Host your blog for free using Blogger platform

Hosting is not easy on beginners who are hard on the money.

  • Hosting space directly determines the space available for the website
  • Hosting speed directly makes or breaks the website. The amount of memory and CPU can be limited, and when restricted, can break your blog
  • Hosting costs money. Not all blogs are viewed as money-making machines, and if you do not want to spend cash on day one that is perfectly understandable
  • Hosting plans can be confusing
  • Hosting providers are not always reliable, and easy to deal with
Here comes Google to the rescue. You can host your blog for free using blogger platform.
 

Blogger Revisited

Blogspot/Blogger is quite old, and you may have used it earlier. It is quite easy to get started up. Just log in using your Google id, create a blog, choose a template, and start adding content. You get a beautiful domain name thrown in – e.g. technosanct.blogspot.com.
blogger logo
 
Blogger is not known as the best blogging platforms out there, but has two key advantages:
  1. Space: A lot of space if you are not into uploading a lot of pictures or videos (there are work around solutions for that – some other post, some other time). Pictures get 1 GB of space, which is also shared with your Picasa web albums
  2. Supported by Google: Blogs are fast. Chances are they are also nearer to you than your standard hosting provider (technosanct.blogspot.com gets redirected to technosanct.blogspot.in if you are in India). I have never really worried about CPU/memory utilization for my email, document editing, or for Blogger blogs

But, I digress. When I said “host your blog for free”, it did not mean “use Blogger”.

Though you can also use the blogger domain for ever, I strongly advice to spend the money to get your own .com, .net, .me or any other domain name of your own. That helps you put aside a brand for yourself from “day one”. You can build on the brand as you add content, and add character to the brand. 

You can register your domain with one of the many domain registrars (look out for deals!), and host all your content on Blogger. Read on to find out how.

 

Setup Blogger for your domain

You need to have two things before we get started:
All you need to now is to point your domain name to your blog. When users hit “http://technosanct.com”  as their URL, they will have to see the blog hosted on Blogger.
 
The setup is fairly easy. Refer to instructions provided by Google.
  1. There are instructions specific to popular domain name registrar. You can follow those steps to do the entire setup with a few clicks
  2. If your domain name registrar allows it, import the DNS file provided by Google. This will merge all the required records in the DNS file maintained by your registrar. You can skip to the last step from here.
  3. If the above is not the case, go to ‘Domain Manager’ in your registrar site (e.g. godaddy.com > Login > Domains > DNS Zone File). You should see a section called “CNAME”. Create two records here:
    • Add new. Enter ‘www’ against ‘Name’ and ‘ghs.google.com’ as destination. If there is already a record with ‘www’ as Name, you would have to edit it
    • Add new. Enter your unique code against ‘Name’ (for e.g. abcdefgh) and applicable server against ‘Destination’ (e.g. xxxx.dv.googlehosted.com). This is provided by Google in the Settings page of your blog
    • Locate ‘A’ section/name after you have entered CNAMES. Create four records here for the below IP addresses in the ‘Destination’ field. ‘Name’ will have ‘@’, leave that default value be. These values help redirect to WWW URLs. For e.g. http://technosanct.com will redirect to http://www.technosanct.com
      • 216.239.32.21
      • 216.239.34.21
      • 216.239.36.21
      • 216.239.38.21
  • Once you have setup the domain successfully, wait for sometime (it can be 10 minutes, or take up to an entire day ) for the DNS name change to get propagated. Go back to Settings page of your blog. Enter custom domain information, and save.
    If there is any problem with any of the above steps or if you have not allowed for domain names to get propagated as relevant, Google will show an error. Otherwise you are all set!
Blogger Settings for Custom Domain
 

Limitations

Well, there are going to be limitations here as is the case of anything good in life. Google is no hosting nirvana.
  • First and foremost, the platform is not known to be beautiful, or powerful. Dead links are not inherently detected, there is not much freedom with how the layout is, how UI looks and behaves, and not many tools to help you with tasks like SEO
  • The max. size of a page is restricted to 1 MB. Although there is no size or post limit right now, there is no guarantee that it is supported for life
  • Google can change policies, or discontinue tools at its will (I still miss Google Reader!)
 

Wrapping up..

technosanct started on Blogger, and I switched to WordPress at a later time. You can do it too – use Blogger to start up on your blog. This will cost no money to host, and you do not need to worry about hosting costs. Switch to better blogging platforms when you are ready.