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As part of this Niche Site (the Dumb Way) Follow-Along, I want to show exactly how and what I do to set up and create a website. This is pretty basic stuff and I realize that many of my readers already have a handle on it. But there may be readers, either currently or in the future, who are total beginners and don’t know the first thing about how to set up a website. This post will be geared towards the beginners, although some of you with experience may pick up a thing or two just by seeing how I do it. Better yet, those of you with experience may be able to give a few helpful pointers in the comments section below.
Purchasing A Domain
When building a niche site, this step kind of goes hand-in-hand with the choosing a niche and keyword research step. I purchase all of my domains at GoDaddy.com (affiliate link). Therefore, when I am researching keywords I am simultaneously checking for available exact match domains (EMD’s) over at GoDaddy.com. Per the advice and practices of all the other internet marketers and niche site builders I’ve been following on the internet, I only look for matching .COM, .NET or .ORG domains. A matching .COM domain is the best and most desirable. If it is not available, .NET is my second choice with .ORG being third in line (for me). To date, I own 11 domains and all are either .COM or .NET.
I was pleasantly surprised when doing the keyword research for election day 2012, that the .NET exact match domain was available! I picked it up from GoDaddy.com for $9.99. Somebody had already taken electionday2012.com and built a site on it. I’m not sure exactly what they are trying to accomplish because (as of the date of this post) I am already outranking them in Google.
Hint: When purchasing domains (or other products) at GoDaddy.com, do a Google search for GoDaddy coupon codes. You can often find a good discount or free add-on. These have worked great for me in the past. Also, you can get better pricing if you purchase domains in bulk (6 or more at at time). I did this combined with a coupon code for my latest purchase and was able to secure 6 domains (3-.COM and 3-.NET) for 1-year for $55.02.
Purchasing Web Hosting
If you don’t know what web hosting is, or don’t understand it, read about it here on Wikipedia or check out this article that explains it pretty well. Just know that you need it and that if you are planning on building a niche site similar to the way that I am, you are probably going to have to pay for it. You can certainly go the free route by using platforms such as Blogger, Weebly or one of many others. But, a self-hosted WordPress site certainly looks more professional and has a better chance of ranking in the search engines.
Here is how I chose which company to use for hosting. I originally signed up for hosting through GoDaddy for my first niche site. I did this in an attempt to keep things simple because I already had an account at GoDaddy. After doing so, I found their backroom management tools and pages to be pretty confusing. I wasn’t even sure if the hosting I paid for would be good for other domains as well, or just for that one. I then searched out web hosting reviews and found that GoDaddy was unanimously horrible when it came to customer satisfaction for their hosting products. Go figure. They are one of the best, if not THE best, when it comes to purchasing domains. But, they can’t figure out how to keep their hosting customers happy. Needless to say, I cancelled hosting with GoDaddy.
Next, I decided to try BlueHost. I had been following Pat Flynn’s niche site duel posts and they were most helpful to me, so I figured I would return the favor by clicking on one of his BlueHost affiliate links. I wanted to use BlueHost. Their site was very user friendly and set-up was extremely easy. But, their minimum available plan to choose from was a 12-month plan. Yeah, sure – it was a great deal overall, but I didn’t want to pay for an entire 12 months up front. Not that I didn’t want to, more like I didn’t have the money available in my “business” account. Remember, I am doing this make money online experiment the dumb way – meaning I am not using any paid tools and not spending any money that I didn’t already earn online somehow. So, BlueHost was out. Sorry Pat Flynn.
The other most popular hosting service I had been seeing around the internet and had read reviews about was HostGator (affiliate link). I clicked through via an affiliate link on one of my other blogger friends sites who had given HostGator high praises. I always try to use affiliate links when possible in order to help out fellow internet marketers. I was able to secure hosting for this site through HostGator on a month-to-month basis for only $9.95 per month. (You can get it cheaper if you choose to pay for longer term plans, but I was content with paying a little more for month-to-month for the time being) Not only does that $9.95 cover hosting for this site, but also for an unlimited number of add-on domains. So far, I have all 11 of my domains pointing to the same hosting account.
Setting Up Web Hosting
The next few steps could be a little bit confusing for the beginner. Let me just tell you that I had no idea what I was doing when I stepped into this part of my niche site venture, but was able to easily figure it all out with the help of Google searches and help screens on both GoDaddy and HostGator. So, I had my domain, electionday2012.net, purchased over at GoDaddy. I had my hosting account up and running at HostGator. Now I needed to connect the two. Here’s how:
I logged into my GoDaddy account and found my way into the Domain Manager (click on My Account to find it). Within the domain manager, all of my domains show up as clickable links. I clicked on electionday2012.net to get into the settings for that domain. In order to point it to my external hosting account, I needed to change the nameservers (click on Set Nameservers). There should be two nameservers which need to be changed to the ones affiliated with your specific hosting account (these were easy to find within my HostGator account). The nameservers look something like this
As you can see, I have checked the bullet for “I have specific nameservers for my domains.”
I clicked OK and I was all set! My domain was now pointing to my hosting account at HostGator. This change does not take effect immediately, so I waited 24 hours before doing anything else.
Easy Way vs. Dumb Way
It would certainly be a little bit easier to purchase both the domain and hosting from the same company. You do have this option at HostGator (they sell domains too), but like I said, I already had an account at GoDaddy and chose to purchase my domains over there. As a plus to my dumb way, domains are cheaper at GoDaddy and you can usually found coupon or discount codes to add to your savings. So it takes a few extra steps to get my hosting set up, but after I’ve done it once it’s really no big deal.
The next step to building a niche site (the dumb way) is to load WordPress onto your domain. This is super easy with HostGator and I will go into detail exactly how that is done in my next post. Also, there are a few settings and plug-ins within WordPress that I will be going over, as well as web-site structure for best SEO on a niche site.
Until then, remember that there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He is the only known trucker who is blogging about creating passive income online. He is also the co-founder and co-creator of the most popular WordPress plugin for Amazon affiliates – AmaLinks Pro.