When I get an idea in my head about doing something, it’s really hard to stop thinking about it, unless I can find a good enough reason not to do it. Not too long ago, I began considering going self-hosted with my blog, which would mean I would no longer rely on a free service to host and maintain my blog. Instead, self-hosting my own blog would involve paying a web hosting company and it would mean I would be in full control of my website and what’s displayed on it (e.g. no more wibbly wobbly illustrated adverts claiming to be able to tell you how to lose your belly in six steps…).
I began researching the self-hosting route because it was one of those things I’d heard a lot about through fellow bloggers, but equally knew nothing about. As I began my research, I felt overwhelmed at how much information there seemed to be to consider, and just how complex it sounded on some of the websites I looked at for advice. I tried to put the whole idea to the back of my mind, telling myself that I just didn’t have time to justify going self-hosted, that my blog was just fine as it was. But the idea of being able to do so much more with my blog and its layout, and the possibility of taking it forward like I have wanted to do for some time, were things I couldn’t just forget about. So, with a little bit of research and some much appreciated advice from friends and fellow bloggers, I took the plunge and officially became self-hosted just a few days ago – and it wasn’t half as daunting as I thought it would be!
Here’s how I did it…
1. Choose a web hosting service
I did a bit of research online into web hosting companies and came up with a few possibilities (there are a lot to choose from!). I had been using the free WordPress.com service to host my blog and I liked the WordPress CMS as it is so intuitive and easy to use that I was sure I wanted to continue using WordPress when I went self-hosted, so I needed a hosting company that supported WordPress.org. WordPress.org is different to WordPress.com in that it is you that is hosting your site, rather than allowing WordPress to manage things for you, and place adverts on your web pages as they see fit. When you use WordPress.org, you need to find a hosting service, and perform backups and maintenance yourself on your blog, which may sound daunting but you have so much more freedom about the other things you choose to do with your little space on the web, too.
Two of the most popular recommendations for WordPress-friendly web hosting companies that I received were Bluehost and SiteGround, but after looking into the package options available with these companies, I decided what they were offering was a little too pricey for what I was prepared to pay at this stage in time, plus there were some hidden costs involved and although the packages listed on their websites gave you a monthly breakdown of how much you would pay for each package, there most certainly was not the option to pay monthly with these hosting services.
In the end, on recommendations from a couple of friends, I decided to opt for TSOhost, a UK-based company. Their prices were competitive (with no hidden extras and the option to pay monthly, as their packages stated on the web pages), I spoke to them a few times before taking the plunge and they were friendly and helpful, and when they began the migration process, it was completed swiftly and relatively hassle free, apart from one or two tweaks that they helped me to iron out straight away. It may be early days but so far, so good.
2. Choose your template
When your hosting company has migrated all your content over to its servers, your blog or website will appear to the outside world in exactly the same way as it did before (perhaps apart from one or two minor tweaks – e.g. my blog name header had changed from reading ‘Jenny on a Plate’ to saying ‘My Blog’, so I had to change this sharpish). Therefore, you don’t need to update your style and layout, but what’s the point in going self-hosted if you can’t have a little fun and pimp up your brilliant blog?!
I considered buying a WordPress theme for my blog but they were a lot more pricey than I expected and I wasn’t sure there were any I liked that much. A friend recommended some affordable and lovely blog templates for sale through Etsy but in the end, I chose a template from PipDig and it hasn’t disappointed. The after-sale hints and tips to help you make your new template work for you have been so helpful, with lots of easy to read instructions and YouTube videos on hand to help you make your template yours. Which leads me onto my third and final step in the self-hosting process…
Possibly the feature of having my own self-hosted blog that I was most excited about having was being able to have my own profile pic displayed to the right-hand side of my site, with a little welcome message underneath (old hat in the blogging world these days, I know, but this feature is a pipe dream when you’re working from a limited free service and template). That and being able to install some fantastic plugins to help me make more of my blog. As I’ve been embarking on my A to Z of Baking Challenge and am partial to sharing a recipe or two, it meant that I’d had my eye on the Easy Recipe plugin for a while. It allows you to display recipes on your site in an neat way, with the option for readers to print or save, like so:
So, there you have it – self-hosting for dummies… because if I can go self-hosted, anyone can! There is still so much more I need to do on my self-hosting journey to take my blog to the next level, but I’m really pleased I decided to take the plunge. Thanks to everyone who has shared their knowledge and advice with me along the way.
Have you recently gone self-hosted? If so, how did you find it? Or maybe you’re considering going self-hosted: what is holding you back? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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