How to Run a Blog, “Technically”? Practical Technical Knowledge for Bloggers and Site Owners

Here are some practical pieces of technical knowledge that I have gathered in my blogging journey. Whether you are just starting out or are already an experienced blogger or website owner, you may find some of the information useful!

It has been a while since I first started seriously getting into blogging. To be totally honest, I initially thought that blogging was just about writing articles, and maybe adding some CSS. I did not expect how technical blogging would become, especially since I want to self-host my blog and grow it into a legitimate source of joy and online income.

As you have probably correctly guessed, I have encountered numerous technical issues that have sometimes left me in despair. Thankfully, I have been able to resolve them eventually. Over time, I have had fellow bloggers reaching out to me on various social platforms asking for help. I thought it would be very useful for the blogging community, or anybody interested in blogging, to share the technical knowledge I have learned so far. Hopefully, you can come better prepared than I did!

Here are the most common questions/issues/points of confusion that I have encountered.

Did you know that federal, state, and local agencies are holding millions of dollars in unclaimed cash and property? You could have easy money sitting there waiting for you! Check out Unclaimed Money Guide today!

What is a domain?

According to Wikipedia, a domain name is “an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the internet”. To put it in simple terms, it is the string of letters usually ending with .com, .ca, .net, .org that you type into the address bar to go to a site. For my site, my domain name is bellawanana.com.

If you want to start a blog or a website, one of the very first steps is to figure out what your domain name should be.

What should I do once I have a domain name in mind?

You will want to register it with a domain name registrar.

What is a domain name registrar?

What is a domain name registrar, you may ask? It is a company that manages the reservation of domain names. It must operate with the guidelines of the designated domain name registries.

Popular domain name registrars include Bluehost (it was my first registrar; a one-year free domain registration was too good of a deal for me to pass up for a beginning blogger), SiteGround, GoDaddy, NameSilo, etc.

Bluehost was my first registrar. Its offer of a one-year free domain registration wastoo good of a deal for me to pass up as a beginning blogger. I subsequently switched toNameSilo and has been with them since. NameSilo is one of the most economical options out there and the service has been pretty fantastic so far.

To learn more about Bluehost, check out my Bluehost review!

What will the domain registrar do?

The registrar will check if your desired domain name (e.g., bellawanana.com) is available for registration. If it is, it will create a WHOIS record with the domain name registrant’s (aka your) information. It basically tells everybody that this domain name is taken.

What is a hosting company?

After you register your domain, you will next need to find a hosting company to host your site. A web hosting company, also known as a web hosting service provider, provides technologies and services needed for your website to be viewed on the internet. Your website will be hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers.

I used Bluehost as my hosting company for my first year of blogging. I wanted a reliable platform to self-host without spending a lot of money because I wasn’t too sure how far I would go. Bluehost checked all the boxes.

After a year, however, I made the switch to SiteGround as my blog gained more traction and I joined an ad network named ezoic. Site speed and a more professional look matter more now, and SiteGround provides more powerful services and free email accounts at my domain name. Sign up for SiteGround here.

What is the difference between a registrar and a hosting company?

I hope the above has clarified things for you, but I thought it might be helpful to have this as a separate question because it was actually one of the few things that really confused me at the beginning.

To re-iterate, you have to register your domain name (bellawanana.com for me) with a domain name registrar, and you have to host your website with a hosting company.

Many hosting companies, including the ones listed above such as Bluehost, NameSilo, and SiteGround, also offer domain name registration. This means that your domain name registrar and your hosting company can be the same company. Many people choose to do so out of convenience. I didn’t. My domain name registrar is NameSilo and my hosting company is SiteGround. Will I consolidate them in the future? Maybe. We shall see!

Remember to use my coupon code “bellawanana” when you sign up for NameSilo!

What is a nameserver?

Once you have your hosting company set up, you will likely see nameservers displayed pretty prominently in your profile.

For example, these are Bluehost’s default nameservers:

  • ns1.bluehost.com
  • ns2.bluehost.com

SiteGround’s nameservers are:

  • ns1.siteground.net
  • ns2.siteground.net

What are they, you may ask? The nameservers actually play an important role in displaying site content to visitors.

When you enter a URL into your browser, like “bellawanana.com“, you will see my homepage pretty quickly. Behind the scenes, however, the process goes like this:

  • You type “bellawanana.com” into the address bar and hit enter
  • Your browser sends a request to my domain’s nameservers
  • My domain’s nameservers respond back with the IP address of the website’s server
  • Your browser requests the website content from that IP address
  • Your browser retrieves the content and renders it in your browser

You typically don’t need to change the nameservers. However, in my case, I had to because I wanted to integrate ezoic with my site via their nameserver integration. It was a little bit complicated, but I learned a lot, and I am certainly happy with the ad revenue.

Want to join ezoic to earn higher ad revenue? Apply for ezoic today!

What is the IP address of the hosting company used for?

