3. Using Blogger with Third-Party Hosting
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
1 Creating Your Blogger Account
14 Modifying Your Blogger Profile
The setup information presented in 2 Naming Your Blog was geared toward completing the registration process based on hosting your blog with Blogger on the blogspot.com domain. Although the majority of Blogger users stick with this all-in-one solution, if you have a custom domain name and access to web server space, you can utilize Blogger's FTP publishing feature. This feature allows you to utilize the Blogger management interface for customization and post editingthe only difference is that the act of publishing puts all files on your server rather than Blogger's servers.
The first step in publishing to your own web host is obtaining a custom domain name. Use the same guidance when selecting a domain name that you would when selecting a blog hostname: Try to make it easy to remember, and try to pick something that makes sense with regards to the content of your blog. For instance, if you plan to blog about your life as an academic, don't try to register acmeplumbing.com. Similarlyand this should be a no-brainerif you want to maintain your anonymity, don't use your own name as your domain name.
After you decide on a short list of domain names, you must register the name with a reputable domain registration service. There are a great many of these services, with prices ranging from a few dollars per year to fifteen or twenty dollars per year. A simple Google search for "domain name registration" will yield many results, but here are three that I've worked with over the years and have no problems recommending:
These are only three of hundreds of possibilities for domain registration; look around and pick a company that appeals to you. If they all look the same to you, you won't go wrong with any of the three listed here.
If you plan to blog anonymously (or pseudonymously), you have to take extra steps to protect yourself if you plan to utilize a custom domain. All domain records are public information and contain three sets of addresses: one each for registrant, administrative contact, and technical contact. However, there is a domain registration service created specifically with this situation in mind: DomainsByProxy (http://www.domainsbyproxy.com/). If you purchase your domain through this service, it ensures that your privacy is kept.
After obtaining a domain name, you'll need to find a hosting provider that suits your needs. Many domain registration services also offer web hosting solution bundles, many of which provide you with everything you need to publish your blog on your own server. At the very minimum you need FTP access to your host, but other considerations include the amount of server space provided as well as the amount of bandwidth allotted to you. If you plan to host sound or video files, which are often quite large, server space will be a consideration. However, if you plan to house only your blog content, text files take up very little space; the typical 100MB of server space usually allotted for basic accounts would be plenty. Typically, hosting services simply charge you an overage fee of a few dollars per X number of megabytes over your limit.
The other consideration is your bandwidth allotment. If you are serving only the text of your blog, the bandwidth coming into and going out of your host will be minimal (unless you're wildly popular). But if you are serving sound and video files, you will use considerably more bandwidth. A basic hosting package might include anywhere from 1GB to 10GB of bandwidth on a monthly basis. But just like with server space overages, your hosting provider will simply charge you a few dollars for overages.
A good hosting solution does not have to be expensive. In fact, basic packages suitable for nonintensive blog hosting are available for $5 or $10 per month. If you become a world-famous, A-list blogger, you could find a $50 per month hosting package (or less) that would take care of your needs. Following this paragraph, I list a few hosting providers that offer stable hosting services with all the features you need (and then some). These are only a few of the hundreds and hundreds of hosting providers out there, but I've personally had some experience working with the providers listed here and could easily recommend themunlike, say, Joe's House of Hosting, which I know nothing about.
After you set up your domain and your web hosting account, arm yourself with your FTP username, FTP password, and the directory path on the server. Those pieces are all you need to configure Blogger's FTP publishing settings.
You configure your FTP publishing settings at the time you initially create your blog, or you can change your publishing settings after your blog has been created. In this section, you'll see the steps used to set up FTP publishing during the initial blog creation sequence.
First, perform the first set of steps in 1 Creating Your Blogger Account, which includes visiting the Blogger home page at http://www.blogger.com/ and following the link that says Create Your Blog Now. When you have proceeded to the second step of the process, instead of completing the blog title, blog address, and word verification fields, skip over them and follow the link to Advanced Blog Setup.
When you have completed this form, click the Continue arrow. You will select a starter template in the next step. You can scroll up and down in the browser window to view the standard Blogger templates available to you. When you see a template design that interests you, click the Preview Template link to launch a sample in a new browser window. You can change your template at any time during the life of your blog, as you will see in 5 Selecting a New Template, as well as in the topics in Chapter 5, "Working with Blogger Templates."
After selecting a template, click the Continue arrow to submit your selection and create your new blog. When this process is complete, Blogger provides you with a link to continue on to post a blog entry. You can return to the main Blogger profile page by clicking the Blogger logo. At this point, no files have been transferred to your server. You must create a post and publish this post before files are transferred. Additionally, you might want to modify your Blogger publishing configuration so that your FTP username and password are saved. If you do not save your FTP username and password, you will be prompted for it each time you publish a post, the blog index, or your entire blog.
If you decide to switch from hosting on the blogspot.com domain to hosting with your own service provider with your own custom domain name, all you need to do is modify your publishing settings via the Blogger management interface. After you have configured your publishing settings, the act of publishing your blog results in the publication of numerous static web pages to your new server.
To begin, log in to the Blogger management interface and select the Change Settings link from your Blogger dashboard. Click the Publishing navigational item. You will see your current settings, which will say You're publishing on blogspot.com if you haven't yet made the switch. To change your publishing option to FTP and to enter your FTP settings, click the FTP link. If you have already configured your blog to publish on your own server and are simply modifying your publishing settings, the FTP configuration screen will be the default screen shown to you.
If you need to use the SFTP protocol as instructed by your hosting provider, click the SFTP link instead of the FTP link. The subsequent form is the same for both protocols.
The FTP configuration form will look something like the following; if you have already configured your blog to publish via FTP and are here only to modify your settings, the form fields will be prepopulated with your existing information.
Configuring the FTP settings for an existing blog.
If you decide to delete your blog, going into the Blogger management interface and utilizing the Delete This Blog option removes your blog from the Blogger application but the static pages will remain on your server. Alternately, if you accidentally delete files from your web server, the act of republishing your entire blog through the Blogger management interface puts the content back on your serverall is not lost.