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/
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/
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!
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!).
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.
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!