I finally did it, I took the plunge and moved my blog from being hosted on WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Since making this move and writing about the evolution of my blog in my previous post, I’ve had a few requests to write about my experience of going self-hosted so today I’m hoping to do just that by talking about the process and what it entailed, my opinions and also the accessibility of the move.
Now I am fully aware that this post won’t appeal to everyone because let’s face it, not everyone in the world is a blogger so I’m sorry if this is not something that interests you. Although I have had a few people (non-bloggers) asking me about going self-hosted, what it means and what exactly are the benefits so I’m hoping to highlight these questions in this post also.
I have been researching the idea of going self-hosted for months and spent hours scrolling through different articles online trying to find the best host, the best way to go about it all, it’s definitely a time consuming process.
I’m going to split today’s post into categories so hopefully that way it’ll be easier to follow.
Choosing a host
Now the first step in order to go self-hosted was to choose a new host. I decided not to upgrade my blog through the plans that were available on WordPress.com as after doing some research I figured that this method would be more expensive in the long run, although this might have been easier, I wanted to set myself a challenge and start from scratch. After looking into the different web hosts that were out there and looking at all the prices and plans I came across a host called SiteGround which was the host I decided to go for in the end.
I had read a number of other people’s blog posts on their experience of going self-hosted and most of them recommended SiteGround as they have the best customer service and they have 24/7 support which means if anything were to go wrong with your blog they would always be on hand to help. I can’t fault their customer service, I’ve spoken to them online a couple of times now and they were so helpful and they responded to my queries within a matter of minutes.
There are three plans to choose from on SiteGround and I decided to go for the Grow Big plan as I figured this would be the one that best suited my needs. The process of purchasing the plan and buying my new domain name was pretty straight forward, I personally found it all accessible and managed to do the process independently which was something I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do or not.
Transferring my blog
SiteGround offer a free blog transfer service which I was so happy about, I was very skeptical about transferring my blog from WordPress.com myself as I wasn’t sure how accessible the process would be and I was afraid of losing all the content I’ve worked hard on over the past two and a half years.
So once I purchased my hosting/domain I filled out a transfer form on SiteGround and fortunately for me they transferred all my posts, pages, categories and comments over to my new blog. However they didn’t transfer my followers or stats but I managed to do this myself by using the subscription migration tool on WordPress.com which transferred all of my followers over and then I contacted the Jetpack team (Jetpack is a plugin) and they kindly transferred all of my stats over so I was very pleased that nothing I worked hard for had been lost in the transfer process.
After all my content was transferred I essentially had two blogs as my WordPress.com one was still public. In order to change this I had to purchase a site redirect from WordPress.com which means that whenever anyone clicks on the link to my WordPress.com blog it automatically redirects them to my new blog which is obviously what I wanted.
Choosing a theme
Then came the fun part, choosing and customizing my theme for my new blog. I decided to purchase a theme by Pipdig which offers so many pre-designed templates that look both professional and elegant. I found that they offered the most accessible themes too which was one of my main priorities when choosing a theme as a vision impaired person myself.
Once I purchased the theme, the installation process was straight forward and Pipdig offered a number of instructions which I found to be very useful.
customizing the theme proved to be a little difficult at times in terms of accessibility and navigating the layout to find out where everything was etc. I spent a couple of days customizing my theme to what I wanted it to be, it probably would take less time for someone who is fully sighted but as I said, because of my vision impairment I did find it to be difficult at times. Once I got used to the layout and started to get to grips with it, making those customizations did become easier. I still have a few changes I want to make to my theme but I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and I think it looks a tad more professional than my previous theme on WordPress.com did (even if I do say so myself).
The benefits of going self-hosted
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a question that has raised a few times during the last couple weeks for me are what is self-hosted? What are the benefits? Just to name a couple, so I thought I’d give you the answer here.
Going self-hosted means that a blogger gains ownership of their blog. When hosted on WordPress.com (which is the free blogging platform I was hosted on before), my content was mine and my blog’s name was mine but the blog itself was still owned by WordPress.com so it restricted me in many ways. By going self-hosted I’ve been able to change my domain name to one that I’m happy with and I now own my blog therefore it’s my responsibility to make sure it runs properly etc.
Another benefit is the fact that I now have the freedom to customise my blog to how I want it. When hosted on a free platform such as WordPress.com there are restrictions in terms of what changes you can make to your theme etc but now that issue no longer exists.
Of course there are down sides to going self-hosted, the cost being one of them. I can’t deny that it’s been a fairly expensive process but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it. I am now so much happier with my blog and I’m so happy and proud to call it my own. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this point but I’m hoping this is a start of something new for my blog and I.
Are you a self-hosted blogger? Are you thinking of going self-hosted? Let me know in the comments as I would love to hear from you.