Create your online presence free or cheap
All below works best if you have a Gmail account. Google lets you do tons of stuff easily and for free!
You can do only the free stuff and it will all work just fine. The non-free stuff is optional. Also, if you want to have your own domain name with a blog only, you can buy a domain name without buying hosting *. Google will continue to host it for free. For this, see Domain + blog
* Some definitions:
Webpages need somewhere to live. This is where they're hosted. For most things you'll need to buy a hosting package from a web host. The packages vary in price, levels of service, features offered.... In some special cases, companies do limited amounts of hosting for free. Blog-like sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Google's Blogger host sites for free but only sites made with their software. (For example: If you want to start a site like eBay or Amazon, you can't open a MySpace account and get them to host it. MySpace specializes in what they will host for you.) If you use Blogger, then your blog, and all of the information on it, lives on Blogger. When someone wants to view your blog, Blogger serves the page to them.
Imagine the terminology to be a metaphor for an upscale party. Your web browser is a client. The webhost serves the webpages to it.
The domain name (or simply: domain) is the base part of the web address. The domain name part of this page is underlined: http://www.mcrackan.com/online.html. Domain names are registered. Registering a domain name takes money. I bought the domain mcrackan.com myself. Some web hosts will give you a domain for free if you host it with them. The registration of the domain still costs them money so they're likely to restrict your use of the domain. Typically, you can only keep the domain while you're under contract with them -- then you lose it forever.