Do you have an online presence? You probably do through social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Do you own your online presence? You do if you own a domain, for example, yourname.com.
The difference between having and owning an online presence is who is in control. You control your domain whereas social media platforms control you and their members. Facebook, Twitter, and others have policies to regulate and restrict your online activities. If you violate their terms, they may suspend or terminate your account without notice.
Your Domain Is Your Online Real Estate
In 2013, I had the presence of mind to purchase chadtennant.com. There are many Chad Tennants, but I’m the only one who owns the domain with a .com extension. Dotcom is one of the most popular top-level domain (TLD) extensions alongside .org, .net, .gov, and so forth.
There is no limit to what you can do with your site. I’ve turned chadtennant.com into a blog, but it could be an about me page, resume site, online store, nothing at all, or I could sell it for a profit (presumably to another Chad Tennant). Also, I can redirect chadtennant.com to a different domain or URL such as my LinkedIn profile.
You should have a domain in your name, regardless of what you do with it. A domain cost between $10 to $15 annually to buy and renew. Yes, domain ownership cost less than the price of four coffees at Starbucks. You can get a domain from a web hosting company, for example, SiteGround, Bluehost, and GoDaddy.
Domain Vs. Hosting
A domain refers to an address and location on the internet. Web hosting is the place or company that stores a website’s files. Hosting is required to appear on the internet, for instance, chadtennant.com would not be up and running without hosting. Web hosting providers have many heavy-duty computer servers and processes to host millions of websites efficiently.
Get Your Domain While It’s Available
Option #1: Buy a Domain
Get a domain in your name (or other) at DreamHost or HostGator. Both providers allow customers to buy domains without hosting. I don’t recommend buying a domain with an uncommon TLD like dot online, io, shop, xyz, biz, and so on, but it’s your call. If your name is not available, brainstorm alternatives, for example:
Option #2: Buy a Domain and Hosting
Get a domain and hosting to develop your site. These top-rated companies offer discounts of 42% to 87% on hosting.
Video Tutorial: How to Buy a Domain
WordPress: The #1 Website Platform
Millions of people use WordPress to create their sites. WordPress is a free open-source application and content management system (CMS). It runs 31 percent of all websites and leads the way in content management systems with a market share of 60 percent.
I’ve been using WordPress since 2009 because it’s super user-friendly. You don’t need to know how to code or program. It’s a click, type, drag and drop experience. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature like using email and Microsoft Word.
WordPress users can access thousands of free and paid themes and plugins to develop their websites. A theme is a website template and framework that a user can customize. A plugin extends the functionality of a site for things like security, images, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, maintenance, and more.
WordPress.org provides free open-source software to run a website, blog, or app. In tandem with the software, you’ll need hosting. WordPress.org recommends Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround. A shared hosting plan, which is fantastic for beginners, cost $7 to $12 monthly depending on the provider. Setting up WordPress through your host is achieved through a quick and efficient one-click installation process.
WordPress.org attracts thousands of developers who create free and paid themes and plugins for everyone to use, which yields a lot of selection. User support for free themes/plugins can be hit or miss depending on the developer. Premium themes/plugins typically come with one-on-one assistance.
WordPress.com offers WordPress software, hosting, support, themes, and plugins in one place. It’s a one-stop-shop for websites managed by Automattic—a website development company. The founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, is also the founder of the WordPress software and foundation that runs WordPress.org.
WordPress.com controls the themes and plugins users can access on personal and premium plans ($48 and $96 billed yearly). On the business plan, users can add themes and plugins at their discretion ($300 charged annually). They offer nearly 300 free and paid themes, which pales in comparison to the thousands of themes available on WordPress.org. However, their assortment of themes and plugins vary and satisfy most customers. Jetpack is their main plugin. It’s an all-in-one plugin that handles multiple functions such as backup, performance, security, SEO, and more. It’s also available on WordPress.org.
You can get a free website at WordPress.com if you don’t mind using an address like yourname.wordpress.com. However, you’re unlikely to show up in search engine results and won’t be taken seriously by others.
Which Is Better?
WordPress.com is ideal for people who want convenience, support, and don’t mind fewer theme and plugin options (excluding the business plan). WordPress.org is suitable for individuals who want greater control, flexibility, and choices. WooCommerce themes and plugins are available through both platforms. WordPress.com offers a comparison to WordPress.org on their site.
Both WordPress solutions are excellent, so you can’t go wrong with either. Also, WordPress is more versatile and user-friendly than Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix among others. WordPress how-to blogs, tutorials, courses, Facebook groups, and support are everywhere you look, so help is always close by.
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