If you’ve noticed that things have been a bit quiet over on the blog, it’s because I finally took a big leap with my blog and gone self-hosted.
It signals a shift in mindset on how I view my blog and the potential for it to become a serious career. I have been blogging for around six months now, but in January I started to take it seriously.
I toyed with the idea of going self-hosted but I wanted to make sure that my blogging career was something I was ready to invest in. As my blog grew, I became frustrated by the limitations of my free WordPress blog, such as not being able to install plug-ins or properly monetize my blog.
So, I made the decision to crack-on with some research and carve out my own little space on the internet that is mine. And I haven’t looked back.
Is Going Self-Hosted Right for You?
If you want to make blogging a career, then going self-hosted is absolutely the best thing to do. As I mentioned, you are pretty limited by what a free WordPress site offers and your website can get deleted at any time.
If you want to monetize your blog with AdSense or affiliate links then self hosted is your best bet.
Having said that, if your goal is purely to write and connect with other bloggers then you may as well stick with your free WordPress site.
I have a creative writing blog which I’ve enjoyed for many years on the free plan and it is all I need at this stage. It’s not a business and I have no intention of it being so (for now). It’s my little sacred space where I can write stories and connect with other creative writers.
Deciding on a Domain Name
This was easy for me. I had already purchased a domain name from 123Reg when I first started my blog, but you can also do this through SiteGround if you haven’t already done so.
Deciding on a Host
I did a lot of research into a number of hosting companies specifically aimed at WordPress bloggers. I asked around and spoke to fellow bloggers to see which company they recommended.
Think about what you want and need from a hosting company. For me, I wanted affordable hosting and needed a company that offered security and speedy support should anything go wrong.
I worked as a digital project manager for a while launching new websites so I wasn’t completely in the dark when it came to understanding what was needed. I looked at BlueHost and GoDaddy, as well as Krystal but SiteGround won me over.
SiteGround is hugely popular with bloggers largely due to the support they offer. They are pretty affordable and offer FREE set up too. There’s a 24/7 live chat which was my lifeline when I was sorting out my site migration at 10pm at night.
There are three plans for you to chose from, the cheapest being at £2.75 a month for the StartUp plan if you pay a year up front which is an amazing incentive. I figured I spent at least £2.75 on a Starbucks once a month, so I can easily afford that for hosting.
I ended up being plucky and signed-up for the middle option, GrowBig, which is £3.95 per month and includes unlimited websites. This is ideal for me as I have a couple of other small websites on WordPress I plan to move across at some point.
The third option is the GoGeek plan which is perfect for people with huge amounts of traffic, ecommerce sites and so on. They also offer staging and GIT integration.
So while they aren’t absolute, bargain-basement cheap, it is a great price for the amount of techy help you get from them. Plus they also set up your site for free.
From here you can also purchase your new domain name, if you haven’t got one already.
The Process and What I Didn’t Expect
The migration from WordPress.com is a simple process.
SiteGround exports all your content from your current site, including your pages, menus, posts, images and comments.
What I didn’t realise is that you can’t transfer your free WordPress theme – so prepare for a change in the look of your website.
This has nothing to do with SiteGround, and more because they don’t have access to those WordPress files. You also lose your ‘likes’ on each post, which was a little disappointing but for what I gain, I don’t mind.
Other than that, it’s all straightforward.
The process I went through:
- Once I purchased my hosting, I was given access to a support panel where I requested my free setup. I opened up a support ticket where I was able to talk to SiteGround and track progress. They were so helpful and quick, and clearly explained the process and answered any questions I had.
- They set up a brand new WordPress site using a new username and password of my choice. They gave the‘new’ site a different URL and populated content from my ‘old’ WordPress site. This allowed me time to make the ‘new’ site look just how I wanted. My ‘old’ website remained live throughout the whole process.
- I familiarised myself with the improved WordPress dashboard. It looks pretty much the same but with a bit of added functionality.
- From here I selected my theme by going to Appearance and selecting Themes. There are some really nice free themes you can use if you don’t want to pay for a premium theme at this stage. Alternatively, do a quick web search to find one you might like to download and upload in Themes. There are a number of gorgeous WordPress themes on Etsy, some as cheap as £5.
- I added all the plug-ins I was eager to utilise when I was on the free WordPress plan.
- Once I was happy with the look of my new website, as asked SiteGround to repopulate the website again as I knew that I’d had some new comments on a couple of my posts and I didn’t want to lose them.
- They did their thing with the URLs and once I got the go-ahead, I logged into my 123Reg dashboard and repointed my domain name server (DNS) records to SiteGround with the details they gave me.
- WordPress say you have to wait around 24 hours for the site to be propagated – mine only took an hour which was so quick!
Go nuts! I went from virtually no plug-ins to having my pick of the sweet shop. There are loads of useful plug-ins ready to install which will help make your blog more shareable, make it easier to make changes to your blog and track your traffic.
I don’t regret going self-hosted one bit. It was the best decision I made for me and my blog.
Even though the process was simple and there is support out there, reach out if you have any questions as I’ll be happy to help.
This post contains affiliate links.