So here is my experience of moving into the world of blogging. It's mainly for the benefit of Matt who is about to do the same.
By far the hardest part of starting a new blog is picking a good domain name. A brainstorming session with some workmates produced this one, and a few other promising ones as well. Chris, you need to register brainsnorkel.com. You know it makes sense.
I think it's also important to have clear intentions in mind as to why you are starting a blog. Who is it for? What information will you and won't you share? Do you care if noone reads it? That sort of thing. My own answers to these questions in a later post.
So the next step is to register the domain. Now if I was doing this again I would have got my hosting provider to register the domain for me. But in the end it didn't make that much difference. I registered at registerfly.com. I have to say this was a lot more confusing than I was anticipating and didn't really go smoothly. No difficulties as such but was more complicated than it probably needed to be.
Next step, picking a hosting provider. I did this somewhat indirectly. First I looked at the support forum for WordPress, the blogging tool that all the cool kids are using these days. The support forum had several threads for hosting provider recommendations. bloghosts were mentioned at least twice (in a positive light), and they were cheap. So I signed up. $30/year, pretty decent.
Next step, pick a weblog tool. Oh no, I already did that.
My bloghosts experience didn't start well. After sending my fee, I didn't actually get an account for 24 hours. Turns out this is a one-man-show but the man in question had accidentally fallen and embedded a pushpin in his skull (!) Anyway he was very helpful and got me up and running soon enough (I guess his hospital had wi-fi).
Installing wordpress was a piece of piss once I realised that it was as easy as pushing a (fairly well hidden) button. For future reference, 'fantastico' is a cgi/module installer/remover thingy for hosting providers, and it can handle setting up databases, accounts, etc. Very nice.