Muddled Muggle: “I bought a website domain. Now what?”

canstockphoto18799595Hi JC,

One of my goals this year is to start a website – I just purchased my domain name on a whim, but… now what? I thought by purchasing my own domain I could just hook it up to a FREE online website builder software, but when I Googled the top ones (, wix, weebly, etc.) it looks like I still have to pay a monthly fee to use my own domain? I thought the point of my already BUYING a domain was so I could set up a site for free?

Am I misunderstanding this? HELP!


A Muddled Muggle


Dear Muggle,

It’s confusing to me too, so don’t feel bad.

For starters, understand this: domains and hosting are two separate concepts. Your website “domain” (or address) is “hosted” (or residing) on someone’s server. You purchased an address, now it needs to reside somewhere.

If you want to keep your website free, ignore the domain. You can create a “hosted” blog on a website service provider, such as WordPress or Blogger. The catch? Since they’re providing the domain and the hosting service, your website name will look something like this: “” or [WHATEVER NAME].blogspot.

If you’d like, you can keep the domain you purchased and still use WordPress or Blogger. There should be an option in your admin panel to add your purchased domain name. Once it is added, the free blog should “point” (or redirect) to the new domain name. (Google instructions on how to do this if you’re not sure.) Your website address will become the domain name you purchased. There will most likely be an annual charge for this, but probably not a monthly charge.

Finally there are services that will “host” your website for a monthly fee. Basically, your domain is living on their server. Some of these services provide website templates or you can build your own site and upload it. However, you should expect two bills — one for domain name renewal (mine is charged annually) and for the hosting service (mine is charged monthly).

There are smarter authors out there than me, and hopefully one of them will comment if I’ve missed something.




Have you met WattPad?

wattpadKind of like Facebook for writers, Wattpad is a social media site where writers can post their work to receive feedback and constructive criticism. Just about everyone on the site has works in various stages of completion. And you and everyone on the site can vote (i.e. “like”) a person’s story.

Stories range across the genres from romance to horror to mystery-suspense to humor. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the largest and most popular genre tends to fan fiction. Sometimes that’s popular television series and movies, but for the most part it tends to be One Direction. There is an over abundance of pre- and early teens writing stories about that boy band.

You make friends on Wattpad – which they label “followers” and you can follow others. There’s a Twitter like feed running from messages posted by everyone you’re following. There are also genre specific message boards, which introduces you and your work to others around the world.

One of the biggest advantages though is getting involved in groups. There are reading & critique groups, writing school groups and many, many contests. I strongly suggest Wattpad School, as it is a group of helpful writers ready to give advice, and who have written topics ranging from grammar to the dynamics of plot structures and character development. They also hold monthly writing contests.

You can check out my Wattpad profile by clicking on