you to choose your own domain name and remove the platform branding, I would steer clear. What I mean, is that Blogger websites have a Blogger bar at the top. Tumbler websites have the tumbler menu at the upper right-hand corner. Again, these elements makes you look very unprofessional.

I would steer clear of all the free blogging platforms with one notable exception. That is, WordPress. versus

WordPress is an open source content management system. This is nerd speak for the software that runs your website. Anybody can download the WordPress software and install it on their web host and use WordPress as their platform. That is what is.

** is a for profit company that will provide you with a free WordPress blog hosted on their servers. (That’s where you end up with domain name.) They are not open source, and not affiliated with

Although my recommendation is to use WordPress, I mean that you should use on a self hosted website.

Wait, what’s self hosting?

Self hosting is when you buy a giant computer, hook it up to the Internet, and leave it running all the time. It’s about the size of a refrigerator and you can put it anywhere in your apartment. Your partner won’t mind, right?


When I say self hosted, I mean that you pay a hosting company like Bluehost or Hostgator to provide you with some space on one of their servers. This costs about $80 per year, and it’s totally worth it.

That sounds like a lot of work. What are the advantages?

I won’t lie, having a self hosted WordPress blog is more work. However, you have the benefit of owning all of your own content. When you use a free hosted blog platform, you are at the whim of another company. They could decide to take down your website tomorrow and you would have no recourse. You could lose your website overnight.

You’re limited by what themes you can use, what customization options you have, and what plugins you can install. In short: Unless you host your own website, it’s not really yours.

When you have your own hosting and run WordPress, you have total control.

I’m confused about how I install WordPress. Can you help me?

There are lots of people who can help you install WordPress. When you use a hosting company like Bluehost or Hostgator they actually have “one-click” WordPress installations. This means that you don’t need to do any of the coding or set-up. You just click the “install WordPress” button and away you go.

How about some more instruction?  Check out my guide: How to Install WordPress and Launch a Website in One Weekend. It’s got step-by-step screenshots showing you exactly how to buy hosting, install WordPress, choose a theme, and get blogging. It even has a video tour of the WordPress dashboard! Oh, and did I mention it’s a free guide?

Is that really all there is to it?

Yes, that’s really all there is. Of course, you can get pretty in-depth with WordPress. You can hire someone to build you a completely custom theme. You can develop custom plug-ins and scripts to do exactly what you need. But for most people, WordPress is an excellent website platform right out of the box.

Do yourself a favor

If you’re planning to start a blog or website, skip the free stuff and go straight to a self hosted WordPress site. You’ll thank me in 6 months when you don’t have to deal with the headache of migrating your amateur blog to a professional platform.

{Featured image via Cloud Coach}