You need three things:
1. A domain name. You can use FatCow, LowestDomainRates, etc…It runs $10-$15/year for the domain name. Just the name. Mine is http://www.hawaiihome.biz/
2. A place to load the site. BlueHost is one of them. I have used them for 5 years and had a few minor problems while they were switching servers.
3. A software platform to load all of your features, i.e. WordPress (free and relatively easy to use and learn).
So the domain is your “garage,” the hosting provider is your vehicle and the software has the bells and whistles, or accessories.
If you set yourself up with BlueHost, you can load a WordPress site easily in a few minutes. It’s part of the BlueHost setup. You click on scripts on your Control Panel, then choose WordPress, then tell what site to load it on. You need a domain name of course, to load it on to, AND you have to know how to unlock the domain name to load it on BlueHost’s servers. Make sense?
As far as WordPress goes, it has themes and plugins. Themes are the backgrounds (like the chassis or frame of the car) and plug-ins, these are mini-programs that you run on the website or blog, such as IDXSearch, SEOs (Search Engine Optimization), broken link checker, search, and control of your sidebars and pages. Sound like a lot of work? IT IS! But you have 100% control over your site. Themes can be fancy or simple, free or several hundred dollars.
Two biggest lessons learned:
1. Buy the daily back up feature in BlueHost. I think it’s $10/month, can’t remember exactly. If you ever do something screwy, you (or a blog professional) can reload your site within a matter of 10 minutes. I have daily and weekly backups set up.
2. Buy the spam filter feature for your website as one of the options on BlueHost. It’s called Postini, for $1/month per email address. As soon as you post your email address on the Internet, some smart Russian guy is scooping it up and adding it to a spam email list. Positini filters those.
Within WordPress, there is a feature (plugin) called Askimet. It’s free. It filters out people trying to spam comments on the site directly.
I have lots of other tips, but these are the main ones. You can do it. It may take you a hundred hours to set it up, or you can pay someone thousands of dollars. Instead of embarrassing yourself, try buying a domain for a hobby you have and practice loading it up and writing posts. I have 100+ domain names and 6 or 7 blogs. My other job is EHRs – see http://www.hawaiiehr.com/
I spend a lot less time on that one and get around 200 hits a day on it.
BTW, it’s a misnomer to say that someone is on the “first page of Google.” If I type in Hawaii Real Estate, I am competing with multi-million dollar companies with a full IT staff. You need to find niches with keywords. If you type in “Hawaii Public School Calendar” I hit positions 1, 2, 3, 7 & 8 (via Trulia). I rank higher than the State of Hawaii that publishes the calendars. Doesn’t always have to be “real estate.”
Last thing (I promise). I would never use Yahoo! or Hotmail for real estate. You can get BlueHost just for email as well. Unlimited email with unlimited storage, up to 10 MB per email limit.