Domains for dummies

Can you believe that I've been online since the ARPAnet and yet, in 2017, do not know the nuts and bolts of domain-name management? Perhaps you, dear reader, will point me toward the clues, and I promise not to be offended that you're quietly snickering there.

The recent LJ upheaval is far from the first signal that really, if you care about durable links, you need to own your own domain, but it's the one that's finally gotten through to me. Instead of relying on Livejournal or Dreamwidth or Medium or whomever else to provide a durable path to my stuff, I ought to control that, so if a service goes belly-up, the old, public URLs still work (with content migrated elsewhere).

What (I think) I would like (please tell me if this is flawed): some domain -- I'll use cellio.org as my example, though that one is taken so I'll need another -- where www.cellio.org points to my ISP-provided web content (which I can easily edit), blog.cellio.org points to my DW journal, medium.cellio.org points to my Medium page, and I can set up other redirects like that as needed. So I can't do anything about links that are already out there, but I can give out better URLs for future stuff (stop the bleeding, in other words). Bonus points if the durable URL stays in the URL bar instead of being rewritten (unlike pobox.com redirects), but that might be hard.

I do not want to run my own web server.

Now I already pay pobox.com for, among things, URL redirection, but it's to a single destination. And it's not at the domain level -- www.pobox.com/~cellio redirects to my ISP-provided web space. It'd be ok, though a little kludgy, if I could manufacture URLs like www.pobox.com/~cellio/blog that do what I described above, but unless there's something I can drop into my own web space, without requiring access to my ISP's web server, I don't think I can do that. Also, this leaves me dependent on pobox.com; owning my own domain sounds like a better idea. pobox.com has been solidly reliable for 20+ years, but what about the next 20?

I understand that I need to (a) buy a domain and (b) host it somewhere, and if I were running my own server then (b) would apparently be straightforward, but I don't know how to do that in this world of distributed stuff and redirects. Also, I'm not really clear on how to do (a) correctly (reliably, at reasonable cost, etc).

So, err, is this a reasonable thing to want to do and, if so, what should I do to make it happen?


Lots of useful information in the comments, and if you're reading this, you can see that I worked something out.