Saturday 9 February 2013

Create your blog and photo gallery with your own domain name

If just like me you want to create your own blgo and photo gallery, there ares lots of stuff to do, and therefore hours of work investigating what and how to do it. To save you some time, here is how I did it:

Step 1. Book your domain name

When you want to create your own blog and/or photo gallery, the first thing you want to do, is to get a domain name. They're cheap (about 5 or 6 € a year). For that price you get email addresses with your own domain name as well.

For 5 or 6 €, would you really want to have site name such as ?
Here is just a thought, if some day you want to change the service provider and leave (e.g. blogspot above), without a domain name, you'll be stuck with your hosting and you won't be able to change that without changing your URL.

First thing first, you need to find a good domain name. I won't give you advice on how to do that, besides, hHere, I'm creating my own webpage with my name as domain. To find a free domain I used which provides a minimal service for a very low price... just what I needed:

Once you found the domain name of your dreams, registered, paid etc... you need to be slightly patient. DNS (domain name service) can be painfully slow (up to a day !!!).

We'll come back to to configure it once your blog and/or photo gallery are configured.

Step 2. Create your blog

This is an easy step... go to and register. You will probably want to customise it to make it look more personal. If you want to create a picture gallery, my recommendation is to do it together on both sites to make sure them look alike.

I'm not saying here that using blogger is the bet way to create a blog... I just found everything I need there for free.

Step 3. Create your picture gallery

There are many picture sharing solutions online such as Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, and ... SmugMug.
Sites such as Lifehacker have made good comparisons of photo sharing sites and it is not my objective to do it here, I personally chose SmugMug (a premium site for 'pros') for 4 reasons:
  1. Storage is unlimited. No concern about reducing quality or deleting old files. This is a good backup solution.
    Note: this is however no reason to carelessly upload junk:
    • Cloud storage is not green: no need to destroy the planet for useless pictures nobody cares about.
    • If you litter your galleries with pointless/bad photos, it will become harder to see your masterpieces. Too much info kills the info!
    • By increasing your disk usage, you slightly reduce SmugMug margin. Who cares? I do: with higher the margin, SmugMug will have more money to improve their services/reduce their fees or avoid bankruptcy.
  2. They support domain names (60USD/yr formula). I can have if I want to (and I do!).
  3. No ads !
This is an easy step... go to SmugMug and register (with this link you an I both get a discount). You will probably want to customise it to make it look more personal. If you want to create a blog, my recommendation is to do it together on both sites to make sure them look alike.

Step 4. Configure your domain name to point to your blog and/or photo gallery

All right, remember when I said something about providing a minimal service for a very low price? Well here is why:

If you want your domain name to point to your blog (or photo gallery), you have two options:
  • The DIY way: you set a "web redirect" which either simply redirects to the real address of your website/blog or hides it using frames (a html trick). In both cases, links to your pages will remain to the original domain (e.g. name and not the one you just registered. I did not want this.
  • The right way: you update your domain's DNS parameters to point directly to your website:

    • Go to 'Personalize the content of your DNS' and then 'Advanced interface'
    • Find on your blog/website the DNS parameters to enter
    • Type them as follows in the 'Advanced interface' (see green box below):

In the green box of the shcreenshot above, you see three lines. One line is (usually) needed per subdomain (such as, on the first). Here is a brief description of the meaning of each column (a single space is enough between columns if you type it yourself):
    • Column 1: the subdomain name. On the first line, you will read 'photos'. This means we're talking about ''.
    • Column 2: the TTL value. You can write 28800 just like I did... this is not critical.
    • Column 3: you need to write 'CNAME' this indicates you're going to make a domain name (yours) as an alias to an existing one (in this case smugmug, the photo gallery service provider).
    • Column 4: this is the existing domain name you're pointing to. in this case it is the smugmug server You need to finish the domain name with a '.' (dot) to indicate the DNS does not need to add '' (or whatever your domain name is) to the end of what you just typed.
To know what to put in which columns, you need to refer to the service provider's instructions. Here are these instruction for Blogger and SmugMug. These instructions will also indicate the final step to you need to make to activate it on their side: this usually means you need to enter your domain name somewhere on their website.
    Note: some service providers like require to register two CNAMEs to work. You just need to do it twice (just like on the screenshot).