Along with the nameservers, you will see the IP address of your site as well once you log in to your account with the hosting company. The IP address is the address of your website’s server where all the content is stored. Your browser will go to the IP address to retrieve the content. The nameserver and the IP address together allow anyone to see content when they enter “bellawanana.com” in the address bar.

Here’s again the entire process behind the scene:

  • You type “bellawanana.com” into the address bar and hit enter
  • Your browser sends a request to my domain’s nameservers
  • My domain’s nameservers respond back with the IP address of the website’s server
  • Your browser requests the website content from that IP address
  • Your browser retrieves the content and renders it in your browser

What are DNS records?

DNS stands for “domain name systems”. DNS records (aka zone files) are instructions that live in authoritative DNS servers and provide information about a domain. The information includes the IP address associated with the domain and how to handle requests for that domain. Your IP address and your nameservers mentioned above are part of your DNS records. Your DNS records also include other ones like your email server (if you have an email address associated with the domain, like bella@bellawanana.com).

All DNS records have a “TTL”, which stands for time-to-live. It indicates how often a DNS server will refresh that record.

The most common DNS records include A record, MX record, NS record, and CNAME record, which I will talk about below.

What is an A record?

An A record is one of the most common DNS records. It holds the IP address of your domain.

What is an MX record?

An MX record directs mail to an email server. One awesome feature about SiteGround hosting is that it comes with an unlimited number of free email accounts at your domain name (bella@bellawanana.com for me). The MX record shows where the email server is.

To enjoy the unique features and improve the speed of your site, sign up for SiteGround today!

What is an NS record?

The NS record is another common DNS record. It stores the nameserver for your site.

What is a CNAME record?

This DNS record is most commonly used when you have a subdomain for your site. It is used instead of an A record. Note that CNAME records must point to a domain and not to an IP address.

For example, suppose I have a subdomain “shop.bellawanana.com” (it doesn’t exist yet by the way!), and I list “bellawanana.com” as the CNAME record for “shop.bellawanana.com”. This means that when you type in “shop.bellawanana.com” into the address bar, the following happens:

  • Your browser sends a request to the DNS records of shop.bellawanana.com
  • It finds the CNAME record of shop.bellawanana.com pointing to bellawanana.com
  • Another DNS lookup to bellawanana.com is triggered
  • The nameservers respond back with the IP address of the website’s server
  • Your browser requests the website content of shop.bellawanana.com from that IP address
  • Your browser retrieves the content and renders it in your browser

What is WordPress?

If you are new to blogging or are just exploring, you may likely have come across WordPress. WordPress is a free and open-source content management system written in PHP and paired with a MySQL or MariaDB database. Features include a plugin architecture and a template system, referred to within WordPress as Themes.

WordPress is the most popular system to use for bloggers.

What are all the plugins for?

You may have also come across WordPress plugins. What are they? Well, they are basically little tools you can use to build, customize, and enhance your WordPress website.

For example, I want to have some simple social icons, so I installed this plugin called “Simple Social Icons”. I also want to improve the speed of my site, so I installed the “SiteGround Optimizer” that comes with my SiteGround plan.

What is caching?

You have probably also encountered the term “caching”, especially if you are looking to optimize your website.

In simple terms, caching refers to the process of creating static versions of your site and serving that to visitors. Static pages are generally rendered quickly in browsers. This leads to faster performance of your website.

Caching makes a lot of sense for us bloggers because we likely won’t be updating every single one of our posts or pages 24/7. By serving static copies of the posts or pages to the visitors, we can speed up our site without sacrificing speed.

What is SSL?

Have you noticed the little lock symbol in front of some URLs, and how those URLs start with “https://” instead of “http://”? That’s the SSL certificate. SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer”. It indicates to the users of the site that your connection to that website is secure and encrypted. You want to have this SSL on your site. Both Bluehost and SiteGround offers SSL certificates for free.

Check out the blogging tools I use!

  • Bluehost: perfect for beginners who want to upgrade from a free platform (so you can start monetizing) but who also want to minimize spending. Check out my Bluehost review to see why I chose it as my first hosting company. Sign up for Bluehost here.
  • NameSilo: One of the most economical registrar and hosting companies out there. I stumbled upon this company and have been very happy with the service. It is my current registrar. Use promo code “bellawanana” at check out to get a special discount! Sign up for NameSilo here.
  • SiteGround: This is my current hosting company. It is more expensive than Bluehost, but I like it for its SiteGround optimizer plugin, the free email accounts, and the better speed with my site. Sign up for SiteGround here.
  • Ezoic: This is the ad network I have joined. It pays quite a bit better than Google AdSense. If you have over 5,000 pageviews a month, you should definitely consider applying for it! Sign up for ezoic here.

If you enjoyed this blog post or my content in general, please consider using my Amazon link when making a purchase, sending a lovely coffee my way, or signing up for my newsletter for regular updates!

Leave a Comment