OK, so you have decided create your very own website, with your own domain name and everything. The very first thing you will need is a domain name, and then a web host. You can register a domain name for an initial cost of about ten bucks, give or take a couple. Then you only need to worry about it once a year. A web host, on the other hand can cost $30 upwards, even for a basic site, and for that kind of price all you will get is a fly by night hosting company that can pull the plug on your site any time. So, how would you like it if I explained to you how to get free hosting, ad-free, logo-free, that too from some leading companies like Google and Microsoft. After all, in this era of Internet freebies, who wants to pay for things like web hosting?
Well, this works for a blog or a basic site, where you would like to give information about yourself or your small business, get feedback, run surveys, write articles, even place ads to make some money. If you want to create an e-commerce site, where you want to sell stuff, accept payments, etc., then these instructions are not for you.
OK, let us get back to the basics. Assuming that you already have a domain name (if not, get one now), there are three main ways you can set up a site with free hosting from World’s leading Internet companies:
1. Blogger from Google
2. Google Sites
3. Office Live Small Business
Part 1: Setting Up Your Domain on Blogger
In Part 1 of this article, I am going to explain how to set up your site using blogger.com. But I am not trying to create a blog, you ask. OK, I will also tell you how to make your site not look like a blog. Let us start with the steps.
Step 1: Creating a free blog on blogger.com
Create an account on blogger.com and create a blog for your site. It is easy and self explanatory. If you have a google account, use that to sign in, otherwise I recommend you create one. If not, you can use any email address to create an account. After creating an account create a blank blog site, and may be start with a simple test post. It doesn’t matter what name you choose for your blog, but it will be nice if you use the same name as your domain. For example if your website is example123.com, use example123.blogspot.com as your blog address. If the name is not available, don’t worry. choose any name that is available and you like.
(Click here to watch a little video on how to create a blog on blogger.)
Step 2: Telling Blogger Your Domain Name
Now that your free blog is set up on blogger, it is time to change your example.blogspot.com address to example.com. Here’s how to do this:
- On your blogger dashboard, click on the “Settings” link against the blog you wish to link to your domain.
- Under Settings, Click on Publishing. You will see the following message.
- Click on “Switch to Custom Domain”.
- On the next screen, click on “Switch to Advanced Settings”.
- On the next screen, enter your domain name. Just below the text box for domain name, click on “setup instructions”, which will link you to this page. Leave the setup instructions open in a separate page.
- For basic settings, say “No” to “Use a missing files host?”. Enter the Word Verification, and click on “Save Settings”.
Step 3: Telling Your Domain Registrar Where to Go
Now complete the instructions given on the setup instructions page. For this you need to visit your domain registrar’s site, e.g., if you registered your domain from Godaddy, go to godaddy.com. This step basically consists of setting up your CNAME and A NAME records. At this point don’t worry what these NAMEs mean. Your CNAME needs to point to ghs.google.com. Setting up your CNAME is enough to direct your domain www.example123.com to your blog, but you need to set up the A names to make sure even example123.com (without the www) points to the same blog. Once your DNS settings are complete, it may take several hours (sometimes upto a day) to be active.
Step 4: Setting Up Your Blog Template
While the DNS settings take effect or “propagate”, let us take some time to customize the blog.
- On your blogger dashboard, click on the “Layout” link against the blog you wish to customize.
- Use Page Elements, Fonts and Colors to change the look of your blog. You can also Pick a New Template from, or search the web for thousands of templates others have created for blogger.
Now if you are actually using this site for your blog, you don’t need to go to Step 5. If you want your site not to look like a blog, then read on.
Step 5: Making your blog look like a non-blog site
You will need to do several things to make your site not look like a blog.
- Hide or Remove Blogger Navbar: Follow instructions on this page. Or better still, use a non-blogger template that has a built in code to hide the navbar. If in doubt, ask in the comments section below.
- Under Layout > Page Elements, click on “Edit” under “Blog Posts”, and uncheck all unnecessary fields like Date, Author, Time, Comments, etc. Also under Layout > Page Elements, delete any unnecessary sidebar elements. Use sidebar to add a menu to your site.
- Various pages for your site will have to be created by going to the Posting tab. Create the pages and use the current date for the page you always want to appear on the front page. For all other posts, use an old date. Remember, you will need to keep the date for the front page later than all other pages. That is how blogger.com will know which page to show first when someone visits your website.
- Under Settings > Formatting, choose “Show 1 post” on the main page.
That is it. Your website is ready to go. Questions? Concerns? Go ahead, ask in the comments section.