How I Went Self-Hosted in Three Easy Steps

Image of Jenny on a Plate blog

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…

3. Customise!

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:

EasyRecipe

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!

Linked up to the following link parties:

My Random Musings
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

25 Comments

  1. Random Musings April 11, 2016 / 11:17 pm

    Well done for taking the plunge! It’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds is it. I love the new look :)
    Debbie

    • Jenny April 12, 2016 / 10:19 am

      Thanks Debbie, and thanks for your advice when I was researching! It’s definitely not as heavy going as it sounds :-)

  2. Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) April 12, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    Congratulations on taking the plunge! I’m too stingy to go self-hosted, but I did buy a vanity url a few months back for my blog. :)

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday x

    • Jenny April 13, 2016 / 4:02 pm

      Thanks, Jess! I started with a URL too – it’s nice to have your own URL, rather than a .wordpress.com extension, or something similar. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, it’s been great to link up with #KCACOLS and discover new blogs and lovely bloggers! :-)

  3. RACHEL BUSTIN April 12, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    I think I am too scared to go self hosted as I no nothing about websites and the code side! I do have a vanity domain though! That was hard enough setting that up! xx

    #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 13, 2016 / 6:31 pm

      I am not techy at all, so I’m worried I’ll come across something difficult soon but I’ll just resort to Google for help! There seems to be lots of support on the web if you’re thinking of going self-hosted in future. Thanks for stopping by x

  4. To Arizona and beyond April 12, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    Well done, I’ve considered going self hosted for a while but chickened out as I know nothing about computers, I only joined Twitter a few weeks ago!! Maybe later In the year I’ll have another look, I love the idea of being able to customize the look of my blog! #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 13, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      I put off thinking about it for a while, then just decided to steam ahead with it! There’s a lot of support on the web for any glitches you may come across :-)

  5. Savannah April 12, 2016 / 11:26 pm

    LOVE the easy recipe plugin, and as someone who posts recipes often, my blog could really benefit from this. I’m still in my first year of blogging though, and am nowhere near brave enough to take a step like that. Way to go, you! This is definitely something that I’ll want to do as my blog grows, but until then, I’ll keep looking for your tips and advice (: #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 15, 2016 / 9:53 am

      Thank you, Savannah! I don’t think there is any particular time in your blogging journey to go self-hosted, it’s just important to go for it when it’s right for you. If you need any tips and I can help in any way, then I’d be more than happy to! Thanks for stopping by :-) x

  6. A Moment With Franca April 13, 2016 / 3:12 pm

    Congratulations on going self-hosted. It is a massive difference to have the freedom to experiment whatever you would like to with your blog. Also being able to choose different plugins is just amazing. I love to be able to customise my blog too!! I’m so happy to know that you are pleased with this decision!! It is al worth it!! Your blog looks great!! Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. It is great to have you for the first time. I hope that you enjoyed it and it would be lovely to see you again on Sunday!!

    • Jenny April 15, 2016 / 9:55 am

      Thank you, Franca! I’m really pleased I decided to take the plunge, it makes me feel more inspired to put more into my blogging as a result! Thanks so much for commenting, I’ve really enjoyed linking up to the #KCACOLS linky this week – so much support and lots of amazing, new blogs to check out! xx

  7. Sarah April 14, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    I’m going to be taking the plunge in the next week or so too!! Eep! #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 15, 2016 / 9:47 am

      Good luck with your self-hosting adventure, Sarah – you won’t regret it! :-)

  8. Laura @ Dot Makes 4 April 14, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    Yay for going self hosted!
    I love the idea of the recipe plugin :)
    Laura xx
    #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 15, 2016 / 9:48 am

      Thanks Laura, and thanks for stopping by! I can’t wait to begin using the recipe plugin a little more :-) x

  9. Nicky Kentisbeer April 14, 2016 / 5:54 pm

    Brilliant Jenny. It looks great. This is really helpful. You have made it sound very easy. Would you mind if I picked your brain on a couple of things that have become sticking points for me? #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 15, 2016 / 9:48 am

      Hi Nicky, thank you! I would be more than happy to help if I can do – you can drop me a line at jennifer_smith20@hotmail.com if it is easier. I look forward to speaking again soon :-)

      • Nicky Kentisbeer April 15, 2016 / 10:06 am

        Thank you Jenny that’s really kind. I take you up on that and drop you a line.

  10. A Mum Track Mind April 15, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    I must be technologically challenged but I had a nightmare using TSO to migrate my blog across from wordpress.com to .org. It’s done now thankfully and I agree that once it’s done it is much better and you have so much more freedom #KCACOLS

    • Jenny April 21, 2016 / 2:04 pm

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you had with TSO. I’ve had a minor blip since going self-hosted, in that I begun receiving a message when I tried to click onto my site, telling me that it was deemed ‘unsafe’ but TSO managed to sort that out pretty quickly. It did worry me momentarily, though!

  11. tracey bowden April 15, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    I found going self hosted easier than I thought it would be too and aren’t TSOHost amazing! I am more confident now but at first I literally had no clue what on earth I was doing and it took a few weeks before I was fully settled! Only now I really want a new theme! oopps! ps your theme looks fab too :) #kcacols

    • Jenny April 21, 2016 / 2:05 pm

      I feel the same, Tracey! At first, I felt so overwhelmed but I’m slowly easing into it now and glad I took the plunge. Thanks for stopping by :-)

  12. Mudpie Fridays April 18, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    This is great you make it sound so simple! I am considering going self hosted while I am on maternity leave – week but nervous. Will be pinning this. :) #AnythingGoes

    • Jenny April 21, 2016 / 2:01 pm

      Thank you for coming back to read the update, I hope it is helpful in some way :-) Good luck with going self-hosted, you will be absolutely fine! x

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