I’ve been working with advertising clients since the beginning of the web and there’s a lot of confusion about email and web hosting and the registration of your web address. If you want to set up and manage your own website, hosting account or email account you will need to at least have a basic understanding of this (I’m sorry there’s a lot but it’s easier if you see it all in one place):

#1 Registering your Domain Name: When you want to do anything on the web you may already know that you’ll need to start by registering a web name or web address (aka “registering a URL” or a “domain name registration” or “registering a DNS”). For that you can go to any online domain name registration company and do the following (Note: You can find an online domain name registration company by typing those words into Google or Yahoo):

  • Search for and decide on a web address name (I’ll refer to this as the registration of your “domain name” from here on out)
  • Decide how long you want to register the name for (1 year, 2 years, 5 years, or more).

When you’re “registering” a domain name, you’re essentially “renting” it for a given time period (whatever period of time you pay for).

If you do the registration yourself, you’ll have to remember to renew it at the end of that time period (you’ll have to look for an email that should be sent to you around the time of the renewal and be sure to re-register the domain name or your web site will go down and worse yet, you may lose your domain name altogether).

Don’t forget that when you sign up for your domain name, whatever email address you use as a contact for you, (at the registration site) will need to be working a year or two from now, so you can receive any “warning” emails. If it’s not, then you will have to remember to go back to the Domain Name Registrant website and CHANGE your email address information in your account before that time.

Once you register your domain name, you’ll have to “Point your Domain name servers” to your “hosting servers” (there will be at least 2 name server addresses)….this just means you will be connecting your new web address [or name] up to the computer where your website will be found. This sounds more complicated than it is. In order to do this you’ll need to know (and enter) the “addresses” for your name servers into the account you just set up at your new domain name registrant’s website (more on hosting & hosting servers next). AND you won’t be able to do this until you have set up a web hosting account. Once you set that up, you will get the name servers for your hosting server, (this can be REALLY confusing, but think of the “name server” as just a combination of numbers &letters that identifies your hosting server) which usually look like this “xxx.xxxx.xxx” (and there should be 2 sets of digits, one for the primary name server and the other for a backup name server). (Note: remember, “server” is just another word for a computer).

#2 Setting up your Hosting Servers: Above we’ve just established that in order to have a website, you have to select and register a web address or name for that website. Then once you’ve done that, you’ll need a computer where you can “put” your website files and that computer is called the “Hosting Server”. Whenever you hear the word “Web Hosting Account” – that’s just a computer where you rent space and connect your web name or domain name up to (and later you’ll put your website files and perhaps even your email on that same computer).

You can find a web hosting provider online…..there are a lot of ins and outs to know about selecting a web hosting provider, so don’t just do that without first thinking it through (I’ll leave that info for another blog). But for now, you need to know that any website requires a web hosting provider (or account).

Once you select a hosting provider and sign up for a hosting account, you will be given an “address” for your hosting servers. ONCE you have that address (i.e., those letters and/or numbers) you can take them back over to your “domain name registrant” account and enter them into the appropriate fields.

Please note: once you set up (or change) the name servers at the domain name registrant, it could take up to 96 hours to propagate throughout the world wide web (or to show up or take effect). Every registrant is different so check yours for more specific information and time estimates.

  • A hosting account is something you have to pay periodically (monthly/quarterly/annually, etc.). If you stop paying for this account your website will no longer function.
  • There is such a thing as a FREE hosting account….but you still have to set it up and connect your domain name up to that hosting account. There are a lot of negatives associated with having a free hosting account an if you want your business or venture to appear “professional” you won’t want to even consider this option.

#3 Setting up your Email: When you get a web hosting account, you can put your website on that “rented” computer (once you have the website created….hopefully by a professional web programmer). In addition to holding your website, many web hosting accounts will also host or include a certain number of free email accounts. So if you set up a web address such as “www.yourwebsite.com” at a Domain Name Registrant (#1 above) and then connect that up to your Web Hosting Account (#2 above) you should be able to also set up and start using Email Addresses that go with that same account (#3 here)

(NOTE: the good news is that once you have your web address registered you can use that address for your email for examples: yourname@yourwebsite.com or youremployeesname@yourwebsite.com.) (if your hosting account doesn’t include email services you’ll have to get an ancillary email hosting server – very much like a web hosting server but that would be just for email; you can get a free email hosting server from companies like Yahoo or Google, but they have all sorts of negatives that aren’t nice if you’re trying to appear professional such as really annoying ads that appear on your web pages).

So, in order to set up your email accounts on your web hosting server, you’ll need to create the account for the email addresses on the hosting server itself (each system is different so it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how to do that). In order to do that you’ll need to have and use the user name and password that you created when you set up that web hosting account….and you’ll need to set up each email address individually, each with its own u/n and p/w and other info that will be specific to your particular hosting service provider (which may be hard for you to figure out if you’ve never seen this before, sorry!).

Once the Email Hosting server is set up, you’ll also need to set up each individual email account you want to use on your computer(s) (and on each computer where you want to be able to receive the emails at). Specifically how this is done will depend on what type of computer you have i.e., PC or Mac and what programs you use. We use a PC and a program called “Microsoft Outlook”, so I’ll give you an idea of how this works from that perspective.(more on this in a future blog or email me for complete instructions at emily@brandx.me)

In Outlook you’ll need to create a new account (see “Account settings” from within the Outlook Program). There are a number of settings IN your Outlook program that need to be “filled out”. First you’ll need your new domain name and the specific email address you want to set up (youraccountant@yourwebsite.com for example) plus you’ll need your hosting server address and the associated incoming and outgoing mail servers (SMTP & POP), the u/n and p/w you used when you set up your new web hosting account and info from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (your ISP will have certain “port settings” that will need to be set up according to what ports they use).

If you’ve made it this far, I think you’ll start to see why it’s impossible to find a simple set of instructions regarding how to set up your hosting & email accounts and why a client might want to pay someone (like my company) the up charge of $10/month that we ask for in order to do it for them.

ISP the last thing I’m going to explain to you today is this – your ISP or Internet Service Provider. I’m pretty sure you know what this is…because everyone has to have one in-order to be able to receive their emails at home or surf the Internet. This is also something you have to pay on a monthly or periodic basis (as you may well know) in order to be able to access the web and to be able to upload and download your emails. I can’t tell you how many times our customers have called us to tell us “something’s wrong with our web hosting account” and it turns out they didn’t pay their ISP bill that month (or they did not remember to renew their domain name registration!). All these little pieces have to be set up correctly AND they have to be maintained and renewed when necessary in order to keep your website and emails up and running properly.

In conclusion, there’s a lot to know about registering a new web address, setting up a web hosting account and email accounts…..and while it can be done on your own, it’s also nice to have someone to set it all up for you and to be there if something goes wrong (and to get your site and email back up and running as quickly as possible). If you’ve ever wondered why you should pay someone to do this for you I hope this has helped you to get a feel for why that’s a good idea!!!!