Inside Hockey Dawg’s Zamboni Room.
Inside the Zamboni room is where everything happens. It’s the nerve center of any rink.
We’d like to give you a glimpse inside our virtual Zamboni room. A peak behind the curtain, as it were.
For a website, it’s less about compressors running and water flowing, and more about how all those damn pieces work together. There is more to it than you think! But it becomes easier when you take one thing at a time.
We would like to take a second to share what we have learned, in case anyone has the bright idea of trying this themselves! Just kidding–go for it! We have fun with Hockey Dawg, and hopefully help some folks along the way.
At the end of this story–or post–is a 5-step list to get started. We also include thumbnails on all the products and services we talk about. Links are included for your convenience. There are no affiliate links in this piece. Maybe we should, but we don’t. We don’t have a hidden agenda. This is just our experience.
We think our path to Hockey Dawg is fairly common, but if we save anyone some frustration along the way, this post is worth it. Hopefully, this post will save someone–or lots of someones–from headaches!
Shirt Sam was the first of us to dabble in blogging. He started with a little learning spot on Blogger, but he quickly felt confined, so started looking for something better. All signs pointed to WordPress. Sam started to poke around, then Zoe ran with it.
She started a free site on WordPress, then a paid site on WordPress.com. Then we decided to launch Hockey Dawg in earnest. So we jumped to WordPress.org.
What’s the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org?
Glad you asked. This one confused us a bit at first. WordPress.com, either paid or free, is all encompassing. They take care of everything. Support is nothing short of wonderful at WordPress. They will help with everything from the technical stuff, to getting you feedback on your latest piece! It is a very encouraging, supportive community. WordPress.com is like a complete website starter kit. It is a great place to start.
WordPress.org is what you need for your own name–like HockeyDawg.com. There is no dot-wordpress in the address, or dot-blog, just Hockey Dawg. Now, when you switch to the dot-org side, lots of that WordPress support goes away. You also have to pay for more stuff. You have graduated. Now you are leaving the nest, and have to figure stuff out on your own. Your site or blog is now a grown-up.
If you lose the world-renowned support, why would you do it?
Well, you don’t have to, unless you want more control, freedom, flexibility, and the biggie…. MONEY.
If you want to monetize your blog, be it now or in the future, you have to be on the WordPress.org-side. Want folks to pay you to advertise on your site–Wordpress.org. Want to become an Amazon affiliate–Wordpress.org. Want a real website, or site name–Wordpress.org. Okay, you get the idea.
We got a little hung up on the dot-com and the dot-org. Dot-com, to us, was always the commercial side of the web. It is Amazon-dot-COM, after all. On the flip side, lots of not-for-profits are on a dot-ORG. PBS–yes, that PBS, the good folks who bring you Sesame Street–is a dot-org. But that is not the way WordPress is organized. It’s the opposite. If you want to make money, you need dot-ORG.
What’s in a name? A lot actually!
Your name is your brand. You want a memorable name. You may want something that hints at what your site is about. You want it to be available. You don’t want to pay someone else for it. You have to pay to register it. But, unless you have cash to burn, you don’t want to buy your name from someone, then turn around and pay to register it. That doesn’t make sense to us.
Find a name you like. Find a name that’s available. Don’t over-think it! We all know Amazon. It is short. Has nothing to do with the site, really. Doesn’t say anything about what they do. But we all know it. Amazon formed the brand around the name, not the other way around. They redefined the word.
Your name is your brand. But that name doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Taking the advice of our web-guru, Nate Shivar, we went with NamesCheap. (More on Mr. Shivar in a minute.) NamesCheap does all the stuff that the big guys, like Go Daddy, do but with a bit more personal service, and a much friendlier price tag. Alright go get your name, then come back. We’ll wait.
Congratulations, you have your name! Now what?
Welcome back. Now, we have to find a place to live.
Hosting: It’s where you live in cyberspace!
Hosting is where your site lives. We heard this used several places. It does make sense of it. Shared hosting (most small sites use shared hosting), is like an apartment. We use shared hosting. WordPress hosting is a furnished apartment, tailored to your WordPress taste. We use InMotion now, having switched from Go Daddy in February, 2018.
We started with Go Daddy for hosting. It was hard to pass on a-buck-a-month. That was the introductory rate–99 cents a month. But like all introductory rates, there is a catch. They try to sell you more stuff, and don’t give you a lot of room. Remember your dorm room in college? That is spacious, compared to your first apartment with Go Daddy. We quickly found that out the hard way. So we switched, even before our contract was up.
While shopping, we were truly impressed with the level and amount of support InMotion offered. We were hooked. We switched. Early.
We moved across town, and got a one-bedroom apartment with InMotion Hosting. That was the best decision we could have made with our on-line ice rink, especially for us. We joke that we run a website with sticky notes. No tech isn’t our strong suit, and that’s exactly why InMotion was such a good decision. Tech is their strong suit. Actually, tech may be secondary to customer service. They are fantastic! InMotion has far-and-away the best customer service we have come across. In any industry, especially tech.
