When you find a URL you want to have as your very own, as in step one in how to start a blog, you'll want to register your domain with a company like NameCheap. Then, you'll want your website hosted with another company (I like BigScoots). However, you may not even know the difference.
What's the Difference between Domain Name Registration and Hosting?
It's all on the internet, see. Basically, you register your domain name, which you then own for however long you renew. Hosting takes care of how your site is displayed over time.
Your domain name is how people access your website. It is possible to create a website on your computer, but in order for anyone to actually see the site, you buy a domain name. Buying a domain tells the internet that when people type a website name (like FrugalPortland.com) they get to the IP address that holds the site. This is far more convenient than trying to remember IP addresses!
When you buy a domain name, you're buying it for a year, two years, up to ten years or more. Any company can register a domain for you, and it is only yours for as long as you register it.
Pro tip: Google and other search engines take a website more seriously if they've purchased their domain for a long time. They'll pay more attention to domains that don't expire for years than they will to ones that are only registered for a year. Buy the first year, then six months later, when you're bringing in money, extend it.
Web hosting where everything is stored on your website. When you upload an image, or create a blog post, it is saved somewhere, right? It has to be. The location on the cloud where the information is held is controlled by your host. You pay monthly for this hosting, and sometimes bad things happen, so it pays to host with a small company that has excellent service. BigScoots responds to emails in less than ten minutes, and solves even complicated problems in less than 24 hours.
You pay monthly for hosting, and the amount you pay depends on the bandwidth your site uses. Start with the lowest (at time of printing, $5.95/month) and upgrade as your space needs increase. Traffic increases bandwidth, which is a good thing. You won't have to pay more until you get more traffic to your site, which will bring you more money (if you're doing things the right way!).
Even though domain registration and hosting sound similar, they are separate, and they should be treated as separate transactions.