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February 20, 2010 11:43 AM   Subscribe

How best to blog and create a book promoting website?

My fiancee and I are in the process of starting a blog, and we're just not very happy with the physical/ aesthetic constraints of Blogger. We'd like a much more open format for organizing and displaying the blog, which will include both text and photographs. In addition, my fiancee will be coming out with a book later this year, and I'd like to create a website advertising it. I have some rudimentary HTML skills, which I acknowledge are a bit dated, but feel are enough that I can at least create something attractive, albeit simple, to do the job.

For the blog, it would seem that Wordpress would be a good place to start in that regard.

So to boil this question(s) down:

1) If we want to get a domain name, what hosting service would be best for this purpose? Would there be any difficulty with having two domain names from the same host? (i.e. www.theblog.com and www.thisawesomebook.com)?

2) Is Wordpress the best software for blogging?

3) What free source software for general web page contruction would you recommend, both for ease of use and flexibility? Would Wordpress also work great in terms of creating a site to promote a book?

I used to have a copy of dreamweaver, but it's been many years since I last used it - not to mention it was a student edition so not exactly kosher for use outside of non-profit areas.

4) Is there an alternative that I'm simply not aware of or thinking of that would solve the above questions?

5) After seeing this question from back in October it raises additional questions, how easy or difficult is it to go about registering a domain name at one place and then having your info hosted else where?

While I have a general knowledge of how the internet works, please feel free to approach this as if speaking to a complete novice!

Thanks for all your input!
posted by Atreides to Technology (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
As far as hosting, every site I've ever had has not been hosted on the same site where I registered the domain. As far as two domain names go, it shouldn't be a problem at all. Most domain registering services are happy to help you set up additional domain names.
posted by deacon_blues at 11:48 AM on February 20, 2010


1) If we want to get a domain name, what hosting service would be best for this purpose? Would there be any difficulty with having two domain names from the same host? (i.e. www.theblog.com and www.thisawesomebook.com)?

I use EasyWhois to register domain names, since they have a pledge that they won't purchase (for themselves) domain names that you search for using their service.

A web host is totally different, and I have been pleased with both Site5 and Dreamhost.

2) Is Wordpress the best software for blogging?

There's no "best" with any software -- software choice is completely personal; many will say the best choice is the one you will learn/use. Wordpress has a lot of users, though, so finding support won't be hard. If you run it yourself, manually, on your web host, be prepared for security-upgrade hell.

3) What free source software for general web page contruction would you recommend, both for ease of use and flexibility? Would Wordpress also work great in terms of creating a site to promote a book?

There are tons of free Wordpress templates out there; you might start by Googling those. Take a look at the included files, especially graphics, and see if you can get an idea of what's easy to change just by altering graphics.

For web page and/or template editing, I like Notepad++ in Windows, Geany in Linux, and Textmate on a Mac (last one not open source, not sure about alternatives, maybe Aptana)

I used to have a copy of dreamweaver, but it's been many years since I last used it - not to mention it was a student edition so not exactly kosher for use outside of non-profit areas.

Dreamweaver's OK, but your time is better spent finding a decent standards-compliant HTML book, like the one by Zeldman. Use that as your gude, and Google things that don't make sense, or Ask Mefi

4) Is there an alternative that I'm simply not aware of or thinking of that would solve the above questions?

Now THERE is a good base-covering question. One alternative: Design website graphically using something like Inkscape, then send it off to a PSD --> HTML service and ask them to turn it into a Wordpress template. Rough cost == $300 -- 500

5) After seeing this question from back in October it raises additional questions, how easy or difficult is it to go about registering a domain name at one place and then having your info hosted else where?

People do this all the time. You sign up with a host, they give you a "nameserver" address, you log in to your domain name registrar and type in the new nameserver address. In a few hours you're golden.
posted by circular at 11:53 AM on February 20, 2010


1) If we want to get a domain name, what hosting service would be best for this purpose?
There are domain registrars and hosting companies. I've used namecheap for the former without any problem, and someone here will probably recommend dreamhost for the latter.

2) Is Wordpress the best software for blogging?
I have no idea if it's 'the best' but it's very popular, it has tons of plugins to make it whatever you want, and has a lot of support behind it.

3) Would Wordpress also work great in terms of creating a site to promote a book?
Yes, very easily. The large amount of available free (or premium) templates make it even easier.

5) After seeing this question from back in October it raises additional questions, how easy or difficult is it to go about registering a domain name at one place and then having your info hosted else where?
That's the normal and even expected procedure.
posted by Memo at 11:59 AM on February 20, 2010


Thank you for the responses so far. As additional information, the best bang for the buck would be something we'd like to keep in mind in terms of expenses.
posted by Atreides at 12:46 PM on February 20, 2010


I recently switched from blogger to wordpress and have been very, very happy with it. It's very very user friendly, customizable, and fairly intuitive. My experience at blogger was regularly painful, for a variety of reasons, so call me a happy customer. For the design, I found a free theme and altered the graphics. I used to code websites by hand, but why bother? Seriously, this is a much better way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:05 PM on February 20, 2010


I use GoDaddy.com (sexist :() and they have an easy to use WordPress integration. Dreamhost might too.

There are thousands of templates to use. No html skill required!