They have fixed many a problem for us–even stuff that’s not their fault! (It’s usually ours.)
A quick–but related–side note: 1-and-1 Hosting
Another problem we had was our security certificate. One morning, we were locked out of our own site. Go Daddy’s security certificate didn’t last the full-length of their introductory offer. No warning. Just a pad lock on our apartment door. They immediately tried to sell us an expensive security certificate. So, we went looking for alternatives.
1 and 1 Hosting had a security certificate–the same security certificate–for a fraction of the cost. We jumped on it. While it does work no problem with the product. They now call and email us, offering more and more products. That is not what we bargained for.
We have also been told 1-and-1 has some proprietary tactics. They offer a free website builder, which makes a nice site. But that’s how they get ya! Their builder is their property, and anything built with it can’t be exported or transferred. So the convenience up front, could bite you in the end. Beware!
Go Daddy is similar to 1-and-1, but it is by email not phone calls. Not a day goes by, that we don’t see an email from Go Daddy. But email is better than phone calls. Email is easier. It is less obtrusive. Calling to sell something is intrusive.
InMotion has not tried to sell us more stuff. They didn’t try to oversell us, when we were shopping. When we need them, they are there.
NamesCheap is similar to InMotion, in this category. An occasional email, but not inundating. They don’t call, selling more stuff. When you need them, they are there and happy to help–help, not sell.
A la cart Vs. extra value meal
So many companies offer everything, why go to the trouble of different companies?
Well, good question. Our web-guru, Nate Shivar, pointed out companies do some things well, but not all things. There is also something to be said for not having all your eggs in one basket. We think we get better products, service, and pricing by going a la cart, rather than opting for the extra value meal. We get what we need, not what they want to give us.
Alright, coach. We have a name. We have wordpress.ORG. We have hosting. Now what? What’s next?
Now is the fun part. Now we can start decorating our apartment, and move-in.
WordPress offers a wide array of themes for free. Free. FREE! So, especially starting out, don’t pay for a theme. Haven’t you already laid out enough cash? Thought so. Find a free theme you like, and customize it.
But, what if I change my mind? What if I find one I like better?
That is part of the beauty of wordpress. You can switch themes without losing anything. It’s like painting your apartment.
You wake-up one morning, and decide canary yellow just doesn’t work for you anymore. No problem. Repaint. Changing your theme, is like repainting your apartment–only easier!
Nate Shivar–Shivar web
Shivar Web is nothing short of fantastic. How we found it is beyond us–guess even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes–but we are glad we did. He has a rare ability. Nate can take tech, and translate to English. Not many techies can make that claim. His articles–and there are a ton of them, on a variety of topics–are clear and concise without skimping on important details. In short, they are well-written in plain English.
Do yourself a favor, head on over to Shivar Web for all your site and blog questions. Tell him Hockey Dawg sent you. His stuff is free for Hockey Dawg clients. (Really, they are free for everyone.) Either way, you’ll be glad you found Shivar Web.
Want to give it a shot? Yeah, we thought so!
5-Step guide to getting started on the web
- Head to Shivar Web.
- Sign-up for the ShivarWeb Newsletter
- Read about whatever questions you have
- Go to NamesCheap (Use the link on ShiverWeb)
- Register your perfect name on NamesCheap
- Using the Shriver Link will be cheaper for you!
- Using the Shriver link will give him some money for his troubles, and all that great advice!
- Set-up a worpress.org account (Remember, wordpress dot-ORG)
- Go to InMotion Hosting
- Poke around
- Ask some questions
- Get comfortable
- Sign-up for WordPress Hosting
- Pick a free theme, and start the fun stuff
- Design your new site!
- Pick your colors
- Put your pictures on it
- Tell the world who you are
- Have some fun–You are decorating your new apartment!
A quick roundup of all the companies, products, and services mentioned in this piece.
WordPress.com: Baby blogging. When your learning the ways of the web, like learning to crawl then walk.
WordPress.org: When your blog/site grows-up and heads out to into the world as a young adult. Less support, but more opportunity
NamesCheap: It all starts with a name, but that shouldn’t cost a fortune
Go Daddy: Lots of folks swear by Go Daddy. We had a different experience. We switched and we were glad we did. Understand what you are getting before you buy.
InMotion Hosting: Hosting of all sizes and shapes. Hosting is where we live on the web. InMotion offers everything from one-bedroom apartments, to multi-million dollar mansions. And they all come with a concierge: Their customer service is phenomenal.
1-and-1 Hosting: We got a good product at a good price, but we get regular emails and phone calls trying to sell us stuff. Not our idea of a good time. We find that, especially phone calls, intrusive.
ShivarWeb.com: Nate Shivar, and all the folks at Shivar Web, give you the very best rundowns of all things tech, but in a non-techie sort of way. It is the single best resource we have found on the web, about the web.
When we encounter more trials, tribulations and triumphs as we build our on-line ice rink, we’ll continue to publish them in the Zamboni Room!
We are coaches. We like to help people. That doesn’t end when we step off the ice!