How to set up your own family web site (Part 3)

Previously in Part 1, we set up a web-blog at

In Part 2, we ventured out and registered a domain name via the registrar

In Part 3 we’re going to tie the two together. (Though this functionality with is not FREE)

Our demo blog is: It was the best we could find when registering. 

You can go there now and see that it’s functional and looks something like this:


But it clearly is a WordPress blog at That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s limited and not very portable.  What if we need or want email? What if we already have a domain or find something we like better after we’ve registered this blog?

In Part 2, we registered the domain:

It currently goes no where, and if you hit it, it points to a parked landing page at GoDaddy that looks something like this:


But we’re going to fix that.   We’re going to make the following url’s: and simply open our new Blog.

To do that you need to change the DNS (Domain Name Service) Records for your domain.   If you registered your domain with GoDaddy as we showed in Part 2 you’ll be able to follow right along.

Log Into GoDaddy with the username and password you set up when you registered your domain.

Locate your domain in the Domain Manager, it should look something like this:


Click the domain to open up the settings for this domain.   From here we’ll be able to adjust all kinds of attributes for the domain and it it should look like:


Most of the attributes are beyond the scope of this series of articles.

Needless to say, having your domain ‘locked’ is a good thing.

What we’re going to work with here is the information on the right.    From the Name servers on down:


Our domain is currently registered with GoDaddy.   We are also going to continue to use their Name Servers since they are free and perform fairly well. 

They also have a pretty nifty, easy to use, admin tool to administer the DNS records.

But what is the DNS stuff anyway?

Put in simple terms, DNS tells people where to go. 

When you type in, your computer asks a Name Server where do I go for  This name server is probably local, probably at your internet service provider.   If it doesn’t know, it will track down the authoritative name server for and ask it, just where do I go to get to  The Authoritative Name Server will give it the answer and it will tell your computer.  It will also keep that information incase someone else asks.  The it won’t have to track down the Authoritative Name Server again.   At least not as long as the TTL value for the information it got from the Name Server.    The TTL value is like the expiration date on Milk.  When information expires, your name server will delete it.  It’s bad, or at least no longer good, possibly.  

So for my current domain, the Authoritative Name servers are:

NS27.DOMAINCONTROL.COM and NS28.DOMAINCONTROL.COM (there should always be at least 2 servers)

Click the Total DNS Control and MX Records link.

You’ll now the get DNS Manager interface which should look something like this:


If you recall, our domain wasn’t pointed anywhere, or rather it was pointed to a parked page.   That’s what is, a GoDaddy Host for parking domains.  If you click the link you’ll probably get a ‘Sorry page’.

You’ll notice that your only host is @ and it points there.   The @ is essentially a wildcard.  For anything or ? go to that IP address, the

Below that you’ll have CNAMES (Aliases) which are a little more specific. 

In the above example  www points to our wildcard @.  So anyone asking about will get sent to the wildcard address. 

Fair enough?

Look at the mobilemail cname.   GoDaddy has that pointed at one of their mobilemail servers mobilemail-v01.blah blah blah.

That’s not important to us, if you won’t use their mobile mail product you could click the X and delete that record.

NOTE about DNS: DNS changes take time to propagate.  Remember my simple description about how it works and the TTL values?  This means that when you change something, all the other servers around the world who’ve asked for this information won’t ask for it again and get the new information until that other information ‘expires’.   If your TTL value is too high, like a week, then there are servers out there that may not get the updated information for up-to a week.  Even with short TTL values, there are servers that ignore these values because they don’t want to go asking all the time.  They are lazy.   Be extra-careful when making DNS changes.  Make sure you make them right the first time.   You don’t want to wait a couple hours to find out you didn’t do it right.

Add or Edit a cname to point to your WordPress blog.

We’re going to add a cname so that takes people to our blog on

We’re using blog, but you can use ‘www’ or what ever you like.

Note: The ability for WordPress to work with an external domain is an ‘upgrade’ to  That means it costs money.  $10 per year to be exact which in my opinion is a bit steep.   But it is what it is.

The cost is also $10 per domain, so choose your redirect wisely.

In your domain manager, click the ‘Add new Cname Record’ button:


We’re going to fill it out like this:


We’re going to set the TTL to be pretty short (1/2 hour).

The result after adding will look like this:


We’ve done the DNS part, which can take a few hours to actually work.

GoDaddy’s DNS servers don’t seem to update very quickly and this stuff takes time to propagate.  If you run into trouble with the next step, the Servers probably haven’t updated.  In my case I made the changes late at night then performed the next step the following morning.

For clarity: we chose: which seems kind of redundant, but you could have easily changed the www to point to your WordPress Blog or anything else you think is easy to type and remember.

Adding the Domain redirect to

Log into your Blog, and go to the Dashboard.

