I recently progressed my blog from a free one hosted at WordPress.com and moved it over to a self-hosted site. Before the move, I had so many questions and took several weeks to research and put this project into action. After publishing my new site, I had a subscriber ask me to publish a post about this transition (thank you Kimberly Starr; I hope you find this helpful!) I want to share some tips to help those of you bloggers who are considering transitioning to your own domain and give a little advice to make your move happen flawlessly! This is also a great resource for complete blogging newbs 😉
FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE SELF-HOSTING:
- How dedicated are you to your blog? Are you going to stick with it? You generally buy your domain for a span of at least one year upfront. How much money are you willing to pay? This can be a cheap move or a very expensive one.
- Have you thought about changing your blog’s name/style/concept? This is the time to do it.
- Are you 100% sure about this? It’s okay if you say no. I wasn’t either until after I purchased my domain and my new site was launched.
These factors are not meant to deter you from self-hosting your blog or website. They’re simply to get you thinking.
WHERE DID MY JOURNEY TO SELF-HOSTED BLOG BEGIN?
As I said above, I did research. I wanted to find the perfect hosting site first. I looked at Bluehost, upgrading my domain through WordPress, and had several people tell me to check out Site Ground. Well, I ended up with the latter. I paid $3.95 per month for my hosting for one year and I think around an additional $12.00 for privacy protection. It’s the basic plan they offer, which is also the least expensive.
For someone starting out, like myself, who doesn’t have a high volume of traffic to their site, this is perfect. You can always upgrade your hosting plan later! This basic plan comes with so many features, that I’m still discovering them. I have found most hosting sites run about the same price for a basic plan, but I had heard a lot of great things about this site and their services. Trust me, SiteGround has lived up to my expectations.
** Side note: In my semi-newbie opinion, I highly recommend the privacy protection. If someone was to look up who owns your domain it comes up with all of Site Ground’s information rather than your own mailing address, phone number, etc. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! It’s only $1 per month for this feature, and protects your personal info.
I think one of my favorite features of SiteGround is that they allow you to reach out to their customer service team through an online chat (or via phone) and ask them anything you want BEFORE you even sign up with them. I messaged back and forth with one of their representatives for almost a good hour one day, asking all sorts of basic (and probably embarrassing) questions. They even offered to look at my WordPress.com site to help evaluate and answer some of my questions. It was a really pleasant experience that made me slightly more comfortable with the idea of buying my own website.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH SITEGROUND:
Well I haven’t left yet! No, but in all seriousness, they are fantastic. I literally was terrified handing over my username and password to my WordPress site and being told it would be a day or two before I could see what they did. But sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and a small leap of faith.
During the transfer, I received email updates on the status of my new site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. It was a huge relief to know exactly how my prized possession was doing during the transition process. Their team is so kind and reassured me that I was in good hands the entire time. When they turned my new site over, it was under my new domain name, and all of my previous content was there – you don’t have to transfer your old posts, but I wanted to.
I will say I had the most basic black and white theme with no flair, but I easily fixed that by flipping through the free WordPress themes. WordPress offers more free themes once you’re self-hosted, and they’re always adding new ones – so don’t feel obligated to run out and spend $50.00 or more on a blog theme. Also, I still have my old site, they left it up and running. This gave me the chance to tell my old followers by posting about my new domain and then I could even transfer them to my new site. And depending on what I’m doing, I can either log into WordPress.com with my new credentials or access my site through SiteGround. If you’re interested in checking out SiteGround and I highly recommend that you do, click here: SiteGround!
TIPS, POINTERS, & THE TRANSITION
If you’ve been thinking of changing the name of your site/re-branding or going in a new direction – UM HELLO THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME! No seriously. Spend
some a lot of time reviewing potential website names, themes, and topics you want to write about. My biggest piece of advice is that you cannot put too much thought into this step. This will be your foundation. You want it to be as “you” as it can be, but not necessarily too specific to a topic. What if you wake up one day and no longer want to write about makeup, but want to write about movies or cooking? You see my point, right? Also, be sure to check your potential site name against other social media sites, not just google – there might be someone on twitter or Instagram with your handle, but maybe they don’t blog.
Spend additional time looking at other blogs and bloggers. See what they do that you do and don’t like. Take notes. I have a specific little notebook and notepad that I keep all of my blogging notes in. I’m probably going to transfer this to a document on my computer – for quicker reference. Other bloggers often offer great advice or can point you in the direction of small tweaks you can make. They may have something on their site you never thought of… Don’t try to copy someone else, though. Be original. And be you!
Here’s the steps to make the transition to a self-hosted blog:
- Sign up for your website host, like SiteGround! Be prepared to pick your domain name because it is part of the sign up process.
- I started a chat with their customer service reps about how to setup my new domain and received an email from SiteGround asking for my WordPress credentials.
- Give them your credentials and what you want your new login credentials to be.
- They will do the rest.
- Keep an eye on your email as they will be in contact with you throughout the process and if they need anything else.
- Once they turn over your site, choose and apply a theme (either from WordPress or one you have purchased).
- You’re all set – blog away!
I love my self-hosted blog. I was terrified to pay money to have my own website, but I honestly don’t regret it. If you think you might want to self-host, I say go for it. What’s the worst that happens? You decide you don’t like it, cancel after a year, and have waste about $60.00. That’s all.
If you’re someone who is trying to monetize your site, the opportunity presents itself with self-hosting. You can sign up with Google AdSense or an affiliate program. Anyone can do it. You probably won’t make millions at first. Heck, it could take you 6 months to make your first $100.00, but who cares. If you love blogging, then it honestly won’t matter.
*I do have to interject here and say that you can make an awesome side-hustle out of blogging, even though I’ve only made about $20.00 that I still haven’t been paid for yet – more on that in another post.*
Having a self-hosted site shows potential affiliates, promotion groups, etc., that you take your blog more seriously. And you should, since it’s basically your “business.” But always remember, it’s your site and the only rules are the ones you make. Your potential with a self-hosted site is limitless.
If you have any questions at all about transitioning to your own self-hosted blog or anything at all really, please reach out to me! Drop me a comment below, reach out on social media, or even send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
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