Domain Hosting 101 - The Website Setup Process Simplified

If you were anything like me at the beginning of my online journey, you had a steep learning curve. 

Not only are you teaching yourself marketing, and design and content management but you are learning new terms in all of those fields in order to be able to function and navigate your business.

One of the trickier things for most people to grasp at the beginning are three little terms related to their site and managing it. So let’s define some basic terms so everyone is on the same page before we get any deeper. Many of these are used interchangeably at the beginning but they are, in fact, distinct aspects of your online presence.

1. Domain Name: When you have a site visitor, they use your domain name to view your website. Just like a street address, they need this to get to you and your website.

2. Website: When people arrive at the address they’ve typed in, this is what they will see. Just like a house and a normal street address. And also like a house, your website itself if comprised of many parts like files and code to create what most people refer to as their ‘site’.

3. Domain Hosting: A hosting company (like Bluehost) provides a powerful server, constantly connected to the internet with several high-speed connections. This is like the piece of property your house is built on. It’s a space set aside, just for your house. It’s where all those files that make up your site are stored.

Now, I’ve oversimplified this a great deal but hopefully that shines some light on the three main parts of what comprise any given website.

Now of the three of these, domain hosting is probably LEAST familiar to you.  So let’s clarify the biggest consternation most people encounter first.

What is the difference between a domain registration and domain hosting? 


Let’s start with domain registration.

Registering a domain secures that specific internet address. No one else can use that particular domain name on the internet. Some hosting companies do this themselves but most outsource this and act as a middle-man in order to provide both registration and domain services (like Bluehost).

Other companies just focus on domain name registration. Why would you want to do this? Well, this allows you to secure a domain name without purchasing hosting services. While this will protect your domain name from being taken by someone else, it will not allow you to host a website or utilize email services with your domain.

Now let’s expand domain hosting. 

In a sense, you rent space on a big computer, called a server, in a warehouse to hold your website. Your host server, the big computer where your website files are stored, assigns an address or domain name server (DNS) for your files to your domain name so that anyone can find your website on the Internet by typing in your domain name.

The server is managed by the hosting company (I use Bluehost) so the hosting customers do not have to worry about server maintenance, upgrades and configuration. They can instead focus on setting up and managing their own website. However, if you want to adjust your configuration settings, you can do so. 

If you register your domain and hosting with a website builder like Squarespace or Weebly, you don’t have as much access to your configuration settings as you do by directly hosting with a third party company. 

Once your registered domain is hosted on a server, you can set up your custom emails. (Learn how to do that on Bluehost here.)

Make sense? It’s not rocket science but there is a learning curve and field specific terms to learn in order to make sense of it all.

Pssst.  Guess what?

Just owning the domain name does not give you trademark rights. And that means that anyone can steal your material, your content & your courses--and there won’t be anything you can do about it. Thankfully, Ash & Rachel have put together Small Business Bodyguard, for small business owners & bloggers to make sure their stuff doesn’t get jacked--and keep them on the right side of the law...the easy way. I use it. You should, too.

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