I'd suggest doing a practice run before promoting a book though.
posted by k8t at 2:09 PM on February 20, 2010


1) If we want to get a domain name, what hosting service would be best for this purpose? Would there be any difficulty with having two domain names from the same host? (i.e. www.theblog.com and www.thisawesomebook.com)?

When you sign up for hosting you're often offered a free domain registration as part of the package. Smile politely and register your domain names elsewhere. You could use the free domain name for a backup domain (such as a common misspelling of the real domain name).
When you sign up for hosting be sure that you can host more than one domain name via the use of addons - here's a good explanation (it's BlueHost, a company I don't have any experience of but applies to all hosting companies that offer free addons (usually 1 to 5 addons per hosting account in addition to the main domain name).


2) Is Wordpress the best software for blogging?

As others have noted, it is open source (free) and widely used with a huge support community, both in the forum and many thousands of articles, tutorials, etc.. It's also excellent for creating sites in both the blog format sites and "static" websites to promote the book. It's also very good for all levels of user.


3a) What free source software for general web page contruction would you recommend, both for ease of use and flexibility? I used to have a copy of dreamweaver, but it's been many years since I last used it - not to mention it was a student edition so not exactly kosher for use outside of non-profit areas.

If it's an old version of Dreamweaver, best to leave it and concentrate on learning html and css with something like Notepad, Notepad++ or HTML Kit.


3b) Would Wordpress also work great in terms of creating a site to promote a book?

Absolutely. See my answer to #2. Read the Wordpress Codex (manual) on Pages and look for articles on using Wordpress as a cms.

You want to search for Wordpress themes, not templates. Unfortunately, the Wordpress theme showcase is, frankly, crap, you're better off searching via google or delicious. There are endless lists of best/awesome/fantastic themes to be found. Once you've decided on content, decide roughly what layout you'd like to achieve (e.g. header/2 columns plus sidebar/footer), find a theme that's close and then start amending it to your needs.


4) Is there an alternative that I'm simply not aware of or thinking of that would solve the above questions?
Set aside plenty of time - to get a good looking site that works well in all the major browsers (plus mobile devices) is a time consuming task.


5) After seeing this question from back in October it raises additional questions, how easy or difficult is it to go about registering a domain name at one place and then having your info hosted else where?
It's very common, any company that questions you or tries to push both can be ignored.
posted by ceri richard at 2:35 PM on February 20, 2010


I've been very happy with Tumblr, a service similar to Blogger with a few smart design decisions that make it very easy to use. I've read over your question and it appears to support all that you want it to.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:57 PM on February 20, 2010


Follow up question, and again, thank you so far for the answers. All of them have been informative.

Is there a benefit to registering your domain in a different place other than the hosting service? Likewise, is it detrimental to go someplace like Dreamhost or GoDaddy and use them to register and host?


Thanks!
posted by Atreides at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2010


Is there a benefit to registering your domain in a different place other than the hosting service? Likewise, is it detrimental to go someplace like Dreamhost or GoDaddy and use them to register and host?

Not necessarily. Keep in mind that if you initially host your site in one place, and decide to switch, you'll need to wait six months to transfer the hosting. I recently switched from 2mhost to Dreamhost, and have been happy with dreamhost. I've heard bad things about them re: frequent outages, but so far they're much more user friendly than 2mhost was.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2010


I use dreamhost for all my sites (listed in my profile). They do everything you want, include automated wordpress installs, and more. They are excellent and I highly recommend them.
posted by fake at 5:11 PM on February 20, 2010


> Keep in mind that if you initially host your site in one place, and decide to switch, you'll need to wait six months to transfer the hosting.

In my (limited) experience, the transfer time is about 72 hours; that is, just enough time for the change in server address to propagate through the Web.

At least with a reputable host, this should be a fairly friction-free process:

Just

a) get the nameservers of the new host;
b) go to your domain name registrar and plug in the new nameservers;
c) ask your new host to port over your site;
d) call up your existing host and tell them where your site is being ported.

In fact, you can even skip c) and d), and FTP your existing site files directly into the new host. The domain name redirection to the new host, as mentioned, takes about three days.

> 5) After seeing this question from back in October it raises additional questions, how easy or difficult is it to go about registering a domain name at one place and then having your info hosted else where?

Echoing what was written above-- yeah, different registrars/hosts is fairly standard.

> 1) If we want to get a domain name, what hosting service would be best for this purpose? Would there be any difficulty with having two domain names from the same host? (i.e. www.theblog.com and www.thisawesomebook.com)?

Multiple domains/host is usually not a problem. You can sometimes get a slight search engine optimization (SEO) benefit by having your linking sites set on different hosts.

Note that many of the big hosts offer automated Wordpress installation, via Fantastico.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:02 PM on February 20, 2010


N-thing Dreamhost. They are excellent in terms of quality and platforms supported. They are also extremely helpful (as in not patronizing) to people who know nothing about blog setup, website setup and maintaining multiple domains on the same site.
posted by Susurration at 6:37 PM on February 20, 2010


Ended up going with Dreamhost for hosting and registration. The result is in my profile and posted over on Projects. Thanks again to everyone's advice and help!
posted by Atreides at 12:17 PM on March 22, 2010


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