I’ve been thinking of going self hosted for over a year now. And I finally did! But before I go into detail about that, here’s a little back story.
The Story of how I Started.
The first time I understood what the word “blogging” meant was about 4 years ago. The word itself wasn’t new. Certainly, I’d heard of it somewhere. But at that moment I realized that it wasn’t just something for adults and that I too, could be a blogger.
I got discouraged at first because I thought that owning a blog would require me to learn how to build a website from scratch. The markup and programming languages used for creating websites seemed too overwhelming for me. Even though there was another option; to pay a professional, where would a 14 year old get a big sum of money to invest in a new hobby that she wasn’t even sure she would sustain?
Luckily, I discovered WordPress. At first, I thought it was a scam. Build a website in under 5 minutes, free of charge and without having to write a single line of code? It was too good to be true. But I signed up anyways and in August of 2019, my first blog: Diary of a Life Puppet was born.
It has been a wholesome journey for me. I learnt about things that I never even knew existed. SEO, digital marketing, copywriting, web design and more. I started seeing posts about blogs who made thousands and millions with their website. Initially, I thought, “is that even possible?” Then I discovered the different and numerous ways to monetize a blog. I love writing so when I started, I wasn’t doing it for material gain. But of course, who wouldn’t want to earn from something that they already loved doing?
Why I decided to switch
For those who are not familiar with WordPress, WordPress is a free content management system that enables you to create and upload a website without having to write a single line of code.
WordPress comes in two types: wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
WordPress.org contains the main software which you can install under a server from your web host and tweak to add custom features.
On the other hand, wordpress.com is the total package. It contains both the software, a server and a web host. It even lends you a domain name that will contain the ‘WordPress’ extension. (E.g. https://diaryofalifepuppet.wordpress.com/)
My old site is a wordpress.com site which is free but also very limiting. Unless you upgrade to one of their paid plans— premium or business which are quite costly by the way— you really couldn’t do any other thing with your website asides writing and uploading posts. You have very few customization options, you can’t install plugins and worse, you can never earn from your site as long as you are using their free plan.
I sought ways to overcome this challenge and that was when I discovered self hosting. It took me a few months to understand the basic concepts of hosting a website. Then after a year of researching and learning, I finally took the bold step of going self hosted. And this has given birth to my new website: The Life Puppet.
They are a few things you need to know about going self hosted. This is NOT a tutorial, still, I will give a basic overview of everything I have done so far.
Purchasing a domain name and web hosting.
The first thing you need to start a website is to get a domain name and web hosting.
A domain name is simply the name of your website. It is unique and exclusive to you upon purchase (meaning no other person can create a website with the same name). A domain name is what search engines will use to index your site. It is also what your readers will use to search for your website on the internet. My domain name, as seen above, is thelifepuppet.com.ng.
Web hosting is like a storage for your blog. It is where all your blog posts, images, files, etc are kept. Without a web host, no one will be able to access the content on your website.
The web host I use.
They are many web hosting companies today. The no 1 recommended by experts including WordPress itself is Bluehost. They are closely linked with WordPress, thus a lot of services are automated and they handle a lot of other services that most web hosting providers may not. (E.g. installing and setting up WordPress for you).
However, it is not cheap especially for our currency in Nigeria. The cheapest plan costs about 9$ per month (without promo). A dollar is now roughly around N560. So if you do the math, you could be spending almost sixty thousand naira a year for web hosting.
Of course this amount is not too big if you are an established blogger, or if you want the absolute best regardless of cost. But, if you’re a beginner like me and are not ready to invest that much within your first year then I recommend going for a cheaper, still reliable web hosting company like Smartweb.
Smartweb offers different web hosting plans at very affordable prices. I got a shared hosting plan for N5000 (excluding VAT). This annual plan came with a free domain name as well as free Sitelock activation for the best website security.
They also have a good customer service. I took advantage of their 24/7 support when I had issues installing and migrating my wordpress.com website. Their staff are professional, quick and reliable. In summary, I definitely recommend them.
You can purchase web hosting and get a free domain name for one year using this link. I’ll get a small commission if you do so, but, it won’t add any extra cost to you.
Migrating from wordpress.com to wordpress.org
To prevent loss of hard work, WordPress provides tools that can help you migrate your WordPress.com site to your new self hosted website.
This article is not a tutorial, so I will not go in depth on how to do this. However, you can read this tutorial on how to effectively migrate your wordpress.com website to wordpress.org.
I did not migrate my old wordpress.com website. I tried, but after several failed attempts, I decided to begin afresh. It might seem like a huge loss, but it actually isn’t. Firstly, Most of my content on my old website were poorly edited and unprofessional. Also, starting a brand new website has helped me evaluate what niches I am actually interested in pursuing with this blog.
My Experiences Going Self Hosted.
So far, I have not faced any critical issues with this new website. Asides the struggle I faced when starting out with the installation, every other thing has gone fairly well.
One thing I would recommend when installing your WordPress site is to use an automatic software installer like Softaculous. Most web hosting companies have it nowadays. If the company also has an option to set up the website for you for free, I suggest that you grab hold of that opportunity. Nonetheless, if you still want to manually install WordPress, then that is fine.
Some things to do in your control panel before/after installation include:
1. Make sure your phpmyadmin is up to date. (Before)
2. Make sure all security measures for the WordPress site is checked. (after)
3. Delete all default posts, sample pages, unused themes and inactive plugins. (after)
4. Install only the latest version of WordPress to avoid unnecessary troubles later.
5. Finally, install plugins. The major ones I recommend are; Jetpack, Antispam/ Akismet (or whichever spam protection plugin you choose), Google site kit (for managing AdSense, analytics, search console etc.), classic editor (if you hate the block editor like I do), Yoast or rank math (for SEO purposes), wpsupercache and Mail Chimp (for creating amazing newsletters).
My Goals for this new website.
My number one goal is to stay consistent. I plan to post at least once a week and update blog posts once they become outdated. Perhaps, it will be a little easier to stay consistent now that I’ve invested a little in the blog.
I’m also looking forward to being more active on other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I aim to post fresh pins on my Pinterest account at least once a week and my Facebook page will be more engaging.
In addition, I have created an email list for my subscribers where I will be giving exclusive content. This includes plans, weekly newsletters as well as freebies. If you want to become a subscriber so that you do not miss out on these things, sign up for the newsletter down below. It is 100 percent free and you can unsubscribe whenever you want thus you have nothing to lose and I promise not to spam you *smiles.
I know I have made the right decision by going self hosted. I do not expect the journey to be smooth from now on but I’m willing to face the challenges. Hopefully, taking my blog to this next level will change a lot of things positively including how I use this God-given talent of mine on the internet.
If you are considering starting a blog in 2022, I encourage you to do so. There is a lot of learning opportunities in it and you will not remain the same afterwards.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave them in the comments or contact me personally through email.
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Stay safe, Stay Happy.