What is domain and web hosting? These are essential ingredients for starting a blog, but can be confusing and intimidating to beginners. Keep reading and I’ll explain what is hosting, what is a domain name, and how it relates to your blog and WordPress.
It’s important to understand these blog basics to avoid losing your hard work. My friend Suraya lost her first blog because she didn’t understand the difference between hosting and domain. It was a costly mistake for Suraya, but she bounced back stronger with her inspiring personal finance blog, Ringgit Oh Ringgit.
Domains and hosting are the foundations of every website. Add in WordPress, and you have all the necessary components for a blog. Let’s discover how they all work together.
WordPress and your (Blog) Website
Imagine you have a phone, and you want to use it to guide you to your destination. You first need to install a map app.
Similarly, you want to use your website as a blog, so you must install a blog app. WordPress is the blog app.
WordPress is software that makes it easy for you to create and manage a blog on your website. Without WordPress, you would have to know HTML and manually write code to create articles for your blog 😱
(There is also a WordPress.com, and we’ll talk about that a little later.)
A blog is just a type of website. Forums and online stores are examples of other types of websites.
What is Web Hosting?
Hosting is where your blog lives on the internet — its home. Just like there are many types of homes, there are many types of hosting too. For example, some hosting plans allow you to host more than 1 website, and some hosting plans have more features than others.
Technically your blog lives on a web hosting server, and the web hosting company rents a small space on the server to you. A server is a machine that houses websites. It’s normal to have hundreds of websites on a single server.
Hosting plays a big part in determining whether your blog is quick or slow. Whenever possible you should invest in higher quality hosting for faster site speed. Site speed contributes to a good page experience, which is a metric that Google uses to rank your blog.
Like buying a home, buying web hosting can be a pretty big investment. However, your hosting plan is not final; you can always move to a different web host if you need.
If you move to a different hosting, how will readers find you? That’s the job of the domain.
What is a Domain?
The job of the domain is to connect visitors to your blog. Web addresses are known as URLs. The domain name appears at the beginning of the URL. For example the URL to this page is:
Domains are the most basic component of the URL. While the above URL will lead you to a specific page, a URL with just the domain will lead you to the front page of the website or blog.
Just think of a domain as the phone number of your blog. With it, your visitors can find your blog anywhere across the internet, wherever its home (hosting) may be.
There are many different types of domains. The most popular ones are
.org. There are also country-specific domains like
.co.uk and new options like
.studio and more.
When choosing a domain, make sure it’s easy to pronounce and spell, and try to avoid domains that have already been used. For example, since
techforbloggers.com is already in use, don’t use
techforbloggers.cool for your blog address.
Finally, remember that just like phone numbers, you can change domains for your blog and also have it direct visitors to a different hosting company if you move your blog.
How to Buy Web Hosting and Domain For Your Blog
Now that we understand all the different ingredients of your blog, let’s go out and buy some web hosting and domains! (Nobody ever says this in real life, but it seemed appropriate here.)
You can buy your domain and web hosting separately, and then link them up together. This method has the benefit of allowing you to choose the best domain registrar and web hosting companies. This is the more advanced option, and not understanding could result in you losing your website, like Suraya’s example above. It is crucially important that you understand web hosting and domains clearly if you buy them separately.
The more popular and common option is to buy your domain and hosting plan together from the same company. Companies who sell domains are called domain registrars, while companies who sell web hosting are called web hosts or web hosting companies. Many web hosts are also domain registrars, allowing them to sell you both in a single package.
Note: you can’t technically own a domain and web hosting. You simply rent them and have to pay yearly to renew.
Because of the popularity of WordPress, many web hosts will also sell hosting plans that come pre-installed with WordPress, or offer a 1-click WordPress installer.
This means you can go to a web host, buy a domain and hosting plan, and immediately have a blog to get started with. Web hosting companies that offer all-in-one packages like this are Bluehost, SiteGround, WP Web Host and VentraIP Australia among others.
While web hosts try to make it easy to buy a domain and hosting plan to start a WordPress blog, there are still many complicated decisions to choosing the right web hosting plan for your blog. No, Bluehost is not always the best option. Stay tuned for the next post on how to choose the best hosting for your blog.
Is WordPress.com a web host?
Finally, a common question I hear is:
Why don’t I just sign up with WordPress.com to start a blog?
That’s a fair question, especially since your goal is to start blogging with WordPress right?
First, it’s important to note that WordPress.com is not the same thing as the WordPress software.
WordPress.com is an all-in-one hosting service. This includes hosting, domains and pre-installed WordPress like the web hosts mentioned above. However, the version of WordPress provided is different (restricted) compared to the other options discussed above.
WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to install plugins, use custom themes or display ads on their entry-level plans. If you want to do so, you have to upgrade to their expensive Business or eCommerce plans (starting at $25/mo).
If hosting is your blog’s home, WordPress.com provides a very nice hotel-like experience. They make sure everything works great, have security and helpful staff. But like a hotel, you can’t really have a barbecue, install your own security system, or even upgrade the Wi-Fi.
Many bloggers are happy with this trade-off; figuring out domains and hosting is difficult enough, nobody likes to deal with blog security too. However the more entrepreneurial bloggers will want more flexibility to start a blog on their own terms by using the WordPress software directly.
The WordPress software is also known as self-hosted WordPress. The software’s website is wordpress.org so it is sometimes called the WordPress.org version as well.
Conclusion: What is A Domain and Web Hosting?
In summary, web hosting is a website’s home and the domain is the address to that home. The WordPress software makes it easy to have a blog website, so bloggers like you and me can share our thoughts to the world.
I hope this article has explained what these are to you. Subscribe below to get notified when I publish my follow-up article on choosing the best web hosting for your blog.