On the lower left (with the current version, 2.7) you should find Domains under the settings:

WPDomains Click Domains…

You now have the opportunity to add the redirect we or cname that we added:


At this point WordPress will check the DNS and make sure it’s working.  They will also prompt you for payment ($10) for one year to redirect this. 

If you elect to give them the $ you’ll be good to go.

The end result will look like:


Now, clicking the following link: will take you to your blog (if DNS has propagated and you didn’t mess anything up).

So you should get:


Instead of the GoDaddy Landing page.

In part (4) we’ll talk about email, specifically tying Google Apps for domain to your domain.   This gives you gmail for your domain as well as isolated Google Docs, Calendar, and a few other features.

How to set up your own family web site (Part 2)

Earlier in (Part 1) I showed you the quick and dirty way to get started.  I still encourage you to play with one of those free hosts to get a feel for using a blog publishing system.

(Part 2) deals with how to get your own Vanity name web site and the steps to get that set up.

The first thing you need to do is find an available domain name.

I recommend as your registrar.  Read the hostgator review The site is a tad overwhelming though.   What matters is right in the middle here:


For the purpose of this how-to, let’s say our family is the Smiths.

Possible domains are:

(though all of these are likely taken).

Back in the good old days, you’d use .com for commercial entities, .org for organizations (non-corporate entities).  These days just about anything will do. 

Start your search with smith


GoDaddy will let you know if it’s available, in any incarnation (.com, .org, .net, etc).  In this case is NOT available:


But since GoDaddy is in the business of selling you a domain registration they’ll suggest other possible domains you *might* like:


Note: Those highlighted in *pink* are currently registered but for sale.  Avoid these.  In the lower yellow highlighted box (all $9.99 each) are available.  How much you want to spend for a domain is entirely up to you.

I don’t like any of these so I’m going to keep searching and try another couple combinations.

After a bunch of searches I’ve decided that “” is available and is the best I’m going to be able to get in this day and age.

(other domains were available but I’ve avoided .tv, .cc, .me and .net domains)

So the next step is to register it.   The minimum registration commitment is 1 year, but I suggest you go ahead and register it for 2-3 years. 

WARNING GoDaddy will try to get you to protect your domain, and encourage you to register any and all other incarnations (.org, .net, etc.)  You’re not a corporate entity so it’s not necessary.  If you really think someone will snatch up and start up a porn site or something else that you’re against, then you might consider grabbing a few extra domains. 

All along the GoDaddy check out process, you’ll be encouraged to upgrade an add-on all kinds of services, like privacy, add-on email, smart-start web services and all that jazz.  All of it is Optional.  

I don’t have a lot of respect for GoDaddy hosting, but for a quick and dirty website there is nothing wrong with it.

After you log in or create your GoDaddy account, you can bypass most of these offers:


In the end my one-year domain registration looks like this:


Again, I encourage you to register for more than one year and if you can buy twitter followers.  I simply don’t need to invest more than $10 to teach anyone how to do this 🙂

Once this is complete I’ll show you how to set up this domain to point to one of the vanity blog sites we talked about in (Part 1) then set up a cheap hosting solution at a 3rd party host.

to be continued…

How to set up your own family web site (Part 1)

I get comments all the time from people who like our site and wish they had the knowledge to create one.

It’s really not that hard.  Especially if you use a publishing platform like WordPress.  I recently offered to help a buddy set up their site, but figured since I was going to write instructions for him I’d also publish them for the benefit of others.

There are a million ways to do this and and it can be confusing.  I don’t claim that what I’m about to share is the ‘best’ way or the ‘only’ way.   But it is an option.

The Quick and Easy Way

Basically is a blog.  It has some static web site qualities, but it’s basically a blog.   Blogs are FREE and easy.  If you’re not so concerned with having your own vanity domain name there are plenty of options here.  In fact I encourage you to set up a blog with one of the free services and play with it regardless of the route you take.

The top two places (IMHO) are:

(1) – They currently have over 5 million blogs.  It’s fairly quick, easy, and a basic account is free.   You might even be able to get something like “”.   Then again you might not.

(2) – I have no idea how many blogs they have or host.  Blogger is now owned by Google and that’s a good thing.  Again a good cheap/free blog, that IMHO is not as feature rich or as flexible as WordPress but it’s a good place to start.

So with either of these two services you can set up a blog for free, with very little effort.  All you need is an email address for registration.

Poke around these two sites and see if they meet your needs.  For quick and dirty web based publishing they can’t be beat.   Neither provides you with a lot of storage though more is always available for a small fee.  

You’ll need to link in other services if you want to do heavy multi-media sharing or share a lot of photos.

For photo sharing:

I personally like Picasa, which is part of your Google Account.  You do have a Google account don’t you? 

Other popular photo sharing services like Flickr, webshots, or smugmug may also be used.

But what if you don’t want your site to be:

What if you want to own site.  You want it to look like you really know what you’re doing and amaze all your friends and family.

We’ll get to that in the next post (Step 2)