You need two things in order to start running your own website: A domain name, and a web host. The domain name will allow people to type in something ideally short and catchy, like PeopleOfWalmart.com, and be directed to your website. The web host will store your entire site on their server, so that you don't have to leave a loud computer on every second of the day (not to mention pay for the bandwidth required to display your site to all of your visitors).
Your domain name should be easy to remember, and relevant to the content of your website. All one, two, three, and four letter domain names are taken, but if you're ready to fork over some serious cash then that option might be open to you. For everyone else, this means finding an unregistered longer word or phrase, creatively putting words together, or even making up words.
I've been able to get great deals on domain name registration through godaddy.com ... Sometimes you can also pick up some coupon codes from the SlickDeals forum - click this link to go to search results for the term 'godaddy' in the SlickDeals forum. You might be able to find some codes to get a set dollar amount or a percentage off of your final purchase price.
When you purchase a domain name, you're actually purchasing the Second Level Domain - this is the "JamesChevalier" part of my domain name. The other part (in my case, the ".us" in my domain name) is the Top Level Domain, and you'll get to choose from quite a few Top Level Domains (TLD)when you register your domain name with GoDaddy.
It's actually that list of TLDs that sets it apart from my suggested web host (below). DreamHost provides you with one free .com, .org, .net, or .info domain name registration when you purchase hosting, so it's likely the best deal for you to purchase your domain name through your web host as well. The only trouble is the TLD limitation, which might play a part in keeping you as a GoDaddy customer...
After you purchase a domain name for yourself, you'll need a place to host your site. Your web host will do just that - store every file that is required for your website, and reply to requests for those files. This is one of the most important parts, because if your web host fails then people can't access your website.
I do all my hosting through DreamHost and I've had a fantastic experience! They're constantly passing along offers for great features like unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, private server hosting, etc. and the service has been flawless.
I've since moved my hosting over to Linode, which I strongly recommend for anyone who can't get by on a shared hosting plan (or anyone who just wants their own virtual server). If you can get by on shared hosting, then I do still recommend DreamHost, though.
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