For creating this website I had a number of starting points. None of these are permanent and any of these starting points could change over time. The choices I made enabled me to set up the blog so I could get started in short time.
- Domain name. This is where the visitors are going to point to in order to access the blog. This can be via links or entering the URL directly in the browser. I chose to register a few domain names related to my name, rather than the name of the blog. This because I consider my name more important from a branding perspective and the name of the blog might change one day. It is less likely that my name will change in the future.
- Hosting. The site has to be online somewhere. I could theoretically run the website from one of my own machines, but that requires a sufficiently fast and reliable internet connection. A regular non-commercial internet subscription would not be sufficient for that. Also, I would be responsible myself for keeping my machine alive, updated and backed up. Web hotels are rather cheap, especially when the volume of traffic is low. I chose to host my website at the same company where I also rent my domain name. The domain name refers to the IP address of the web server at the web hotel.
- Blogging platform. The web hotel provides a disk area and a web server linked to this area. I could create my website manually by loading a few static HTML pages there. However, it is not practical to build a dynamic web site that way. Several frameworks and platforms exist that make the maintenance of such a website much easier. The most popular seems to be WordPress these days, which I also use as a starting point. My web hotel has a script that can deploy a complete WordPress installation including the required MySQL server in minutes.
- Template. One of the advantages of WordPress is that many templates are provided by third parties that determine to a large extent the look and feel of the site. Many of these templates are free while others are provided on a commercial basis. I didn’t look into the different templates yet, as I consider the default template good enough for me to start with. In the future I will likely test other templates or maybe even create my own.
- Plugins. Another advantage of WordPress is that the existing platform can be extended using plugins. Many third party plugins exist, many for free (with limited capability) or commercial (with full capability). For now I will add JetPack, an extensive plugin by the same developers as WordPress itself. It provides statistics about visits of the site, monitoring of availability of the site and so much more. If the WordPress app is installed on an iPhone or iPad, critical information is even sent as notifications to these devices.
- Graphics. While it is relatively easy to create textual content, graphics is a different matter. However, even if no graphics are needed for illustration, high quality graphics make a post much more attractive. Obtaining appropriate graphics can be done by using stock photos or taking pictures myself. For stock photos I have to think of copyright: I can use appropriate free stock photos or pay for commercial ones. (Just never copy a random picture from Internet!) For shooting high quality pictures myself, I’ll have to dust off my good old DSLR (Canon EOS 600) and primary lens (Canon EF 28mm 1:1.8), my flash (Metz 54 MZ-3), tripods and my photography skills. In this blog I’ll aim for creating my own graphics as much as possible.
Note: WordPress as a stand-alone platform that can be downloaded and configured on your own server for free. However, WordPress can also host your blog. This can be done for free, but with severe limitations like no connection to your own domain name, no plug-ins and you’re not allowed to have money generating functionality.
One could also opt for a Premium membership at WordPress that does not have these limitations. I have no opinion about using WordPress Premium as web hotel or using the free WordPress platform at any other web hotel.