Getting Started Part 1-Your Site’s Platform

happy computerSo you have finally decided that maybe this internet thing isn’t going away and maybe it’s time you got your own website online. You may already have a business. Or you want to start a new business online. Or maybe you just want to put up a blog for fun. Whatever the reason, you are ready to take the next step.

So what’s the next step?

Free or Paid

Before you decide anything else, you need to decide whether to go the free route or have a self hosted site that you pay for. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Advantages of Free Sites:

  • They are free! No cost to run.
  • They are usually fairly easy to set up and use.

Disadvantages of Free Sites:

  • It’s not your site. You are using someone else’s web property.
  • Little control. You have to play by their rules and those rules can change at anytime.
  • You may lose your site at anytime since it’s  not your own web property.
  • You will have a longer web address.
  • You are limited in how you can design your site.
  • Not good for most businesses.

Advantages of Paid Sites:

  • It’s your very own site.
  • A shorter web address.
  • More control over how your site looks.
  • More control over what you can do with your site.
  • Much more design options.

Disadvantages of Paid Sites:

  • It’s going to cost you a little money.
  • There may be more of a learning curve to learn the ropes.

Free Website and Blog Platforms  is owned by google and is fairly easy to get started on and use. There are lots of blog designers out there now who will design a template for your Blogger blog so you can make yours different from the average Blogger blog out there.

On the downside, these blogs tend to be buggy. In fact that’s why I finally left Blogger for my first blog. It got to where it would only post half of my post. I have heard many others say it was buggy for them too so I’m not alone in this assessment.

Another bad thing about Blogger is if the powers that be think you are getting too commercial they will take down your blog without any notice ahead of time and you lose everything. People have lost very profitable businesses a long with the audience they had built up with no warning at all.

I sure wouldn’t want to take that chance. is similar to Blogger except there aren’t as many templates out there. is different than On, you use their content management system which is free and open source, but you have your own paid hosting and domain name. is very particular about you not putting any commercial content on your site so if you have a business, this is not a good choice. is a fairly nice blogging platform and it looks like you can even build communities on there. Of course, as with all free platforms, it’s not really good for business sites but if you just want to blog for fun, check them out. has a large loyal community but it’s somewhat limited. It’s considered a micro-blogging site but has lots of images.

The following free sites are all for blogging but I don’t know much about them. I thought I’d give you a link though in case you want to check them out:



Paid Website Platforms

This is actually a misnomer because the platforms (or content management systems) themselves are free. But you have to pay to have somewhere to put them. That’s where a hosting company comes in. You also will need to buy a domain name. Don’t worry, neither one of these things will break the bank. A domain name cost about $10 and monthly hosting cost between $4-$8 a month. You all get off lucky. When I first started in the 90’s, if I remember correctly, my domain name cost about $80  a year and I paid about $60 a month to have my site hosted.

The best places I have found to buy domains are:

  •  This is the site I use the most.I like that they don’t make you jump through hoops (like go daddy does) to buy a domain name. The whole process is straight forward. You also get a grace period of a few days ( I can’t remember exactly how many) to change your mind about your purchase. I have used this several times in the past.
  • I am just starting to use them some and so far I really like them. Smooth, easy process and reasonable prices. I have friends who swear by this company.

NOTE I do not recommend using GoDaddy although many online gurus use them. I did use them for several years, but they are spammy, they make it difficult to buy a domain without them pushing loads of add-ons to the price and I don’t like their slimy advertising.

The best places I have found for hosting  (both hosting company links are affiliate links which means I will get a small commission but it won’t cost you any extra) are:

  • This is the company I and many others use. They are very reasonable, have great customer service and very little down time. I have nothing but praise for this company.
  • I haven’t personally used this company but I have heard lots of good things about them.

Once you have your domain and hosting taken care of, you can select your content management system or platform to run your site on.

  •  This is in my opinion, the best CMS (content management system) out there. It’s open source and updated several times a year, and is easy to use. It has thousands of themes and plugins so you can make it look and do pretty much anything you want it to.
  •  This is another free, open source CMS and I know some people (mostly computer geeks) swear by it but it’s too complicated for my simple mind.
  •  I could just say ditto for this one. It’s too complicated for me but some people love it.

I’m sure there are hundreds of smaller CMS’s out there but these are the biggies.

Well this is just the start. Once you decide on what kind of platform you want your site on, next you will decide on choosing a domain name. We will talk more about that in the next post.

Have I answered your questions or just caused your head to spin even more? Let me know if you need something clarified or have more questions. I’m here to help!

Article by Cathy Ratcliffe

17 Responses to “Getting Started Part 1-Your Site’s Platform”

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  1. Nice Post. The nice thing about giving basic information is there are millions of new users almost everyday.

    Look forward to following you.

    Great start on the challenge.

  2. Kecia says:

    This is a great post for beginners trying to decide which way to go. I personally love using NameCheap for my domains and paid hosting. I am considering moving back to HostGator for hosting. I moved away when I found a cheaper deal, but I’m having so much downtime lately I’m missing the great service HostGator gives!

    • cathy says:

      Yeah I think Hostgator is definitely worth and they are pretty reasonable.

      I went with 2 other companies that were even cheaper but one was down alot and the other “lost” all my sites and didn’t do the weekly backups they had promised at the time I signed up for them so I lost all 4 sites I had on there.

      It taught me to stick with a company with a good track record and was trustworthy.

  3. Katie says:

    Great post! I remember the days of $60 domain names. The Internet has gotten so much easier in some ways since then.

  4. Sydney says:

    Cathy, I need tutorials like this. I am a total beginner when it comes to blogging so keep up the great tutorials! I so appreciate your blog.

    • cathy says:

      Thanks so much Sydney! That means a lot to me knowing it is helping someone. I hope it all makes sense and let me know if it’s unclear.

  5. Ruth Clark says:

    Nice post, Cathy. I have set up a new domain for this purpose. To play with and to maybe jump in and show someone else how to set up WordPress. I have a very old blog on blogger, but I use WP and love it.

    My problem is the learning curve and a small budget. But, we get by. I use Namecheap almost exclusively for domains. I bought one from GoDaddy and thought I’d never get done.
    I use HostGator for hosting and have never been given a reason to change. I’ve had to call them several times and use live chat and they have always solved my problems, untangled my messes, and been very courteous doing it.

    • cathy says:

      I will always stick with Hostgator. I didn’t realize how awesome they were until I tried a few other hosts. 2 were cheaper, one was more expensive but boasted superior service. Unfortunately they were down a lot. The cheaper hosts were horrible.

      I just started using Domain Cheap for a few domains and so far, I really like them.

      Thanks for visiting Ruth!


  1. […] That’s it. You have a domain name! If you missed Part 1, click here: Choose Your  Blogging Platform […]

  2. […] Getting Started Part 1 Getting Started Part 2 Getting Started Part 3 Getting Started Part 4 […]

  3. […] Getting Started Part 1 Getting Started Part 2 Getting Started Part 3 Getting Started Part 4 Getting Started Part 5 Getting Started Part 6 […]

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