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Creating Your Own Chess Website/Blog


Would you like to run your own chess website or blog? Today I'm going to run over a basic tutorial on how to do so. I will go through 4 possible options. Note that this guide is universally applicable to subjects other than chess.

Free Blog

A free blog is the simplest to set up. I recommend using Blogger, a service run by Google. I currently run two chess blogs on Blogger, Australian Chess News and GeniusProphecy Chess (note: the latter is used to inform about updates to this website).

Creating a blog on Blogger is extraordinarily easy. Simply register on the website and Blogger takes care of the website layout for you. You will receive an address such as http://customaddress.blogspot.com/ and you can create as many blogs as you want. It is even possible to make money off your blog (although this requires a certain amount of traffic) by slapping on Google AdSense advertisements.

Free Website

A blog is perfectly suitable for many people, but a website gives you more freedom. A website is more suited to tutorial-type articles, and you can even add other effects such as forums. However, the learning curve is considerably steeper than using a blog. You will need to acquire a certain amount of technical knowledge, particularly concerning HTML.

My suggestion is to use the free hosting available at 50Webs. It hosts one of my favourite chess sites, Free Chess Programs by Zarkon Fischer. I have also tested out 50Webs myself and haven't had any problems.

Their free plan includes 60 MB of space and they don't put advertisements on your website. You will receive a website similar to this: http://username.50webs.com/. However, be warned, as I recall, they have a clause that they can delete your website at their leisure if you are inactive for 30 days.

You can either use their integrated HTML Editor or preferably, software such as Microsoft Frontpage or Adobe Dreamweaver to edit your pages. I believe there are free solutions similar to Frontpage (which is commercial), but I don't have any suggestions. (Note: I use Frontpage to edit everything on this website.)

Free web hosts are notorious for their instability (i.e. they close down very often, with a recent example being Yahoo! GeoCities), but there is a significant "insurance policy" if you use 50Webs: amazingly for a free webhosting service, they offer you an FTP account. You can download free FTP software such as FileZilla, which allows you to upload files to your website directly (click here for a video tutorial of FileZilla). I highly recommend you use this software to download a copy of all your website files onto your computer. In this way, if 50Webs ever closes down (even though they've been around for years), you still have all your data. (Note: I use FileZilla to upload everything on this website.)

Paid Website

Paid websites are more stable than free websites. They are generally inexpensive, but the cost can obviously add up. You actually need two things to set up a paid website. You need to register a domain name and you also need a web host. These two steps can be bundled, although it is often cheaper not to do so (even though I did that for this website).

This website is a paid website that runs under the web host HostGator. HostGator is one of the top 10 providers of webhosting in the world with over 2,200,000 hosted domains. I am currently on the "Baby" plan which boasts unlimited bandwidth and disk space, plus the ability to host an unlimited number of websites (add-on/parked domains). Like all major web host providers, it has a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Other bonuses include a 45-day money back guarantee, unlimited subdomains, unlimited FTP accounts and the satisfaction that the hosting is powered by green sources.

You will also need to register a domain name. HostGator and many other webhosting companies will offer to bundle the registration of the domain name with the hosting plan. So, you can either choose to register your domain name with HostGator, or a slightly cheaper alternative is to register at a place like Go Daddy (which I currently use for one of my other websites). Go Daddy is currently the largest ICANN-accredited registrar in the world and is reportedly three times the size of its closest competitor. Remember that the registration of a domain name and the purchasing of a webhosting plan are meant to be completely separate things, it's just that some companies offer to bundle them for you.

My notes about Microsoft Frontpage (in the previous section) are also applicable to paid websites.

For a paid website, you will have your own domain at http://www.customdomain.com/.

Paid Blog

A paid blog is again simpler to use than its website counterpart. How does a paid blog compare to a free one? Well, theoretically it is slightly more stable, and it is also more customisable.

I left this until last because I wanted to talk about all the domain registration and web hosting plan stuff first. Again, you will need to register a domain and purchase a webhosting plan.

Now, you will need to seek a blog company to create a blog for you. Although I have not used them myself, I have only heard great things about WordPress.org. Like Blogger, WordPress.org's services are absolutely free. Unlike Blogger, WordPress.org requires you to own your own domain (hence it is a "paid blog"). WordPress.org is highly customisable and you can make money off the blog with AdSense advertisements, just as before (although, again, you need a certain amount of traffic before you can do so).

For a paid blog, you will have your own domain at http://www.customdomain.com/. HostGator actually has a plan that you can bundle with WordPress.

Note that a paid website can acquire a "paid blog" for free since the owner already owns a domain. Therefore, a blog is $0 addition. If you choose to do this, you could host the blog at something like http://blog.customdomain.com/ or http://www.customdomain.com/blog/.

And that wraps up my discussion on how to build your own chess website or blog.

Further Information

If you are looking for further instruction, I highly recommend the king (or queen, as the editor is female) of website tutorials 2CreateAWebsite. This site gave me lots of useful information when I first started out. 2CreateAWebsite is a free information website (i.e. it does not sell anything).

Click here to see a tutorial on how to create chess videos.

To purchase products, I recommend Wholesale Chess. They provide the highest quality chess products at the lowest prices (especially for US and Canadian players). They even offer to match prices with other chess websites! Even though I live overseas, this is where I choose to purchase chess goods.


Posted by Webmaster on Thursday, December 31, 2009.


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