Defining is a first step in getting started. If you don’t know what the words mean in the context they’re being used – it’s super confusing and completely overwhelming! I’m going to “define” some terms I found very confusing when I started. There are so many more – these are just a drop in the bucket. Feel free to ask, and if I know I’ll do my best to help; however, I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination.
One problem I had when starting was the terms meant nothing to me. They were in English, I can read and understand English, but I had no context for “getting” what I was reading. So I’m going to get started by clarifying some terminology. These are words I wish I would have understood better in advance.
- Backend: The behind-the-scenes “inner” workings of every website.
- Blog: Requires consistent interaction between you and your readers. You can determine the frequency, but consistency is invaluable.
- Blogger: A person who blogs; and the name of a hosted (free) CMS, designed for blogging. (I’m not sure if you can sell/monetize a blog hosted on blogger.)
- Cloud (in the tech sense): Similar to hosting, but not attached to a personal URL. It’s more of a virtual storage cabinet. (Google Docs is an example of “cloud” based storage)
- Content Management System (CMS): How you store all the information on your site and create how it will look to the user.
- Domain name or URL: This is your unique address in the world wide web. Similar to your personal street address – where you can be found.
- Hosted vs. Self-hosted: Do you want the CMS set up to do everything and the possibility of it being free? Then you want hosted. If you know you’re in this for the long-haul and you’re willing to dig deep and do a small amount of “extra” work? Then you want self-hosted.
- Hosted: There are free and paid versions; some you get to choose your domain and others provide a sub of their domain. There are different rules for each, you’d need to learn their CMS and terms and conditions on making money/selling/ads. They take care of all the tech stuff (updates, security, maintaining) for you. I really am not familiar with how these work, or all their options.
- Hosting: Where the workings of your website, and all of the information (text/images), are being stored. Similar to the house you live in, the storage unit you store your stuff in.
- Monetize: To make money from your blog by selling services, product, or ad space.
- Self-hosted: You pay for your hosting and your choice of domain name. You learn the CMS you choose and you do all maintenance on the site. Similar to picking what part of town you want to live in, but you still have to decide if you’ll be in a subdivision zoned for travel trailers, apartments, starter homes, or a mansion – it’s all about your purpose for your site.
- SquareSpace: A paid subscription based CMS (includes hosting); can be used for either a blog and/or business website. I’m not sure if you can sell/monetize a blog hosted on SquareSpace.
- Website: Space on the web. Doesn’t have to change real frequently, but you must keep it up to date for security reasons, and you do want to make sure it always has relevant information. (such as: current way to contact you, products, important information.) The more current a site looks, the more customers will engage with you.
- WordPress: A free Content Management System, CMS; can be used for either blog or business website. While the WordPress CMS is free to use, you have to have hosting to make it actually work. There are two options for using WordPress.
- WordPress.com: The hosted version of the WordPress CMS. Your URL will be a subdomain of WordPress.com (yourdomain.wordpress.com). I’m not sure if you can sell/monetize a blog hosted on WordPress.
- WordPress.org: The self-hosted version of the WordPress CMS. Your URL will be yours only, using the CMS (yourdomain.com). I know you can sell/monetize a blog using the self-hosted version of WordPress.
In my opinion, self-hosted and using the WordPress CMS via WordPress.org, is the best option and gives you the most control over your site. It is as close as you can get to “owning” a piece of the internet.
I believe using WordPress is the easiest way to make a site and keep it maintained, not to mention the least expensive. This is what I know, and is the perspective I will be basing all of my explanations from here on out.