Now, the first thing that you'll want to do is purchase a domain name. There are several registrars with different prices, so make sure to price compare. Also note that some registrar prices only apply with purchase of hosting, so be sure to read the fine print. You don't want to be locked in to a webhost that doesn't support all of the capabilities you're going to need for this monster you're creating.
No, the cute girl in the ad doesn't work there. I asked.
Anyway. Also consider your audience, and domain recognition. The highest recognition would be for .com domains, with .net and .org shortly behind. .coms run around $30/yr for non-promotional rates, and .net and .org go for about $15. Make it easy to remember, since people forget.
If you go with free hosting and end up with a long name with lots of slashes in it for your root directory, you're still gonna want a domain to redirect to your address. People forget these things so easily.
If you want a domain hack, like del.icio.us or antarc.tk, you'll have to pay for the top-level domain, which has rules that vary by the country of origin and administrator. .tv and .fm are close to $75 a year, whereas .tk is free (but may charge you if your name is a creative domain hack they haven't thought of yet.) Prices and regulations may vary by country. If you have .cat in your name, for instance, your page -must- have at least some content in Catalan.
So you bought your domain name. Write it down, and log in to whatever control panel your domain name registrar provides. Keep this tab open.
Next, go find a hosting provider who supports the technologies you're going to be using. For the purposes of this tutorial, I will say to look for support for the following:
- Secure FTP
- SSH / Shell access
- PHP (a recent version) or whatever scripting languages you use.
- MySQL (or whatever database provider you use)
In a best case scenario, your provider gives you your very own Linux virtual machine space with shell access, wherein you just -install- all of the crap that your server needs. This is what I assume you guys are going to find, because you're smart and you want to really control every step of your server administration.
If, at this point, you've asked, "what's that?" about any of the things I've posted here, there are no stupid questions as long as they're on topic. Go ahead and ask them in the thread below.
Now, if your hosting and your domain provider came from the same people, you can skip this step. If not, you'll want to redirect your domain's DNS records to point to your hosting.
Go back to the domain control panel tab, and find the nameservers for your domain. Replace those strings with the nameservers from your host. Set your A, AAA, or CNAME record (as it applies) to the IP addresses for your hosting server. As the DNS record propagates, within the next 24 hours, computers worldwide will know that your domain points to your server.
DO ALSO NOTE that just because you buy a domain name, if it has trademarked or copyrighted names in the name, and it's a United States TLD (.com, .net. org, .us., .mobi, .aero, .biz) if you use the trademarked name or copyrighted items on your site, it doesn't even take a lawsuit to take you down; a DMCA request will do it.
Congratulations! You have a server on the Internet and people can find it. Now what?
(Please post questions at the end of the thread.)