Self Hosting Your Blog — What You Need To Know

Have you been thinking about self hosting your blog? Do you currently have a free blog on a platform like wordpress.com, tumblr, or blogger? There are many benefits to taking the plunge and self hosting your blog, but the switch isn’t for everyone.

After a year and a half of owning a self hosted blog I wanted to share my experiences with making the switch from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. Hopefully this post will be able to inform you about both sides of self-hosting.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through my links and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What you need to know about going self hosted with your blog

Why have a Self Hosted Blog?

The primary reason why I believe you should have a self hosted blog if you’re serious about blogging is that you have complete control over your blog with a self hosted site. The free version of WordPress doesn’t let you add your own plug-ins which makes it very difficult to monetize your content.

Additionally with free blog plans you are limited by the themes available from the platform and those themes don’t always look as professional as a paid theme.

blogging reading tea treats

Themes

There are free blog themes out there that look better than others, but when using a free theme from WordPress’ limited selection you also loose out on a chance to make your blog look truly unique. Hundreds if not thousands of other blogs out there are probably using the exact same theme.

There are ways around this if you have a free blog, for instance WordPress.com has a premium plan which includes one free premium theme. You can also opt to pay for a premium theme, but in my experience there isn’t a lot of selection depending on the look you want and a lot of people still have the exact same theme as you.

I had the Rosalie theme for a year and even though I loved it I noticed that every fourth or fifth blog I visited had the same one.

Where to find a self hosted theme?

When you’re self hosted the options are endless for themes. You can find so many different options online and from places you wouldn’t even expect. I recommend checking out Etsy and Creative Market for starters.

Blogging Computer & Tea

Plug-Ins

There are hundreds of plug-ins to choose from to make your blog exactly what you want it to be. As a self hosted blog you can get access to better analytics, optimization plug-ins, and plug ins that can do just about anything!

If you want a plug-in to add your instagram feed to the top of your homepage you can add one. You can add all kinds of ad revenue plug ins, as well as shopstyle affiliate tabs.

Basically anything you could possibly think of is at your disposal.

Beware: Some plug-ins can break your site! I did this once, it wasn’t fun. I had to uninstall and reinstall my entire theme and plug-ins until I found which one caused the crash. 

Good To Know — if you add too many plug-ins it can severely impact your site speed which means lower rankings in search engine results. Only add what you actually need and try to find plug-ins that do more than one thing.

blogging - coffee - baking

How to Self Host Your Blog

First of all you need to find a hosting company. I am personally with Siteground and they have been great so far. I have also heard good things about Blue Host.

With Siteground I set up an account and chose the free option to have them migrate my blog from WordPress.com. You do have to give them your password so if you aren’t comfortable with that then you’ll need to do it yourself. From there they literally took care of everything.

Siteground moved over all of my content and my domain name and from there I was able to set up my wordpress.org dashboard. It’s literally the same as the wp-admin tab from wordpress.com, so it’s not daunting or anything like that!

The process was so easy!

Note: When your content is moved over the the new hosting platform you will lose all your wordpress “likes”. Honestly I don’t care too much about wordpress likes, but if you do be warned that they’ll be gone.

Blogging-baking-coffee

Pricing

Most hosting companies have an intro plan for new clients. I believe I got my hosting at $5/month or something like that, and it’s lower the longer the term you go with. Depending on what Siteground wants to charge me at the end of the year I might shop around for a better rate.

If blogging is just a hobby for you and you have no desire to monetize or grow your brand it might not be an expense you’re willing to incur. And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with staying on a free plan if it meets your needs.

blogging-typewriter-blog

Traffic

Something I was concerned about my was traffic. When I self hosted my blog I honestly wasn’t focusing on SEO. Most of my views came from the wordpress reader, so my traffic did take a hit when I made the switch. When you have a self hosted blog your posts will only show up in the reader for people who already follow you, not in individual tags.

Some people recover their traffic in a few months. For me it took a full year.

This is one of the reasons why you might not want to go self hosted. If you’re getting a ton of traffic on the free plan then you might not want to risk losing it. Personally I do think it’s worth it, but only if you’re in it for the long haul. In the last six months my traffic has finally started to grow again (yay!) I’m not anywhere close to making real ad revenue but it’s encouraging to finally be over the plateau.

Blogging cellphone coffee cup

Self Hosting is More Work

You need to be able to figure out how to do basic things on your own with a self-hosted plan. Luckily the Siteground team is pretty helpful so if you have any questions they should be able to help you out. Unfortunately I can only speak for my experience with Siteground as I haven’t tried another hosting company.

You need to do basic things like updating your theme and plug-ins on a regular basis. Honestly it’s super easy, there’s an update tab in your admin section and you can check the boxes of anything that says it needs an update and literally click the “update” button.

Some plug-ins require research. I’m not a web developer so a lot of the settings were gibberish to me at first.

Be prepared to pull up your sleeves and do some googling…

flatlay blogging

Pros:

  • Full control over your blog
  • Access to Plug-ins and monetization tools
  • Can look more professional
  • More theme options available

Cons:

  • Traffic may decrease
  • More costly
  • You need to be more computer savvy on a self hosted plan

Are you thinking about self-hosting your blog?

Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope this blog post was helpful to you if you were wondering about the self-hosting process. If you enjoyed this post make sure to check out my collection of blogging tips! Happy self-hosting x

Follow:
Share:

22 Comments

  1. August 14, 2019 / 9:43 am

    A friend of mine using site ground and said it was one of the best for sure. I would love to make a switch but I’m okay where I am at the moment. I just started to get loads of traffic to my site so obviously I’d be starting from scratch if I ever do that lol. Idk. I’ll have to think about it in the future. Perhaps ill create a brand new site once I get better and do more research but this is a nice post you’ve written for those of us who are not familiar with self hosting.

    • August 16, 2019 / 12:58 pm

      I’m glad you found it helpful! Self hosting isn’t for everyone, and if the free plan is working for you then it’s not really a priority! I would suggest not starting from scratch though because you can migrate all your followers over to the self hosted blog if you do decide to switch. It’s much nicer than starting over from zero!

  2. August 11, 2019 / 9:13 pm

    This was super helpful, thanks Cleia! I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years and I STILL haven’t self-hosted. I was supposed to deal with it this summer but…clearly that hasn’t happened. It just seems like SO much work and I’d need to carve out a decent amount of time to figure it out! I feel like I would want to go the route you did because your transition seemed pretty smooth to me (as a reader of your blog, anyway).

    • August 13, 2019 / 12:35 am

      You’ve been so busy, especially with a new job starting and everything I can see how it’s hard to find time. There’s nothing wrong with being on the free plan either! Making the switch was so easy! I’ve been happy with my hosting so far 🙂

  3. Geraldine
    August 11, 2019 / 8:21 pm

    Great post here Cleia!! Being self hosted is sooo much work for sure. I had to spend so much time researching before I started my blogging journey. Finding themes was so much fun but so much work because I really wanted to find a good one fast haha. Thanks for sharing girl!

    Geraldine | https://geraldinetalks.com

    • August 13, 2019 / 12:36 am

      It can take hours to find the exact theme you want! I’m on my second theme, the first was good for a while but I changed my mind about it afterwards 😅 Thank you for reading!

  4. August 11, 2019 / 12:25 pm

    I love this article, and I would definitely agree that self-hosting has it’s own set of issues. I did see a loss of traffic. One thing I liked about hosting on WordPress was the WordPress community. However when you self host you don’t see the likes. I actually had issues and had to install a plug in to even see my likes. In fact one thing about self hosting is that you have to install a plug in to do anything.

    But the advantage to that is I can use Mail Chimp, and other themes outside of what WordPress offers.

    • August 13, 2019 / 12:42 am

      Have you been able to recover your traffic since switching?
      It’s interesting how the switch can be so different for people! I never had to get a plug in for the likes function so I think it must be built into my theme but I did lose any previous likes on my posts :S

      But yes mail chimp is awesome! Thank you for reading!

      • August 18, 2019 / 6:33 am

        I was able to recover some, but I feel like my stats show me one thing, but in reality it seems different from that. It’s hard because I know it’s not all about likes and follows, but it’s also discouraging when you work so hard to create content that’s not being seen.

  5. August 9, 2019 / 2:51 am

    I just moved to my own domain and pretty excited about that. I’m a control freak and want to have complete say when it comes to my blog 🙂

    • August 13, 2019 / 12:42 am

      Yay that’s so exciting! Congrats on making the switch! Having complete control is amazing, it’s great being able to customize literally everything

  6. August 8, 2019 / 3:23 am

    You make some interesting points and I’ve never heard anyone mention the traffic plateau before, bloggers who blog for the right reasons rather than attention and numbers would look past it though and continue because they enjoy writing. When you mentioned about SiteGround having your password I did laugh and my first thought was surely after the migration has taken place you’d change your password haha x

    • August 13, 2019 / 12:45 am

      I would hope they would keep at it! It is nice to see the numbers going up though, I see it as my posts are reaching and helping more people each month and that’s a good thing! I think if I was still sitting at 10 views a month if would be hard to still do this 😅

      Yes you should absolutely change your password afterwards! 😂

      • August 13, 2019 / 12:53 am

        What a nice outlook you have x

  7. August 7, 2019 / 4:15 pm

    Great article! I’ve been on the WordPress Business plan for almost a year now, after I got serious about redesigning my site and getting a new theme. I do enjoy all the additional options for customization but it can also be so daunting, as you say. I wish I understood web development & optimization more, but honestly I don’t think it’s that easy to learn in the first place!

    • August 13, 2019 / 12:47 am

      How expensive is the business plan right now? Getting access to a the plug in features is nice, but I remember thinking it was so much money!
      The good thing is that there are so many great free resources to teach you what you need to know 😊

      • August 13, 2019 / 9:33 am

        It’s $25.00/month and I believe they bill you for the year up front. Not cheap for sure, but you get a lot of features with it. But if you think of your blog as a small business (which I do), it’s not bad at all. If you Google it, you can probably find out all the features it offers.

        • August 13, 2019 / 12:17 pm

          Omg that’s so much! I don’t think I could ever spend that much monthly for my blog unless I was making it back through monetization🙊 that’s $300 a year! I’m happy the plan is working for you though.

          • August 13, 2019 / 2:46 pm

            Do you use an affiliate marketing program? I’m actually looking for a new one. I used Amazon but didn’t like it, and Ulta keeps rejecting me 😒😆!

          • August 13, 2019 / 11:09 pm

            You can link through Sephora & Ulta on shopstyle collective, anyone can join!

          • August 14, 2019 / 10:07 am

            Oh cool, I’ll check it out! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: