A couple of weeks ago I decided to go self-hosted. I originally set up my blog using www.wordpress.com, which in my opinion is the perfect place to start. It’s so user friendly and you can really get to grips with blogging before you decide to upgrade. After a while, I decided I wanted to go self-hosted. Why? Admittedly, my main incentive was so I could upload a pretty theme to my blog. Later on, however, I have discovered that there are so many more awesome features available to you once you go it alone!

It’s Easy-ish (Step By Step Guide)

My main concern was that it sounded difficult and stressful.  I read a few articles about bloggers losing content and their website going down for a few hours which did make me wary. However, I am pleased to report I did not experience any such problems. If you are considering it, here is my step by step guide:

Choose your host. There are so many different hosts there with various offers and plans so this can be quite a complex and tricky decision. I asked around on Twitter for recommendations and later made the decision to go with Site Ground. I opted for the 1 year StartUp Hosting and domain plan for £39.60. 

They do the technical stuff for you. The best thing about Site Ground is that they will do the entire migration for you for free. All you have to do is give them access to your blog and they will transfer the whole website onto their servers. There is 24/7 support, I spoke to a very nice lady via the chat box who talked me through the process. They suggest it takes 24 hours to complete and there is no downtime. Site Ground will be back in touch once migration is complete.

Preview Your Blog. Before you commit to switching to a new host, you have the option to see your website to check it’s still the same as you left it. To do this you need to edit a file on your computer located in Windows: PC c:/windows/system32/drivers/etc/hosts. You will be sent a unique IP address from Site Ground. You open the host file in Notepad and copy and paste your IP to end of the code. Make sure you restart your computer to update the changes. This will allow you to view your site as it will look before you redirect your domain name. This proved slightly tricky but it worked in the end. For some reason Google Chrome blocked the site as it was unsecured, however, I was able to view it in Mozilla Firefox. Once the change is complete I was able to see it in both browsers without any problems.

Switching Name Servers. Once you are happy with the migration, you are good to go. If you have a domain name through WordPress you can change the Domain Name Servers here: https://wordpress.com/domains/manage/  All you need to do is select the domain name, click on Name Servers and DNS and enter in the two server names included in the Site Ground e-mail.

Checking your DNS. To check your blog has successfully changed servers you can use http://dnscheck.pingdom.com to check that the Name Server is your new host. Hopefully by now your blog has successfully moved to it’s new host and you can start using some awesome features!

Accessing your new blog. If you are a WordPress user, your blog should be easily accessed by typing in: www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/

Web Hosting

Awesome Themes

Now we come onto the main reason why I went self-hosted – pretty themes! I had seen bloggers using pipdig which allows you to install awesome themes onto your WordPress or Blogger/Blogspot account.

There are so many gorgeous themes to choose from. Eventually, I decided to go for the Ghost Shell theme for a one off payment of £39. It’s so easy to install a new theme! Once you have paid, you can simply download your theme from the pipdig e-mail, In WordPress, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New and upload the file. It’s easy to customize and plenty of help and support available on the pipdig website if you are stuck. Your new pretty blog design is a few clicks away!

Jetpack

One of the first things I realized when I went self-hosted was where has my like button gone! Plus I had no idea if my original WordPress followers were still subscribed to my blog. I didn’t anticipate this issue so I turned to Twitter for some support and found the answer I was looking for. To migrate all your followers across you need to install the Jetpack Plugin.

Once the plugin is installed, go to Jetpack > Settings > Discussion and Migrate followers from another site

To get the Like button back go to Jetpack > Settings > Sharing > Like buttons

Jetpack also allows you to view your stats, back up your site, gives extra protection and monitors any downtime by sending you a handy e-mail.

Monetize Your Blog

So if you have a blog with www.wordpress.com you will know that you have to put up with their ads. And you don’t benefit in the slightest from their advertisements. When you go self-hosted you have more control over what you can place on your blog. I heard that Google AdSense is a good place to start gaining some income from your blog so I set up an account. Google will need to approve you first after you copy and paste a code onto your blog. The easiest way to do this I found was by downloading a plugin called Pluginception and following this step by step guide here: https://www.tipsandtricks-hq.com/how-to-add-adsense-to-wordpress-9023 One of the good things about Google AdSense is it tries to place ads which are relevant to your posts on your site and it seems you have quite a lot of control over it (once I know how to use it properly, I’ll get back to you!).

Security

I had no idea what an SSL certificate was before I went self-hosted. GlobalSign can probably explain it better than I can: SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites.

You can activate your SSL certificate via Site Ground’s free extra service called Let’s Encrypt SSL. You can also download a plugin called Really Simple SSL which will allow your website to run over https.

Stats

I have just recently signed up to Google Analytics which you can connect to your WordPress site using the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. From the outset it looks like a very handy tool which allows you to see your blog statistics in great detail. It shows your stats in real-time, gives you a breakdown of your audience (age, gender, location, interests), and user behavior such as the pages they view, for how long and whether they return again. It looks pretty cool if you are into that kinda stuff!

I hope my guide to going self-hosted has been helpful. If you have any questions I am always happy to help. Let me know your experiences of going self-hosted and any other awesome plugins you have discovered. I would love to hear from you!

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Brighton is probably one of my favourite places to visit for a day out. It is crammed with cool and quirky independent shops, tons of delicious places to eat – all being a stones throw from the seaside with its iconic pier. My family and I took a little trip down to Brighton one rainy Wednesday in December and here are a few snapshots from our very enjoyable day by the sea. I say little, it is a two hour car journey. But well worth it to visit this unique town on the south coast of England.

Food For Friends

Sitting in a car for hours can make you quite hungry! When we arrived we headed straight for lunch at Food For Friends. This is Brighton’s original vegetarian restaurant (since 1981). My mum and sister are both vegetarians and I have eaten here before, so was quite happy to visit again for a spot of tasty lunch.

Food For Friends: 17-18 Prince Albert St, Brighton, BN1 1HF

The festive menu looked so appetizing but I knew from past experience their coconut and butternut curry was pretty amazing, so that is what I went for again.

My sister Vicky and I waiting patiently.

My mum looking pretty happy with her elderflower fizz.

Vicky with her hot ginger and spice non-alcoholic beverage.

This is the coconut and butternut curry – grilled baby fennel, romenesco, thai basil served with black sticky rice & plantain crisps (GF/V). So delicious!

Brighton Pier

When in Brighton I think visiting the pier is a must, even if it’s pouring with rain and the wind nearly blows you into the sea.

A pigeon ready to take your order.

The famous Brighton Pier.

The tinsel on the pier was a nice festive touch.

I’m sure seagulls in Brighton are bigger than regular seagulls.

A bit too cold for Brighton rock today.

Town Centre

Festive scene.

The light up igloo in the town centre.

Vicky, mum and myself looking absolutely freezing.

Posing in the igloo.

Graffiti and a random pair of shoes?

I love the street art around the city.

Coffee Tree

After a little exploring, we stopped for a much needed cup of tea and piece of cake at Coffee Tree in the North Laine. This is their very mouth watering caramel layer cake.

Coffee Tree: 47 Gardner Street | North LainesBrighton BN1 1UN

North Laines

A trip to Brighton is not complete without walking down the laines. There are 400 independent shops, cafés and entertainment venues in this unique and vibrant part of the city.

So many interesting shops.

Cakes in the window of Cloud 9.

Brighton is such a colourful city.

Brighton Guitars.

I loved the little festive touches dotted around.

There is really something here for everyone.

Brighton flowers.

I hope you enjoyed a few of my snapshots from the day. Have you visited Brighton before? What is your favourite thing to do whilst you are there? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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Christmas isn’t Christmas without a few festive films to really get you into the seasonal spirit. Shaun and I decided in late November to tackle the mammoth task of watching and reviewing all the Christmas films we could find (afford) to compile a list of the top 20 Christmas Films Of All Time and share our thoughts with you all. Crazy, maybe. Fun? Defo! I have also teamed up with Panasonic to bring you this fantastic festive film collection. Panasonic have recently released the Panasonic Oled 4K TV with a sleek design and ultimate picture quality to really bring the Hollywood experience right into your very own home. So get ready because here comes The Top 20 Christmas Films Of All Time… (in the order watched)

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